Friday, July 24, 2009

Odd things happening at home

No much to report today, other than there is never a dull moment around our home -- only a dull looking flower bed now.

We live in a suburban area that is inundated with groundhogs and Whitetail deer and it’s not uncommon to see them in walking through our yard late in the evenings year round, more especially in the wintertime.

Never have we experienced a problem with either of them until recently. I have found evidence of hoof marks inside my now flowerless flower bed. The deer have obviously visited our yard during the night and had a feast from all of my flowers as a midnight snack.

All of my beautiful stargazer lilies blooms are now gone, nibbled up, with only stems remaining. I salvaged the last few blooms and put them in a vase on my table so that we could get a little enjoyment out of them. Other foliage has been torn and my azalea blooms and buds stripped, gnawed and sampled.

The deer completely ignored the green plants that I wasn’t fond of, leaving everything appearing as if it was all shrubs and weeds now.


Something strange happened the other night. My son Adam was over for dinner, and as he was helping me set the table with the dinnerware, he also lit a candle as he knows we sometimes enjoy having candlelight with dinner.

Within minutes the three of us were eating and sharing conversation, when unexpectedly the overhead light went out leaving us with a dim flame produced by the burning candle. Our first thoughts were that the power was going out, but then we noticed the lights over the island bar a few feet away were still on.

Within two minutes the lights came back on again. We were all intrigued by this and discussed how odd that only one set of the light fixtures in the kitchen went out and then... it happened a second time.

This time we were laughing at how eerie this was. Of all the lights in the house that were on at that particular time, the only one to go off was the one that was above our heads.

Do you ever have problems with animals in your yard, or strange things happening in your home?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Birthday

It seems the older we get our birthdays tend to come around much quicker than when we were young children and we were looking forward to them. I feel blessed to have been given another year. I was never one who needed a big birthday party to celebrate, instead I prefer the quieter times doing things with my loved ones to make my day to feel special.

Eric has made sure that my birthday has been a fun day for me. The day started out with phone calls with birthday wishes from several family members, and friends. Later my oldest son, Adam and Eric took me out to lunch where we all stuffed ourselves, and I enjoyed a slice of delicious chocolate cake.

After returning home to open my cards and gifts of a pretty bracelet, a nice wall plaque, and two books, Eric and I spent the whole day at two places that we love to visit. The Chester waterfront is located underneath the Commodore Barry Bridge and the other is Bartram’s Covered Bridge. Coincidentally on the day we got engaged we visited both of these places, so there are lots of great memories for us at these places.

The scene of the waterfront is now changing as a new Major League Soccer stadium for both the men and women’s teams is being built on the grounds and much of the former park area and many of the trees have now been removed. The existing boat landing, short boardwalk and fishing pier and places to picnic will remain. We enjoyed strolling along the waterfront spending time on the pier watching the numerous boats go by and children playing.

Bartram’s Covered Bridge is another very special place to us for several reasons mostly because that is where Eric proposed during a romantic summer picnic. This place is hidden off the main path, and it's a picturesque setting complete with an uninterrupted creek flowing underneath the bridge that travels downstream for miles. We have spent many hours talking while having picnics and skipping rocks across the brook while making plans for our future. We love this place so much we have a photo of it above our fireplace mantel.

I think all couples have “their own special place” they like to call theirs and visit frequently. Where are some of your special places?

Doing the simplest things with those I love at memorable places make the best memories on special days for me. I am already looking forward to turning 50 next year.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Special doctors and hospitals

Do you have confidence in your health care team?

Having trust in your physicians can make all the difference in your recovery as you should be partners in your treatments especially when you have a chronic medical condition. We have been blessed with have a special team of doctors, and an excellent hospital treating Eric.

Eric had an appointment today with his main Hepatologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). His doctor gave us some much needed encouragement and some good advice for his complications from the cirrhosis. We felt her aggressive cutting edge expertise, and experience in the liver disease specialty field is without question. We left feeling more hopeful that we normally do. Perhaps it was due to her kind emotional support from a physician.

She gave Eric the approval to once again be able to add meat back into his diet, and hopefully with another change in his medication he will soon start to feel better. She is genuinely concerned about Eric’s condition, and has given us her private phone line to call her personally with updates on him whether he is experiencing a good day or a bad day. This only adds to our trust in her medical care.

We have every confidence in HUP, their staff, and the transplant team as they have an extraordinary reputation as a world-renowned clinical and research hospital. It was ranked as the # 8 Best Hospital in the United States out of thousands by U.S. News & World Report. HUP has a Level 1 Trauma Center and a fleet of 6 helicopters called PennSTAR used to transport critically injured patients to the hospital. It has 697 hospital beds and a team of 1,663 physicians on staff, in addition to being the nation’s first teaching hospital.

