Barbara's dental pain was getting worse, not better. Today she went to the dentist again, and this time he did a root canal. She must go back tomorrow to finish the job. Already, the pain is considerably reduced. She was able to eat dinner, and later she ate some ice cream, all without serious pain. I think that we have this problem under control.
She was worried that she might have an attack of the abdominal pain while in the dentist's chair. That's exactly what happened last week. This week was better, but she did have a bad pain attack after we got home. As usual, it took over 30 minutes for the medicine to give relief. This time the pain spread from her right side, all the way around the front to her left side near the bottom of her rib cage. If this is from her surgery, why is it still getting worse?
Last weekend we attended the American Cancer Society's 24-hour Walk for Life at a park here in Glendale. Unlike last year, we did not bring the motorhome. It's just as well, because Barbara didn't feel like staying. We did enjoy the opening festivities, and Barbara walked the "Survivor's Lap."
On Thursday, we had Boyd and Yvonne over to watch the vice presidential debate. Barbara cooked a wonderful enchilada casserole and made a great flourless chocolate cake. We had a fun evening filled with vitriolic political opinions (we all feel that this coming election is vital to our country). Barbara had a pain attack during the debate, but took her Fentora quickly and the pain was more moderate than usual. The TiVo allowed us to pause the TV briefly until Barbara felt better.
Kanan had his birthday party at our house yesterday. Michelle did all of the planning and preparation, and Barbara baked a special dinosaur cake, made from scratch, of course. She also bought a basketball set for the pool. Kanan had four other boys over, and Jessie and her friend Brittany attended, but tried to stay clear of the boys. The boys had fun on the trampoline and doing highflying acts. Kanan blows out the candles and selects his favorite dinosaur part to devour. The boys had a sleepover at Kanan's place.
Today, we delivered out gifts, notably a kit to conduct "Disgusting Science." Jessie watched (hiding her disgust).
Friday we had a wonderful phone call with Jaedon. These calls start as a three-way call with Sandra, allowing her to talk with her son in Colorado. After an animated conversation between Sandra and Jaedon, Barbara and I took over. We talked at length about his upcoming field trip to Cave of the Winds. I asked him to try to remember everything that he learned so that he could teach me. He was delighted and promised to tell me all. We discussed astronomy and why Pluto is no longer considered a planet. He asked lots of questions like, "Why didn't they know about the other planet beyond Neptune?" and "Why is Mars so faint, when it is the closest planet to us?" His intelligence and inquisitiveness delights us. We are looking forward to having him with us during the Christmas holidays.
Sunday was a "red letter day." Barbara, Sherri, and I hiked up our local trail. The plan was for Barbara to go as far as she could (usually a little over a mile), and she would return to the car while Sherri and I continue to the top. After a mile, Barbara turned around, but then we realized that she was still following us. To our surprise, Barbara hiked all the way to the top: three miles and 1300 feet of altitude gain! This is the first time in five years that she has made it all the way! She was ecstatic, and we all celebrated on the way down. A big success like this certainly helps the emotions.
Monday, we saw Dr. Lenz. Taline had looked at the last cat scan report, and didn't understand the various dates mentioned in it. She called the chief radiology doctor, and he went through the last four cat scans and verified all of the findings. As mentioned in the reports, there are several spots which merit watching, but none of them seems to be changing. It was comforting to hear that he had personally gone back through the scans, since we worry when each report sounds just like the last - is someone actually looking critically at each new scan?
Dr. Lenz reiterated that he doesn't see how Barbara's pains can be cancer. The pain would be more constant if it were cancer. Taline had listened to Barbara's stomach, and heard an unusual amount of bowel sounds. I wonder if this bowel activity triggers the pains. When Barbara has pain, she sometimes asks me to apply pressure with my hand; I usually feel bowel action just as Barbara screams out in pain. It all fits with Dr. Lenz's theory that the pain is from surgical adhesions - scar tissue from the surgery which attaches organs and other tissues together, when they should not be attached. Then bowel action might tug on these other organs, causing pain.
