Aug 30, 2009

So Much Fun Today

Oh my gosh, we have had such a fun Sunday. First we started at Lanier High School helping makeover a room for Communities in School. It turned out great. It was really a lot of fun. Roger's big project for the classroom was cutting molding for a frame around a bulletin board. He had to miter the corners with a hand saw and a miter box. He loved it. Okay, that's exaggerating but the end result he was happy with. I spent most of the time hemming fabric for curtains and sewing a table cloth. You can see pictures from today at the link to the right or here. I didn't take as many as I wanted because my camera battery died. So I didn't get any final pictures. But you can get the gist of the project.

Then we hustled home to host a fantasy football draft party with Roger's coworkers. Talk about fun. We laughed, talked smack, ate lots of appetizers, drank lots of beer and laughed some more. It was a lot of fun. I only took a few pictures during the event since I was the keeper of the picks. Roger found a great spreadsheet online that had all the current NFL players and you could choose a player for each person or manager every round. And if a player was already picked, they would show up in red so it was easy to keep up with who had been picked already. One of the sheets in the spreadsheet was linked to the picks and you could see the picks by manager to make sure you could had all the positions you wanted. It made the draft super easy for me especially since I have never done any thing with fantasy football before. But sports to me are about socializing and fellowshipping and we certainly did that tonight.

Aug 28, 2009

Serve Austin Sunday

This Sunday, August 30th is Serve Austin Sunday. We are not having regular worship service at 5:00 p.m. but helping others. There are five choices for serving our community this Sunday. More information can be found on the Austin New Church blog. Roger and I are helping at the Extreme Classroom Makeover at Lanier High School for Communities in Schools. If you would like to join us, please let me know. You don't have to do the project we are working on. You can do anything your heart desires. So come on out and help us serve our city!

Aug 27, 2009

Good Visit With the Good Doctor

I had a favorable appointment with the Neurologist at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio today. The Neurologist said that my condition is stable, but that I am still 'unfit for duty' and will continue to be so until all this mess is over in June 2013. I'm not sure exactly what his report will say and will not know until it is mailed to my home, at which time I will need to 'concur' or 'nonconcur' with his findings. It will most likely be 'concur.' I then send my response back to the Medical Evaluation Board office in San Antonio and then it gets forwarded to a Physical Evaluation Board which will look at his findings in conjunction with all my past medical records and decide whether I continue to stay on the Temporary Disabled Retired List, be taken off the list and returned to Army Reserve duty (contrary to the Neurologist's findings) or simply be Permanently Retired early. Their decision comes back to me, I have to again 'concur' or 'nonconcur,' and send it back to them. We think that they will simply keep me where I am right now and I'll have to come back in twelve months and do this dance all over again. It is a highly bureaucratic process that we need to go through in order to keep my disability benefits active for continued medical care provided by the government for me and Holly.

I'd love for them to simply Medically Retire me early so all of this can over and done with for the rest of my life, but I think we're going to continue to do this until 2013 when they will hopefully Permanently Retire me and never look back. We'll continue to keep you posted over the coming weeks as the paper flies back and forth from here to San Antonio. Thanks for your prayers.


Big Day For Roger

Today is a big day for Roger. We are heading to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas to meet with his neurologist. His neurologist will be part of the decision making process of whether Roger's temporary Army disability and retirement will stay temporary, change to permanent or they could decide he is no longer disabled and take away all his benefits.

So... we are asking for prayer requests for the doctors and others who will make the final decision to understand that cancer is not temporary and there is always a chance for it to return and for peace during this whole process. Thank you!

Aug 26, 2009

Wurst Tri Ever

I love the name of the triathlon I participated in this past Sunday. The name comes from the location. It was held at Landa Park in New Braunfels, Texas which is the same location of the Wurst Fest which is a big celebration of German culture in Texas. Lots of brats and beer. Good times.

So I made through the entire triathlon. It was a Sprint distance triathlon: 350m swim, 14 mile bike and 3 mile run. I am so excited and happy. It was tough, but so much fun. I didn't have any problems with fearing what was under the water. I had a lot of peace. I know there were lots of people praying for me. I really love doing triathlons. Everyone is so nice and it really is a lot of fun. I placed 16th in my age group (females 35-39) and 85th out of all the females on a really tough climb on the bike leg. This was the first time I had ever downshifted all the way to the bottom of my gears to make some of the hills we rode on. But it was super cool. I really, really enjoyed it. And I can't wait to do it again next year.

