Saturday, April 12, 2014

At Long Last

Hello to friends and family who might still be checking this blog on occasion. As you can tell I'm not a devoted week in/week out blogger.  But I will try and pick up the pace some in the future.

 We meandered through the winter and are now having a lovely spring.

Since her shunt was replaced in September, Joy's health has been good considering all she has been through.  The only difficulty is a somewhat gnarled foot that is due to muscles on one side of ankle and leg being more paralyzed than those on the other side. This causes her foot to twist under a bit and her toes to bunch up.  Her middle toe sticks up some and rubs against her shoe.  This caused a bunion which we had removed last week.  It happened gradually and we finally realized that it seemed to be bothering her quite a bit.  We are working on getting shoes for her that will not cause that problem again.  Because spring has sprung and the weather is beginning to warm, she can now wear open-toed shoes regularly. She seems much more comfortable since she's been treated. 

There is little change in her ability to do tasks.  The best way to describe it is to say she can help somewhat in rinsing and putting the dishes in the dishwasher, but she would be unable to prepare any kind of meal for herself.  We still worry when she's around a hot stove.  She remains dependent on her nurses for basic hygiene and just getting around.  She walks regularly and eats well.  In general, I would say she's healthier than she's ever been since the stroke occurred in January, 2011.  She's smiling more all the time and looks beautiful which is not only due to her natural beauty but to the the ladies who care for her.  When  they dress her, put on her make-up and jewelry, she always looks lovely.      

We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary on Wednesday April 9th.  I remember the fun we had planning our wedding back in early 1994.  When it came to picking the date, I chose 4/9/94, since it would be easy for me to remember.  Joy agreed and we forged ahead.  She made most of the arrangements.  It was the first and only wedding for both of us.  I had just turned 46 and she was 42.  We chartered a boat and with fifty of our best friends cruised out on San Francisco Bay toward Angel Island.  The island had been the location of the immigration processing center for San Francisco in the 19th and early 20th century.  It's now a state park and a great place to hike. It's about a mile north of Alcatraz Island and is many times larger than "The Rock."

We decided to be married near the island because it was the location of our first date.  We had taken a ferry out there and hiked the island on June 3rd, 1991.  Joy and I had met at a wedding of our friends Larry and Esther on May 5th (Cinquo de Mayo) of that year in San Francisco.  She was living in L. A. and I was in Oakland.  She flew up for that weekend in June.   We still have a photo of us (that Joy set up and took with her automatically-timed shutter) sitting among the branches of a huge coastal live oak tree.   

Sailing on our wedding day out to Angel Island from Alameda in our chartered 60' motor yacht, we hit some rough water due to strong westerly winds blowing in through the Golden Gate.  There were white caps all across the bay.  So the Captain of the motor yacht determined that we could take shelter in a little cove behind the island on the east side and hold the ceremony there.  It was still a little rough and I remember Joy walking down the aisle with bouquet in hand being knocked slightly off balance by a small wave that rocked the boat. Later in the day, the wind subsided and the bay calmed which made  the sailing back delightful. It was a wonderful day, no one got seasick, and many of our friends said it was the best wedding ever.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Afterward, we took off for four days at Waikiki and then a six more out on the end of the archipelago at Kauai.  I'd never been to Hawaii before and I was stunned by how beautiful it was.  My initial reaction was, "This is the United States?  What a country!"

We went out to a Chinese Restaurant for our 20th anniversary with the Kilker sisters, Sue Thomas and Mary Anne Schetter.  Sue is Joy's head nurse and has been a gift from above to us ever since we brought Joy home in May of 2011.  Here is a photo of Joy and Sue taken on that evening:

 
  Joy can eat by herself, but it can take hours for her to get through a meal, so at times it's tidier and more efficient for her nurses to feed her.


These are not very good pictures of Joy on our special occasion but they are all I've got.   Most of the time she was smiling broadly and fully enjoying herself.  She still loves to go out on the town.


We are doing some remodeling on the house.  We ended up with a 1 bedroom house due to changes Joy made during construction.  But we are considering selling the place now and to get a decent price for the house it needs to have three bedrooms.  We will probably move to Texas within a year or two. In Texas  we can buy two homes of similar quality for what we should get for this one.   So I've walled off the east end of the house opposite the kitchen and cut a doorway in through where the coat closet was.  That will be the second bedroom and Joy's old office will be the third.  The second bedroom was in the original floor plan before the house was built, but Joy decided she liked to have the space open with the morning sun coming in the wall of windows at the east end of the house, so we eliminated a partition wall temporarily. Now we are back to the original plan.  Those of you who stayed here over the past 8 years (yes, we've been in the house for that long) might remember the lack of privacy in our guest accommodations, but I hope we made you comfortable despite that.   