Yesterday we attended a support group for bi-polar and schizophrenic patients and families. We wanted to get a referral to a child psychiatrist to talk about Jaedon. Jaedon is acting up in school and at home. He has been placed on an ADHD drug. We doubt the ADHD diagnosis (attention deficit syndrome). When he was with us in July, he was able to concentrate for 45 minutes while doing a detailed drawing of a construction backhoe. That didn't seem like ADHD to us. Barbara sent Jason a packet of information from the internet about ADHD and bi-polar disorder. It states that a drug for ADHD would likely worsen the behavior for a child with bi-polar or other mood disorder. We just got a call from Patricia, Jason's wife, thanking us for the information, and letting us know that they have scheduled an appointment with a child psychiatrist. We are greatly comforted.
Tonight we will watch the final presidential debate with Boyd and Yvonne. Should be interesting!
Last weekend we drove the motorhome to Escondido to visit Barbara's nephew Curtis, his wife Lena, and their son Antonio. We were joined by Michelle, Brent, Jessie, and Kanan. The boys had lots of fun playing in their huge yard and eating pomegranates from their trees.
The highlight of the visit was seeing Lena sing and act in a musical production consisting of scenes from famous musicals. The production was very professional, including lavish costumes, a great live band, and wonderful singing, especially Lena. All participants contributed their talents without compensation to aid the fundraiser for their congregation. We were delighted to be able to attend.
Early this morning (6:45 AM) Barbara and I had a session with a psychiatrist who specializes in pediatric mood disorders. We wanted to explore how we, as grandparents, could be of help with Jaedon's difficulties. The doctor is wonderful, and he felt that we could help most by being available for Jaedon, talking with him on the phone, visiting him, and having him visit us. He especially urged that Jaedon needs to see a psychiatrist, because a misdiagnosis can be harmful: if he takes ADHD medicine, when he really has a different mood disorder, the medicine will likely make the disorder worse. We are happy to have another resource to call upon (although he doesn't come cheap).
This afternoon is Kanan's Jogathon where the schoolchildren run laps for an hour as a fundraiser. Michelle is in charge of the entire event. Last night we were at her house, preparing the lap tally cards and water bottle souvenirs for today. We will be there to help during the event.
Kanan was outstanding in his jogathon. He completed 40 laps of the playground in the 1-hour event. Barbara and I had joined others in pledging money for each lap completed. Here he is in the middle of the run. He really "put out" on a hot day!
We have attended some sessions at NAMI, National Association for Mental Illness, to learn more about mood disorders and ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder). We also had a session with a highly regarded (and very expensive) child psychologist. We are worried about Jaedon, who has been acting up in school. We especially wanted to know if our forthcoming visit to Colorado would leave him worse off seeing us leave at the end of the visit. The doctor assured us that the visit would be beneficial - it would provide continuity with the past, reassuring him that he can count on our love. In addition to the short visit, we plan to have him with us at our home for the Christmas holidays.
We received bad news from Tommy, Barbara's brother in Virginia. His bladder cancer has spread to the bones, and he is in frequent pain. It's a sad turn of events and we hope and pray for him.
On a brighter note: Barbara's nephew Scott just completed his first 100-mile running race. It was the Heartland 100 in Kansas, and he finished 8th overall with a time of 20 hours and 30 minutes! This is unbelievable, for his first 100! We are totally in awe. Scott is the one who flew here from his Army duty in Germany to pace Barbara in her last 50 mile run on Catalina Island. He is really a giving person.
We made a whirlwind motorhome trip to Colorado Springs to visit our grandson Jaedon. We left Wednesday and arrived late Friday, picking up Jaedon upon arrival. He stayed with us the entire weekend except for a couple of hours on Saturday when his dad, Jason, picked him up for a therapy appointment. It's hard to put into words how much this shared experience meant to us and to Jaedon. He spent much of the time clinging to us - he is very affectionate, and we love to respond to his hugs. He was delighted to share his excitement for life with us.
One of the highlights was a set of hikes. Earlier this year he had stayed with Michelle, Brent, Kanan, and Jessie in the same RV campground, and he had found a "secret trail." This time he took me on a hike and showed me his secret trail (Barbara stayed behind with a pain attack). During the hike, he expressed sadness about "Ma" being left behind. Later, with Ma feeling better, we repeated the hike. He couldn't quit talking about how HE took US on a hike. Several times, he asked me if this was my most favorite time of the weekend. He needs experiences like this to build his self-esteem.
