Monday, January 31, 2011

Before the storm ...

This is what our back deck looks like today. We have about 8-10" of snow on the ground, but it hasn't been a winter to complain about in any way ... so far, that is. Can you see the little sun-catchers taped to the doorwall? Karis and Jackson painted those for us while they were here over Christmas break. The painted colors are fading somewhat because we get a lot of sun through here ...

We are currently on the northern edge of a BIG winter storm that is due to hit us within 24 hours ... so today while I still could get out of the driveway, I drove over to Meijer Gardens and strolled around the place ...

There were hardly any folk at all at the Gardens today, so I just took my time and enjoyed every little minute I was there!

The tree in the picture above is called a "Thundercloud Plum" ~ it doesn't remind me of a thundercloud whatsoever, but what do I know? My longing for spring and warmth was at least somewhat satisfied today with my visit to the Gardens ~ they keep it so nice and balmy inside!

By Wednesday morning, we could have an additional 10-16" of snow here (along with close to blizzard conditions), and they are saying that is a conservative estimate. If that does indeed happen, I'll be sure to snap a few pictures of our neighborhood to show you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Beautiful bridge ...

I took the day off from being an inexperienced, unofficial (and somewhat incompetent) health care provider to Nana. The weather has gotten pretty frigid here in the Midwest, so I layered up, grabbed my camera, and drove out to Ada. I thought perhaps I could grab a few nice winter pictures today walking the trails over at the township park ... but I'm not real pleased with the ones I took on my short hike out there. I did like these, though, that I took of the covered bridge out in Ada. Thought I'd share them with you!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Can you hear Him?

It's been almost a month since I've taken a walk ... anywhere at all ... and that is way too long. So after all of the snow shoveling was accomplished this morning, I headed out to my friendly familiar neighborhood woods ... to listen to God. Never less than amazing ... His voice is there everywhere. I feel refreshed and renewed. Cleansed and restored. And so thankful.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kind of like ... Frankenstein ...

At noon today, Grandpa Jones removed the compression bandages that were covering his surgical site. Yikes. 25 stitches is kind of ... gruesome. The surgeon had shown me before and after pictures on his point-and-shoot camera, but this was the first time I had actually seen it with my own eyes. Ouch. I could never be a nurse. Or a medical technician. Or an emergency worker of any kind whatsoever.

We took a close look at all of the stitches, and they are intact and none of them look suspicious of infection or bad behavior whatsoever. There is a lot of swelling. And both eyes look rather purple/blue/crimson/black ... kind of like someone tried to take Grandpa Jones "out" in a back alley somewhere. Yikes. There is no way he can put his glasses on yet. Too much swelling ... plus, the surgical site is exactly where the base of his glasses press against his face ... and that entire area is rather painful. No glasses means ... difficulty reading (he's using a magnifying glass) and definitely no driving.

So far, we haven't even filled the prescription we were given for a low-dose narcotic pain medication ~ so Grandpa Jones has done well with managing the discomfort. Today, he was finally able to shower and is now able to apply a nice warm cloth to the area 3x per day. We were also given an antibiotic ointment to apply to the area. Thankfully, Grandpa Jones is doing all of this "nursing" stuff independently.

When I was talking to family Monday evening (the day of the surgery), Adam wondered if we were given any pictures of the surgery. He thought it might be "fun" to post them on this blog. I told Adam that we did ask for the surgical photographs, but we haven't received them yet. However, I will NOT post them. I think Adam was just trying to "lighten up" my mood with his suggestion ... which is actually why I've posted this cartoon picture of Frankenstein.

So far, Grandpa Jones has been a model patient. He has slept a lot and has been very quiet. No complaints. His stitches are scheduled to be removed Monday morning. Hopefully, the swelling will have subsided by then.