Here's a picture of the new second bedroom under construction:  



I had enough materials around that I only had to buy sheetrock and some gun nails. Sue's brother John Kilker donated his expertise and masterfully re-wired everything.  I will have to buy an entry door for this bedroom and hire someone to finish the drywall, since it requires a special kind of texture to match the rest of the house, but I'm doing the rest of the work myself.

On Washington's birthday, I was persuaded by my friend Phil Burke who lives in the neighborhood to climb the mountain to the east of us.  I've always looked up at the mountain and longed to climb  it.  I'm not in the best shape these days but we made it to the top and back down in about five hours.  The picture below was taken about two-thirds of the way up and shows the view to the southwest.  If the fog was not out there in the distance, you would be able to see the ocean:

 
Here's a picture of the oak trees in the meadow at the top of the mountain (elevation around 4000 ft) :



I hope all is well with all of you and that you are enjoying life to the fullest.  We continue to adapt and are content.  I look forward to some excitement and new beginnings if and when we move to Texas within the next year or two.  We will keep you posted.

Love,

Doug and Joy 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Yet Another . . .

Dear friends and family:

Joy had to undergo surgery once again on Friday, September 27th.  It was discovered through tests conducted in the preceding weeks that her shunt was not performing up to par and that her ventricles had become slightly enlarged from a build-up of spinal fluid as a result.  In fact it was determined that the shunt was not working at all, which in a sense was good news because it suggested that as the shunt gradually shut down from blockage that Joy was processing some of her spinal fluid on her own and transferring it to her abdomen where it is supposed to go.

We've become veterans of surgical procedures and yet it's always nerve-wracking.  Joy handled it with her customary ease and grace.  I was a little more emotional since it brought back some of the bad memories of the early days of this ordeal, but the fact that Dr. Sanchez was again in charge of the procedure put my mind at ease.  He was not sure what he would find and his initial explanation was along the lines of a worst-case scenario, namely that if the tube coming out of the interior of Joy's brain was blocked, he would be drilling through her skull plate and installing another tube in the top of her head. This was more complicated than I had anticipated, but I trust Dr. Sanchez and know he will always do the right thing.

A shunt is a pump apparatus that is installed behind the ear.  A tube connected to it runs from the valve to the interior of the brain.  Another tube runs from the valve down through the body to the abdomen and transfers the spinal fluid there from the brain.  Some of Joy's early problems in the first months of 2011 were due to the inability of her doctors at Loma Linda to install a shunt that performed properly.  They installed two shunts at different times, neither of which worked. My personal opinion is that they rushed the process, that they should have been aggressively removing the fluid that was building up in her ventricles by whatever means necessary, but they failed to do that.  When we got her to Scripps Green in the care of Dr. Sanchez, a drip line was inserted that removed the fluid that had built up in her ventricles and was exerting pressure against the inside walls of her brain.  It was a gradual process.  After three weeks, once Dr. Sanchez determined that her ventricles had returned to normal size, he installed a new shunt.  That shunt worked well for a year and probably longer.  But over the past year, those of us who care for Joy noticed that her general condition seemed to be declining slightly.  She slept more and was not trying to communicate as much.  Walking and retaining her balance seemed a little more difficult for her.  The changes were barely noticeable, but we all agreed they had occurred.  

The surgery went well.  Dr. Sanchez discovered that only the valve had clogged and did not therefore have to replace the tube to the inside of her brain.  He replaced the valve in the shunt with a new and improved version that was not available in February of 2011 when he installed the last one.  It is apparently easier to adjust the flow rate on this new device.  He also opened up a small hole in her abdomen to check the other end of that tube.  Everything is now working the way it is supposed to.  This was the fourth shunt installation or replacement that Joy has undergone and we hope it will be the last.

She came home Saturday afternoon after spending the night in the hospital.  She has several staples in the skin behind the ear and a few more in her stomach.  She was smiling all day Saturday, but today, Sunday, we could tell she's having some discomfort.  She will visit the doctor later in the week to have the incisions examined and have a CT scan to see if her ventricles have shrunk any.   