The visit was jammed with activities. He and I went on two bike rides around the campground. We played lots of games in the motorhome, including the Old Maid card game, and BINGO. We also Asked him dozens of questions from Brain Quest, a children's test of knowledge. He kept score, giving himself a point for each correct answer, and giving us a point for each wrong answer. At the end of the evening, he had 45 to our 12. He is one smart kid.
Saturday afternoon, we took him to Border's bookstore. He always has a hard time deciding between all of the books that he would like to have. He finally chose "Captain Underpants", a set of children's stories, mixing silliness and adventure. He read some of one book to Barbara, and some of another book to me. He is an amazingly good reader for second grade.
Sunday, I took him to the "Money Museum", of the American Numismatic Association. He kept a journal, writing down all of his experiences and observations at the museum. It was delightful having him read the journal to Ma.
We had most meals in the motorhome. He has a huge appetite; Saturday evening we brought pizza home, and he ate all eight slices of his pizza! We couldn't believe it.
He brought with him a CD which he had won in a dance contest at a children's gathering. It was full of fun, silly children's songs. We played the CD at least ten times. Barbara had enough, so we turned off the speakers in the back of the motorhome, and Jaedon and I sat up front listening. "Listening" is not descriptive enough - Jaedon was dancing or acting to each musical piece. He even learned the nonsense words of the alien from outer space. We brought a video DVD from home with an episode of "Sid, the Science Kid." It's an animated cartoon of kids learning how "heat" works to cook things like pancakes. He enjoyed it so much that we played it twice. I gave it to him to share at home with his half-sister Jennifer.
It was hard to say goodbye. We are all looking forward to having him with us in Glendale over the Christmas holidays. We love him so much.
Click here for some photos of our wonderful visit with Jaedon last weekend.
During the last few days, we've been recovering from the long drive home from Colorado. We drove from Colorado Springs to Gallop, New Mexico, in one day, and then 650 miles to home on the next day. It was hard on Barbara, but she wanted to keep a dental appointment on Wednesday.
During the trip, and continuing afterward, Barbara has had occasional pain attacks. Taking the Fentora pain medicine helps, but not until Barbara has suffered bad pain for 45 minutes. During that time, she finds that heat and pressure help a little. I discovered that the inverter in the motorhome can power her heating pad, so we don't need to start the generator, with its noise, vibration, and gasoline usage. We're finding ways to resume a fairly normal life, but I would really like to know what causes the pain in the first place.
We just returned from Dr. Lenz. Barbara's CA19-9 level is 54, a little up from last time, but within the range that it has been for the last year. Lenz again stated that her pain must be "post surgery", because cancer pain doesn't come and go for months and months. He scheduled a cat scan in December. We will have Jaedon with us, and Lenz urged that we bring Jaedon into the clinic to meet Lenz, Taline, and the others.
We have finalized plans for me to fly (airlines) to Colorado Springs, pick up Jaedon, and bring him to California. Then, after New Years, I will reverse the flights and take him back to Colorado. We have been discussing with Jaedon the plans for the two weeks, and he remembers every detail: the Griffith Observatory Planetarium, bike rides, hikes in the mountains, the Museum of Science and Industry, an overnight with Sherri, and a night at the beach in the motorhome. He says that he has already packed his stuff - he sure doesn't lack enthusiasm.
This week has been busy. We had the tree trimmers working on Saturday clearing the jungle in the yard. Friday, the electricians were here wiring up a transfer switch so that, in the event of a power failure, I can power the house from our generator. I feel that it is important to be able to power Barbara's hospital bed, her heating pad and blanket, the furnace, and the refrigerators. While we're at it, I have ensured that we can run a few lights and the television and TiVo (the really important stuff). As I expected, the electrical work cost more than the generator, but it sure beats stringing extension cords around the house. The installation must be inspected by the city to make sure that the electricity from the generator cannot go back out to the power pole and electrocute a lineman.
Barbara is preparing for Thanksgiving. She is cooking the turkey, and Sherri and Michelle are bringing the other goodies. It'll be fun to have everyone here again.