P.S. I spoke with Jesse this morning prior to his knee surgery. He sounded good. Diana was with him in the pre-op holding area. I've just read an update on Facebook that Diana posted. They have performed a partial meniscectomy on his knee. You would think, after typing for orthopaedic surgeons for 19 years, that I would actually KNOW what this means ... but I do not. I can accurately spell the word and pronounce it correctly as well ... but I cannot tell you exactly what it means. I told you I have absolutely ZERO medical comprehension and this proves it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Surgery went well for Grandpa Jones

I feel like this update on Grandpa Jones is a bit tardy, but I was just too tired late yesterday to come back to my rather heat-challenged office and fire up my dragon of a computer (which takes about 20 minutes to connect to the internet) ... so I opted out of it altogether! As family members called to find out the news, I asked Sabrina to write a brief note on Facebook hoping that some key people in our lives would at least know all was well.

For those of you who were unaware Grandpa Jones was having surgery at all, I'll just give you an update. We noticed a "sore" on the side of his nose quite a few months ago that was not healing. After a physician examined him in October and tested the area, it was discovered that he had a basal cell carcinoma and ... it had to go! Yesterday, the lesion was excised in a two-step process (with the physician checking tissue under the microscope to make sure all edges were "clean") and then in the afternoon, he had to have the now quarter-sized deep open wound skin-grafted and closed by an ocular (because of the close proximity to his eye) dermatologist/surgeon. This surgeon originally was going to harvest some skin from behind grandpa's ear ... but the wound was larger than he expected, so he changed his mind and used skin from between the eyebrows and kind of pulled, twisted, and stretched the skin all around to cover the wound ... 25 stitches later.

Grandpa has his wounds covered with a 4 x 2 patch that is taped tightly to his face, covering his entire left eye. So he can't wear his glasses, he can't drive, and regular living is a bit challenging. That patch can be removed Thursday at noon. We'll examine the area ~ meaning ... Grandpa Jones and I will take a look at it ~ and hopefully all the stitches will be intact and not oozing! Next Monday, he is scheduled to have all stitches removed. The surgeon said that within about a year, it should be difficult to even notice where on his face all of this trauma occurred. Excellent.

My sister and her husband cared for Nana and Roy the last two days. Tomorrow I'm going to split the day half and half ... it kind of feels like I am a nurse in training ... but I have absolutely NO (zero) interest in pursuing any medical careers at this point in my life.

Thursday, my soldier/son (Jesse) is scheduled for some serious surgery on his knee far away in El Paso. I wish I could be closer to his location so that I could be of some help to them ... but 1600 miles is quite out of the question. Hopefully, they will keep everyone informed about his progress.

I appreciate everyone who is praying for us. We surely need it.

" ... let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish." Hebrews 12:1-2

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Being His hands and feet ...

It has been SO amazingly beautiful the last few days ~ what is prettier than snow-on-snow, the January days of Grand Rapids? Yesterday, the snowflakes were so HUGE it made you feel you were living in a snow globe! I love clean fresh snow. I love the quiet and the peace that it brings.

However, my days have been quite the opposite of that. I have been giving care for Nana and Roy due to mom's bad tailbone break. We were finally able to get an appointment with her primary care physician (this is a brand new physician for Nana). The appointment went well. Nana hit it off with the doctor, and we received lots of valuable information there. It turns out that the CT scan of her tailbone revealed not only a fracture, but kind of a shattering of the bone. It's not displaced and there are not loose fragments, but it is quite a nasty break.

But now that we have seen the primary care physician, all kinds of other professional help is available to us. We met with a gentleman from St. Mary's Home Health Care, physical therapy, this morning. He came out to Nana and Roy's and stayed more than two hours. He gave us lots of helpful information and instructed us on how to better take care of Nana. Occupational therapy will be calling to make appointments at the house next week as well.

I was really really exhausted yesterday and my attitude was less than it should have been. I felt grumpy and cranky and almost beside myself with fatigue, emotionally and physically. I e-mailed some close friends last night and asked for prayer for all of us ~ and today was so much brighter.

Last night as I was lying in bed I was reminded of what Jesus taught his best friends about serving people. It was the night he washed their feet. After he was finished, this is what he said to them: "And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you ... this is the path of blessing." (John 13:14-16).