We hope the new shunt will result in improvement in both her physical and cognitive abilities.

*         *         *

Joy had a birthday on August 13th. She and nurse Natalie and I went out to dinner at a huge sushi restaurant named Shogun and Joy, who loves sushi,  ate like a horse:





Then we came back to the house and celebrated with Sister Susan and Paul.  Susan baked the world's largest cupcake and Joy was delighted by it.  She couldn't stop smiling:


In June, we had a visit from our friends Gary and Lynn Jensen Nagle who we visited at their vacation home in Costa Rica in 2007.  It's always good to see them.  I've known Gary since high school and Lynn since she met Gary in college.  They have kept in touch and have been very supportive during the most difficult times.  Joy's friends from work, Cyndy Smith and Georgia Schweitzer, also visited shortly after Joy's birthday.  They have been regular visitors and fill the house with laughter when they come.  We appreciate any and all visitors, so if any of you are in the area, give us a call and stop by. 

Love to you all,

Joy and Doug

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Settling In

Some of you have noticed that it's been nearly six months since I posted on the blog.  Two of Joy's former co-workers, Colin Carr and Gavin Tull wrote expressing concern about the lack of news and that was sweet of them.

Joy is fine.  We are settling in.  There hasn't been much of note to write about in the way of changes in Joy's condition.  Sadly, I'm now of the opinion that Joy has hit a kind of flat line in her recovery.  It became apparent around Christmas time when I was comparing older posts on this blog to the newer ones.  Joy had a spurt of improvement when she got home two years ago on April 29th and it seemed to continue for nearly a year, but the past year has not seen much improvement, although her physical health has improved and we are not now experiencing any problems.  The "flat line" doesn't change anything, but I owe it to all of Joy's friends and family to speak the truth:  it appears to me that Joy will never recover sufficiently to be able to take care of herself.  She doesn't have the capacity to develop those skills and retain them.  That fact will not change anything in the way we live.  I will always care for her and love her to the best of my ability.

But I've been forced to petition a judge to make a legal change in our relationship.  Because we never formally signed or had notarized a document giving each other power of attorney even though we had the documents in our possession, I have been advised by an attorney that I need to file legal papers to give me the power of  a conservatorship over Joy and her affairs.  The attorney said that until we do that we will never be able to sell our home, since Joy is incapable of signing documents and we are joint owners.  The necessity for this legal action became even more apparent  last week while I was arranging for our switch to Medicare and learned that Joy cannot get supplemental insurance for Medicare until I get the conservatorship to allow me to sign for her.  It should take about three months for the conservatorship to be awarded by the judge. She is covered by Medicare Part A and B now, but if there is another catastrophic health crisis, we could end up paying 20% of the bill.

There are also financial matters that need to be attended to.  Joy had some IRAs and a 401k that need to be managed and she also has a pension coming when she turns 65.  The people who manage these accounts cannot legally talk to me and make changes that will benefit Joy and I until I get the conservatorship.  It simply is something I must do for our future.  

The lesson that everyone should learn from this is that if you are married, make sure you and your spouse have power of attorney over each other's affairs should something similar to what happened to Joy and me happen to you.

********

We've had a beautiful spring again around here.  The bluebirds are nesting in front and the house wrens in the back bridhouse behind the pool.  The ash-throated fly catchers are intently watching and waiting for one of the occupied bird houses to open up.  We've seen king snakes on several occasions.  Here's a picture of one taken with my iphone:

These snakes are wonderful.  They kill rattlesnakes by constricting them.  They are immune to rattlesnake venom.  I chanced upon a king snake who was about to kill a rattler one day in the middle of our gravel road.  I went back to the house in my car and got my camera.  When I came back I must have gotten too close with the car and it scared the king snake away.  The picture below is of the king snake moving away with the rattler still in the middle of the road.

And here's a bluebird picture:

 and his mate:



I'd like here to mention the passing of my uncle, MacDonald Eaton who died after a long illness in March.  Uncle Don was a talented artist and designer who never stopped creating throughout his life.  I have several works of his in my possession and I treasure them.  Here is a link to his obituary in a local newspaper in Central New Jersey:

MacDonald Eaton

He will be sorely missed. 


Joy and I wish you all a happy spring and a restful, vacation-filled summer.