Aug 21, 2009

Fun Friday

I have had an exceptionally fun Friday. It started off with working on my front flower bed this morning. I dug up some dead bushes the landscapers planted when our house was built. I knew those water loving, non-heat tolerant bushes would be gone soon. After I dug them up, I drove down to my nearest local nursery, It's About Thyme, to get two small pots of plumbago. But they just got bought out of all their small pots and only had two huge pots left. I decided to pass and drove over to the Natural Gardener on Old Bee Caves Road to see if they might have some. I have never been to this local nursery but have heard lots about them. All good things. So I drove down Old Bee Caves Road not knowing where it was or how far I would have to go. I just assumed it would be there on one side of the road eventually. And it was. This is my next favorite local nursery. It was amazing and extensive. As I drove in there were small pots of plumbago sitting right there. I knew I was at the right place. Of course I bought more than I originally intended but only one pot of a standing Lantana and two tiny pots of Mexican Heather. All for the front flower bed. This place is great for kids. There were a couple moms there walking their children around. They have a butterfly garden, a tee pee, a labyrinth, donkeys, chickens, goats and tons of stuff to look at and lots of stuff to learn about. All the staff were super nice.

I headed back home to finish my flower bed. I got everything planted and covered the flower bed with rubber mulch. Rubber mulch is made from old recycled tires so it's environmentally friendly and it lasts 15 years longer than normal tree based mulch. It holds moisture in better and doesn't attract bugs like termites, etc. And it looks fabulous. The whole flower bed looks way better than it did before. Anything looks better than dead bushes.

After a quick bite to eat, I headed up to Barton Springs pool. I have a triathlon this Sunday in New Braunfels and I wanted to practice open water swimming. It wasn't that I wanted to actually swim but just expose myself to open water in all it's creepiness. You see, I have issues with not knowing what's under water I can't see and things touching me. I don't know where this fear has developed because I grew up swimming in some of the nastiest watering holes you could imagine. I didn't care about what was in the water as long as I got to swim in it. Cow and horse manure didn't bother me. Fish didn't bother me. Even snakes in the water didn't bother me. Those we just got out until they passed us by then we jumped right back in.

The only time I have ever been uneasy about open water was on our cruise in March of 2007 while we were on a snorkeling excursion in Grand Cayman. One of our snorkel stops was swimming with stingrays. I was super excited and thought it was going to be really cool. But the weather was not good and caused the seas to be really choppy. Actually the weather was so bad, the cruise ship canceled all it's water excursions for the day. Of course we booked our excursion through the boat operator and they were still going. And this was just after Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, was pierced through the heart and killed by a stingray. Everyone on the boat kept talking about it. Before getting in the water with the stingrays, we got the lecture about shuffling our feet in the sand to walk so as to not step on the stingrays because that's how you get barbed by one. All this time our boat is bouncing up and down all over because of the choppy seas. They even had a hard time anchoring our boat because the seas were so choppy. As we descended the ladder into the water, the stingrays were every where. All around us, all under our feet. The water would pick you up and then bring you back down and underneath you would be this huge freaking stingray. And they were big! I held onto Roger as tight as I could. I was actually pissed at myself for being scared. I'm not usually like that. I withstood it for about 5 minutes when we all assembled into a circle for another lecture, then I told Roger I couldn't take it any more. I made a B line back to the boat. Every time the water would pick me back up and bring me down near a stingray I would shriek and grab onto any man who was near me. I didn't care who's husband or boyfriend he was. I finally made it back to the boat. I wasn't happy that I was scared, but I felt better in that boat. I really wished the weather would have been better because the boat crew told us normally the water comes to your waist and you can walk around no problem. Not this time. Maybe we'll have to go back one day.

So back in April I did a sprint distance triathlon at Aquarena Springs. All the notes about the swim leg of the triathlon said the hydrilla was really bad but they would do everything they could to get it cut back for us. I didn't think anything of it. Until I got in the water at the start of the race. Wearing goggles, I could see so clearly under the water all the way to the bottom. And my goggles were magnifying everything. I swear that hydrilla was all the way up to the top of the water. And the first time I felt it touch me, I freaked out. Literally. I could feel panic building up over me. Of course this is happening as I am swimming. I tried to calm myself saying, "You can do it Holly" and "Snap out of it Holly". Then the lady who I had been having a pleasant conversation in line with came swimming over the left side of me. Yeah, that didn't help. I kept swimming and kept trying to talk myself through it. It didn't work. I had to get out. I swam to the side and a lifeguard helped me out. Roger was there, (Taking pictures of course!) and he asked me what was wrong. I told him how I felt and what I was thinking and he said it reminded him of how I reacted with the stingrays. Darn stingrays!

