Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Broken Windshield

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 68 degrees, high 91 degrees, clear skies

Today was another chemo treatment day, and I had an appointment to be there at 0820 hours. Since I didn't know how bad the traffic would be at that time of the day, I left a little earlier than needed, but did miss most of the traffic.

The first order of business was to have the leeches draw another batch of blood so we could see if the chemo drugs are causing unexpected problems. Apparently not, as no one talked to me about the report. I received a copy, but don't really know how to read it. I didn't see the oncologist today, but will next week, so maybe I can get a quick lesson in what to look for.

Once the blood was sucked out, I had to wait about a half hour before being called back for my chemo treatment. I was given a steroid IV that lasted about 20 minutes, then infused with a syringe full of Velcade. There is one other drug I take orally for four days of the month named Mephalan, along with more oral steroids once a week. No Mephalan again until about two weeks from now.

By the time I was headed home, the morning rush hour traffic was done with, and the drive back to Athens was easy. I might try to have all my appointments set up for early morning.

I decided to go to the treatment by myself, since there isn't anything Carolyn can do except offer moral support. That worked out well, so whenever I can, I'll be trying to regain my independence. She will go to appointments in Atlanta so she can help me stay alert. For these trips of about 25 miles to Huntsville, I think I'll be able to handle it.

When I got home, I was wiped out since I didn't sleep well last night. I took a nap of about an hour, and it really helped refresh me for the rest of the day. As a result, I did a lot of puttering around the house, taking care of little chores that I usually do.

A few weeks ago, we had rocks hit our windshield that caused it to crack badly in two places. We were on the interstate, so there was no chance of identifying the big truck that might have caused it. Today, I called our auto insurance about it, and they are going to set up a windshield replacement for us at home in the next few days. Thank goodness I won't have to go sit in a glass repair shop for half a day.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Bridge City, Texas: Building Bridges Together

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 66 degrees, high 91 degrees, clear skies

Hopefully, people will remember the purpose of Memorial Day, which is to remember the sacrifices made by the members of our armed forces, past and present, in helping keep our country free. The day is usually spent by most people gathering with family and friends for picnics, swimming, and other summer fun. There's nothing wrong with that, but let's all take a moment to think about the real reason for the holiday.

Speaking of picnics, we went to Judy and Roger's house for a cookout this afternoon, complete with hamburgers, red hot sausages, potato salad, baked beans, and all the trimmings. The food was great, and visiting even better. And, we did take time to remember why the holiday was being held.

We had not seen Judy and Roger for almost two weeks, as Judy came down with the shingles again. We have had the shingles shot, so may have been immune, but decided it might be best to stay away until Judy got better. I don't need to be taking chances with a disease like that with all the other stuff going on with me. Luckily, Judy is doing much better now, just in time for the cookout.

Having the cookout meant we needed to pick up a few things ahead of time, so I went to the WalMart Mall early this morning before the crowds hit. We haven't been buying many groceries lately, with my last time in the Mall about two weeks ago. I was surprised that some prices had been dropped, apparently for the holiday. Even more surprising was how much some items have increased in price.

It didn't take long to pick up what we needed, and then it was back home to rest from the activity. It was about 0900 hours by the time I got home, and traffic was still light. I guess many people were sleeping in before the fun started.

We have a bug here that looks like some kind of moth that has been making a noise like clack, clack, clack. The noise is bothersome when outside, and reminds us of sounds we hear when near the ocean in Florida. The bugs seem to stay in the trees most of the time, and really raise a ruckus if I walk under the trees. I'm not sure how long these things stay around, but we're ready for them to go wherever they go.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Irmo, South Carolina: Gateway To Lake Murray

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

HARD Puzzle

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 68 degrees, high 92 degrees, clear skies

It seems like today was the warmest day of the year so far. One saving grace is that the humidity is fairly low. We won't have that helping us in July and August. Hey, maybe I'll be finished with treatment by then and we can go where it's cooler. That's something to start planning for.

When Carolyn was cleaning one day, she found what she thought was a soft place in the floor by the television in the living room. We checked it out, and found that by an omission, one of the floor registers had not been cut out when the carpet was replaced before we bought the house. I have no idea how an oversight like that occurred. Today, I picked up a floor register at Lowe's, cut out the carpet from the hole, and installed the new floor register. We're still shaking our heads over his one.

I don't like to say it, but we may have tried to put a puzzle together that is more than we can handle. The new puzzle is so difficult to work with, we may put it back in the box and say good riddance. Carolyn's mother Doris would probably like this one a lot. I'm about ready to send it to her. We have about 1/3 of it put together, and nothing seems to be coming to us.

Remember in yesterday's post where I mowed the yard and tried to do some weed
eating? The weed eating kicked my tail in more ways than one. I still felt the effects of that little exercise today, having to rest several times. On the bright side, I still think I can do just about anything I want, even if the truth is that I can't. Now, to figure out what I really can do so I don't have another day like that.

It appears my appetite has stabilized somewhat, allowing my weight to stay within a range that the doctors can live with. This morning, I decided I wanted an apple fritter, which is something that I usually don't care about. But, I decided to go with what I wanted, and picked up the fritter when I was in town. I'm glad I bought the fritter, but it didn't taste like I expected. On the other hand, we had leftover pizza today, and it came close to tasting like I remember. No, not limp, soggy, and cardboard like. But the fresh vegetables, meat, and cheese, not to mention the pan crust, combined to tease me with a taste that was better than I have had in some time. Perhaps there is hope for when the treatment is over that I can enjoy food again.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Fort Payne, Alabama: One Of America's Top 100 Small Towns

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Yard Mowing

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 55 degrees, high 88 degrees, mostly clear skies

We have always been the type of people who prefer to do things for ourselves. Things like yard work, especially. Since I have been sick, we have struggled with getting the yard mowed and plants trimmed up when needed. Our niece Trace has been a great help to us, but she has her own things going on, so we hesitate to ask her for help. We bought a riding mower a couple of weekss ago, since there was no way I could handle a push mower. Buying the mower has allowed us to at least mow the yard when needed, but did nothing to take care of the other things, like weed eating, trimming shrubs, and so on.

Today, I mowed the yard, and managed that with no problems. Then, came the problems. I got out the weed eater so some trimming could be done. I didn't realize how weak I was until I tried to edge the driveway. What a job that turned out to be. By the time I finished that little job, I was wiped out.

After seeing what the little bit of work did to me, we decided to continue mowing when needed, but everything else will be farmed out to whoever we can hire to do the work. It's not something we're happy about, but resignation has set in, at least until I can start feeling better. Drat!

Have you noticed that gas prices have declined slightly in the last week or so? In this area, gas can be bought for ~$3.54/gallon, while diesel is $3.89/gallon. Not a big decline in prices, but anything is welcomed. The question I have is this: are the prices being lowered slightly in order to raise them even higher than they were?

Carolyn had a birthday today, and we tried to make it as special a day as we could. She didn't want much - breakfast at Cracker Barrel, no cooking for supper, and that sort of thing. It's amazing how little we want or need as we get older. I don't know what I would do without her around to help me through this illness and treatment plan. When I feel bad, she knows how to help me feel better. When I feel like getting out of the house, she's there, ready to go. I love her so much, and I hope I can do something really special for her when this is all over.

