October Beauty

22 10 2011

I just had a hunch that we better head to Pennyroyal State Park and enjoy the beautiful Autumn day of October the 11th.  The sunshine and warmth were abundant.  The park is just 22 miles from our home.  I suggested to Jim that we spend the day there and just read and enjoy lunch at the lodge’s restaurant.  And a lovely day it turned out to be.  Sometimes a mini retreat is in order to refresh the body, mind and soul. 

Hope you enjoy these pictures of our day!  God Bless!


Nichole’s Slices Of Life, 18 When the Kettle Whistles

16 11 2009

I didn’t have any problem getting up early during the summer. It was light at 5:00 a.m. and my body responded. My body also responded when it started getting dark between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. I just didn’t want to get out of bed until it was totally light.  However, that messes my day up big time.  We like to take a mile walk each morning.  It takes a long time to walk as Jim is a very slow walker these days.  It takes us about 45 minutes to accomplish our walk.  When we get back to our home-we  like to   eat a nice breakfast and say our prayers. My day was not really starting until 9:00 a.m. and I didn’t like that one bit.

You might say my day is over as far as household accomplishments are concerned— by about 2:0o p.m.  For you see—-I have to pick up my grandsons from school and take care of them until 5:00 p.m.  Thus, the whole situation was getting to me greatly.

We also have had many evenings during the late summer and fall where we had extra church services.  My days and nights were most unsatisfying to me.  I guess I’m just to0 perfectionistic in my expectations.     I’m silly to behave this way.

Finally, when I got Jim to the VA hospital in Nashville on October 20th by 8:00 a.m.– I knew that I could do better.  Actually, I decided to start drinking coffee again. I had given it up for over a year.  But I didn’t know any other way to jump start my body. 

Jim and I came up with a plan for him to bring me a cup of coffee at 4:30 a.m. (Jim gets up at 4:00 a.m.)  I sip it slowly and enjoy some time with my two dogs.  The dogs like  to cuddle with me in the early morning.  Jim comes back into our room at 4:55 a.m. to listen to the hourly news on the radio.  He then puts the tea kettle on so we can have hot water for our oatmeal.  It is my job to turn the kettle off when it whistles.  So I’ve been making it out of bed about 5:10 a.m. for almost a month now.  My days are going so much better.

The caffeine is not bothering me nearly as much as it once did. I take a powdered calcium and magnesium supplement that I drink as a tea twice a day.  I’ve been doing this for several months.  It relaxes my body.  I’m able to drink some coffee and still sleep these days. Wonderful! 

As far as other tid bits of life are concerned–I’m enjoying my new little grandson a great deal.  I’m so amazed by the miracle of human birth and development. Children are such gifts of God.  I’m so thankful to be a mother and a grandmother.

I’m enjoying my fall baking -especially the challenge to bake quality food that fits within the bounds of our Nativity fasting season which started yesterday.  This is one of my favorite Orthodox seasons of the church year.

I’m going to try to be more faithful to my blog.  Yes, I know I’ve said that before.  Well, I’m picking myself up to try again.  I need another kind of whistle to prompt me.  My inner whistle of connecting with other human beings.  Here is a  toast to another new beginning.

God bless each of you!

Nichole’s Slices Of Life, 13

26 04 2009

Did I mention how life is uncertain last week?  Well, I plunged right into an uncertain week with Jim calling me home from work on Monday morning.  I knew he wasn’t feeling well when I left but I had no idea I would end up spending the day with him in the emergency room.

I rushed home and called 911.  I knew that Jim would never be able to endure waiting in the emergency room to be seen.  By calling 911–he would be assured of instant attention.  We had a long day.  Ben, my son ,and Sandy, my oldest daughter ,spent most of the day with me.  Vera was able to come when she finished teaching her class.  Maria had to work at the post office and couldn’t come but her husband came for a bit.

There was nothing very conclusive about the day other than the doctor was very nice–kept checking on us –and worked hard to communicate with the VA in Nashville.  Since it is written all over Jim’s charts that he is inoperatable –no one was in a hurry.  Jim’s main complaint that day was his legs. 

We left the hospital with an energency appointment at one of the VA clinics in Nashville on Tuesday morning.  The doctor there was very attentive and started cutting back on Jim’s medicines.  He also was very compassionate about Jim’s leg problem and ordered him some medicine for “restless leg syndrome”. This doctor checked on Jim both Wednesday and Thursday mornings and further changed his medications.  I have a pill cutter and he would instruct me how to shave the medications.  He also reminded us to keep our appointment with the cardiologist at the VA hospital on Friday.