Love to you all,


Doug 

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Joy of Christmas

Dear Friends and Family: 

It is two years to the day when I got three disturbing phone calls in a row from Joy's cellphone.  She had left earlier in the morning to go to the Pitney Bowes facility in Corona about 45 minutes north of us. It was to be her last day of work for ten days. She had been working very hard, both at her job and at preparing for Christmas and was looking forward to some time off.  A few hours after she left, my cell phone rang and I answered it but there was no voice at the other end.   All I could hear was the sound of a vehicle moving through rainy weather.  No one spoke.  I spoke Joy's name, but there was no answer.  My initial thought was that she had perhaps been kidnapped and had speed dialed my number to let me know she was in trouble, but couldn't speak to me.  So I hung up.  I was going to call her back, but I thought, that if she had been kidnapped and the kidnappers didn't know she had a phone, that a call from me would alert them.

The phone rang again and I heard the same noise: the sound of driving in the rain.  After few moments I hung up again.  I was trying to figure out what to do.  Should I call the police?  A few minutes later it rang again.  This time Joy's friend Cyndy was on the phone.  I asked what was going on, that I had had these two strange calls and was very worried.  She said she was trying to use Joy's phone to call me, but couldn't figure out how to use it.  She said Joy had showed up in Corona with a terrible headache, a headache like none she had ever experienced.  She had laid down on the carpet in her office.  She was frightened.  Cyndy had called an ambulance, which had arrived and they were on the way to the emergency room.

And so began our terrible ordeal.  I drove up to the hospital where it had been determined that she needed to go to another hospital that was  better able to handle serious neurological problems.  That was Loma Linda University Medical Center.  The next day we learned from her scans and tests that she had two aneurysms; that one was rather large and needed to be clipped in a craniotomy procedure and that the second one could wait because it was small and in a difficult place to treat deep within the back of her brain.  We were later to learn that the second aneurysm was small because it had burst that day.  The blood on her brain from that aneurysm would cause severe vaso-spasms, which eventually led to her stroke ten days later.

It doesn't seem like two years ago. It seems like last week. The time has apparently flown by as we've spent so much of our time caring for Joy.  The horror of the next four or five months after that rainy day just before Christmas will live with me forever. She actually stopped breathing early in the morning on January 3rd, 2011, but the doctors and nurses brought her back by installing a breathing tube.  She spent two months in intensive care at two hospitals.  And then 9 weeks at a rehabilitation facility which was itself a difficult experience for Susan and me, having to witness not only Joy in such a helpless condition on a daily basis, but also the scores of broken people who were fast approaching the end of their lives.    

This Christmas I will miss the old Joy, who would work herself into exhaustion preparing for Christmas--shopping, making jams, jellies, toffee and cookies, cooking and pre-assembling the Beef Wellingtons to be served at Christmas dinner, wrapping presents and mailing them off, and decorating the house.  She loved Christmas, and was intent on making it special for everyone.  I tried to help reduce the load on her by volunteering to do those things I could do, but it always seemed she would add another task to the list of things to do to replace the one she could strike from the list because I was doing it.  It seemed she could never do enough for those she loved.  

We will have a happy Christmas this year.  We have much to be grateful for.   Sister Susan came through her chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma successfully and is now in remission.  (Joy had learned of Susan's cancer a month before her own health crisis and it was something that was worrying her terribly in the run-up to that Christmas.)  Joy is progressing in small steps as she grows stronger and more confident. She is getting better at doing tasks.  She frequently comes into the kitchen while I'm cooking and tries to do things to tidy up.  She checks the pots on the stove to see if everything is being prepared properly.  And she's enthusiastically helping with the dishes after dinner, as the picture of her and her nurse Wendy below shows:   





I also think Joy is tiring of having everything done for her.  She wants to help do everything, but still doesn't quite have the understanding or dexterity to perform more complicated tasks.  She will become more able as her health and awareness improve and as she re-learns basic skills for living.

Sister Susan came over to help decorate the tree last weekend and here is a picture of the two of them having fun together hanging ornaments:   

Our plans are to go to Sue Thomas, John Kilker and Mary Anne Schetter's house down the street for Christmas Eve dinner. Susan and Paul will be there.  The following day, Susan's son Jonathan will arrive with his wife Jen and we will spend the late afternoon and the following days visiting with them.  I've made sure that Joy has lots of presents to open on Christmas morning. 