Happy Birthday, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Giddings, Texas: Experience Hometown Hospitality

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I-Pad Learning

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 57 degrees, high 73 degrees, partly cloudy skies

The new I-Pad I bought last week hasn't been much use to me so far. Not because it isn't a wonderful piece of electronics that can do all kinds of things for me, but because I have not been able to get into the intricacies of the use of it, compared to my lap top. The chemo drugs I'm taking appear to have slowed down my thought processes, so when I try to use the pad, I find myself going back and forth reading the manual in order to use the different functions. It could be that as I continue to familiarize myself with the new piece of equipment, it will get easier to understand. At this time, however, it is a slow slog.

I remember having the same problem when we bought an i-pod. What a great concept - put all your music on a small piece of equipment and enjoy to your heart's content. It seemed to take forever, even though it didn't, to get familiar enough with the pod that we could navigate around it. The sound was great, especially when using a docking station, and we could get rid of all the music cds that we were trying to carry with us in the RV.

So, there is hope for the pad, but I think it is going to take longer than I realized before I become proficient with it. Lori is coming up to visit in a few days, and she has one. Perhaps I can use her as a learning resource while she's here.

A couple weeks ago, we noticed that the storm door leading to the deck had a screen that was bent, which would allow bugs to come in the house in the summer. That won't do with Carolyn, and I'm not too fond of it, neither. We took the screen to a store in Pulaski that rebuilds them so we could get a new screen. We never heard back from the store that the screen was repaired, so I called them today. The screen was ready, so we took a nice little drive up to get it. It was nice to get out in the beautiful countryside, where everything is lush and green after all the rain. Since coming back to this area, we have a different appreciation for the natural beauty available here in the Tennessee Valley.

Now, if we could do something about the bad weather that comes through here much too frequently. At least it seems too frequent to us.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Las Vegas, Nevada: The Entertainment Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another Storm

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 63 degrees, high 80 degrees, partly cloudy skies, windy

Last night, the tornado sirens went off just after midnight, prompting us to get the weather radio working and turning the television on to see what was going on. When we went to bed, the weather folks said that a little rain was coming, but nothing to worry about. Apparently, they didn't have the whole story. We had high wind, hail, and heavy rain until daylight. More trees have been blown down in the area, and people have had damage. The power is off in some areas, but not at our house.

I'm ready for some stability in the weather. We will never take the weather for granted again after the outbreak we had here last month.

I had to go see my cardiologist for a followup visit this morning. Everything is looking good as far as my heart is concerned, which is always good news. Some minor problems seem to have gotten better, so that gives me more energy to put into handling the chemo drugs I'm taking for the Amyloidosis.

After leaving the doctor's office, I stopped at the hardware store and bought the storm door that I mentioned in yesterday's post. The handyman that I talked to yesterday will stop and pick up the door next week when he installs it for us. We have always liked Small Town, USA, and we are continually reminded of the advantages of living in a small town. Like the great service this handyman is giving us.

We changed out our hummingbird feeder today because the hummer didn't seem to like the feeder we were using. Almost immediately, two hummers showed up and started using the new feeder. That made Carolyn's day, because she thought there was only one bird. How many will there be?

The last couple of weeks, my appetite has improved a little, primarily because I decided I would only try to eat what seemed good at the time. As a result, I try to use my imagination, thinking about what I used to like and what it tasted like. Sometimes, the food I come up with might seem a little strange, but at least I have gained a few pounds back. Tonight, I decided I wanted Italian food, so we went to Clark's Restaurant in Athens for their Thursday night special of chicken parmigiana. I wasn't sure how the taste would come across, since most food tastes differently now. I have to say it wasn't bad, even though the taste was slightly off from what I remember.

Now, if only fried chicken tasted like I remember.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - New York, New York: Media Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Safe Deposit Box

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 68 degrees, high 86 degrees, partly cloudy skies

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we looked at the storm doors at Lowe's so we can get one for the front door. Today, we went to a local hardware and lumber store, and found a storm door that we like better than anything we saw at Lowe's. And, the one we found today is over $100 cheaper. In addition, the quality seems better. So, I will go back tomorrow to buy the door. Then, a handyman that I found through a list that the hardware store gave me will install the door early next week. He will pick up the door from the store, so I don't have to do anything except pay the bill. The way I feel right now, that's about all I can handle.

The chemo treatment is kicking me when I'm down. I'm not nauseated, and don't have diarrhea, but I feel so washed out that it is difficult to do much of anything. Of course, if this is the worse that I feel throughout this treatment process, then I will have done well.

This morning, we started going through the stuff that we might want to put in a bank safety deposit box. It quickly became apparent that we have different ideas about what should go in the bank. I tend to want to put important legal papers, along with a few personal items in the box. Carolyn, on the other hand, wants the legal papers, but also wants just about every picture, memento, and anything that has an emotional attachment in the box. Only one problem with that: there's not a box big enough to hold all the stuff. I think we will probably scan the pictures and just about everything else that we can, and put dvds in the box holding the images. That should take care of everything except the legal papers, such as wills, house deed, RV title, truck title, etc.

It's easy to forget the good lessons we learned about getting rid of clutter and excess stuff in an RV. I think the lessons would kick in again if we could take a road trip, but that appears to be out in the future.

With the way I feel right now, this is about all I can write tonight.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: The Diamond City

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Glass Door Search

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 68 degrees, high 86 degrees, partly cloudy skies

The chemo drugs biggest effect on me seems to be to cause sleeplessness. I'm lucky to get two hours of uninterrupted sleep at a time. When I wake up, it seems to take a couple hours to go back to sleep, so I usually get up and surf the net or read. Sometimes, I'm able to fall asleep on the couch, which is a bonus. During the day, I can usually take a couple of short naps, which helps my tired feeling. Sure would be nice to be able to sleep through the night.

We plan to install a glass door on the front door entry way as a way to get some natural light in the house in the mornings. This morning, we stopped at Lowe's to see what they had available, but have not made a decision yet. The opening for the door on our house is wide enough and tall enough, but is not quite recessed enough. We lack about a quarter inch having enough of a recess for the door to fit right. That means a shim would have to be installed. Lowe's will do the installation, but we have talked about whether we want to try to do the installation ourselves. With my weakened state, I don't know what kind of problems I would have. As I said a few posts ago, I used to eat this kind of stuff up. Now, I have to think about what I try to do. Mowing the yard last week wore me out, even though all I did was steer the riding mower.

The hummingbird is starting to show up more frequently, and Carolyn was able to see him today. She gets a lot of pleasure out of watching nature, and has watched a pair of bluebirds as they raise two young birds in our newspaper box. She'll be sad when they leave.

I forgot to mention that we finished putting a puzzle together last weekend, and started another one almost immediately. The new one is even more difficult, and it may actually take a month to do. Time flies when trying to find a piece that fits.

We have shrubs in front of our house that are big and require a lot of work to keep trimmed. They sit there green all the time, without any blooms. We have discussed removing the shrubs and putting in shrubs that actually have some color and blooms. Such as camellias, gardenias, roses, azaleas, hydrangeas, and things like that. The hard part would be digging the old shrubs out, which would be very difficult for me at this time. I think I'll see if we can hire some high school boys to dig them out and plant the new plants. That is if I can find some kids that want to work. The realtor we used to buy the house told us to let him know if we needed any help, so maybe I can talk to him to see if he can steer us to some kids that actually want to work.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Ozona, Texas: Biggest Little Town In The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Hummingbird Arrives!

