Saturday, October 31, 2015

"Last Day"

What do you do on the last day of a Active Duty? It seems we should do something momentous - but we didn't.

I picked up Maya and took her and Stacia to breakfast. Stacia loves being "out of the woods" so we can enjoy our weekly breakfasts out.  The girls chose Ihop - these fellows greeted us.
 
We spent the rest of the day signing up for retiree dental care, changing our address in TriCare to Beale Fam Camp, researching and talking about what is required for residency in various places now that we aren't military and playing.



 We enjoyed a yummy dinner.
As evening approached we played more games.

 
Surprisingly, I find myself EXHAUSTED and am going to bed early.

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Week at Beale

It would be wrong to leave the impression that our week was filled with medical and military frustration and nothing else.

We got a solid, full, heavy-duty week of book school completed. Full-timing has meant we no longer consider M-F "school days" and Saturday and Sunday as "off days." The school year is coming along nicely.
Wednesday, we went to PWOC.  Stacia enjoyed reconnecting with her homeschool friends and Nolan and Alex had fun helping in the Kids Flight rooms. I went to a study on Gideon and enjoyed the teaching. It won't surprise anyone the highlight of my day was seeing new faces and loving on old ones.

We also did this - Dinner with the S family -  complete with grandparent like gifts.
 
 
Thursday, Hope and Emma visited at the trailer. We also had three doctor's appointments.
Friday, Stacia spent the afternoon and early evening with Maya. The boys hunkered down with their books. Michael and I ran from one office to another, as we waited to hear what AFPC would decide on granting a medical hold on retirement. We enjoyed pizza and a movie with the boys in the evening.

All in all - a fun week.....a good week. We crammed a lot of visiting into it - thinking we'd be leaving the area soon....now we have more time to see EVERYONE!!!!

We Have a New Plan - #WYFF

Shew, what a week. We came here early in the week so we could tie up all the "loose ends" before retirement on 1 Nov. We've noted things always take longer than expected. 

True to form, everything took longer than expected. ::snort:: We were glad to have come early. We have been repeatedly told Michael's care would be uninterrupted and the transfer from active duty to retiree would be "seamless." We were told this as late as Tuesday. 
Michael logged off the government computer for the last time
We called TriCare to switch over on Tuesday and they told us Michael had to turn in his CAC card and then they would transfer him to TriCare Retiree and it would be "seamless."  We  turned things in.....switched our cards from active duty to retiree....and then
Michael tries to hold his finger still so they can get a print
Michael met with a man who is advising us with our VA claim. He was shocked that AFPC had retired him rather than put a hold on his retirement until he could stabilize treatment. Also on Wednesday, Michael was made aware he could appeal their decision. We talked that afternoon and really, really wanted to retire - we're sort of done with it all.  We decided we'd rather retire, work the VA claim as we are - and of course our care would be seamless anyway.  We'd switch our residency to TX, come back as needed for appointments and all would be well.
Then he called TriCare again. Oops - seems you CAN'T reside in TX and be seen in CA. He would have to start all over with a PCM they chose out of a hat....and try to get that man to give him a referral, get a new TriCare referral now that he's RETIRED and then wait for a new neurologist to have time to see him - originally this took MONTHS to get an appointment.
Michael has had a bad week. The instability and tremors are increasing, he has a hard time sleeping. He wants to start treatment. We agreed starting care was the new priority - not retiring, seeing America, or establishing residency in TX.  We researched states in the West region - because then we could get a referral to UC Davis....We gave them our OR address - which resulted in frustration. The NEAREST doctor which would take TriCare is in FLORENCE, OR. We are Alaska residents and have seriously thought of simply staying Alaska residents...Alaska is also in the west region. That's still a thought - but the idea of being called to jury duty and having to fly up there - because it's too late in the year to drive is daunting.....we kept researching.