We had a wonderful family gathering for Thanksgiving. Barbara cooked the turkey, following a demanding recipe. She also baked an apple pie and a pumpkin pie. Sherri made a butternut squash soup, decorated with crystallized sage leaves, and helped Barbara with the stuffing. She baked a flourless chocolate cake (at Michelle's request). And Michelle made a bunch of dishes: spinach salad with blue cheese and toasted nuts, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and asparagus with goat cheese and bacon. Here are the photos from the affair. We all voiced our thanks that we are able to be together and that Barbara is holding her own against the cancer.
Much of the conversation centered around Jaedon. We are worried about him misbehaving at school. We all want to smother him with love while he is here for his two week Christmas vacation.
Big news to report! Barbara and I will be taking care of our grandson Jaedon. Barbara and I had discussed this idea for a couple of weeks, but we didn't know how to approach Sandra and Jason. On Sunday, to our surprise, we received a call from Jason who expressed desperation over Jaedon and his continued misbehaving in school. Jason confided that he was looking into boarding schools and military schools. It was the perfect time to share our interest in raising Jaedon, and ask that Jason include that possibility in his range of options. Barbara went one step further, assuring Jason that we stand ready to take Jaedon at a moment's notice, if Jason and Patricia reach a crisis. Jason said that he would think it over and confer with Patricia.
Monday, Jason called and stated that he had concluded that Jaedon's welfare would be best served by him residing with us. Jason also felt that it would be best to make the change right away: when I pick up Jaedon on December 20, it will be for more than just the Christmas holidays. Jason had already talked with his attorney, and their only concern was whether Sandra would agree. Barbara and I had already informed Sandra of the proposal, and she did agree. So, we made a conference call with all four of us on the line, and both Sandra and Jason affirmed that the arrangement has their blessing.
We have been in continuing contact with Sandra's lawyer, and he is delighted with the plan which is beneficial to all of us, and clearly offers the best hopes for Jaedon.
The only negative points are that Barbara and I are not young, and Barbara's health is uncertain. But those concerns are offset by the fact that we have the time and resources to give full attention to Jaedon's development. Our other children are grown and on their own, so we can focus our full attention on Jaedon. We do plan to find a "nanny" to help with the cooking, washing, etc. A nanny would be especially helpful when I go with Barbara to medical appointments, and at times when Barbara is hit by a pain attack.
Barbara and I are scurrying around making plans. I just talked with the medical insurance people here at work, although Jaedon is covered under military dependent insurance since Jason is on active duty. Barbara is calling the school administrators to find out how to register him, and if there are any special programs to help with his behavior. She has also called the child psychiatrist with whom we had a session several weeks ago. We will be looking to him for recommendations on counseling and therapy.
This is certainly a new phase of life for us. It is especially exciting for me since I never raised children from this age - our three girls were already teenagers when I was lucky enough to enter Barbara's life.
We've been busy getting ready for Jaedon's arrival. He will be living in the same bedroom where I slept as a child. We had converted it into a huge closet for Barbara, and we needed to clean it out and make it back into a comfy bedroom. Barbara friend Gene Morrill, who does home repairs, helped us all weekend. We went with Gene to Home Depot and bought a freestanding clothes closet, and lots of other stuff, like curtain rods, paint, shelving, etc. Gene assembled the shelving in the garage, enabling Barbara to move our household supplies from our downstairs spare room into the garage. Then Gene assembled the closet in the spare room, and Barbara moved her clothes from Jaedon's room. Next Gene installed curtain rods in Jaedon's room and Barbara hung new curtains. I cleaned out tons of my old college souvenirs - if I haven't looked at the stuff for 40 years, it can safely be thrown away. It's a delight to have Jaedon take over "my room."
Michelle loaned us Jessie's old bicycle for Jaedon to use; it only needed some air in the tires. I also pumped up the tires on Barbara's bike and installed regular pedals so that Sandra can ride with Jaedon and me when she's here over Christmas. It occurred to us that Jaedon will be able to go with us to the bicycle rally in Paso Robles this Memorial Day weekend. I plan to install speedometers on all three of the grandkid's bikes so that they can participate in the distance contest. Kanan was on his bike all the time during the rally, and I'm sure that he would have won an award if the mileage had been recorded.
We're also doing some "child-proofing" of the house. We want to be sure that all medicines and household chemicals are inaccessible.