That proved to be an event that I hope is life changing for the better.  The heart clinic is only open on Friday.  That is why we couldn’t get in to see him during our crisis.  The cardiologist was a “bulldog” of a doctor who gave us an hour and half of his time.  He completely threw out four more of Jim’s medications calling them “crap”.  He told us that by the thickening of tissue in Jim’s CT scans –it is apparent that Jim has never been properly cared for with his chronic blood pressure problem.  That was news to me as Jim has faithfully followed all doctor’s orders about his blood pressure since he was diagnosed at age 28. 

The doctor drew a chart for Jim to take his blood pressure daily.  He made a column for breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime.  Jim is to take his blood pressure only twice a day alternating between those times.  Jim has kept a notebook of bloodpressure checks but the doctor said that the way Jim has recorded his checks is absolutely useless.  We have two weeks of BP checks on this new system and then we return to see the “bulldog”. 

I have panicked though because Jim’s blood pressure has been too high with each check.  Jim has been on a roller coaster for six months now with his BP  either being too high or too low.  Lately, it has been too low a great deal.  I’m concerned now that with so many medications taken from him that he is going to have high bp for two weeks.  That can cause further dissection in his aorta.  Jim said I was extremely odd for singing the praises of this doctor but worrying about whether to trust him now.  I guess I am odd.  Afterall, I’m the one who takes care of Jim in crisis.  It does take a toll on me. 

After dealing with crisis all week–I was wiped out yesterday.  Furthermore, I was wiped out today.  Jim and Vera were able to go the church but I stayed home for the peace and quiet.  I haven’t had a quiet day in months.  I should return to work tomorrow but I don’t really want too.  It is going to be hard to leave Jim alone all day.  Vera always has a long day with her teaching on Mondays.  She is finishing up her classes this coming week.  Then she is leaving us for three months to do an internship with a new Orthodox mission in Kansas, City, Mo.  I have depended on her help so much –especially since Jim has become ill.  It will be a tough adjustment.  Yet I understand that she has a life too–and I want her to live it to the fullest for the Glory of God.

I, too, left my mother at a difficult time in her life.  Mother had Parkinson’s disease and was also taking care of my grandmother.  I wanted to go away to college and taste life to the fullest.  I now understand just how sad my mother was because I’m sad that Vera is leaving.  However, I must let her go.  She has been faithful in helping us in so many ways through my cancer recovery and Jim’s illness.

Hopefully, this week will be a little calmer.  We are indeed blessed to still be together as a family.  I will visit with each of you again next Sunday!

God bless!


Nichole’s Slices Of Life,9

29 03 2009

I started out last week by waking up with a stomach virus that put me flat on my back.  Throughout the day–I got stronger.  I was very concerned that I wouldn’t be able to take my husband to the Veteran’s hospital on Tuesday.  Thankfully, I was able to accomplish that goal.

We had arranged to meet my brother who works in Nashville for lunch.  He had a terrible accident of falling down his basement stairs in November.  Brad underwent three surgeries–one of which was the wiring of his jaw.  I couldn’t believe how normal Brad looked.  What a miracle!  He is able to drive, work a normal day and he seems very healthy.  We are so grateful for his health being restored. 

Our actual appointment was at the MeHerry Medical Clinic.  We were very impressed with Jim’s doctor.  He spent an hour and a half going over all of Jim’s medical history.  We had asked Vanderbilt to fax all of Jim’s records.  This doctor was very grave though about Jim’s aortic problems.  He wants Jim to see the VA cardiologist and Vascular surgeon.   The doctor also worked on Jim’s medicines.  Some of them had to be substituted according to the VA list.  Our last stop was at the actual VA hospital for blood work.  They told us that Jim’s medicines would come in the mail.

On Wednesday, I started my first day of an eight day assignment of being the librarian at one of our elementary schools.  Librarians teach classes throughout the day.  Much of my work consisted of using internet programs that are transferred to a big screen.  I then had a writing assignment for the children.  The older children worked on Kentucky worksheets.

When I got home on Wednesday, Jim informed me that his new doctor wanted him to get a CT scan as soon as possible.  We decided that Vera would take Jim back to Nashville on Friday.