Obviously I have an open water issue now. But I love doing triathlons. So my mission at Barton Springs pool today was just to expose myself a little more to my fears. I didn't do bad, but I didn't stay in very long. Not only was the water initially freezing cold (constant 68F), but I did get out eventually because I felt the panic. And it was kind of boring by myself. But I made myself swim to the other side of the pool before I got out. I think the more I do this the better I will get with open water swimming. Then I laid out in the sun on my beach towel reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for an hour. It was definitely refreshing swimming in the pool, but it got really hot outside (102F). So I went home to miss rush hour and take a shower because Roger and I are on our way to eat sushi with friends at DK Shushi. So the fun continues!


Aug 17, 2009

Update & Pictures

Roger and I had some portraits taken in June by our friend Amy Melsa. She is a great photographer. You can check out the pictures by clicking on the photo to the left or on the Flickr link to the right of our blog.

I received the results of my labs from my doctor last week. If you remember from a post a week ago I mentioned that my last cholesterol tests showed I was border line but my doctor told me it wasn't my LDL that was bad, but my HDL that was too low. So the results of my most recent labs were better. Last time my LDL was 146 and it is now 127. LDL is the lousy number and you want it low, preferably lower than 120. So I'm getting better there.

HDL is the happy number and you want it high. My HDL was 36 last time and it is now 49. It increased which is good but they would like to see it in the 60-70's. So before I start trying supplements to increase the HDL number I am going to try increasing my fish/seafood consumption and using products that have more omega 3 fatty acids and less transfats like Smart Balance spreadable butter and Smart Balance peanut butter. I will schedule another lab test in 3-4 months. I have to return in a few weeks for a follow-up pap smear since mine showed abnormal cells. But they tested for high risk HPV cancer cells and that returned negative. I have had positive paps before and am not worried about it. It's usually nothing with a follow-up.

And last but not least, Roger and I linked our blog to our Facebook accounts a few months ago. So when ever one of us blogs, it shows up in our Facebook Notes. Unfortunately, it doesn't show who posted the note as our blog does. It has confused people lately with news of my grandmother's health and some thinking Roger went to the doctor for an annual woman visit. To keep everything clear we have decided we should sign our posts.

So that's all for now,

Aug 15, 2009

My Grandmother

I spent Thursday in Bryan, Texas at St. Joseph's Hospital. My grandmother, Pauline Cahill, went to the emergency room Wednesday. Her health has been slowly deteriorating over the years. Her mobility went years ago and she's been asking everyone who they are for at least a couple years. She always knows her own children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. It's non-family members she can't remember. For some reason she always remembers Roger. But lately her deteriorating health has sped up faster than we could have imagined. She has lost all her strength and energy. Her kidneys are failing and she has fluid on her lungs. Her speech is slurred and she has weakness on her right side. Her symptoms illustrate a possible stroke which might have happened in the last two weeks. Test results will confirm what the doctors believe.

My grandmother turned 91 years old this year. She was born in 1918. Yes, she's lived a long life and seen a lot of changes. I don't think she knows much about computers or cell phones though. My grandmother is definitely old school. She grew up in a frugal family with twelve children in Bremond, Texas. Which is still a mainly rural area. She has lived on a farm all her life even after marrying my grandfather. She grew up picking cotton by hand and many other manual labor jobs. She's had a hard life. Lots of laughter, fun and love, but still hard. She took care of all her grandchildren well. She was such a good grandmother she let us go pick our own switch when we needed some discipline. Don't worry, she loved us a lot and did everything she could for us. But I deserved every whipping I got and I can admit it.

I have many fond memories growing up on the same farm land as her. We'd walk or ride our bikes up the driveway to her house. I loved sleeping on her cold wood floors. She made delicious homemade bread and we loved when she deep fried little pieces of the dough for us. I even loved when she would make us artichokes for snacks. I could sit there peeling off leaf by leaf dragging my teeth across to scrape the meat off. It was a treat to get to the heart. Her fresh pasta was so good. Her yard has many pecan trees which we picked and shelled when they fell to the ground. And it was full of shade. It always seemed cooler sitting under them eating watermelon or drinking sweet tea with family for gatherings. She would ask us to go into the shed house with it's dirt floor and bring back a jar of canned black eyed peas or tomatoes. She was always sewing a quilt which would get so large they hung from the ceiling in her front room or crafting doilies on a metal frame which she would give you a stack to give to a friend when you mentioned how they were doing. I loved walking through her garden picking cherry tomatoes, wiping them off with my hands and popping them right into my mouth. Sometimes I wished I carried a salt shaker with me they were so good. I also remember the times as I approached her house I could smell the sauerkraut she was cooking and I would turn around and walk back home the smell bothered me so bad. Yes, lots of good memories of her.

Thursday she was moved to the clinical decision unit to be observed over the weekend until she can be moved into a nursing home next week. She will never return to her home. It's kind of sad and we all know there comes a time when this happens. We knew it would come and now that it is upon us, we are still not ready.

