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Grateful For The Ordinary Things Along Our Journey


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Our Trip to Modesto on 1 July 2015

3 July 2015

Amberly came for Jerry and me about 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 1 to go to Jerry's appointment with our very good friend, Dr. P. Creaseman, who is a plastic surgeon at Modesto. This was Jerry's pre-op appointment for lesion removals (one at inner side of right arm at elbow, which appears to be healing, and one on each side of his neck; the two on his neck appear to be squamous cell carcinoma, which is the one stage more serious than basal cell, but not nearly as serious as melanoma).

Dr. Creaseman said that if I can drop Jerry's INR to 2.5 on the day of Jerry's surgery (July 14), he will do the surgery without the Lovenox injections. I believe I can do that. Jerry and Amberly told him that I'm an expert, and have this INR control "down to a science" (Amberly). This is far too important for me to feel overly-confident about it. Jerry's life is in danger without Lovenox at anything lower than 2.5 (mechanical valve can stick and quit), and he can have a spontaneous bleed from anywhere (eyes, nose, throat, internal vital organs) if INR is over 3.5. I never change his Coumadin. I control the INR with food.

Dr. Creaseman asked Jerry to describe the lesion on his arm when it was new, and had not begun to change. Jerry described it as looking "something like a wart." I said, "No, it didn't. It looked like an earwig." Jerry gave me a shocked smile, and they all laughed at my description. Well, it DID look like an earwig in shape and length, but not in color. Amberly said that she's sure he's never had a patient describe a lesion as having the appearance of an earwig. Dr. Creaseman still loves me. He told me so as he hugged me 'Bye, but he still won't give me the keys to his Jag. He'll take me for a ride, but won't fork over his keys (he knows I have Meniere's and now need cataract surgery).

Perhaps an earwig would not have come to my mind so readily had one not crawled out of bed with me as I crawled out a couple of days before. Our gardens are full of them this year, but that's the only one we've found in the house, thankfully.

After Jerry's exam, I asked Dr. Creaseman to tell Amberly the Latin medical term that means a chronic dermatitis with nodules on the cartilage of the ear - a medical term doctors use when what the patient has GOK ("God only knows"), and the doctor hasn't a clue. He told her, and then I asked him to type it using my iPad. I should have known better, although he tried. He can't type, and he can't spell. I forgot that about him. After he struggled with the typing, and argued with me about the spelling of "chondro," I took my iPad back, and asked him to just say the word, breaking it into its combining parts, and I'd type it. That worked. The word is "Chondrodermatitisnodularischronicushelicis."

The way I first learned of this word is when Jerry asked Dr. Creaseman, several months ago, what a tiny spot on his private area was. Dr. Creaseman looked, and came out with that long word. I began trying hard to break it down to its combining parts in order to understand its meaning, but got lost due to the word's length. Poor Jerry was lost from the beginning, and it sounded like he had something dreadful for sure. Jerry looked very worried, and looked to me for reassurance as he asked for explanation.

I guess Jerry had that one coming, because soon after we arrived at Dr. Creaseman’s office that day, Jerry asked him, with a voice low enough that not even I heard (thankfully), "How are your nuts?" He got the shocked expression and the "What??!" he was looking for. Dr. Creaseman raises pecans and almonds on his ranch in the Valley. Both of them were just being boys that day, I think.

After our good visit with Dr. Creaseman Tuesday, we went to Vintage Faire Mall to the Shoe Box, where we were served by a very likable, young sales person named Josh. We were there to buy SAS shoes, primarily for Jerry (1 dress pair and 1 for office/shop use; SAS doesn't make the dress style Jerry is used to, so he bought Florsheim, which he likes, and is quality, but he says is not as comfortable.). I encouraged him strongly to buy the most comfortable UGG slippers I've ever felt. He agreed to it, but then changed his mind, as he inspected the soles. He told Josh, with such pride in me, that I've kept the hardwood floors in such good condition, even after about fifteen years. He said that he will not mar the floors now with shoes. He went on to explain to Josh that they are shiny without my using polish of any kind. Josh was sweet enough to pretend to be impressed. I told Jerry that he is so much more important to me than the floors. I want his feet comfortable, especially considering his painful bone spurs. A lovable, but stubborn man, he is. Hmmmm. His birthday is August 23. Perhaps I'll have them delivered :) .

While Jerry and I shopped, Amberly went next door to the ladies' section, and bought two pairs of cute SAS sandals, and returned to us. Later, Jerry and I went next door to shop for me. I found two pairs of sandals I liked right away. One pair is taupe. The other pair is red, and called Lipstick. I thought $16.00 was quite a low price, so I chose the only two colors they had on display. I also chose a black pair, which looks similar to the ever-popular Mary Jane style.

When I paid for my purchases, the total was something over $460 plus tax. I whispered to Amberly to go check the price of those sandals. She came back and said, “$160.00.” Well, that explained that. I didn't see the extra zero; $16 was $160.00. I would have bought them anyway, because they're cute and comfortable, and will last many summers, but I'm so thankful they had only two colors displayed!

This became a comical mistake, which caused us all to laugh, and it gave us another happy memory. Like Amberly said, "There's nothing in that store that would be sixteen dollars." Common sense tells me that. I thought the price was surprisingly low for SAS, but "seeing is believing." Of course, I am scheduled for cataract surgeries on August 19 and September 9.