I had a break from our grandsons on Friday as their mother took them to the dentist.  I had only been home a short time when the VA doctor called to tell me how awful Jim’s CT scan looked.  He urged me to have Jim go to the emergency room if he has any bad pains.  That phone call kind of took my breath away.  I wasn’t much good for anything the rest of the afternoon.  I gave Jim the news when he got home but tried to be low key about it.  Jim and Vera had decided to enjoy some shopping at second hand bookstores in Nashville–and that delayed their getting home early.  Jim didn’t seemed very concerned about the phone call.  Vera was a little shaken by the news.

By Saturday, I felt better because we were told by the surgeon in 2005 that anyone new looking at Jim would be horrified.  This afternoon I read the reports from Jim’s MRI in mid March.  It stated that nothing was significantly different from his MRI in October of 2008.  We now have a copy of all the Vanderbilit records and I felt so much better.  It is not that Jim will ever get any better.  However, if he controls his blood pressure–he shouldn’t get any worse.

Crisis- is the name of the game this week.  Vera decided that she wanted to visit her old parish in Murfreesboro this weekend.  During Vespers last night the ceiling and wall of the alter was destroyed by a bad storm.  Most everyone had the glass broken on their car windows.  Vera took our Chevy Blazer but told us that our car was undamaged.  She is on her way home  as I write.  She did call to tell us that one window is shattered and about to break.  I’m not happy about that report of damage but I know many have much worse window damage.  So I guess I’ll buckle up and try to be thankful that we have miminal damage. 

Tomorrow I start another week as librarian.  There will be testing in the library all week.  I have to travel to each classroom.  The teachers are supposed to mark my websites onto their favorite’s list.  I will be using their “smart boards” to show my internet programs.  I will need a cubby hole to hang out in during my planning and lunch time.  I’m never comfortable with that kind of arrangement.  I guess I will survive. 

What an eventual week it has been with sickness, new experiences with the Veteran’s medical system  and being a librarian.  Lastly, dealing with a storm that took a hit at our car.  The Bible teaches us to be thankful in all things.  If I were getting a grade this week–I would assign myself only a C for thankfulness.  I have much to learn in that area.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week and I will check in again next Sunday evening.

God bless each of you!

Nichole’s Slices Of Life,6

8 03 2009

Just a short blog tonight.  Jim had his 3 month checkup at Vanderbilt on Thursday the 5th.  An echo showed that he is bleeding where he should not be bleeding.  His aortic aneurysms were wrapped up in dacron last October.  It seems the blood is coming from that area.  We are going back to Nashville this coming Wednesday for a MRI.  That will pinpoint more where the blood is coming from. 

I did get to substitute teach for 3 days.  I was very sick with my sinus condition but I had classes those days that had instructional aides –so that was a blessing.  I did finally go back to the doctor on Friday and I’m on another round of medication.  I can tell a big difference since Friday and feel so much better.

John, my grandson, who I wrote about being angry with me in last week’s blog had a better week. 

There are so many suffering these days with unemployment, sickness, grief etc.  I want to focus on praying and thinking of others today and in the upcoming week.  Hopefully, I’ll have more to write about next Sunday evening.

God blesse each of you!

Nichole’s Slices Of Life, 2

12 02 2009

Well, I didn’t make it back to my computer.  Frankly, I’ve just been exhausted.  I taught for 3 days this week a class made up of kindergarten and first grade children.  I had an instructional aide to help me but it still took a toll on me.  I have to say though that I did really enjoy the children.  Small children can be bad but they don’t get up in your face and cuss you out.  I’ve had high school students who have done that. 

This  job was at  one of our county schools–13 miles from my home.  The damage from the ice storm was readily seen as I drove to and from school each morning.  And then yesterday, we had a windstorm of winds at least 50 miles an hour.  Driving home was a challenge yesterday afternoon.  When my grandsons walked in the door–they were telling me about a tree that had blocked the main road not far from our home.  We all walked down to see it.  There were barricades put up but the wind kept blowing the barricaids away.

Our shingles were coming off our roof  and a piece of our siding got ripped off our home.  Other neighbors were experiencing the same kind of challenge.

Our daughter Maria and her husband Kirk were at the house when I arrived home.  I could tell Maria had been crying.  Things are not going so well for them.  Kirk lost his trucking business in October and he can only find jobs that are temporary.  He thought he had landed a good trucking job where for two months he made a run to Florida twice a week.  He got paid well for that but the company lost it’s contract.  This time last year they were having many problems.  I wrote a blog about the agony of love and it is still my top blog of all times.  My heart goes out to my children when they struggle to do the best they can and all seems to go wrong.  Maria has part time work at the U.S. Post Office but every full time job she has applied for since Christmas –she has not gotten.  She will have full time work at the post office for the next month as it is the annual mail count.  All of the mail is counted for 4 weeks and this is how the salary of the rural mail carriers is determined.