I have known Jesus as my King and Savior for a very long time. But only a few times have I ever felt like I was "His hands and His feet." I often feel that way when I am in El Paso with my little grandchildren there ... because I serve them and when I meet their little friends and give them hugs ~ I know that when I do, Jesus is hugging them through me. Today, as I helped Nana and Roy around the house, with daily activities that they struggle with now, I had a real sense of the Lord's presence with me ... and I was very thankful I could serve Him this way.

Tomorrow, my sister and husband are coming to town and they are going to give me a few days of relief. Grandpa Jones has his surgery on Monday and needs monitoring for 24 hours afterward, so I am thankful that Ruthanne will be in town to check on and care for Nana and Roy.

We would all appreciate your continued prayers.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

An update on Nana

This is my mom, whom we refer to as "Nana." I'm pretty sure this picture was taken a year ago Christmas at my house. A few posts ago, I mentioned that she had taken a hard fall in the driveway of the house where she and Roy live. She had been to Urgent Care twice and had negative x-rays of her hips (meaning, no hip fracture), but her pain continued to increase. When Sabrina was home for the holidays, we drove over together and since Sabrina is a nurse, she talked to Nana all about her injury, read all of the papers Nana was given at Urgent Care, and was a real encouragement to her Christmas evening.

However, the Thursday after Christmas, Nana's pain had worsened to the point where Roy and I finally drove her to the Emergency Room. They did a CT scan there, had it reviewed by an orthopaedic surgeon (one of the very physicians I used to work for!) who discovered Nana had very certainly fractured her sacrum (in other words, her tail bone) ~ but her CT scan also revealed she has arthritis in her spine! My mom has enjoyed almost perfect health her entire lifetime. She told me a few weeks ago, she didn't even know what people meant when they mentioned having a "headache" because she'd never had one!

We had a follow-up appointment yesterday with the orthopedic physician and because Nana's pain was not controlled with the meds she was prescribed through the ER, she was prescribed stronger pain medication. I spent a few hours today with mom and Roy and this new medication FINALLY seems to be helping to get her pain under control. I'm so relieved about that. It's pretty difficult to see your own mother in that much pain. She has been told by her doctors that this injury will take three to six months to heal! That's a LONG time.

For the next little while at least, I'll be checking on mom and Roy every day and going with them to their appointments. Sometimes doctors are difficult to understand and oftentimes they don't explain themselves very well. So it is expedient that they have someone with them to "interpret" and advocate for them. And for now, even though I have absolutely ZERO medical training and expertise, that person is me ~ it's certainly what God expects of me in this situation and I am waiting to see just what He will teach me through it.

Pray for Nana, okay?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Photos of Christmas week ...

Finally! I'm finding both the time and strength to post some pictures of our celebration of Christmas. Today is New Year's Day, however, so first of all ... HAPPY NEW YEAR. I'm glad we took plenty of pictures last week because without them, I would have almost no recollection of what took place around here ~ the days kind of blur together sometimes with all of the comings and goings of family.
Sabrina, Andrew, Olivia, Jackson and Karis arrived the Wednesday afternoon before Christmas. Since they don't normally see snow in Texas and we had about six inches of the white stuff here, the little kids were really excited about it. I didn't go outside with them Wednesday afternoon ~ it was TOO cold and I had only started to recover from being so sick. Grandpa Jones did take some pictures, but mostly of the backs of folk heaving snowballs at each other. Hopefully Sabrina got some better photographs of their fun in the snow. The picture above is the next morning (I thnk) when we all played a game of snakes and ladders together. The game pieces that come with it are very tiny flat colored circles ... Sabrina had the idea of using some of our larger toys as the moving pieces instead. It was fun to play this way! This game is actually a puzzle that you assemble before you can actually play the game, so it adds a bit of fun even before the game begins!
Adam, Emily and Jeremiah came over later that day and everyone played together. Jeremiah has two cousins on Emily's side of the family very similar in age to Jackson and Karis ... so he was right at home playing with "older" kiddos. He seemed to like our small Thomas the Christmas Train layout we had in the front room.
We naturally did a bit of art projects because ... it's so much fun to do with grandchildren!
Everyone was working on making Christmas cards and pictures to give as gifts ...
I had a few foam Christmas stickers that were fun to play with ...