Aug 6, 2009

Our Church Is Moving!

Just wanted to give you all a heads up our church, Austin New Church, is moving permanently to a new facility this Sunday. We used to meet at Akins High School on Sundays, but now we are moving over to Jackie's Performing Arts and Private Education building at 11530 Manchaca Rd Austin, TX 78748. It's on Manchaca Road south of Slaughter Lane. The building itself is on the west side of Manchaca just south of Marcus Abrams Boulevard which is the entrance to the Olympic Heights subdivision. Or it's just north of Cafe 1626 if you are familiar with the restaurant. We can basically walk over to Cafe 1626 after church for dinner which I think is convenient. So come check us out some time. This summer we are meeting at 6:00 p.m. and will return to 5:00 p.m. after school starts.

Aug 5, 2009

Funny Experience

I had a funny experience at the doctor's office today. Okay, it was funny to me, but probably not the person I was laughing at internally. So I had my annual well woman visit with my doctor this morning. All women look forward to this event. Thank goodness it's only once a year. But truthfully, it's not that bad for me. I have had unpleasant experiences in the past, but my new doctor is awesome. And she's nice and cool so that makes it better. Her nurse is great too. So at the annual visit, you not only get the yearly poke and prod, but you usually give a urine sample and some blood for labs. I didn't give blood last year because my gastroenterologist does it every year and his visit is a month before this one and my doctor has access to all his stuff so she can see what the lab results are. But his blood draws and labs aren't done after a fast so she thought this year we should go ahead and do labs since I fasted last night and this morning. I was interested in getting the labs done this year because my last fast and blood draw labs were two years ago and my results for cholesterol were "borderline". Which I was shocked about because I exercise a lot, eat pretty healthy and at that time I was eating Cheerios every morning for breakfast which is supposed to bring your cholesterol down. But what I learned today was it wasn't my LDL (the lousy number) that was high. It was my HDL (the happy number) that was low. That would have been good to know two years ago! So I was glad to give blood today so I could find out next week the results and see if I need to get to work on increasing my HDL.

So I happily walked back to the blood drawing room. Someone walked in there right before I did so I sat down and took the opportunity to read some of the book I brought with me for any potential waiting times. I am reading Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy. No, I'm not pregnant and don't plan on getting pregnant. But I have been wanting to read her book for years now because I heard it was really, really funny. And it is. I was crying from laughing by the third chapter. So I sat down in the middle chair and began reading. Very quickly I was giggling reading the book. Not shortly after that a nurse escorted a slightly over middle aged gentleman into the blood drawing room. He sat down right next to me. I looked at him and said hello. He said hello back. I went straight back to my book, giggling and all. As soon as he sat down, I heard him make a long, deep sigh. I just figured it was a normal sigh, you know, mid-morning, sitting in the waiting room kind of sigh. Then I heard it again. And again. I then realized, these weren't sighs. This man was breathing in deeply trying to calm himself down for the needle he was about to meet. I decided to ignore him as to not make it worse for him and got back into my book. Of course, the giggling started again. I'm not talking about out loud giggling, just low, more of a big smile and sometimes a shocking gasp kind of giggling.

The phlebotomist called my name and I sat my book down on my purse and walked over to the chair. I sat down realizing my feet didn't touch the ground. So I swung my legs a little big. I noticed the heavily breathing gentleman look over at my legs. I quickly stopped thinking that was probably not helping him. I struck up a conversation with the phlebotomist. I'm sure she doesn't get asked often how she is doing or how things are going. She's stuck back in basically a storage closet all by herself. So I try to be nice and make her smile. She deserves it. No telling what kind of people she encounters all day since she's the needle lady. And I don't have any problems with needles. I am actually proud of how well I am when it comes to blood drawing and how easy it is for them to find my blood vessels. So I don't have a problem with needles or watching my blood being drawn. I know, I'm weird. Hello, I was in the Army. Do you know how many shots we get when we join or just to go overseas? I also gave plasma in college for years for extra money. I even made a comment to her about how fast it was flowing into those little tubes. She agreed. I'm sure we were not helping the man who was now trying to turn his entire body away from our direction.

So she was all done with me and wrapped me up with hot pink tape. We said our goodbyes and have a great days and I got out of the chair to go grab my purse and book. She then proceeded to ask the gentleman waiting if he was ready and he let out a very loud "NO!" I thought at first he might be joking but then I saw his face. I walked out the door as he was walking toward the chair so I missed his experience. I can only imagine what it was like for her to draw his blood. I'm just glad my experience with her was easy. As I drove away from my doctor's office, it crossed my mind that he was a grown man and completely scared to death of that tiny little needle. I just don't get it. And yes, I snickered at that too.