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 68 degrees, high 86 degrees, partly cloudy skies

We have a hummingbird sighting! I saw the first one late this afternoon after we got home from chemo treatment in Huntsville. He(?) is a little skittish right now, but maybe I can get a picture soon. Carolyn sat for a while in the dining room in an attempt to see the little hummer, but missed him. It doesn't take much to entertain us, does it? Puzzles, reading, surfing the net, a little television, and now a hummingbird to watch. It doesn't get much better.

Except being able to travel again. We're working on that, and it will happen when it's time.

It was a busy day for us. We had business to take care of at the new bank first thing this morning. Before that, we stopped at Burger King for a breakfast sandwich, since we felt that we would have a long wait for lunch while at the cancer center in Huntsville.

Leaving the bank, we drove on to the cancer center, where the first order of business was to let the vampires have their way with my veins. Halfway through the blood letting, a different vein had to be opened so enough blood could be drawn.

The next order of business was to find a comfortable place to sit. That brings up the question of whether there is a comfortable chair in a medical facility. If so, I have never found it. Anyway, two hours later I was finally called in to see the doctor. He checked me out and asked how I felt. This illness makes you feel like you have the worse case of flu possible. What the doctor meant was how did the chemo treatment affect me over the past week, and I have to say there was less effect than I thought there would be. Maybe I will be one of those people who stands up to the chemo in a good fashion. I hope so.

After seeing the doctor, I was sent to talk to the scheduler about my schedule for the next two weeks. Then, it was on to the infusion center, where this week's treatment was administered. That took a total of about an hour.

By the time all this was done, it was after 1400 hours, so we decided to drive back to Athens for lunch at Logan's Road House. The lunch was good, but the service was not up to par, as our server seemed to forget about us. I tipped her the normal 15%, but I usually tip more for better service.

By the time we got home, it was after 1600 hours. I stretched out in my WalMart recliner in the garage and slept for about 45 minutes. That made me feel good enough that I was able to do a couple things for Carolyn.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Thermopolis, Wyoming: World’s Largest Hot Mineral Spring

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lunch At Appleby's

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 63 degrees, high 82 degrees, mostly clear skies

We spent some time today moving the herbs that Carolyn bought yesterday in to containers. She enjoys cooking with fresh herbs, and already has plans for drying some of the extra herbs that we can't use.

In addition, she put up a hummingbird feeder in an attempt to draw some of the little birds to our dining room window. It may be that it is too late for the hummingbirds this spring, or it could be that they have already moved on, but no action so far. If they don't show up, Carolyn is going to be disappointed. She gets a big kick out of watching their antics.

A pair of bluebirds set up housekeeping in our newspaper box, and there are two little bluebirds in there now. The newspaper box is beside our mailbox, and the parents raise quite a ruckus when I go to pick up the mail. Little do they know that we are the last thing they have to worry about.

We went to lunch at Appleby's, one of Carolyn's favorite restaurants. We were there when they opened at 1100 hours, and had an enjoyable meal that had more than enough leftovers for supper. Carolyn had some type of salad with chicken on it, while I had the chicken strip lunch. We ate all we could for lunch, and finished it up for supper. I added a protein shake as I try to gain back some of the weight that I've lost over the last few months.

After getting home, I took a short nap that would have been longer except for the noise that erupted as Carolyn was doing some work with her Dremel tool. I bought a fancy recliner from the WalMart Mall yesterday, and it just seems to fit my body to a tee. I've used it twice in the last two days in the garage, and it was so easy to fall asleep in it.

My brother-in-law Roger visited for a short time this afternoon, leaving Judy at home as she is fighting a bug. Roger used the recliner while here, and I thought he was going to take a nap for awhile there.

Since the tornado outbreak a few weeks ago, we are more aware than ever of the possibility of bad weather. For a short time today, we watched as reports of bad weather came out of the mid-west. It did not seem to be a fun place to be. Thank God the weather here is fairly tame right now.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Comfort, Texas: Haven In The Hills

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Food And Appetite

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 59 degrees, high 88 degrees, mostly clear skies, breezy

One of the worse things I have to put up with in my fight with Amyloidosis is a lack of appetite, caused mostly by most foods not tasting like they should. As an example, take a simple hamburger. We used to consider ourselves connoisseurs of hamburgers, always looking for the ultimate tasting burgers. Now, hamburgers taste nothing like what I remember, and even though I keep trying to eat them, I usually throw most of them in the garbage.

Carolyn is very good at trying to prepare food that will taste good to me, but I have found that the only foods that come close to what I remember are the more spicy ones, such as pizza. Even that is usually lacking some taste detail that I remember, taking away any pleasure of eating. Tonight, we decided to try a Pizza Hut Super Supreme Pan Pizza, and I have to say it wasn't bad. I had two pieces, and my stomach feels good. The taste wasn't perfect, but at least I could eat it.

Breakfast usually tastes okay, especially eggs and grits. For some reason, those items have the same taste as I remember, but I can't eat eggs all the time. Some fruits are okay, as long as they are not too sweet. We bought a nice cantaloupe, and it has a very good taste. Canned peaches in a light syrup are okay, but I can't eat the heavy syrup. The only tea I can drink is unsweetened, which I would never have drank when I was healthy. I've actually learned to like unsweetened tea.

Ice cream is not bad. It seems very cold foods are okay, as long as I eat them quickly. Like milkshakes from Sonic. And, the frappe' mocha from McDonald's is good, even though I'm not much of a coffee drinker.

Enough about food. Carolyn needed to get her eye glass prescription filled today, so we checked the options at the Vision Center at the WalMart Mall. Her last glasses came from the Mall, and she was happy with them, so we decided to try them again. She was able to find a pair that she liked, and she seemed to be able to make the salesperson understand that the new glasses needed to match the old ones as far as where the lines on the glasses were placed. That's because of her vertigo. The new glasses should be ready for pickup in about a week. The salesperson said if Carolyn was not happy with what they did, she would be refunded her money. I guess you can't ask any more than that.

While we were at the Mall, Carolyn found some herb plants that she has been looking for. She picked up some Italian parsley, sage, dill, rosemary, thyme, and basil. If I ever get my taste buds back, we should have some good eating.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Childersburg, Alabama: A New Beginning, Progressing Toward The Future

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tornado Perspective

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 52 degrees, high 86 degrees, clear skies

The weather is getting nice. It's enjoyable to sit on the screened porch, soaking up the warmer temperatures, watching the birds do their thing with nests and babies. I know the humidity is coming, but I'm loving this.

I slept better last night, even though I still feel like I had some of the sleeping pill affecting me from the night before. Carolyn said I didn't seem to dream like I did the night I took the pill, but was still a little restless. I do know that I felt better today, and I will not take another of those sleeping pills. What in the world was I thinking to take that thing? Especially since I had never used them before. Oh, that's right, I forget that everyone has to learn for themselves what works for them. I'm here to tell you that these particular sleeping pills don't work for me.

