Saturday, April 7, 2018

MY 5 GIRLS

Going through piles of stuff, I came upon these pictures from 2014 at my nephew's wedding. It made me stop and pause and think about how blessed I am to have my "girls", my nieces. They are pictured here with Sam at the reception. As I have been so close to them, I regret that none of them now lives close to Vermillion. They are all happily married and 4 of them have children of their own. The youngest, Maddie, is getting married this summer, and then the era of Hieb grandchildren weddings will be over.

God did not give me a daughter, but he gifted me with these five sweet girls who feel like daughters to me. When I used to live in Duluth, I got to babysit ALOT for the oldest two. I was single and it became like an adjunct job. (I should remind my brother how much money I saved them all those years!!! Ha.) 

I loved every second I spent with them. I "claimed" Anna, the oldest, as my own when I would take her shopping with me and people would comment on how cute my daughter was. I just smiled and said, "Thank you."

My mom was the caregiver for her aunt, who lived to be 102. One of these dear nieces of mine may end up being my caregiver some day if I am alone. Who knows? All I do know is that they love me dearly and show it/say it and I am so blessed they are in my life. 

From left, Kate, Betsy, Gretchen, Sam, Maddie, Anna






Me with Anna, my first niece, my "goofy twin", as we still call each other.
Our baby pictures look very similar.



Me with Anna, Gretchen, and Betsy



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A TOUGH WINTER AND SPRING

Another road trip delayed....this time by Dick's health. Another tough break in this long, cold, incident-filled winter (yes we are still seeing snow). He has felt lousy for a week and finally went into the clinic yesterday. Ironically the Haiti mission trip has come to bite him in the rear once again. The powerful antibiotics that he had to take for the MRSA and cellulitis he came home with have created a virus in his bowels called clostridium difficile. Now he has to take more strong antibiotics to get rid of this. He has felt really lousy and tired and spent about 9 days on the sofa. I pray these meds will alleviate it. Apparently many people who take it have a recurrence. I so don't want that for him.

I have turned into chief cook and bottlewasher, along with handling all the affairs around the house and errands/shopping. I do so with a generous heart full of gratitude for all the times he has taken over for me these past 7 years. 

I do not know if we will take the new trip or when.

Car? Nope. Too dang cold to wander around outside looking at cars. Tried 2 Fords here in town. One is a contender. Someone needs to develop a facility with ALL brands/models of cars which are all INSIDE of an enormous showroom. A couple of airplane hangars??

I am up 6 pounds as of today. YAY!! I look forward to the day when I can lose the butter and whole milk and large amounts of proteins. Back to 2% milk (though I really haven't minded the whole milk----it really is tasty. I may keep the ice cream in my diet!!

Sam came home for a day and a half and it was so special, as always. We fall into all our old routines and traditions and it feels like the family is whole again for that time. He adds such energy and humor to our lives. So wish he lived closer.

Yesterday was a fun day, as 3 of my friends had babies within hours of each other. One was the daughter of a dear friend. This makes 6 babies of friends/nephews in the past 2 months. 

I am trying out a new pair of hearing aids....to compare.....and they have a third pair ready for me to try out. If I am gonna shovel out this much cash for them, I better get the best I can get! I am adjusting as well as I can. 

Please send a prayer up for Dick's infection and that healing would be rapid. Thanks.




Thursday, March 15, 2018

STABLE


We went to the city to get scan results yesterday. They were good. My brain only has 3 small tumors in the frontal lobe (down from 3 years ago when the radiation doc said,"You have too many brain tumors to count. Get your affairs in order). I have 1 tumor on the bottom-side of my left lung. It looks as if the rest in lung have calcified. Bottom line: "Stable disease." And I can stay on my half dose of chemo. My doc was pleased.

I had a light bulb moment on the drive home. I have total faith that God is going to heal me. But now, I believe He is not going to do a divine all-at-once healing. I think He is just chipping away at it little by little. Yahweh must have His reasons for this method. All I can do is trust Him. And I do.

We stopped at a car dealership on the way home. Painful. Richie liked a Subaru Outback. I did not. End of that story. The prices these days are staggering. Note the our most recent car-buying was in 2001, 17 years ago when you could still get a nice new car for $24000 or less. So we are skewed in our thinking, learning to accept that car prices rose significantly without us knowing!! It will be a miracle if we agree on anything.