My surprise price made Jerry laugh. He told me later, "It made me happy to see you happy and light-hearted again, like you used to be, with the sparkle back in your eyes." I understand this. Just for a few hours, we felt our normal selves -- shopping and having fun together -- padding around the mall together, and getting "mall feet." It's the same mall where we used to go when we lived in the Valley, and after we moved here to the mountains, but it's changed drastically class-wise and quality-wise. It was fun anyway. If gang members purposefully step into our way now, I can run them over with the wheelchair, and Jerry can give them a fierce beating with his cane.

After we bought our shoes, we went to See's Candies to buy Jerry two boxes of "soft centers" chocolates. It's the thing to do when we go to the mall.

After this, we had a difficult choice to make. We could go back to Macy's (no longer carries Jones of New York!), or we could go to Marcella's Mexican restaurant on Tully Road. We decided on the food. Jerry said that he felt sorry that Amberly and I didn't get to shop for dresses (he likes for me to wear dresses; he likes all lengths from mini to maxi, for all lengths are feminine; he's always enjoyed shopping with me, and having me model for him as we made our purchases). He said that our shopping felt "incomplete," because Amberly and I "didn't get even one new dress." We made the right choice, for eating at nice Mexican restaurants used to be part of what we did (we don't have such on the hill). It is one of the things we did often after a toe-throbbing (due to spike heels; that is, Amberly and me, not Jerry), fun day at the mall. It felt so good to feel normal again, and it was the best ending for a happy, family day together ~ just the three of us. Amberly treated us to an excellent dinner, and we are grateful. We have not adjusted to being on the receiving end from the kid yet though, but she asked us to allow her to do this for us. Jerry was about to leave the tip when we learned that she'd taken care of that also. We must have done something right, for she's a wonderful daughter.

We had an exceptionally enjoyable ride home from the Valley, through the wide open grasslands of the chaparral area that I call the Land of Cows and Coyotes, onward and upward through the foothills, into forest of the high country of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and to our home in the awesome, but bug-bitten, piney woods.

The moon was full and bright as we left the twinkling lights of the city behind us. I watched them as they became part of the distant landscape. The ride through the Land of Cows and Coyotes opened a floodgate for many happy memories of our traveling years together. I wished I could remember every detail vividly. I journaled back then. I wish I'd written with even more detail. I remembered aloud that we had seen tepees all lit up from the inside on an Indian Reservation one time on such a night as this, but I couldn't remember where we had seen them. Jerry said, "It was just outside of Flagstaff. We were headed to Utah. We left Flagstaff at night." Amberly remembered that night also. We all remembered that special memory together, while creating a new, happy, but poignant one.

The moonlight shone brightly over the windswept, amber-colored wild wheat and other grasses. I thought of the different kinds of wildlife living out there as the miles rushed by as we traveled eastward. This wild and beautiful area is home to cougars, coyotes, deer, raccoons, opossums, jackrabbits, bobcats, foxes, snakes, wild turkeys, several birds of prey (eagle, falcon, hawk, buzzard), and most love to dine on the poor wee field mice.

The moon popped in and out from behind wispy clouds as we left the Valley floor, and climbed into the foothills. The windswept grasslands began to give way to scrub oaks, scattered among the grasses. The moon exposed a group of oaks in silhouette as it appeared to hang just beyond and above a line of them on the brow of a hill.

Although the moon shown full and bright, lightning began to flash in the distance to the left and underneath the moon. The lightning soon began to flash in earnest to our east and to our north, which we knew to be in the higher elevations of the Sierras, and possibly near our home. This dangerous, dry lightning had been predicted. It seemed strange to see lightning and a full moon at the same time. I've likely seen this before, but my memory is too short to remember if I did.

The clouds became thicker as we traveled higher into the mountains, and the moon struggled to not be shut behind them. There was one time that the moon showed through a thick, quickly-moving, defined V-shaped cloud so that it showed itself like a huge slice of golden pie.

Jerry and I spoke often about the moon and clouds, but poor little Amberly had to keep her eyes on the road, and didn't get to see the interaction of the moon with the clouds until we pulled into our driveway at home.

After we got all of our packages unloaded and inside, and the transport chair back into the pickup, we gave God thanks for such a happy day together, and for bringing us home safely.

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What a wonderful story of the importance of being grateful for ordinary things, Carrie.

I loved the images of the drive home and I’m still laughing about the 'boys being boys'. :P

I think it is important that we find light moments in our lives when we are faced with the unknown. What a beautiful daughter your Amberly is to give her time to your needs so unconditionally.

Thank you for sharing this special day with us, Carrie.

Hugs to you, Amberly and Jerry.


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Carrie, you remind me why I hated medical dictation so! I remember having 19 letter words, typing them with carbon copies (in the old days), ugh! :D

What is INR?

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Hello KayC: It stands for International Normalised Ratio (INR) and is a measure of how much longer it takes the blood to clot when oral anticoagulation is used. For example, if your INR is 2 the blood is taking twice as long as normal to clot. Everyone needs a unique dosage of anticoagulant, which needs to be kept at a stable level (this is only for those people taking anticoagulents like coumadin)

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