Today was the first day without chemo drugs this week. I'm glad that I get a break every week like this, since it may help the severity of the drugs on my body. My brother-in-law Roger and sister-in-law Kathy don't seem to get a break like this. Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that they are actually fighting cancer with the drugs they take, while my illness is treated with the same drugs as used against cancer, even though I don't have cancer. The drugs are used against myeloma, which is a cancer of the blood, while I have Amyloidosis. I hope all this makes sense.

This morning, while I felt halfway decent, we decided to take a ride down to the community of Tanner, about five miles south of Athens. Tanner was hit very hard during the tornado outbreak, and we had not been there to see how bad the damage was since then. We built a house in the worse hit area back in the 1980s, and had heard that the house was completely destroyed. Well, we found that the house is still standing, but suffered a lot of damage. All the windows were blown out, the shutters are gone, the roof is damaged, and the house looks like it has been abandoned. It is such a shame that people have lost everything, and we think it will be a long time before the recovery effort in the neighborhood is finished. We saw the path that the tornado took, and it appears that it was about a half mile wide. It sure gives me a different appreciation for the damage that these things can cause.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - New York, New York: The City That Never Sleeps

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Mower

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 48 degrees, high 72 degrees, partly cloudy skies

Last night, I decided to do something I had never done before. In an attempt to sleep better, I took a prescribed sleeping pill. Bad mistake, as I did sleep longer, but the quality of sleep was poor. I dreamed most of the night, and felt the effects of the pill all day. Given a choice between the pill or not, I think I'll pass from now on.

The water heater repairs from yesterday did not quite do the job. When we woke this morning, we found that there had been some leakage in to the overflow pan. We called the plumber again, and he responded quickly. He found that the top heating element was leaking slightly. Since we had an extra element, he changed it out and that appears to have fixed the problem. No charge for having to come back, even though we tried to pay him. You don't see service like this any more, it seems, and it's nice.

Remember the puzzle that we started putting together on Monday? I thought it would take us a month to finish it. At the rate we're going, we will finish it in a few days. These things just seem to grab your attention, and before you know it, an hour has been spent adding pieces.

We started the new riding mower today for the first time. After it had sat in the shop for almost two weeks, I thought it was time to get it running. The first order of business was to read all the paperwork. The thing I noticed about the paperwork was that it was full of disclaimers. Eventually, I got through with the reading, filled the tank with gas, checked the oil, put the battery cables on the battery, and started it up.

As might be expected, the new mower runs great. Since I had it running, the next thing was to see how well it mows. In a word, great! The yard is freshly mowed, and it looks very nice. We finished the mowing with a little weed eating, and it looks like we're good for a few days.

With the mowing and and feeling so low because of the sleeping pill, I was not able to play with the I-Pad again today. I'm looking forward to seeing what it will do for us. Maybe tomorrow.

I finished the first week's doses of chemo drugs today, and so far, I'm doing good. Some minor side effects, but I know it could be much worse. No more drugs this week, which will give me a chance to recover a little. Then, back on them next Monday.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Lincoln City, Oregon: A Great Place To Try New Things

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Water Heater Issues

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 43 degrees, high 59 degrees, partly cloudy skies

Last night, we noticed that the heat of the water coming out of the water heater was not what it should have been. This morning, the water was cold. I went and bought a couple of heating elements, thinking this might be the easiest fix, if that was the problem. No cigar, as the heating elements made no change. That was about the extent of my experience, so we asked Judy who to call as a plumber to to fix the problem.

Judy recommended a plumber that goes to their church, and even called him on our behalf. He showed up about 1545 hours, as I was in a doctor's office in Athens. The plumber found that the thermostat was bad, which was replaced. Voila! Hot water!

The plumber worked quickly, and charged what I thought was a fair price. If we have another problem, he will be the person we will call. Since I have gotten sick, it has seemed difficulty for me to take care of things that I would have eaten up when I was healthy.

I didn't get to play with the I-Pad today, since we were trying to get the water heater repaired, and I was a little under the weather. I felt like I had a bad case of the flu, without a cough or fever. It could be because of not sleeping or resting well, or could be because of the chemo drugs. Whatever it is, I'm finally talking a sleep aid tonight in an attempt to sleep better.

If I rest better tonight, I intend to try to get the new lawn mower running tomorrow so the yard can be cut. It will have been almost two weeks since it was cut, but it hasn't been a problem due to the cooler weather.

By the way, the fire ants are gone. The washing powder trick worked again.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Sugar Land, Texas: The Shug

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I-Pad Delivered

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 45 degrees, high 57 degrees, pertly cloudy skies

In what has become the new normal, I woke several times last night, getting up for s short time each time until I got sleepy again. As a result, I only get about 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night, but usually feel halfway decent until about 1100 hours the next day. Then, it seems like I hit a wall for the rest of day, taking short naps. I'll be glad to get my sleeping habits straightened out.

While I was feeling decent, I went to town to pick up a few groceries. It won't be long that I won't be able to go in the stores because of my white blood cell count being too low to be out in public due to the risk of infection. At that time, the doctors have told me that I need to do everything I can to prevent colds, etc., so I'll probably sit in the truck and let Carolyn go do the shopping.

I took my second round of oral chemo drugs today, as well as the first round of oral steroids. So far, I don't feel any effects from the drugs, but have plenty of stuff to help those ill effects if they arise. Only two more days of chemo drugs this week, then I get three days break.

Our water heater quit heating water late this afternoon, and I have no idea what the problem is. I suspect both heating elements went out, so I'll go get two new ones tomorrow and change them out. If that doesn't work, I'll call a plumber. We're not looking forward to cold showers.

NCIS, out favorite television show, had it's season finale tonight. Does it seem like shows have less and less episodes as time goes on? Especially those that we like so much? Only about 5 to 6 months until new shows come back.

The I-Pad I ordered was delivered today. I spent a little time getting it set up and the battery charged, and downloading some program updates. In addition, I downloaded the manual that tells how everything works. I can see how this is going to be a handy little tool for me, once I figure out how everything works. I guess the best way to describe it is that it it very much like an I-Phone, without the telephone features. And, it has a much bigger screen. Since I still don't have an I-Phone, it's a lot to learn.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Gadsden, Alabama: All American City

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, May 16, 2011

First Treatment

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 52 degrees, high 54 degrees, cloudy, light showers, cool

We were at the bank when they opened this morning, seeking help on signing and notarizing important legal papers concerning medical treatment and so forth. It took about 30 minutes to get everything done, and then we left to go to my first treatment session at the cancer center.

We arrived at the cancer center early, and had a little wait as the place was busy. Whenever you go to a facility like this, look at the general ages of the people being treated. Most of them are older, and we see very few younger patients. The older a person is, the more likely it is that they will have to be treated for a life threatening disease.

When I was finally called, most of my time was spent getting acquainted with what the facility offers for patient comfort, and precautions to follow when taking treatment so I'll know what to do when specific examples come up, like a fever. The drugs were explained again, and I found that what I'm taking are some of the more benign cancer drugs as far as causing nausea and side effects. On the other hand, instead of taking drugs just one day a week, I'll be taking two of them multiple days, with one being taken four days a week. So, that leaves three days a week that I won't be taking any drugs for Amyloidosis.