I had a job offered to me today but spent my night with flu like symptoms.  I ached and had chills all night.  Jim kept loading the blankets on me but I couldn’t get warm.  I think the worse is over and I should be able to take a job tomorrow.

We still miss Sam the cat who was put down last Friday.  He was the sweetest cat and he loved to cuddle on a blanket beside Vera’s space heater while she graded her papers.  Oh, how we miss him.

Jim has been volunteering during lunch time at our local Salvation Army a couple of days a week.  He serves the food and helps wash dishes.  The Salvation Army had their yearly appreciation dinner on Tuesday evening.  Jim took me as his guest.  I’m so proud of Jim for making an effort to give his time to the great work of the Salvation Army.

Hope to vist with my readers in a few days!

God Bless each of you!

The Ice Storm, Sam The Cat and Jim

7 02 2009

I tend to be an all or nothing person which is why I don’t blog more regularly.  I always feel like I have to write an English composition to blog.  I’m going to try to do better with just giving more tidbits of what is going on in our lives.

First, a terrible ice storm devasted Kentucky on January 27.  We have all kinds of tree limbs in our back yard.  It is still a mess.  My son-in- law is supposed to come today to help clean everything up.  However, we only lost our power for about 8 hours.  Many here in Western Kentucky still don’t have power.  Kentucky has been declared a national disaster so federal money can now be used to help clean up everything.  There are still counties close to us that don’t have power.  Our school system was shut down for 7 days.  We took in our daughter Maria’s family for a few days along with her dog Shadrack.  Kentucky had a terrible ice storm in l994 but this ice storm is three times worse accoring to what I read in our local paper.  On my way to teach school yesterday morning–I passed by Pennyrile Electric Company and trucks were being loaded up with utility poles to take to counties that still have no power.  This power company serves about 4 Western Kentucky counties.  In the midst of the ice storm –our hot water heater also went out.  My son who usually helps me was very ill so I had to call a plumber.  I couldn’t believe we found a plumber in the midst of the ice storm but we did.  Because codes have changed –they had to find a completely new spot for the hot water heater and build an 18 inch pedestal for it.  It was a two day job because they had to leave and take other calls.  In other words, the plumber told us that they never devote one day to any one project.  We are thankful to have hot water and power.

Sam, our 13 year old cat has been sickly for about 6 months.  He has had a lump that has gotten larger and he has lost weight.  Still, he seemed to really enjoy his life.  The spark just wasn’t gone from his eyes.  However, Vera discovered that the large growth was about to burst.  She made an appointment yesterday for a consultation.  It turns out that the growth is a result of the injections that he has gotten for his yearly shots.  It is a type of cancer that can result from those types of shots.  In the beginning when we first discovered the lump–we decided that we couldn’t put money into saving the life of a 13 year old cat.  We decided to just keep him as comfortable as possible and put him down before he suffers too much.  So yesterday was the day.  He had a beautiful last day–enjoying the sunshine coming into our home.  It was rather warm yesterday.  He sat by the door just absorbing the sunshine.  He ate well and we cuddled him a great deal.  Vera and Jim took him to be put down.  He died in Vera’s arms.  We are already missing our dear Sam.  We found him in 1997 just after a county wide flood.  I took him to the vet and she said he was a year old.  I don’t think he had ever had a home because he had many wild ways.  It took months before he stopped tearing open my bread or other food stuff in plastic bags.  But he did finally become a domestic cat.

Now to Jim, he struggles so with his blood pressure either being too high or too low.  He has good days which seem almost normal then a bad day will happen.  Yesterday he couldn’t finish his breakfast.  He had to go back to bed and Vera said that he slept until 10:00 a.m.  After supper he had to go straight to bed.  His blood pressure had dropped to 80 over 40.  Vera has Friday’s off.  I’m so glad she was able to be home for her Dad and for Sam. 

I love my husband so much.  At night I hold him tight and cherish each moment we have together.  I don’t know if this cycle of good and bad days will ever end but I know I will do everything in my power to make Jim’s days beautiful.  People who give up on their marriages quickly and without thought miss out on the love that grows from sharing the good and bad of life.  Now I’m not talking about real abuse.  I’m talking about the little annoyances that drive many couple to divorce.  So I love my dear husband and that is my Valentine’s message to all.  Keep trying , keep  holding on to love.

God bless each of you!