We also decided to appeal the RILO decision. We asked them to put Michael on medical hold for 3 - 4 months so his care could be stabilized. This set off a lot of things....bottom line...the local doctors would like to see him on hold until care is stabilized but AFPC (personnel headquarters) will have none of it. If he is ambulatory; he can retire. ::snort::  The whole process was not even a little bit about looking at what would be the best care for him - it was about what would be best for the Air Force. So it is. You can understand why those removed from the situation would be able to be impersonal.  We really planned to file a congressional but the honest (frustrated) assessment of those in the system is it won't change anything and would leave us in health-care limbo even longer.
We had a nice discussion with our doctor when he told us the news. He said, even though they denied the request to put a hold on his retirement,  he really thinks it is best if we stay here and continue care with UC Davis until Michael is stabilized and we are sure he won't have complications on the meds.  He said it makes no sense at all to begin this medication and then be trying to find a new doc if there are complications.  It also makes little sense to wait another 3 - 6 months for the system to allow treatment in a new region.

We plan to give TriCare a CA address, Beale family practice will be our PCM (not the doctor we love as retirees can't go to Flight Med), they'll submit a new referral, and our doctor will help  push it through the system, so Michael can keep his appointment  and TriCare will cover it. Our "job" during this time is research to find names of a good PCM and neurologist/Movement Disorder Specialist in TX whom we want to be switched to. Our doc said after he's ON THE MEDS no one would be stupid enough to take him off of it cold turkey. We can call TriCare when he's stabilized and ask for a PCM by name rather than take one they pick off a list.
We've talked to Fam Camp and they will allow us to stay for four months.  SO....we ARE staying in CA - we are focusing on the VA claim, stabilizing medical treatment, doubling up on school and working to establish our residency in TX (I believe).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Diagnosis or What De'Etta Thinks about Parkinson's

One of our reasons for returning early to the Beale AFB area was to figure out what happened with the expected "medical board."

We discovered the local medical board looked at the diagnosis on the record and, by regs, Michael should face a medical board.  Rather than send the records up the chain, they decided to do a RILO (Retire in Lieu of).

In reading over the RILO report I was taken aback to see Michael's diagnosis in black and white. As I read through all the symptoms they noted, my stomach sunk. I suppose I held out hope something else was going to turn up.  They had given numbers for a variety of functions and noted things we didn't think were important - it all adds up to the fact they believe he has Parkinson's Disease.

Now we have answers. Some humorous, some sad. All of it hard, I'm sure it will get easier as we live with this reality a day at a time.  

Concrete changes - we hope the meds will help Michael feel better.  Yesterday was a bad day...stiff, stumbling, off balance and sort of "motion sick."

I am probably going to have to learn how to pull a 31 foot, squirrely trailer - Lord have MERCY.

My eyes leak at odd times - because really no one envisions their golden years with an incurable condition.  And I am not a care giver type - we have lots of jokes about THIS aspect of the whole thing. I actually look forward to seeing the work God does in me through this.

We had PLANNED to full time RV at about 70 - after missions. Our plan was to visit our kids and bless them - to be the Happy Wanderers. This is a dream we've had. Circumstances allow us to live this dream NOW-and we are determined to live fully present. We ARE learning about the implications of this disease, but we are striving for a balance of preparing for what may well come - and living NOW - making good memories NOW.  Some are concerned we aren't facing the implications - we are. In the way that is best for us. Some think we are too worried about Parkinson's and it's "not a big deal," again, we're dealing with this as we can. We know the impact it is having in OUR situation.

I imagine there will be things said on the blog we will wish hadn't been shared. I imagine there will be silent days and weeks as we work through a few issues in private. Thank you for your care of us - simply pray and we'll share what we can as we can.

This has impacted our immediate ministry plans - but God KNOWS what is going on. He is NOT surprised. There is a REASON He breathed a passion for the nation of Japan into our spirits.

He is GOOD.

All.the.time.

Monday, October 26, 2015

#WYFF and BEYOND

Hmmmm.....I've received several texts and calls from friends and family asking, "Where are you now? What are you doing? Is everything o.k."  This is a sure sign it's time to blog.

Thursday we continued driving towards Beale AFB. The Fam Camp was full and so we moved to the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds! This weekend was a  big square dancing weekend at our fairground...200 RVs, we were told 2,000 attending the dances and workshops. This makes for a busy place with 3 showers. ::snort:: In any EVENT....the wagon master graciously allowed us to stay at the fairgrounds, with the stipulation we be apart from the dancers. We were in a field - all alone. It was shady and nice but a bit unnerving and vulnerable feeling at nighttime.  Today, we moved into the treed area, closer to the buildings and away from the perimeter fence. There are now only two of us staying here. It's green, quiet, secure and secluded. It's also fairly centrally located for all we need to do.