A cycle of drugs is four weeks, then the cycle starts again. I will do three cycles, then go back to Atlanta to Emory University Medical Center for testing and evaluation on whether to keep doing what we're doing, or make changes.

How long is this all expected to go on? I have no idea.

We didn't get of of the cancer center until almost 1400 hours, so we stopped at Rosie's Cantina for a late lunch. Not bad, but not Texas, either.

When we got home after 1530 hours, we found that Fedex had tried to deliver the I-Pad that I ordered last week. It has to be signed for, so they will bring it back tomorrow. I'm looking forward to playing with it, since my oncologist told me I can use it at the cancer clinic on their public wifi. Cool!

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Port Clinton, Ohio: Walleye Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Router Repairs, Etc.

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 52 degrees, high 56 degrees, cloudy, misty

After breakfast at home, we worked on a few things we have needed to do for some time. The upcoming chemo treatment has made us realize that we need to update our wills, which my sister Janie is helping us do. She is a paralegal in an attorney's office in Florida, and has been so since she graduated high school. She offered to help us, so we are drawing on her expertise as we get other types of paperwork ready.

Carolyn went through some old paperwork, and we set aside some stuff that needs to go to a safety deposit box. I'm not sure why we've allowed things to go like this, unless it's spelled Amyloidosis.

We found a puzzle we bought several months ago during the winter. We never started putting it together, so started today. This is a very difficult puzzle, with 1000 pieces. At the rate we're going, it'll take us a month to finish it. Carolyn has mentioned she might want to frame it if it looks as good put together as the cover on the box looks.

I bought a router for the Internet in an effort to allow visitors to use their computers when visiting. For the last three months, the router has not worked, and I didn't have the gumption to find out why. Today, I tackled that problem in an effort to find out why it quit working. I had a feeling it was connected to the network security keys inside the setup of the program. Accessing the program, I printed out the administrator's information. Then, I started tinkering with the settings. I found that the security features had been changed. Using the trial and error method, I chanced up on the proper security keys. Yes!! Now, we have a working router again.

Why is it so important to have a working router? Well, for guests, obviously, but also because I bought an I-Pad which will be delivered on Tuesday. The I-Pad is perfect for using wifi, which means I can take it out to the porch or in to the bedroom and still access the Internet. I can also take the I-Pad with me when I have treatments to help the time pass. There are probably many uses that I haven't thought about. My daughter Lori has one, and loves it. Maybe she can recommend some apps for it.

My appetite has improved somewhat in the past two weeks, even though I continue to lose weight, but at a slower pace. My attempts to eat different foods have been like an education, as I find that some foods still don't taste like I remember, but are bearable. This evening, I tried some Equate Nutritional Shake, and found that it tastes much like a melted vanilla milk shake. I might be able to do something with these drinks, although I'd rather be eating something I liked.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Refugio, Texas: Birthplace Of Nolan Ryan

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Excuses For A Milkshake

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 56 degrees, high 64 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, showers, windy

I slept better last night, but I'm still lacking in the total amount of time I need to be sleeping. Amyloidosis treatment starts Monday, and I have already been given a sleeping aid in the event I need it. Maybe I need to try the pills out ahead of time to make sure they work. Then again, maybe not. I've never used anything like that before, and only want to if needed.

I had my usual breakfast this morning, but I noticed my stomach acted like it was a big hole about mid-morning. I invited Carolyn to Hardee's for a breakfast sandwich, which filled my stomach hole nicely. Normally, we eat breakfast at home, but with what I'm going through right now, something outside the house goes over well.

When we got home, we rested for about an hour, as I took a short nap. Actually, I have no idea how long the nap was, but I enjoyed it. After the nap, we got something positive done, as we cleaned out the shop and garage both.

Later in the day, we went to town and bought a weed eater, another extension cord, and three chairs for the screened porch. For the first time ever, I asked for help with getting stuff to the truck, as my strength gave out on me. Oh, well. At least I'm still trying.

Before we started home, we bought a sandwich and a milkshake. I have really grown to like the milkshakes. I find myself making excuses to go to town so I can buy one.

After getting home, I called my cousin Faye to see how her husband Cut is doing. He had a stroke earlier in the week, and was moved to a rehab center yesterday. It looks like a long and hard road for his recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are with Cut and his family.

More late, be safe.

Today's Town - North Charleston, South Carolina: Hub Of The Low Country

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger Was Off

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 64 degrees, high 72 degrees, cloudy, rain showers

Blogger, the service I use to publish the blog every day, was out of service last night. As a result, yesterday's post was published this morning, while tonight's post went out at it's usual time. So, if you think you might have missed a day, you probably did. But, the posts should all be there.

It was very difficult for me to go to sleep last night, as it seemed like I couldn't relax. I was more tired than usual, so maybe the news that treatment for Amyloidosis will start Monday had me a little wired up. It's been a long struggle to find out what's wrong with me, then another struggle to find someone that knew how to treat it. But, we feel good about the direction things are going.

We received a call that a window screen we had made for the house was ready to be picked up in Pulaski, so we went up there to get it. While there, we picked up a few things at the local WalMart Mall, which is Carolyn's favorite store of the chain.

We stopped at McDonald's for a quick lunch. The Pulaski area has many Amish families living there, and we have seen them several times, riding the streets in their horse drawn carriages. Today, there was a large group of them at McDonald's, eating lunch and enjoying their kids' antics in the indoor play area. As we left, we looked for their horse drawn carriages, but didn't find them. Carolyn pointed out a bus in the parking lot, and said maybe they hired the bus to take them somewhere. Each family group had a different color that seemed to identify the particular family. Interesting people who choose to live the old way in a modern world full of conveniences.

By the time we got home, I was wiped out, so a nap was in order. It is amazing how much a short nap helps my fatigue problem.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Comfort, Texas: Star Of The Texas Hill Country

Not all who wander are lost.

Oncologist Visit

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 63 degrees, high 88 degrees, mostly clear skies

It’s funny (strange?) how when you take a car to the shop for repairs, and the car won’t make the noise or action that you want repaired. Well, today the same thing happened when I went to the doctor to complain about my medicine. For the most part, the symptoms are better, and he convinced me to stay on the medicine a little longer in an effort to use something that he thinks is good for me.

Since the tornado outbreak, we had not been east of I-65, so had no idea of the damage that had been done in the eastern part of Limestone County, the county we live in. We got a good idea of that damage today, as we saw several houses that were blown away or collapsed piles of rubble. The area is going to be a while recovering from this tragedy. I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures of the damage.

We had an appointment in Huntsville with the oncologist that is going to administer the chemo drugs for my Amyloidosis. The drugs are similar to what is used for myeloma, since the two diseases mimic each other. The oncologist explained the process that I will be going through, with me being administered one drug intravenously and other two taken orally. If everything goes well, I will receive the drugs once a week for 12 weeks, then go back to Atlanta for a full workup to see how I’m doing. The oncologist said he will be able to tell me week to week how the disease is reacting, so that made me feel better about having to wait so long.

Oh, by the way – the treatments start Monday, May 16, 1911.

It was after 1700 hours by the time my appointment was finished, so we got stuck on the moving parking lot named University Boulevard. The first chance we got, we stopped and had supper, so by the time we came out, traffic was much better. By the time we got home, all we wanted to do was collapse for the rest of the day. I didn’t know I could get so tired.