In the meantime, one car is working out fine. We just took it in and Bob, our mechanic, gave it a physical, did $300 of change-outs (plugs, etc) and proclaimed it in fine shape. We are ready to take her on a road trip. Most people would not trust a 200,000 mile 17-year-old car for a road trip, but Rosie has never let us down.

God's fingerprints were all over our trip cancellation. We followed our route down (weather) and now are following what would have been our week in Florida. We would have traveled in rain 5 days out of 7, driving through the bottom edge of that Nor'easter, and ending up in an unusual week in Florida, with highs in the mid 60's and 1 day of rain. They only have 1 day this week scheduled for 70 degrees. I am too tense to drive in rain so my husband would have had to do nearly all the driving. Just like God told me to cancel our 2 planned trips to Savannah, both of which had hurricanes the weeks we were supposed to be there, I believe He saved us from a crummy and cool vacation.

I have GAINED 4 POUNDS!! Yippee! 5 more to shoot for!!

Happy St. Paddy's Day. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

COMING UP INTO THE LIGHT

I am breaking through the gray and black and seeing the light above me. I feel so much better than when I last posted. Isolating myself and dealing with all this physical and emotional stuff has been good for me.

Between influenza, incessant coughing, and blizzards, I have had to re-schedule my brain scan 5 times in 3 weeks. I was on for this Friday, and very relieved the scan would be over and then they called yesterday and canceled because their radiologist couldn't be there. SO. Monday it is. Unless we have another snowstorm.

I did have another appointment with my palliative care team and the bottom line is that I told them I took myself off Hydrocodone completely and I feel so much better without it. The pain is not worse without it, so why take it? Nourishing my body is #1 goal. What they want me to eat goes against everything I believe in and the opposite of how I have cooked and eaten for 30 years. She wants me to bulk up on butter, whole milk (ugh), cream, high protein items, ice cream, Ensure shakes, etc. I have gained 3 pounds this week already, doing the diet. I have to eat every 2 hours, even if it is an inch of banana with peanut butter.

 She told me to make pies and cookies and eat them liberally (my husband, sitting next to me, grinned sheepishly and said, "Pecan pie?" and she laughed and said, "Yes, by all means, and put ice cream on it." Well, THAT is not going to happen. One night I ate a small caramel-chocolate ball and almost wanted to puke  from the sugar. When you haven't used sugar for as long as I have (4 months), anything sweet makes you sort of sick. Richie made me some pudding (cooked, not instant) and I can get about 1/4 cup of that down pretty easily. So we are keeping pudding on hand. I think pecan pie, the sweetest of ALL desserts, will have to wait. 

All of these suggestions were given to me days before by Anna, my niece, who works in palliative care and knew exactly what I needed to nourish myself. I am so grateful to her

Richie is done with his strong antibiotics to counteract the cellulitis and MRSA. His finger is better, but not healed yet. He thinks he is going to lose the nail.

We finally, after 3 weeks, got resolution from the insurance about the totaled car yesterday. They are not quick to act when they are paying out......

We stopped at 2 dealerships when we were in the city one day, and looked at a few things. If we ever agree on an automobile, it will be a miracle. Truly. We are looking for such different things. Oh, I detest this car shopping. I think we are doing fine with our one 17-year-old Caravan, and I don't see the need to hurry the decision.

Sam got the call for 2 of the quarter-final and 2 of the semi-final games (in the top class) at the MN State Hockey tournament starting tonight and tomorrow night. And then he got the call to broadcast the championship game in the class below the top class. We are so proud. We can't wait to hear him on live stream radio.

We canceled our trip because we were both not 100%. And for the 3rd time, God's fingerprints were all over that decision. We would have been traveling this whole week in a SE direction. We have tracked every day where we would have been traveling, and it has been cool and 80% rain in every location. I don't drive in rain other than a drizzle so Richie would have had to drive most of the way. We would not have enjoyed any of the scenery at all. The other two times we had plans to go to Savannah, God gave me the impression I was supposed to cancel. Both times, there was a hurricane the week we would have gone.. SO thankful for His guidance.

When we are both 100% healed in every way, we are going to drive down to the Grand Canyon, which neither of us have seen.

I thank all of you who prayed for me in this gray season. I felt your prayers.

When I get my scan results, I will let you know.