Enjoying "camping" at the deserted fairgrounds
#WYFF? SCHOOOOOOOL! Michael headed to the base with a list of things he needed to take care of, the kids and I hit book schooling HARD. We documented all our field trips of the past six weeks and realized, "We've schooled a lot." But now we're pushing hard on books for a week or two so we can do more fun trips. LOL

Saturday was a day for FRIENDS and records.  Stacia and I got up bright and early and picked up Maya. We enjoyed breakfast, a pet store and Target together before we returned her home in time for her afternoon commitments.


 
Michael was spread out and plowing through his medical records in preparation of meeting with a VSO (Veterans Service Organization). This is a big project.  I took the kids out for the afternoon.

Sunday, we visited chapel and listened to one of our favorite chaplains preach.  It was timely to be reminded about the characteristics of Genuine Faith. My heart and soul were blessed to see Emma's excited happy dance when she saw us coming across the parking lot. We got to see many dear friends....it was great....and I didn't take a single photo.

We went to lunch with the D family - so happy for time together before they move overseas.


Always prepared with cards in case of long delays due to parental chatting
 Sunday afternoon Michael continued to work on medical records. Sunday night we had blessed fellowship with Maya, Jyoti, her mother, and Phil and Beverly, her grandparents.

Today we pushed hard on school again.  Michael finished going through his medical records. He came up with 7 pages of items listed. Our next step is a VSO.
 
These huge notebooks contain one copy of Michael's records
all tabbed and ready to go.

We spent time with Rachel and the kids. Eliana has grown so much....my photos don't do her justice. This visit was also good for my heart and soul.


Rachel, an adopted daughter, and Eliana - stunned by the flash


Having fun reconnecting



"Grandma De'Etta" and Joy - Reunions with my little girls have been sweet
This one was caught on film
 Beverly called with the news she baked homemade bread for us. We headed over to pick it up and then  settled in for dinner.

There you have it. We won't be traveling again until at least 1 Nov. No fears we've driven off a cliff or been blown away in a hurricane if you don't hear from us.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mountain Gate RV Park (Redding, CA)

We checked out the offerings in Redding....decided we didn't want to pay $30 a night for a spot to park with no bathrooms....and settled on Mountain Gate RV Park.  Having stayed the past 12 days in state parks and knowing our next 9 days are at a fair ground, we decided to splurge for this travel night.  The  price is $37+ tax (if your rig is over 22 ft)....when we checked in a $2 per extra person ("kid tax")  was added as well as a $1 fee for Yuuki... our total was $47.70 for one night.  Our initial reaction was a dislike at being "nickel and dimed." Just quote us $50 a night if that's the price. ::wink::  They do offer a Triple A and Good Sam's discount of 10%. No military discount is offered. This is a "Top 100 Good Sam Park."  Weekly and monthly fees available.

 
We were pleasantly surprised, as we dove into  Mountain Gate RV Park, by the landscaping - GREEN grass, mature shade trees, a very clean park. The sites are a bit tight - but we had no trouble fitting into ours with our 31 ft trailer (the van was parked across the street).  The upkeep on the grounds are immaculate. No chipped paint or mold and dirt in the corners in the restrooms. There is a welcoming sense of community at this park - as opposed to other parks where the extended residents sometimes make travelers feel like intruders.  Mountain Gate also boasts a laundry room, pool, hot tub (with adult hours),  continental breakfast, electric car charging station, cabins, small store, propane for sale, DVD/game lending library, free Wi-Fi, club rooms, BBQ areas,  and a book swap. If you stay for a while there are other activities available.

 
The kids loved the pool, we enjoyed the hot tub. The continental breakfast was a plus on a travel morning. Our favorite aspect of this visit, however, has to be visiting with the owner and gleaning his advice and tips about buying and operating an RV Park/Campground.  It was really interesting to get his input on this industry.

I often hear parks with a "kid tax" are not "family friendly." We found the owners and other campers to be quite friendly with our children. Having spent the past two months amongst RVing families - I must admit some simply do not watch their children,  nor respect the  privacy of others or the facilities where they are staying. Just thinking the issue through. I don't ENJOY paying $6 extra dollars a night - and my kids didn't leave a big mess for others to clean up, disturb other campers, plug up the toilets etc - but I have witnessed that far too often.