More later, be safe.

Today’s Town – Huntsville, Alabama: The Sky Is Not The Limit

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stupid Survey

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 61 degrees, high 88 degrees, clear skies

When we got up this morning, I felt enough of an appetite that I invited Carolyn to go get a Hardee's sausage egg biscuit. She was ready in about two minutes, and off we went. Now, this was before 0700 hours, so either she was hungry for a biscuit, or she was trying to encourage me to eat anything I wanted. I think it was trying to encourage me that got her going. As I said, I'm trying to gain whatever weight I can before starting the treatment for Amyloidosis.

When we finished eating, Carolyn asked me to go by K-Mart for something she needed. I went in to get the item, and was waiting to pay for it when a screen came up at the check out station asking me to take part in a survey. Huh?? I said I didn't want to play, and the cashier said it would only take a minute. I said I was still not interested, and why couldn't I just pay for what I wanted and leave? I guess I showed some of that spark that's been missing for awhile, because as I was walking away, I heard one of the other cashiers say, Wooo!

We caught up our record keeping from the trip to Atlanta, and then tried to interpret the lab reports that we are taking to the oncologist in Huntsville. It's all Greek to us, but there seemed to be far too many high or low values. It'll be interesting to compare these numbers to the numbers we get three months from now.

Judy and Roger came over in the afternoon, and it was a much better visit than what we had last Sunday. I even cracked a couple of jokes, which have been in short supply around here lately. Humor is good for the soul.

I mentioned earlier that I was using washing powder on the fire ant hills in the yard, and guess what? The washing powder works just as well here as in Texas, and most of the hills are dead. It's a cheaper and safer alternative to poison, and we wouldn't use anything else.

I have two doctor appointments tomorrow, one with my cardiologist and the other with the oncologist. I'm hopeful the cardiologist will adjust some of my medicine, since I'm not reacting to it well at all. It makes me feel much like what I can imagine the chemo drugs might make me feel; exhausted, no stamina, little appetite, chills, shortness of breath......

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Brevard, North Carolina: Land Of The Waterfalls

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back From Atlanta

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 65 degrees in Atlanta, high 89 degrees in Elkmont, mostly clear skies

After another restless night, we were up and about by 0700 hours this morning. The bed slept better than the one we had last week, and we didn't have to use the pads we took with us.

I did my best to keep quiet so Carolyn could sleep, but I don't think I succeeded too well. She seems to be tuned in to what I'm doing at all times.

We checked out the menu for breakfast at the hotel, but weren't impressed. So, we drove down to McDonald's and got some egg McMuffins. I managed to eat all of mine, as I'm trying to get a little weight on, or at least not lose anymore.

When we got back to the hotel, the hotel called a taxi for us so we wouldn't have to fight with trying to park the truck in those little spaces in the parking garages. We were almost an hour early to the clinic, but we were called back in about ten minutes after we got there.

We met with my doctor, and he explained I don't have myeloma, and the extent of the spread of the Amyloidosis. We knew I was being affected in my heart, and suspected the same for my kidneys. The kidneys were confirmed today. So, two major organs affected by this terrible disease. Next, the doctor went over his preferred treatment option, with which he has had about a 70% success rate. If the treatment works, I wouldn't feel better immediately, but as time went by, the organs would tend to repair some of the damage, and that's when I would start to feel better. The downside is that about 30% of patients can't tolerate the chemo drugs. So, my task is to get myself built up as much as much as possible before treatment starts. I don't have much time to do it, as I meet with the oncologist on Thursday in Huntsville.

In three months, we go back to Atlanta for followup testing. If the treatment is working, we'll stay on it. If it's not working, we'll try something new.

Overall, a positive meeting in Atlanta, and now something's about to begin. I have no idea where this treatment will lead us, but I know I can't stay on the same path I'm on now.

I was very tired after the trip to Atlanta, but now I have a direction to go. Tired is better than some of the alternatives.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Gainesville, Georgia: Poultry Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Atlanta, Again

Atlanta, Georgia

Weather: low 60 degrees in Elkmont, high 85 degrees in Atlanta, clear skies

We left home headed to Atlanta about 0830 hours this morning, immediately after the garbage was picked up. We didn't want to leave our garbage container by the street for two days. A quick stop was made in Athens so we could get a breakfast sandwich at Hardee's. I was able to eat all the sandwich, which made Carolyn happy. Me, too.

Leaving at that time of the day meant that we missed all the rush hours, both in Birmingham and Atlanta. We made a stop about 75 miles east of Birmingham so I could rest my eyes, but it wasn't very refreshing, as the temperature is starting to go up. Another stop was made at the Georgia welcome center on I-20, and that stop was more restful, as I was able to find a place with some shade. I closed my eyes for about 20 minutes, and Carolyn said I went to sleep. If so, that's okay, because I haven't slept well in some time. I'll take every nap I can get.

We saw a Dairy Queen about five miles later, and decided to stop and get me a milkshake. Bad mistake, as this was the worse milkshake I had ever had. The thing was too sweet, and already melting by the time Carolyn brought it back to the truck. These Dairy Queens in the east don't hold a candle to the ones in Texas. We would have stopped at Sonic, but we didn't see one all the way across east Alabama or west Georgia.

We arrived at our hotel about 1430 hours, where we checked in. The first order of business for me was some cold water, then a nap of about an hour. About 1730 hours, we went back to the restaurant that we used last week. We made more bad choices, but then that's not too hard to do when my appetite's as bad as it is now. It was not the fault of the restaurant, and I explained that to the waitress. She seemed to understand, because she said they got a lot of people from the clinic with the same problems.

When we got back to our hotel, I tried to write the blog, but was just too tired. I put it off until I was up near midnight and felt better. I would hate to think I had to give up the blog, because I enjoy writing it. If I miss a day now and then, don't worry. I'll be back as soon as possible. Of course, I don't plan to miss any days, but I know how this illness kicks my tail. On top of that, the medicine to control the atrial fibrillation is beating me down. I'm going to see my cardiac doctor when we get back home to see if he can make some changes that will give me more energy and a better quality of life.

My appointment tomorrow is 1040 hours, at which time we're supposed to review all the tests, and agree on a treatment plan. As I said yesterday, I'm hopeful, but anxious at the same time. What does the future hold?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Atlanta, Georgia: Dogwood City

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothr's Day

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 57 degrees, high 80 degrees, clear skies

Today was a bad one for me, as I felt under the weather. I had that bothersome cough that doesn't produce anything, except for making me sore all over. About mid-afternoon, I finally tried some cough drops, and got the cough under control. I didn't have much of an appetite, but did what I could with food so Carolyn wouldn't worry about me. In addition, I stopped trying to be tough by not using pain pills that were given to me, and they helped. I took a nap, and that helped somewhat. Then an early night to bed, as I'm writing this post to the blog during one of my occasional times up during the night.

Terri and Thomas were here overnight, and it was nice to see them. Carolyn was able to do a little shopping with Terri, as Thomas and I waited for them in the car. We had lunch in town, helping celebrate Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. Don't be afraid to tell you mother that you love them. I've wished many times that I had told my mother more when she was living.

Roger and Judy came over after lunch, and it was probably not the best of visits for them. I was out of it, and not the best company. They understood, but it doesn't make me feel any better about being a good host.