And then before we knew it (practically), it was Christmas Eve. We attended the 5:00 worship service that night ... so beautiful. We listened to the Christmas story from the gospels, we sang tons of beautiful Christmas carols, and the little children had a special Christmas story that was read to them.

This is Karis and Jackson sitting on the platform in the front of the church looking at the monitor as the story of "Humphrey's First Christmas" was read to all of the children gathered there. Cute story too.
After the service was over, we ate a yummy dinner at Olive Garden ... such great food ...
Karis enjoyed her dinner there very much. This is such a sweet picture of her.
And I love this picture of Olivia and Andrew. She didn't know I was taking it ... so ... look at her beautiful smile!
I'm not sure which day these next few pictures are from! I think it is earlier in the day on Christmas Eve. Adam and Emily were over for awhile, but then they had plans with Emily's family for Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning was ... early! I think Olivia would have enjoyed a few more hours of sleep, but she was quite outnumbered by the little kiddos ...
... who couldn't wait to open presents!
This is Karis digging way way into her stocking to show us she had emptied the whole thing!
Olivia ... you have the sweetest face! Olivia was so pleased with everything she opened.
Karis and Jackson were SO excited during the gift opening, that they were put in charge of handing out the presents ... so as to distract them and keep them busy while waiting for their next present to open. It worked well!
Andrew received this beautiful Bocce ball set from Sabrina ...
Jackson got many and various sized sets of LEGOS ... he is a very good builder and just loves everything LEGO makes!
Karis received a "Jessie" doll that looked exactly like the Toy Story doll she is from! She is really cute and has a pull string with (I think) 30 different sayings!
Olivia made a beautiful card for her folks from the foam stickers we were working on prior to Christmas and wrote a nice long note as well.
More family came over a little later in the day on Christmas ... in time for dinner and more gift opening ...
Little Mister was all dressed up for Christmas in a darling little penguin vest ... isn't he precious? These are wonderful pictures of Adam and Jeremiah!
Since this is Dylan and Kelly's first married Christmas, Sabrina made them a special Christmas ornament ~ wasn't that sweet of her?

Jackson and Karis found a basket of some of my puppets and were behind the couch entertaining Dylan and Kelly. I love Jackson's smile as he is looking at Paco the Pig ...
This is one of the Toy Story 3 LEGO sets that Jackson received. Sabrina put a lot of the harder parts together, but Jackson is a good builder too!
Karis received a couple of BIG Melissa & Doug puzzles, which have thick sturdy pieces. This was a Safari puzzle, 4 feet long, very colorful. We all helped to put it together.
We did a bunch of art stuff during various afternoons before and after Christmas. I really liked the ladybug Sabrina drew with the help of my newest Melissa & Doug stencil sets ... Sabrina is very artistic.
Emily tried her hand with playing our Bedouin flute ... she did pretty good with it ... I've tried it for ages and all it does is screech! Can you see #12 grandchild starting to show on Emily's tummy?
I love these photos of Emily and her wee man ...
Tuesday night we had a pizza and game night and invited the whole gang. We had given Adam and Emily a LEGO game, "Creationary", for Christmas ~ it's just like "Pictionary" only you take a card and BUILD the picture until someone guesses what on earth you are trying to build! It's really a fun game. I don't think it's in regular stores yet. I found it on LEGO's website ( The game is labeled, "Ages 7 and up" and since Jackson is 6-1/2 and watched us playing the game for awhile and begging to play ... we had him play a couple of rounds with us! He was SO good at guessing what was being built ~ and he did very decent when it was his turn to do the building! I think he enjoyed himself hugely playing with the adults.

I have tons more photographs, but I think these give you some idea of what our Christmas was like. Last night, I did sit quietly by our beautiful Christmas tree and listened to Michael W. Smith's latest Christmas album and gave thanks again for our Lord and Savior and His great kindness in coming to earth for us. My goal is to be more like Him this year and love Him with all of my heart. I hope your New Year is filled with His many blessings!