Eric’s doctors are located in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. It is a state-of-the-art, 500,000 square foot facility that’s attached to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania through a glass crosswalk. This outpatient center cost $302 million to build, and is very impressive.

The professionalism shown by the staff is overwhelming. The staff is especially helpful to keep families updated on patients who are having surgery as they update the boards every 20 seconds on a television monitor of the patient’s status. It reminds me of the airport terminal boards and waiting for a loved one to arrive. It shows the patient’s pre-op status, what time their procedure began and ended, what time they were moved into the recovery room, and their destination if the patient is expected to be released to either go home or if they are to be admitted. Now that's pretty cool to a small town girl like myself.

If you ever need an excellent hospital, we highly recommend this one, but be prepared the valet services are not cheap, expect to pay around $15.00 for your visit.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Falling in love again

I’ve fallen in love all over again this past week. I’m not sure exactly how or when it happened I just know that I’ve caught myself staring and smiling at my husband more than I have in a long time. Perhaps it is just from spending quality time with the one you love and this has made a difference in my attitude.

We have been dealing with Eric’s illness on a daily basis for months now, so it’s only natural for it to create some tension within our relationship. Yet, through it all it’s important we remember what our priorities are and to not lose sight of them and deal with the stress productively.

We have felt blessed as Eric has felt a little stronger, and had a little more energy than usual for an entire week. We have taken advantage of this time and were able to do several enjoyable things together that we’ve missed doing. It’s the simple physical things that we take for granted and we realize this when they are removed from our daily lives.

Some of the things we did this week, in no particular order were.

Another cookout – or as some northerners call it a BBQ with lots of good food.

On the 4th of July, the weather was absolutely perfect so we bravely decided to spend the night out under the stars since we hadn’t done this in ages. Instead of camping out in the woods in sleeping bags on the hard ground, we brought outside a mattress, bed sheets, and blankets and slept on the deck next to the burning firepit. This was my idea of roughing it.

Eric kept the fire stoked as the temperature dropped down to 58° by early morning. It was a miracle in itself there were not any annoying bugs out that night. As we lay warmly snuggled up in our covers, staring at the northern sky in search of the big dipper, we noticed the constellations of stars in view were dimly hiding behind the clouds. The noises we heard were very faint in the distance. There was a low flying jet overhead, some late night firework displays, and a barely noticeable motorcycle sound. A few crickets chirped softly nearby, singing us to sleep. It was a fun night, and we’re looking forward to doing it again, but only when it gets warmer as Eric claims.

We’ve spent several late night hours watching the first season of the China Beach series cuddled up on the couch. I never watched the show when it was originally aired, but I’ve come to enjoy this series now and I can’t wait to see how it ends.

On another night, we had the pleasure of entertaining six young men from the Christian Academy of Arts as our overnight guest. This was the second year they have stayed with us. What a blessing these talented guys were, and the play they preformed was awe inspiring.

Today was an adventuresome day as we went to the park with our 4 ½ year-old grandson Zachary, and we took our three bikes to ride on a bike trail. I’m looking forward to riding the entire distance of six miles one day soon. We couldn’t complete it today as unfortunately one of our bikes got a flat tire.

We also visited a historical site in our community of an enormous 400 + year-old Weeping Beech tree that was incredible. We never knew existed until now.

There was something very special about this week, yet I can’t seem to put my finger on it. I just know that God had his hand in it and tonight as I lay my head on my pillow I will be counting my many blessings and thanking him for my handsome, wonderful husband and the love we share in addition to the time we have to cherish together each day.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Walk In the Park

For such a long time I have not known how to deal productively with the raw emotions that have overtaken and plagued my mind. Instead of expressing them in a positive manner, I’ve internalized and repressed them. It’s easy to do when you are faced daily with all of the unknowns and the uncertainties that occur from living with my husband’s Cirrhosis. This disease is something I will never understand.

I genuinely want to change these negative feelings and be able to vent to get them out in ways other than tears. I realize this isn’t healthy, and its taking its toll on me emotionally. I know that something has to change, I can’t continue like this. Perhaps this is why I’ve not even had the heart to blog.

It’s been an especially difficult week physically and emotionally for both of us. I have spent numerous hours in prayer seeking God's guidance.

I am grateful that today we’ve turned a corner and have been able to get out of the house, and have some fun together. Escaping the sadness and trying to temporally forget about Eric's illness was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Eric and I went out to lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, and spent some quality time adventuring around the park overlooking the waterfront and sightseeing. The weather was perfect as the sun was shining and a cool breeze was blowing as the sailboats sailed smoothly down the river. The view was extraordinary and relaxing.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the adventures in our lives it will bring.

The Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia is beautiful at night time.