Then, Traci came over late in the afternoon, as she brought us two pads to go on the hotel bed when we're in Atlanta tomorrow night. I'm hoping the bed will be more comfortable than last week, but if not, the pads are going on the bed. No more sleeping on a torture rack. In addition, we chose another hotel to make reservations at, so that might make a difference.

Another thing Traci did was bring us a spare stethoscope so Carolyn could listen to my heart easier. She has been taught to recognize what atrial fibrillation sounds like, so we can try to get help sooner, if needed. We recognize that Carolyn's not a trained medical professional, but this is one more tool for us to use. The stethoscope does not take the place of going to the doctor.

We will be leaving for Atlanta about mid-morning tomorrow, taking our time and letting me rest as needed. My appointment with the doctors is at 1040 hours Tuesday, when we expect to get the results of all the tests. In addition, we expect a treatment plan to be presented, with most of the treatment taking place in Huntsville. We'll go back to Atlanta every three months for more testing and evaluation. If the treatment is working, nothing changes. If it's not, then a new treatment plan will be implemented. I'm hopeful, but anxious as we approach the appointment time.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Houston, Texas: Golden Buckle Of The Sunbelt

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Found Child's Sneaker

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 46 degrees, high 72 degrees, clear skies

I had a good night's sleep, only getting up once for about an hour. After going back to bed at 0300 hours, I was able to sleep until 0700 hours. That may not seem like much, but it helps me.

I felt halfway decent this morning, so we spent some time getting our medical records and costs in order. It appears that we will have enough medical costs this year to be able to itemize our taxes for the year. Believe me when I say that I would rather not be itemizing, because it might mean I wasn't as sick.

After lunch, I used some washing powder to treat fire ant hills in the yard. We used the washing powder for years in Texas, and it seems to do a good job, without worrying about poisoning animals or birds. In about a week, the hills should be dead.

Terri and Thomas came up from Tuscaloosa in the early afternoon, and they had many stories as well as video of the tornado that struck their area last week. We can tell that they are still deeply affected by the things they have seen.

They brought me two large milkshakes from Sonic, and I got busy drinking one of them. I learned today that if I'm going to eat supper with any appetite at all, I need to eat things like a milkshake earlier in the day. Those things tend to stick with you, and I was still full at suppertime. I managed to eat enough to keep Carolyn from fussing at me too much. Anyway, no milkshakes after 1200 hours, unless that is all I'm eating.

When Traci mowed our yard yesterday, she picked up some debris that fell out of the sky last week during the tornado outbreak. One thing she found was a child's sneaker in the back yard. When she first found the shoe, she was afraid there might be something in it, like a foot. Luckily, there wasn't. We hope the child is okay.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Jonestown, Texas: Gateway To The Hill Country

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 45 degrees, high 64 degrees, clear skies

Every night, I tend to get up at least 2-3 times due to aches and pains. Most of the time, I can stay up for a half hour or so, then go back to bed and sleep. Last night, I only got up once, stayed up about an hour, had an ice cream bar, and felt good. I went back to bed about 0330 hours and slept the rest of the night. When I got up this morning, I still felt halfway decent.

After breakfast, the good feeling persisted, so I did a few things around the house to help Carolyn. By mid-morning, I started to drag a little, so I started slowing down. The people who were replacing the bottom sashes of our windows finally showed up and got busy. I think the wait is going to be worth it, as we like the quality of work that was performed. It's nice to not be looking through fogged windows.

Recently, I have been having a milkshake everyday, as I try to boost my appetite and gain back some of the weight that I have lost. No weight gain so far, but at least the loss has slowed down. I can't afford to lose any more weight.

I have found that Sonic has the best milkshake, which came from a tip from my sister-in-law Kathy. It is something that I have come to look forward to, so at least lunch means a little more than it did.

We have been looking for a riding mower to buy for mowing our yard. Sears is having a sale on their yard equipment, so we checked out what they had. We found the type and size of mower we were looking for and struck a deal. One of the things the dealer agreed to was to deliver the mower for nothing. So, we have a new riding mower sitting in the garage for the first time in many years. I'll do the mowing when I'm able. If Carolyn can't do it, then Traci will come over and do it. Have I said lately how much we appreciate Traci and her help?

This past week has been full of news about Usama Bin Laden's death. I haven't said anything about it before now, but it is hard to keep quiet. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to our armed forces and intelligence services for their relentless hunt for Bin Laden. In addition, George W. Bush and his administration's policies helped. It bothers me to see our current president doing the victory tour that he has been on this week, when he was one of the loudest voices of criticism against the policies that helped find the terrorist. I think it's about time for Obama to get serious about the economy, budget deficit, and inflation. Let's get people back to work, and start taming a deficit that seems to me to be out of control. Cut back on the campaigning for re-election and do the job he was elected to do.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Hutto, Texas: Growing A Quality Community

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Better Night's Sleep

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 37 degrees, high 64 degrees, clear skies

Did you notice the low temperature for today? I guess this is Blackberry Winter. We'll enjoy it while it lasts.

We slept much better last night, after the awful night we spent the night before in a hotel in Atlanta. Our bed seemed like a cloud after trying to sleep in the hardest bed I have ever experienced. The hotel should have paid us for staying there.

We were still tired after the long trip, even though we slept well. Once we were up and stirring, I went to town to pick up a few groceries, and get a haircut. While I was there, I looked at a couple of lawn mowers that would work for us in keeping the yard looking good. I'll probably go back tomorrow and buy one of them. Our niece Traci has been doing our yard, and we have paid her for doing so. However, she is busy with her stuff, and I think I'm getting to the point where I should be able to drive a riding mower. That still leaves the question of weed eating and trimming the shrubs, but we'll face that when the time comes.

Carolyn did some of her patented house cleaning while I was out of the house. I'm glad she did it while I was gone, since I feel like I get in her way. She's usually pretty good about not sweeping me out with the dirt, but it goes better if I'm not around.

In the afternoon, both of us took little mini-naps, but I don't think they will keep us awake tonight. I received a call that the replacement windows that we have been trying to have installed since we bought the house will be installed tomorrow. It's about time. One more thing to mark off the to do list.

Things are gradually getting back to normal after the tornado outbreak last week. Most people have their electric power back, and Athens is not as busy as it was with all the people visiting who had no power or had lost their homes. It was a financial windfall for the businesses here, but I'm sure they would like to be able to reverse the clock so we could forget all the bad weather last week. I know it made an impression on me.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Tuscaloosa, Alabama: America’s One And Only

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Torture Rack

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low in Atlanta, Georgia was 40 degrees, high in Elkmont was 61 degrees, clear skies

Last night was a miserable night for me. We had the hardest bed ever placed in a hotel room, and with the weight I have lost, plus the soreness in my hip from the bone marrow biopsy, I could not find a comfortable position to sleep in. I think a pool table would have been soft compared to that bed. As a result, I only got about two hours sleep. At least we're home now, and can sleep in our bed. The uncomfortable night is one of the reasons we decided to buy an RV, besides the freedom it gave us.