Meanwhile, Barbara has been shopping for gifts for all of the wonderful people at Norris. As if she doesn't already have enough to do.
A typical day (last Thursday) went like this: the painters finished the two-week job painting the outside of the house. Barbara had to settle with them, and I needed to reinstall our security system and the Christmas lights. The electrician came to meet the city inspector, who approved our emergency generator connection. Then the electrician rewired the pool motor installation - it was poorly done (in 1960) and was dangerous with some of the equipment ungrounded. During this time, the gardeners arrive with their noisy machines. It was truly a 3-ring circus.
This week will be equally busy. Lexi has her 18th birthday, and we want to share it with her. We hope that the snow will melt in time to let us drive to Las Vegas. We have an appointment with the child psychiatrist, and we have lots of questions for him.
Then, on Saturday, I fly to Denver to pick up Jaedon and bring him with me to his new home. I can't wait!
Meanwhile our other grandkids have been busy. Jessie has volunteered to be the "water girl" for a professional basketball team. She gets to ride to the games on the team bus, and participate in the team celebrations. Kanan has become the chemist of the house. Every time we visit them, he is conducting a chemical experiment. Last night was no exception. Michelle and Brent had us over for a wonderful meal of grilled fresh salmon, grilled vegetables, a great salad, and some yummy chocolate cake. Kanan insisted on bringing his experiment to the table. After we finished eating, he produced some long lasting bubbles, which drifted around the kitchen.
Kanan entered the South Pasadena Tiger Run 5K, and he placed third in his age group! He beat all but two other elementary school boys in the entire race. Here is a photo of him showing justifiable pride.
Barbara still gets pain attacks almost every day. With heat and medication, the pain subsides after 45 minutes. While lifting boxes, she injured her back, and she finds it uncomfortable to sit without proper back support. We hope that the injury is not long lasting. She is in good spirits, knowing that we have a chance to help our grandson achieve his full potential.
It has been a whirlwind week. We have not had a chance to take a breath. Last Tuesday, we drove the motorhome to Las Vegas to be with our granddaughter Lexi at her 16th birthday party. The gathering was at ChuckECheese, and was enjoyed by Lexi's family, Lexi's boyfriend Nico, and some of Nico's family and friends. Here is Lexi with Grandma. Boyfriend Nico is on the left with his friend Manuel. Lexi's half brothers Kinoa and Kaleo pose together with the ChuckECheese mascot.
The next morning we got up early to avoid the predicted storm in Southern California. Unfortunately, as we reached the halfway point in Barstow, we saw signs warning that the Cajon Pass was closed due to heavy snowfall. I figured that we could drive to Palmdale and get into the LA basin on highway 14, which only rises to 3000 feet instead of 5000 feet. We took highway 18 to Palmdale. That was a big mistake since highway 18 is low priority for snow removal, and we found ourselves driving on several inches of snow with ice underneath. I wanted to turn around, but there was never a place with enough room between the snow berms on the sides of the road. I just kept moving, and after 15 harrowing miles I caught up to a big semi truck, which was leaving nicely crushed tracks in the snow. We followed him into Palmdale, and I figured that we were "home free." Wrong! We took Sierra Highway, and just before we reached the 14 freeway, we came to a road closure due to the snow. We drove back into Palmdale, and went up the onramp of the 14 freeway, but were surprised to find a bunch of cars coming backwards down the onramp. Up on the freeway, we could see the roadblock ahead, closing the 14 freeway. So, we made a U-turn and went back down the onramp ourselves.
At this point, we realized that we were going to be stranded in Palmdale. Since we had not eaten before our Vegas departure, we decided to give up driving and find a restaurant. I selected Applebee's, since their parking lot slopes toward the road, and we would probably have a good chance of getting out of the parking lot, even if a lot of snow fell. After eating, and listening to the news, we realized that we would be spending the night. The restaurant people were happy to have us stay in their lot, and we buttoned down for the night. I tried to put up the satellite dish, but it wouldn't move. Outside, I saw that a foot of snow was holding it down. I brushed the snow away with a broom and could raise the antenna, but got no signal. Then I realized what people from snow country know well: in a heavy snowfall, it is impossible to receive satellite signals. So, we resigned ourselves to watching regular TV.