Christmas celebrates the birth of our Savior and it is my favorite holiday of them all.  It is an event that has inspired men and women down through the ages.  In the kitchen these days I listen to classical Christmas music that His birth inspired and it lifts me like no other music.  The birth of Jesus, the most influential and consequential man who ever lived, also marked the birth of the religion He gave to the world, the true religion of peace. I am grateful to God for the gift of his Creation and for blessing us with the gift of his Son.  Joy to the World! The Lord has come!

Christmas has always been a holiday that honors and celebrates children. Joy, in many ways, is a child now and does everything at a child's pace. For example, it takes here nearly an hour to eat her dinner. She's been relieved of all the stress and anxiety of her former life and lives in a simple, calm and happy world where every object that catches her gaze is cause for wonderment.  It's as if she is seeing everything for the first time.  When Sue or Natalie  take her shopping they come back and always say, "She has to touch and handle everything in the store!"  I look forward to seeing Joy open her presents and enjoy the festivities of Christmas day. 

The other day we received another beautiful hand-made card from Linda and Colin Carr who live in Spain.  Across the bottom of the front of the card were silhouettes of figures in a winter scene.  At breakfast the other morning, Joy was touching the figures on the card and smiling at it for a period of several minutes.  It was as if she was in the scene and enjoying the winter wonderland with the silhouettes.  It appears that Linda used a painting by Thomas Kinkade and added the silhouettes herself on a fold out section to create another three-dimensional card. The photo below doesn't do it justice:

     

Have yourself a merry little Christmas 
Let your heart be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas  
Make the Yuletide gay 
From now on, our troubles will be miles away
  
Here were are as in olden days
happy golden days of yore 
Faithful friends who are dear to us
gather near to us once more
  
Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Merry Christmas to you all and best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.


Love, 

Joy and Doug



Monday, November 5, 2012

Dear Friends and Family: 

We are plodding along here.  Joy seems to have fully recovered from her surgery.  She hit a plateau there for a while, but now seems to be gradually returning to the slight upward curve we've observed since the beginning. The other day when we were driving down to see Dr. Sanchez, she was holding a bottle of water and was having trouble getting the cap off. (Her right hand lacks some dexterity.)  So I took the bottle and unscrewed the cap for her.  Because I was driving, she reached over to hold the wheel while I did the task for her.  This was something she used to do frequently before her stroke because I tend to succumb to all manner of distractions while driving.  She saved us from running off the road at least once that I can recall and probably more times than that. Just another little sign of her slowly increasing awareness. 

Last week we had another visit from Joy's Pitney Bowes co-workers and friends, Cyndy Smith and Georgia Schweitzer.  They are overwhelmed by work and the general struggle for survival, but always manage to take time for a visit when they can.  Cyndy lost her father this year, and Georgia has burdens of her own.  They miss Joy and her amazing abilities on the job.  This time they brought her a belated birthday gift, a blanket with the words, "joy,"  "happiness," and "peace" printed all over.  Very cute and appropriate.  I think she is happy most of the time, although there are not the soaring highs (and accompanying lows) that she once experienced.  Certainly she is at peace and of course she is still JOY.  Here are pictures of the visit:








Cyndy arrived before Georgia did, and Joy's reaction when she saw Cyndy come into the house was more energetic and aware than any I've seen since before her stroke.  She immediately tried to rise to her feet and with a little help succeeded.  She was very aware of who Cyndy was and clearly overjoyed to see her.  It was heart-warming to see her so in-the-moment again. 

On Halloween night, Joy's nurse Wendy Ward took her to a church Halloween celebration that was attended by hundreds of adults and children.  Wendy and Natalie Kinsley, also a nurse for Joy, met up at the church function, where Natalie was manning the pizza stand.  Here are some pictures from that evening:

Natalie, Joy, Wendy and a caramel apple 

A penguin befriends Joy 


Thanks to Wendy for sending the photos.  Wendy is the newest addition to our team and works in the evenings five days a week.  It would not be possible for me to care for Joy alone.  Sue, Natalie and Wendy are an indispensable part of our family life now.  I'm eternally grateful to all of them. We are truly blessed.

Tomorrow is election day and I will vote for a change.  I will vote for Mitt Romney because, as Clint Eastwood says, "when they don't do the job, you got to let them go."  Some of my very best, dearest and oldest friends who read this blog are liberals and/or Democrats.  I try to make this blog all sweetness and light, but today Joy, who slowly evolved from a liberal into a conservative in our twenty years together, and I have a warning for them:  TOMORROW WE ATTACK AT DAWN!

