Mom Update…

For those of you who may be wondering…

10 days ago we all thought my mom was dying. ‘We all’ included her physician, the staff at her assisted living center, the hospice staff who came later, and me – the not-medically-trained quilter.

My mom is much beloved at her assisted living center and they did everything they could to help and that included finding round-the-clock sitters and getting hospice set up on a Sunday. It was an amazing mobilization of help. I was mentally making funeral plans.

During those 2 days, we all said ‘you know, she could get better’ but none of us really thought she would. And then, she did! I showed up early Monday morning thinking mom would still be practically comatose and there she was, eating breakfast in the dining hall!

She’s gotten steadily better over the past week and is now mostly back to where she was ‘before’. Let me just say that I hope I inherited her healing genes :-).

No one knows how long this will last, but isn’t that true for all of us?

Every day is a gift. Hold that thought in your heart, as much as you can.

Enjoy today with a smile on your face, a song in your heart, and sewing in hand :-).

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This photo is one I took for my photo critique class with Ricky Tims. 

Why don’t we all have this?

This is an update on mom, but it’s also about health care, a subject that makes people lose their minds these days (mine included).

Mom fell Sunday night and tore up her elbow which led to a trip to the ER. They ran tests and found that her potassium was high. The words ‘kidney failure’ were bandied about and she was admitted. It was a long night. No word yet on how her kidneys are or why this happened, but she’s better now. My mom is tough and heals fast so I won’t be a bit surprised if she’s not back at her assisted living center playing cards in a few days.

At no point during any of this did we have to worry about how to pay for it. Mom has Medicare and supplemental insurance. As I looked around the packed ER, I knew that a lot of those folks were having a much more stressful experience because they had to worry about how to pay for their medical care.

I know good people who cannot afford insurance. They work hard, they live good lives, but food and housing consume their budgets. The stress of knowing that they can’t afford to go to the doctor is awful and leads to more health problems.

Even though we as a nation are split over how best to fix the system, we ought to be able to agree that everyone deserves access to decent health care. If I could wave a magic wand, we’d all have the same medical care that my mom has just because she is over 65. I guess that means that I’m for a single payer system where we all pay in and cover each other.

Before your head explodes and you start writing about why I’m wrong, take a deep breath. I don’t have a wand, I have an opinion, as do you. Our politicians, who have the power to actually do something, also have opinions, but they can’t seem to reach a consensus. Maybe they need to learn how to listen to each other and have a real conversation so that they can reach a compromise.

Feel free to comment with a different view, but let’s keep it constructive. Let’s listen to each other with open minds —maybe we could start a trend :-)!

Mountain hiking…

Our home in Sherman, TX, is 735′ feet above sea level. Red River is at 8671′. We were nearly 8000′ feet higher than normal and my lungs knew it. After taking 2 days to acclimate, we went on our first hike to Williams Lake. The trail begins at the Taos Ski Valley and is nearly 4 miles round trip. You start at 10,191′ and climb about 1000′ to the lake.

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This is supposed to be an easy hike and, in comparison to the next 2, it was. But walking uphill at that altitude is hard work! The kids were not mentally prepared and there was (gasp) a fair bit of whining.

Lorna took the Tula (a kid carrier) and she (mostly) and Chris (some) carried Bear most of the way.

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Bear is tall and weighs 40 lbs. I’m not sure how they did it.

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Jack embraced the challenge about a mile in.

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I always wonder, when I’m hiking, why I am doing it. My lungs were not happy when going uphill and my knees are not happy when I’m going downhill. What is the point? Well, one reason I hike is for the scenery:

The other reason I go on strenuous hikes is to prove that I can still do it!

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There is a Bavarian Restaurant at the end of this hike that serves traditional German food and Andechs beer on tap. Beer was the adult reward, the kids had sausage and lemonade :-).