We were lucky to be in a motorhome, as we were comfortable. Many stranded drivers had to spend the night in their cars, and the temperature fell to the mid 20's. The nest morning we awoke to sights like this. The motorhome had gathered icicles and iced up mirrors. Even the palm trees looked out of place.
The news reports told us that Cajon Pass was open - we should have spent the night in Victorville, but that's hindsight. Then we heard that Interstate 15 (the "Grapevine") was open. Who knows why the 14 was still closed, but I decided to drive north to Lancaster, west on 138 to Gorman, and take I-5 to LA. We wound up driving an extra 80 miles coming home, but we safely made it. What an adventure!
Saturday was the day that we were eagerly awaiting. I took the airline to Denver and picked up Jaedon. Here we are at the airport transferring his stuff into the empty suitcases which I had brought. Patricia has her back to us, and in her arms is baby Lauren. Jaedon is a very busy boy, and I had my hands full, but my excitement at finally having him with me made it easier. He and I were playing with a ball on the floor of the airport departure area, and another boy and his sister joined us to play ball. I met the parents, and with the boys having such a good time, we decided to sit together on the flight. Jaedon and Kyle played together for the whole flight, relieving us parents of the need to entertain two active youngsters.
We finally got home at 8 PM, and Lexi had already arrived from Las Vegas for the holidays. We were all so excited that we stayed up till late at night.
Since then we have been very busy with Jaedon. Sunday, I took him and Lexi to buy a Christmas tree. Today, Barbara and I had a session with our child psychiatrist. Then we went to Norris for a cat scan. We took Jaedon with us and he met lots of the wonderful people at Norris, including Dr Lenz and Taline. Barbara also handed out dozens of Christmas gifts - she can't leave her caregivers empty handed.
For the rest of the day, Jaedon and Kanan have been playing in the back yard and Jaedon's bedroom (boys will be boys). At dinner, there were "high fives" and turkey burgers. After dinner, I took the two boys to Kanan's house for Jaedon to sleep overnight with Kanan. For the moment, it's peaceful here, but it won't last long.
It's been a jam-packed week. On Christmas Eve, Sandra was due to arrive from Arizona. At 10 PM I got a call from her - she was stranded in San Bernardino with a shredded tire. She couldn't get to the spare tire since the car was fully loaded and it was raining. I drove to her and we moved everything from her car to mine, and changed the tire.
To my surprise, she had four ferrets in her car. Barbara and I had promised Lexi two ferrets for her birthday. Sandra offered to broker the deal and transport the animals from Arizona. When Lexi arrived last Saturday, she had already bought a ferret, and she brought it with her. We had to keep it in the garage, since Barbara can't be exposed to animal diseases. Since it was very cold at night, I ran a space heater day and night in the garage (wait till I get THAT electric bill). Now Sandra was bringing the two ferrets that Barbara and I had bought for Lexi. Sandra also brought her own two ferrets. The plan was for the ferrets to be kept in Michelle's garage, but that never happened. So, for the rest of the week we had five ferrets in our garage, and the smell was bad. Here are Sandra and Lexi with the ferrets.
Christmas day was fun. Michelle brought a big Christmas breakfast for everyone, and we all opened gifts. Sherri helped do some shopping to help Barbara with gifts. Here are some photos of the festivities:
Later on Christmas day, we had Barbara's specialty, Moroccan Bastilla, my all-time favorite. Mama and son Jaedon also enjoyed it. Sherri was a big help in the kitchen.
Friday, the day after Christmas, I took Sandra's car and bought a new tire. Later, nephew Curtis and his wife Lena came up from Escondido with their son Antonio. We always enjoy seeing them. Here Jaedon and Antonio study astronomy ... and "acting"
Saturday, Jaedon and I took our first bike ride. We rode around the Rose Bowl, and practiced maneuvers in the adjacent parking lots. He is a natural at cycling. We should have lots of fun bike rides together.
Late Saturday, Barbara was feeling some pain around her Groshong catheter. Upon inspection, we noticed a white substance appearing at the opening in the skin. Barbara grabbed it, thinking that it was just a piece of tissue, and out popped a tube-like piece of web. We later learned that the material is supposed to hold the catheter from falling out. With the material gone, there was an opening in the skin. We worried that she could easily get an infection.