Just kidding, I love you all dearly and want the best for our country.  If Obama wins again, he will have my respect and cooperation.  

God Bless America. 



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Surgery




Dear Friends and Family of Joy:

Saturday, September 1st:  Joy has come through her reconstructive surgery in fine form.  Doctor Sanchez was pleased with the result.  In the early morning before the surgery, he told me that he had been viewing 3D models of Joy's cranium the previous day and noticed that the clip that had been installed to isolate one of her aneurysms was dangerously close to the inside surface of her skin that covered the void at her temple.  He was concerned that when he peeled back her skin in that area in order to install the Titanium mesh, that he might disturb the deformed artery that had been clipped.  That did not happen as it turned out, thanks to his careful efforts and expertise as a neurosurgeon. 

The surgery lasted only two hours and fifteen minutes although Dr. Sanchez had reserved four hours in the event he encountered problems. It went well and Joy was placed in Intensive Care for the rest of the day and night.  She was mostly unresponsive during the rest of the day, but this morning she was  awake and alert although she seemed annoyed at having gone through surgery once more.  Here's a picture of her this morning in the ICU, twenty-four hours after coming out of surgery:



For me this morning she didn't smile at all, but this afternoon after coming home, I got a call from our friend Dr. Chuck Smith, who had stopped by after work to see Joy.  She'd been moved out of the ICU and was in the secondary neuro-unit.   He said she was smiling broadly and that she looked great.  We are hoping to bring her home tomorrow.
--------------------------------------------------

Update, Tuesday September 4th:  "Tomorrow" was Sunday and she did not make it home.  Speech therapists were concerned that she was not eating and that she pocketed some apple sauce they gave her. She failed what is called a  "swallow test."  This was not an unusual occurrence for those of us who have been caring for Joy at home for the last 16 months, but it alarmed the specialists at Scripps Green sufficiently for them to advise against her release.  The neurosurgeon on duty, Dr Uchiyama, considered their opinion and decided to keep her one more night.  The following day, the same thing happened with the speech therapist, Joy didn't eat and pocketed some liquid, but after a long consultation with Dr. Uchiyama, who asked all the right questions (Dr. Sanchez was off-duty all weekend), she was allowed to come home on Labor Day.

I was somewhat concerned myself about bringing her home because she appeared to have weakened overnight, but once home she responded as we thought she might and started eating and drinking as we hoped she would.  My sense is that the constant attention she got in the hospital-- the turning and changing of position every two hours, the regular checking of vital signs-- combined with the noise of the equipment and its seemingly endless variety of beeps and buzzers, had deprived her of sleep and sapped her energy.   Once home, she seemed to return to normal within a couple of hours, although she is understandably still weak.

Here's a picture of Joy just before she was released on Monday afternoon:


 She's managing a little smile, probably because she knew she was going home.  She looks a little flushed because she had a slight fever, which stayed with her throughout the day, but now, on Tuesday morning, is nearly gone.

And here's a photo taken just before noon today.  Nurse Sue Thomas had cleaned Joy up and fixed her hair so that it covered her incision pretty well.  The incision is far longer and higher up on her head than I thought it would be.  I thought Dr. Sanchez might use the original incision line but I was in error.  I'm not sure why, but he cut an entirely new line that ran up near the center line of her head and then down to her ear.  I'm sure he had his reasons.  She's tired and cranky, but who wouldn't be under the circumstances?

 

Joy's 60th birthday party on August 12th was a happy occasion and Joy thoroughly enjoyed herself.  We had upwards of 15 guests and Joy received too many presents and cards to list here.  Special thanks from Joy and me to all those who contributed to the celebration, including sister Susan, who did much of the cooking.  I could tell she didn't quite get the concept of blowing out the candles on the birthday pie so I blew them out for her with the hope she will receive the blessing of the deeply-held wish of everyone in attendance that she will continue to recover and improve in the years to come. We are in this for the long haul. 

Below a special gift given to Joy by our neighbors and dear friends Donna and David Wilbur.  It's  metal sculpture cut out of sheet steel and we love it, since it evokes a scene those of us who live in Rancho Heights see on a daily basis: coveys of California quail running across our meadows, hillsides and roads:



Thank you, David and Donna, and thanks to you all who continue to pray for Joy and keep her in your thoughts.