God bless you all.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

BREAK

I'm going to take a break, friends. I have so much going on physically that is not right, and I am battling this depression again. I have scans rescheduled once again for next week. I have 4 medical appts within the coming 6 days and I know that has added to my anxiety. I hate the scans. I feel as if I need to just isolate myself in the arms of God and work on this. I am so weak and malnourished right now that I need to concentrate on food. Anyway, I will see you on the backside of all this.

Satan is trying hard to "kill, steal and destroy," (John10:10) but I have faith that he will have no victory.

Friday, February 23, 2018

13, 14, .....

Today has been no better.

13. Snow was the culprit this time for having to cancel for the 2nd time, all my scans. I got up at 5:00 and checked the road reports and the trip to the city said,"Ice, slippery, snow." We checked again just before we would have had to leave and it was unchanged. After you total a car on black ice 6 days prior, you are no longer foolish about taking the risk. So.....folks....I may never get scanned.

14. Felling lousy again today; stomach problems, down, major lethargy.

15. Dick got a phone call from the doc who did the path report on his infected finger. He has  MRSA in his system! Lord, that was not what he needed. He went in to have his excised hip checked but he can't remove that bandage off til Sunday. He cannot do anything with that hand with the finger pain. I pray these strong antibiotics can wipe out the MRSA.

16. I spent over 4 hours on the phone with my phone company today trying to troubleshoot another problem. I got a new phone 1 week ago and spent 2 hours troubleshooting a malfunction. I sent it back and they sent this new one, which I activated today. Then spent 4 hours trying to get the text function working. My body ached from sitting that long. They erased my new phone and I told them I would try to get it going on my own. Low and behold, I solved the original problems all on my own. Me, the techie-zero.

17. I am so weak and malnourished and my husband is now forcing me to eat every afternoon and every morning to supplement my 100 pounds. Maybe my palliative care team will help me with this too. Since the flu, I've just had no appetite.

I am hoping my laundry list of woes ends today.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

THE WEEK TO BE FORGOTTEN

If you think you are having a bad week, think again. I feel like our Ekstrom blood is cursed at the moment:


1. Dick came back from Haiti with a sore finger.  

2. He went to Mpls to go to a Wolves game with Sam.

3. On the way home, he hit black ice and snow and went into a guard-rail at 65. He was protected by angelic pillows because we were driving a car whose airbags never deployed. It was totaled. We are very grateful for Dick's life. His life has been saved 3 times in 3 years by angels...miracles, all.

4. I proceeded to completely screw-up his flight arrangements home from Mpls by not looking at am vs pm. He had to stay another whole day there because of me when all he wanted was to get home. I had so much guilt in my lack of being diligent about things like that.

5. When he got home, his "sore" finger was wrapped in small cords of pus, very swollen and untouchable. He went right to the ER (this is midnight now), had it drained and was given antibiotics. They called it cellulitis. Dick has since studied up on this, as he has gotten 5 other Cellulitis pustules. It is a Haiti-originating condition from being in dirty water. (other countries too). NOTHING was clean there.

6. Still waiting on insurance information. Hard when they are making judgments without you being there.

7. I slipped into 3 days of anxiety, stomach trouble, fear and depression and cried for 2 days, Prayer has been tough and hope tougher, that it will end.

8. I cancelled my scans once again due to continued cough and may need to do so tomorrow because we're getting snow.

9. We made the decision together to scrap our trip, planned for 6 months. Neither of us is physically or emotionally in a place for a road trip and a week in Florida.

10. Putting our timeshare up for sale ended up with Dick taking 2 trips to FAX places to get 
correct info in.

11. Our one dear 17-year-old car had a deflated tire this morning that we to get to the station and Dick had to walk all the way home cuz I had no way to get him.

12. He went to a doctor today and she excised a large cellulitis on his hip. She packed it well and it is not comfortable. He can't even lay on that side of his body.


There was only one thing that made me smile today, or maybe in the last 6 days: Sam got the play-by-play gigs for 2 quarter-finals, 2 semi-final games of the big-time MN State Hockey Tournament plus the Championship game for Class A. So proud of that kid.


I truly hope all of you had a better week than we did.


PS. Shopping for cars, for me, is like having a root canal. Cannot think of anything I like less and now I face this task, later rather than sooner, which gives me gut balls and high anxiety.