Sunday, we drove the motorhome to Bolsa Chica State Beach. We dropped off Jaedon at Sherri's home. Jaedon spent the night with Sherri, and the next day she took him to Sea World in San Diego. Barbara, Sandra, and I remained in the motorhome at the beach.
On Monday, Sandra had a dental appointment in Saugus, on the opposite side of the Los Angeles area. I drove her first to our home to feed and clean the ferrets, and then to Saugus. I didn't know the arrangement for paying the dentist, who is a friend of Michelle. Well I found out: it wound up on my credit card. Some day I will learn.
While driving back to the beach, I got a call from Sandra's lawyer, who is working on the legal papers authorizing us to keep Jaedon. For some reason he received only a partial FAX from us last Friday. So now we had to FAX him the papers again, which meant finding a place that will FAX for a price. As Sandra and I were preparing to go find a FAX place, I had trouble closing the motorized door on Barbara's van. It had given problems before, but the mechanics can't find the problem. I tried to pull the door closed with the motor fighting me. All of a sudden, the motor reversed and slammed my arm between the door and the jam. In the process, several inches of skin on my arm were peeled back, and my hand was crushed. The hand immediately started to swell up like a surgical glove being inflated. Barbara treated the arm with antiseptic spray, and applied sterile gauze. She and Sandra drove me to Hoag Hospital, where we spent several hours having me patched up. Luckily, I didn't break any bones, and the skin was easily glued back into place.
Leaving the hospital, we found a FAX place and finished the job that started all of this grief. We then returned to the motorhome to await a call from Sherri when she got back from Sea World with Jaedon. Sherri was supposed to call at 7 PM. When it became 8:45, we got worried. Finally, she called from Sea World. She had no cell signal in the park, and she was now in the parking lot with Jaedon; they were both soaking wet from a log ride, it was cold, and she couldn't find her car. We suggested that she get someone from security to drive her around, but Jaedon finally spotted the car. Since she was still an hour from home, and so much had already gone wrong today, we all decided that she should just keep Jaedon for a second night, and we would retire in the motorhome. We had planned to take everyone to the Claim Jumper Restaurant, but we now just wanted to eat a quick meal and go to bed.
Tuesday morning we picked up Jaedon at Sherri's. Meanwhile, Barbara had called Taline at Norris, since the catheter entrance was inflamed. Taline urged Barbara to come in immediately. We drove the motorhome to Norris, and Taline diagnosed a serious infection of the catheter. She prescribed a strong antibiotic, and arranged to have the catheter removed. Since Barbara is no longer on chemo, removing the catheter is not a disaster. We always worry about the future - if Barbara needs chemo in the future, she would need another catheter, and this is the second catheter to be removed from her chest. The first one broke off during removal, requiring a different routing for the second catheter. I don't know what happens if this one breaks upon removal.
Today, I took Jaedon to my work. We are on vacation and only a few co-workers were around. But Jaedon had fun, and we brought home a poster and several astronomical photographs from the Spitzer Spacecraft. On the way home, we stopped for lunch at McDonalds, where they have a kid's play zone. Jaedon played with six other kids - they were younger and he played like a scary man and chased them all over the play structure. They loved it, and chased him back whenever he stopped. I am very encouraged that he got along so well with the other kids: no hitting, no harsh words, and everyone had so much fun that the parents all delayed their departures. A delightful day.
Tonight, we celebrated Brent's birthday. Kanan and Jaedon had fun playing together in Jaedon's room.
On New Year's Day, Jaedon joined me in bed to watch the Rose Parade on TV. Just as it was about to start, I heard an unusual aircraft sound, and Jaedon and I ran outside. We got a beautiful view of the B1 Stealth Bomber flying directly overhead on its approach to over fly the Rose Parade. It's so fun to share an experience like this with Jaedon.
Later in the day, Jaedon met several of the neighborhood kids, and he invited them all to come to our yard and play on the trampoline and the swings. We had heard that Jaedon had difficulty getting along with other kids, but there was nothing but good fun that afternoon. Let's hope that Jaedon will continue to thrive in the new environment.