Love,

Doug and Joy 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Busy Month Coming Up

Dear friends and family of Joy:  Joy has had a good month after overcoming a urinary tract infection.  She's eating well, walking more and seemingly more aware of her environment.  She still has problems with her vision and coordination on her right side, but is improving, although slowly.  Nurses Sue Thomas, Natalie Kinsley, Misty Kent and Wendy Ward are taking good care of her day and night.  She frequently goes into town with Sue and Natalie to shop, get her hair done, or for lunch and a manicure. Before her ordeal, Joy was what might euphemistically be called an "enthusiastic shopper" but more realistically described as a "cutthroat deal-hunter."  She has lost none of her zeal in that regard for being in the stores and viewing the merchandise.  She always loved to shop for apparel, fabrics, knick knacks, gourmet food and shoes.  Sue and Joy's sister Susan frequently take her to Kohls, Ross, Trader Joe's, Walmart and the shoe stores.  They are at Costco as I write this. 

Brother-in-law Paul has helped me obtain an email address for Joy.  It is

joy@eatonbuilding.com 

If you'd like to send Joy an email, we would welcome it and will read them to her.  We are not sure how much she absorbs from our reading such things to her, but the view around here is that she is more cognizant than she may appear.  The other day, with my mother Dorothy on the phone, I put the phone in Joy's ear,  and Mom spoke directly to Joy for about a minute.  A big smile spread across Joy's face.  

I also have a new email address to use on our Ipad when I travel.  It is 

dpeatebc@me.com

I will be back in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware visiting my family and friends from August 15th through August 23rd.  Joy will be in good hands in my absence thanks to Sister Susan, Sue Thomas and the other nurses. 

When I return, Joy will have pre-op exams and tests on August 28th.  On August 31st, she will undergo re-constructive surgery to repair the voids in her skull resulting from uneven healing of the bone after her craniotomy in December of 2010.  She will spend at least two nights in Scripps Green Hospital at La Jolla and then hopefully be well enough to come home.  We hope that the surgery doesn't cause too long a pause in her recovery.  Based on previous experience, we have reason to believe that it won't.  That said, this will be a long and somewhat complicated procedure with Dr. Sanchez patching three areas of her skull and a cosmetic surgeon in attendance to make sure the her skin is repaired in such a way as to produce the best possible outcome.  At least it's not brain surgery . . .  

We will also be having a birthday party for Joy on August 12th, the day before she turns 60 years old on August 13th.  Several of our friends and neighbors have been invited.  The food will be great, since there are so many great cooks in our development. I'm looking forward to it.  

Yesterday, our brother-in-law Paul came by to take some pictures of Joy and me so that I might have some to post here.  At first he shot pictures of the both of us and then he shot a couple of me alone because I also wanted a photo to paste into to my seldom-used Facebook page.  After a few photos of me were shot, Paul and I looked around to find that Joy had disappeared, which caused momentary panic.  Turns out she had simply walked up the steps and back into the house by herself, which is the first time she has ever ascended steps without assistance.  We were obviously relieved that she had succeeded without falling, but her balance and vision are such that we can't let it happen again for the  foreseeable future.  There are only three steps in the back but the treads are 30 inches wide and require you to adjust your stride as you ascend.  But she made it!  Nurse Sue was surprised to see her walk into the house by herself.

And then today she again asserted her independence.  Sue took her to her house, which is just down the street, and left Joy in the car to drop off some things.  When she came back, Joy had gotten out of the car on her own, had walked over to the chain link gate that keeps the dogs in, and was trying to figure out how to open it.  It was only a matter of time before she struck out on her own.  I view it as a significant step forward in her recovery, but it does present some dangers and we will now have to be more vigilant. 

Here are some of the pictures that Paul took.  In the first, Joy was being playful and put her sunglasses on me: 


In this one, we are talking with our fingers.  Joy tends to communicate by pointing or waving her finger sometimes.  In this picture I think she was saying, "you better be careful," and I replied "no, you better be careful" (or something like that):


And here's another next to the pool with the breeze blowing Joy's hair:



And here's one of my favorite photos from the past called "shooting the rainbow," taken in March of 2009 down on St Croix by my good friend Charlie Simpson.  Joy loved the photo when she first saw it-- or she did until she noticed she had a cigarette in her hand.  I still love it:



Love and good health to you all,

Doug and Joy