Marco - POLO!
 
Mountain Gate RV Park is conveniently located off I5 and yet would make a nice location to launch out to explore Mount Shasta, Shasta Lake/Dam, Redding, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Monument, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Burney Falls State Park and Sundial Bridge and Turtle Bay Exploration Park.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fall at Valley of the Rogue State Park, OR

We spent the drive today researching where we want to stay Wed night (Redding) and during the next week and a half in the Beale area. 

We arrived at Valley of the Rogue State Park around noon. We were here about six weeks ago - fall beat us here this time.
 

The park was lovely last visit, but it SHINES this week.  The crowds are gone (we were previously here on Labor Day Weekend), the animals are out much more and the colors are beautiful.  After lunch everyone spread out to "welax."

Reading and drawing....

Finally able to make a big pile of leaves
 We hit on a sale of organic canned beans at Fred Myers a couple of stops ago. This was the chance to make a double batch of vegan chili. I froze 2/3's of it for later meals. Everyone may not want it as much as we move back into the heat. LOL

Adding states to our map
We put stickers on our blank map! This was more complicated than one  imagined. If we put all the places we've gone on  "family" trips,  we'd have from Kansas west, from MT to TX, AK and across to FL as well.  In other words we have yet to travel east of Kansas and the North East.....BUT the younger two weren't around for many of the trips....after much thought....we're starting over...but this is the LAST time we start over.

Stacia was disappointed they aren't doing the JR Ranger program here. We went on a walk along the River's Edge Trail......I wasn't able to walk last time as I'd injured my ankle the morning we drove down here.  A fall walk in such mild weather was a treat. We saw bunnies, squirrels, Canadian Geese, sparrows, a blue jay and what may have been a woodpecker....We saw no rattle snakes!



 
We weren't ready to go home yet. We decided to also walk  along the Greenway Trail. This is a great walk and goes all the way to Grants Pass.



I pointed out THIS beaver was the enemy of DUCKS....


This area is PERFECT...we're far enough south and inland to be out of the rain and still far enough north to be out of the heat. We were enjoying 65* today and noting it will be 85* tomorrow.  I guess we didn't NEED to pull out the fall clothes after all.  We're going to miss the beauty of the Pacific NW....but we'll find new things to explore in our old home.  


 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Road Trip

Whew!  Our guys ROCK. Breaking camp, draining hoses in a pouring rain is not for the faint of heart.

We've decided to cut short our Hwy 101 trip (sigh) and go directly back to the Beale AFB area. We need to make sure some things are done NOW, if Michael isn't facing a Medical Evaluation Board.

We are taking the trip back south - SLOW. It works best with our current situation. We drove as far as Eugene today and will spend the night in Krista's driveway.  But FIRST....lunch with Mom and Dad and Arielle.


 Arielle had to go to work. The kids went back to their house and continued doing laundry. Michael and I ran a couple of errands - one of them being to get a NEW SMART PHONE to replace my really ODD phone.  We got home about the time Krista did.  Look at her oven.....She can do cook  at two different temps at the same time.


 BreAnne called and was feeling ill. She and Izaak weren't able to come over. Michael and I ran over quickly to pick up our mail and drop off a few outfits for Baby D.

The other kids filled their time with Catan.  Arielle came home. Stacia stayed inside and watched Cinderella - she LOVED sister time. LOL





Krista reads the blog on the big screen. LOL

 

Humor on I 5


Seen on the side of a truck on I 5. You have to wonder if anyone proof read this before printing or installing the decal?????

Come and See

A rainy, traveling day is a good day to reflect on Sunday's sermon. We attended Faith Fellowship Foursquare in Florence, OR this week.  I could write about our experience as visitors (we could hire out as secret visitors to these churches), the transition we are making to civilian worship experiences, the worship and more.... but my thoughts are on a  message and a worship song.

Pastor George started in John 4 and talked about how Jesus met the Samaritan woman where she was at....and when we have an "encounter" with Jesus we change. We simply invite others to "come and see."  He wove through the gospel of John showing over and over how a response to meeting Jesus personally is change and a passion to invite others to "come and see" Jesus and the change He has made in our lives. He called this our testimony.