We left Atlanta about 0800 hours, pulling into rush hour traffic. Once we got to I-20, traffic fell off, and we moved along at a comfortable speed for us. About 100 miles down the road, I pulled into a McDonald's, where I lay back in the seat for about 15 minutes. Carolyn said I fell asleep for a short time, and if I did, that's good. Before we left again, I bought a milkshake for the boost, which kept me going for another 100 miles. Then, we pulled in to a rest area on I-65, where I took another short nap. That little nap gave me enough energy to make it home about 1400 hours.

For the third time, a nap was again in order. That held me until I went to bed tonight. Carolyn prepared us a nice supper so we wouldn't have to go out. Believe me, it was better than anything we have had this week.

We received word today that my cousin Faye's husband Ellis (we call him Cut) suffered a stroke, and is in ICU in Jacksonville, Florida. He faces a long and difficult recovery, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Jacksonville, Florida: Where Florida Begins

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Back In Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia

Weather: low 54 degrees, high 80 degrees, afternoon showers, cooling off to 40 degrees by morning

We got an early start this morning, leaving home about 0450 hours on our way to Atlanta and more medical stuff. At that time of the morning, traffic was light, and we were able to get through Birmingham before the morning rush hour hit there. With the early start, we were able to pace ourselves, and when I felt myself start to fade, we would stop and allow me to stretch out on the seat until I felt better.

We arrived at our hotel about noon, and since I had called ahead and asked if we could check in at that time, a room was ready. Since we were a little early, which was planned, I was able to take a short nap before going to Emory Clinic. The nap helped me, and at 1300 hours, we called a cab to take us to the clinic.

Once at the clinic, things moved at a good clip. I had samples from home which were checked in. Then, blood samples were drawn for more lab work. At least this week, they only took eight vials, versus eleven last week.

When the lab work was completed, we were taken to the bone marrow biopsy area. Ouch! It hurts just to say those words. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. When I was being prepped for the biopsy, I was asked if I wanted use just a local anesthetic that would numb the affected area where the biopsy would take place, or a general that would make me sleep while the procedure was going on. I decided to cowboy up and just use the local. That was a good choice, as the pain was minimal, and I was able to walk out within ten minutes after the procedure was finished. That also means I can drive now instead of having to wait 24 hours.

Someone asked me if a lot of bone marrow was taken for the test, and I said I didn't know, since I had never experienced it before. The volume that was pulled seemed like a lot to me, but what do I know?

We called a cab to take us back to the hotel, where we rested until supper time. Supper was a surprise, because we went to a place named Evans Fine Dining, which turned out to be a typical neighborhood diner. It was a nice surprise, since the food was good, cheap, and plentiful. And the best thing of all was that I could actually eat what I ordered. I should say I ate most of it, and that's much better than I ave been doing. Maybe we should hang around here a few days so I can get some strength and energy back.

We'll return home tomorrow, taking our time as I try not to overdo it. I have another appointment next Tuesday, when the doctor will present his findings, and hopefully, a treatment plan. If everything goes as we hope, a treatment plan will be administered by doctors near our home, while we will return here for more tests and checkups to see how the treatment is going.

So, that was our day. Early, busy, and tiring.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Atlanta, Georgia: The Big Peach

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Preps For Trip To Atlanta

Elkmont, Alabama
Weather: low 63 degrees, high 81 degrees, partly cloudy skies

Most of our day was spent resting and getting ready for our trip to Atlanta. We expect to leave in the morning about 0500 hours. While I'm over there, more testing will be performed, including a bone marrow biopsy. We will be staying in Atlanta tomorrow night, with an early start home on Wednesday. Then, we do it all over again next week. But, the alternative is to have no hope, and now I do have some hope. As I told the doctors, I'll go anywhere, do anything, anytime they want me to.

I attempted to rent a car to drive to Atlanta tomorrow, but the need for cars by tornado victims is acute. As one man told me, he had five cars sitting in his driveway, and couldn't drive any of them. The second story of a house across the street was blown in to his, resulting in a total loss. It's a miracle they weren't killed.

The cleanup from the storms continues, but that is going to be a long term project. The damage is so much worse than we would have thought. Huntsville still only has about 30% of their electrical power back, so many of those folks are staying and eating in the Athens area. Traffic is much heavier than normal, and business is booming. I'm sure everyone wishes things were back to normal.

One side benefit of the bad weather last week is that the weather this week has been outstanding. And, we're expecting lows in the high 30s on Tuesday night. I keep thinking Blackberry Winter is here, only to be fooled by another cool front passing through.

More later, be safe. Pay attention to those weather warnings.

Today's Town - Cullman, Alabama: City Of Churches

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Catch Up

Elkmont, Alabama

Weather: low 66 degrees, high 77 degrees, partly cloudy skies, breezy

It has been almost a week since I posted. What a week it has been! I guess the best place to start is at the beginning.

The last time I posted was Sunday evening, as my sister Janie was getting ready to go home. The next morning, Janie left. I was feeling really bad, so I called my cardiologist in Athens about it. He told me to get to to his office as soon as possible. An ekg showed that I was in atrial fibrillation, even though the pacemaker I had installed was supposed to help.

I was immediately placed in ICU, where treatment was started to get the AF under control. The AF was controlled that evening, but other problems had arisen that needed to be addressed. When the pacemaker was installed, my fluid retention medicine stopped working, and I gained ten pounds in less than five days. After two days, a combination of drugs was found that started the pump flowing again.

On Wednesday morning at 0500 hours, I was awakened by a nurse who said the area was under a tornado warning. Everyone was moved in to the hall for more protection. That warning did not result in a tornado hitting Athens.

At 1200 hours on Wednesday, another tornado warning was announced for the area. Back in to the hall. This tornado did hit the area, causing deaths, injuries, and destruction.

At 1700 hours, another warning, which resulted in another hit for the area. More deaths, injuries, and destruction. We were trying to be released from the hospital at that time, so it was rather hectic.

One of the tornadoes that hit in the afternoon destroyed the neighborhood where we lived in the 1980s, including a home we had built that we thought was going to be our retirement home.

We finally got home about 2000 hours, where we had no damage, but there was not any electricity. No problem, at least we were safe, and I was doing better.

We saw things that day I don't care to see again. Large amounts of debris fell for hours, including sheet metal, tree parts, insulation, and just about anything else we use in a modern world.

We got everything ready to go to Atlanta the next morning, when we left for my doctor's appointment over there. Leaving at 0500 hours in the morning, we were at the doctor's office a few minutes early. After doing the paperwork, we were called back for a complete examination and personal history. Then, the doctor said he had hope to offer me, which made us feel good, because we had no hope before. He explained my disease again, and said he had several treatment options that had promise for me. The rest of the day was spent with tests, x-rays, and scheduling.

We spent the night in Atlanta, and arrived home Friday afternoon. The electricity was
still off, with no idea when it would come back on. Still, we felt we were fortunate. Many people lost loved ones, had injuries, or lost everything they owned.

Saturday was spent resting and trying to catch up with things that had been ignored all week. The electricity came back on about 1730 hours that night while we were gone to get supper. Nice surprise to come back to. Carolyn put it very well when she the power being off wasn't hard, just inconvenient. We did lose everything in the refrigerator and freezer, but still count ourselves fortunate.

Today was more resting and catching up. I think we're getting there, just in time to back to Atlanta on Tuesday for more testing.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Together We Can Build A Bridge To The Future

Not all who wander are lost.