Friday, I went with Sandra and Jaedon to Build-A-Bear, a store where children select the parts of a teddy bear, and it's assembled in front of them. Jaedon designed one for his mom, Sandra, and he recorded a special recording which plays when mom squeezes the bear's arm. Jaedon and his mom each now have a bear with which to remember each other.
Sandra returned to Arizona on Saturday. The parting was sad for Jaedon, but we reassured him that he can talk frequently with his mom on the phone, and we will make periodic visits in the motorhome.
Having Jaedon is both heartwarming and stressful at the same time. Jaedon is eager for physical affection, and both Barbara and I are enjoying his hugs. We've come a long way from his Colorado counselor's recommendation of "three hugs a day". Like Jaedon says, "A million-billion is not enough."
The stress comes from him continually testing us. He is trying to define his role in the family and his limits. He is so smart, that he is especially adept at hurtful remarks when we stop some bad conduct - he will say, "You are mean. I'm going back to Colorado." Or, "Just punish me!" We have to ignore the barbs, and get along with the lesson that we are teaching. On the plus side, we have noticed better behavior now that we have him alone, with the hubbub of the holidays behind us.
Our biggest problem is that his father and his attorney have not provided us with the legal documentation necessary to enroll Jaedon in school. I'm afraid that if the paperwork doesn't come through quickly, I will have to return him to Colorado so that he can go to school. That would be a big setback for Jaedon, who needs stability rather than upheaval in his life.
During all of this, Barbara continues to have frequent pain attacks, as many as three or four each day. Stress is undoubtedly a factor. In addition to the difficulties here in California, Barbara's brother Tommy has been admitted to the hospital. He has received surgery and radiation for bladder cancer, and now his bones seem to be affected. Barbara is worried sick about him. He is a one-in-a-million guy. Why does this dreaded cancer hit all the good people?
In spite of having inadequate paperwork, we were able to register Jaedon for school. He will be attending the same grammar school where I went as a child. We met his teacher, and we are very pleased with her. Barbara discussed the special circumstances with the teacher, and followed up with a more detailed written report. Jaedon is overjoyed - as he says, "I consider it a privilege to attend this school." He has already joined up with several other boys and they play tetherball every recess. He isn't overlooking the girls either: he told us that he finds one girl attractive, and the teacher told me that a different girl has a crush on Jaedon. Each morning he is eager to go to school, and "Papa, please don't walk me into the school grounds. It would make me look like a 'little kid'."
I have enrolled Jaedon in Little League baseball. He starts practices in a week. I also signed him up for art lessons. They are once a week, after school, for nine weeks. I can't help him with art, and I want him to have some professional attention - from what we can see he is very talented artistically.
Barbara continues to fight pain battles, sometimes as frequently as four times in a day. She ran out of the Fentora pain medicine last Thursday (since we must now lock up all meds, I was unaware that she was running low). The local pharmacy spent a day finding out that they couldn't get us the meds until next Monday. They told me this on Friday morning, just as Barbara was starting another pain attack. I took the prescription to another pharmacy near Norris, where the owner has been extremely nice to us. She gave me a portion of the prescribed amount, with the understanding that she would deal with the insurance next week. I rushed home with the pills and found Barbara writhing in pain. Thank goodness for the wonderful pharmacist. Even then, it took two hours for Barbara to feel relief.
On Friday, Barbara was scheduled to have her infected Groshong catheter removed. After waiting forever, they looked over Barbara's current medicines, and declared that Barbara should have stopped the Warfarin several days earlier. No one had bothered to tell Barbara. So, the procedure was cancelled and rescheduled for this Monday. It was irritating, especially since we had to arrange for our neighbor to take Jaedon to school that morning.
Barbara is finding Jaedon to be an emotional challenge. He wants constant attention, and we are trying to prod him to play by himself some of the time. He is constantly coughing and sneezing - it may be an allergy, but we can't take him to a doctor until his father completes the paperwork giving us some authority. In the meantime, Jaedon wipes his nose and then touches everything in the kitchen and dining room. Barbara is very worried since her white blood cell count is still low. We will no doubt solve these issues, but in the meantime, things are difficult.
Today, Sherri took Jaedon to the mall shopping. We have a couple of hours to catch up on overdue tasks.
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