This is  my heart. We've been  about introducing others to Jesus. Living authentically with the "sheep" in our care so they can see Jesus in our good and bad days. Our heart is to be part of introducing the nation  of Japan to Jesus - inviting them to come and see the difference He's made in our lives. Yet, this may not happen.

I listened as Pastor George read the honest question of my heart in John 9. Why, God? Why was this man born blind? Why does Michael have Parkinsonism/Parkinson right as we are set to move into missions? Seriously, God? I am known for quarantining sick children and I'm going to be a care-giver? Why? The answer - to bring glory to God. The Holy Spirit took me to a private tutoring session. We've always wanted to bring glory to God. We want to accurately show Jesus in our lives so others are drawn to Him. Our heart is to introduce others to the Love of their lives.

"I am going to glorify myself in this situation. I am giving you a testimony and you will be able to invite others to come and see me at work in this situation. "

As Pastor George spoke, I wrestled.

"I don't want THIS testimony."

What do you do with that? You surrender.

I realized anew God loves me dearly. He KNOWS my heart's desire is to accurately portray Him, to invite others to come and see Him at work...He is working in our lives...He loves us too much to short-circuit the work He will do through this phase of our lives because I'm diligently praying for something different.  He seems to be saying no - but it is because He's saying a bigger, "Yes."

Pastor George asked those to stand who wanted to encounter God in a new way, those committed to invite others to come and see Jesus. I couldn't stand. I was trying not to make a blubbering fool of myself (though maybe church is the best  place to be a fool?).

We have not heard a definitive NO from God. We may still be able to invite others to know Jesus in Japan - but if not - it is our joy to live for Him in such a way that those we encounter will come and see the change Jesus has made in our lives.  It's all very organic - once again I see hospitality, authentic community - just come along and see the work God is doing in my life - and fall in love with Him yourself.

I  was missing familiar worship songs when the worship team moved into this old song from my childhood...it was like God was saying, "Don't put me in a box....I can speak to you from the 70's." I was undone.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know, I know, He holds the future
and life is worth the living just because He lives.

This church got it right - the focus is Jesus. We were blessed and refreshed as we travel back to CA to discover what this diagnosis will mean for our retirement plans, our ministry plans and our family life.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fort Stevens State Park

We enjoy Oregon State Parks. This time of year many loops are closed and there aren't as many programs, but we have found them to be uncrowded, forested and well-maintained.

Fort Stevens was a military defense installation from the Civil War to WW2. It is now a 4,300 acre park near Astoria with more than we could explore in our three night stay.

 

The sites at Fort Stevens State Park  are paved, treed, and well-maintained.  Though the welcome center is only open 0900-1100 at this time of year, the rangers were friendly and helpful to Stacia with the JR Ranger program.  The bathrooms and shower houses are the nicest we've seen in a state park. Our water/electric site was $29. We've found full hookup sites tend to be full - but we can drive in and find water/electric sites. My only complaint of the park is the trash/recycling was a .7 mile walk, which is hardly worth mentioning in the grand scheme of RVing.
We retraced the Lewis and Clark steps here, here, and here and could have spent several days more in the area exploring the expedition. We flew kites, climbed over the Peter Iredale Shipwreck and visited Fort Stevens Military Museum. There is MUCH in Astoria, Seaside and Cannon Beach we didn't have time to do - we're saving up activities for another trip.

 Fort Stevens State Park is a great launching pad into this area of both Washington and Oregon. The National Park Service publishes "Lewis and Clark at the Pacific." This guide is a WEALTH of information for exploring the area - both the Washington and Oregon sides of the river.  

 Click "campgrounds" in the category cloud in the side more for more reviews.

Sunday Living


Sunday afternoon bike rides - now that's living. Oregon state parks are marvelous on Sunday afternoons. ::grin::


Michael fixed Stacia's inner tube AGAIN and we set off to ride from our campsite to Cleowox Lake.  We planned to look and bike....but the kids had other ideas.

 

 
Who would guess they'd SWIM on 18 Oct. They're hard core.
 
 
 
 

Krista and Arielle went home early this morning - they had their own churches to attend. We topped off our evening with a campfire.  It may be our last for a bit of time.  We all read by the campfire - it was perfect. We are heading back to California to get some answers and go to some appointments.  The rain has been a challenge, but we've enjoyed the fall feel up here.
 

Blogging by the fire