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Patience, the hardest virtue…

I had planned my first day back from vacation carefully. I was going to choose photos, write blog posts, and get all caught up before leaving at the crack-of-before-dawn on Wednesday to teach in West Houston. I even had dreams of sewing! Dang. None of that happened.

Instead, I answered some email and then took mom to two doctors. Her primary Dr.’s associate saw mom for a UTI, swollen leg, and an open (but not infected) wound. While not great, this is not unusual medical stuff for an 84-year-old diabetic.

Cue up a happy sky photo because so far, so good.

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I took mom home for a nap after doctor #1, where she could rest and put up her leg. That didn’t happen. Instead, she was playing bingo when I came back an hour and half later to pick her up to go the eye doctor.

My mom has seen every eye doctor in Sherman over the last 5 years and she still can’t see as well as she wants to (this is after cataract surgery, in case you are wondering). I admit it — I lost patience long ago. Every doctor said ‘use drops’ and they tweaked her prescription. I figured my mom’s age was the problem and that her eyes were never going to be as good as she thought they should be.

Well, not so much. Last month, she saw Dr. Long who, with his associates, figured out that mom was seeing double. Did you know that they make glasses for that? Yes, they do.

The new glasses came and we all thought the problem was fixed. Except that it wasn’t. Damn.

Mom’s 2nd doctor visit today was back to the eye doctor. I figured that her glasses needed to be tweaked. Again, I was wrong.

It was a long visit. I admit that I was less and less patient as we waited, but I didn’t lose it and remained nice throughout. My younger self would not have stayed as nice. Does that indicate growth that comes with age? I can only hope.

Long story short is that her eyes are changing, too much and too fast. The doctor wants an MRI of her midbrain. Mom was a nurse and I know enough physiology to know that he suspects something stroke-like. Damn, again.

Mom was not thrilled, but she was calm. Nothing had really changed. She has trouble seeing and she has been a stroke risk for a long, long time. Life goes on. And we will try to remain gracefully patient, no matter what comes. It’s time for another happy picture, right?

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To those of you who find yourselves taking care of parents, children, or grandchildren, I hope that you find graceful patience when you need it. And if you have any to spare, please do send it my way :-).

He did it!

I remember when our oldest son, Christopher, first went to school. He was cute, and smart, and on the quiet and serious side.

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We were proud of him then and we are proud of him today, on his last day of school*. He has successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at SMU. Oh happy, happy, very happy day!

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This was a long time coming. Chris and Lorna have had 3 children, bought and remodeled a house, and worked hard to survive during his journey through higher education. Steve and I are proud of his achievement on every level. Way to go, son!

*Chris’s area of study is the long 18th century of British literature. His dissertation is currently titled Primal Filth. I have not yet read it, but Chris is an excellent writer so I expect to be entertained.

Happy new year!

Have you wondered where I’ve been? The short story is that I have been chained to my sewing machines. Well, not really ‘chained’, it only felt that way because I was on a very tight deadline.

Last summer when we were in Germany with the kids, Celia (DIL) asked me to make her a special, magical quilt — for Christmas. That was in July.

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Do you know what makes a quilt magical? A unicorn! Yup, that’s right, she asked me to make her a unicorn quilt. Celia doesn’t make quilt requests often, so I said “Sure, I can do that!”.

I was traveling a teaching a lot, but I got to work on it late August. Once it was drawn and on the wall in September I realized that this really is a magical quilt and that others would want the pattern. C&T agreed to publish it (next spring) but they wanted to show it in more than 1 size, with and without a border. That meant I needed to make a 2nd quilt. Again, I said I could do that without really thinking through the time it would take.

As it turns out, having 2 quilts in the pattern is better. I met my deadline for everything (2 quilts, the manuscript, the models for photography, etc.) with a few days to spare.

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Celia got to see her quilts on Christmas morning and she truly did have a tear in her eye. I can’t show more of the quilt because I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but trust me when I tell you that you are going to want to make a unicorn quilt of your own this spring :-).

My year is off to a very good start and I hope yours is as well!