Home | Posts RSS | Comments RSS | Login

We're home!

Thursday, August 28, 2008
We are back home safe and sound and I'm pooped. I'll update in a day or two.
Thanks for checking in.

Hello from the Baltics, the 3rd and final posting until we return to the states.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sunday, 8-24-8 Copenhagen, Denmark

Rod has been to Copenhagen before, twice actually. So, he wanted to show me around, taking me to the little coffee shop he went to, walk past his hotel, etc. So, in the morning we walked around the port where we found “The Little Mermaid” statue. This represents the story written my Hans Christian Andersen. This little statue has had a rough life. Quite a few years ago, her head was cut off! The local police treated it as a homicide (honestly) but never found the head or the “murderers.” Then a couple of years later, the newly fixed statue was, once again, attacked. This time her head and a foot were cut off! Those “bad guys” were caught. But, the Little Mermaid was attacked once again, this time someone used dynamite and blew up the statue and the rock it sat on! Now, she sets on a nice rock with a large video camera sitting next to her!
We also walked past the Palace and watched a guard march around. The royal family was not in town since this was their “winter palace.” This was the pattern for every country we went to. The royalty seems to have a summer and winter palaces, with them visiting their summer palace outside the mail city.
We walked down to the downtown/canal area where there are tons of coffee shops and bars that sit on both sides of a canal that was dug by Swedish prisoners to help the ships come into Copenhagen for trading purposes.
After a $5.00 bottle of “Lite Coke” (again, I kid you not!) we took a taxi back to the boat and rested until the afternoon tour.
In the afternoon we took a “Tivoli and Harbor Cruise.” We picked up a bus that drove us by most of the same areas that Rod and I had already walked past, but, this time we were able to hear about the stories behind the statues, etc. We were dropped off at this famous place called “Tivoli.” Tivoli is kind of a combination of amusement park , gardens, restaurants and theaters. We watched a simple, but beautiful ballet at the “Pantomime Theater.” The Queen organizes and choreographs little ballets that tell various stories written by Hans Christian Andersen. We also visited the local Hard Rock Café and had a ridiculously large hot fudge sundae. We later went on the harbor cruise tour where we saw most of the town from the vantage point of the water.

Monday, August 25, 2008- Oslo, Norway

We arrived to Oslo via the beautiful Norway fjords. The forecast was for mostly cloudy skies with a chance of rain. Instead, as we did almost over day of the trip, ended up with beautiful sunny weather! Our ship docked across from a 13th century fortress. I watched a guard march around the fortress as I sat on our room’s deck.
We took a short bus tour of Oslo, making only two stops. The first stop was at the new Oslo opera house that was made from beautiful pink and white granite. The design was such, that you could actually walk around and walk up to the roof. Rod did the little trek as I watched and took photos. (sorry, I’ll be sure to post some when we get back.) Our second stop was at the site of the 1952 Olympics. We went up to the 200 foot high Holmenkollen Ski Jump! Evidently, we were lucky to see it because the ski jump, along with the café and gift shop will be torn down with a new bigger and better ski jump built in it’s place. Evidently, today’s athletes find no challenge in this 50 year old jump.
We returned to the ship, had lunch and took a nap. Later we went down to the casino where we gladly put our $20 towards the “Charity of the Suckers Fund.” (joke, joke, joke, joke, joke)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008. At Sea

This is our last day. We’ve spent the day eating, sleeping and packing. This has been a fun but very long trip and Rod and I are both quite excited to get back home. We will return tomorrow night (Wednesday). Please do not worry if I don’t post for a few days. This trip was significantly harder to handle than the Mediterranean was last fall. I’m going to need a couple of days to get rested up.
Thanks for reading.

Much love

Getting Closer to the End...

Monday, August 25, 2008
Hello again! Hopefully, this will be a bit more of an uplifting entry!
Tuesday, August 18th, 2008. We arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia and went on a tour of Catherine The Great’s Palace and gardens and the Hermitage Museum. Catherine’s Palace included a room considered to be the “8th Wonder of the World,” the “Amber Room.” It is an 11 foot square hall walled with amber and other semi-precious stones. Most of this palace, including “The Amber Room” were mostly destroyed in World War 2 and painstakingly restored.
We lunched at the Pvlovsk Restaurant which was considered the favorite restaurant of Russia’s Prime Minister, Vladamir Putin. Rod and I enjoyed a lunch of beef stroganov served with french fries!
After lunch our guide took us to the famous Heritage Museum. The Hermitage was the winter palace of the Catherine the Great. To give you an idea of how large the Hermitage is, it comprises over 1800 doors, 1900 windows and 114 staircases. And, yes, I was extremely tired after the tour. We saw famous works from Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Rubens. There was also this amazing moving golden peacock clock. I promise to add some pictures when we get back home. Rod bought a new camera that hasn’t been synched up with my computer.
Wednesday, August 19, 2008. Day 2 in St. Petersburg. The sites of the day included the Peter and Paul Fortress, the cruiser Aurora, the Bronze Horseman and, my favorite, The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. This church was built on the assassination site of Tsar Alexander the 2nd. It is one of those traditional Russian colorful “onion dome” churches. It took 30 years to build. It was also partially destroyed during WWII and restored. Again, pictures will be coming later. Sorry.
Thursday, August 20, 2008. Helsinki, Finland. We took another bus tour to see the sites of Helsinki. The absolute highlight was the Temppeliakio, The Rock Church. It is a church that was built by, basically, blowing up this giant rock! I wish I could show you pictures right now, but, just believe me when I say it is beautiful. The funniest thing we heard today was from our guide. She said that if you are “pale, Lutheran and middle class, that you know you are from Finland!” By the way, I’m sick and tired of having to pay to use a bathroom!
Friday, August 21, 2008. Stockholm, Sweden. The traveling kind of caught up with me so we slept in today and took an afternoon bus tour and shopping excursion. The craziest part of the day happened while Rod and I were playing the slot machines on the boat. For some reason, I decided to take a peek at my Flolan pump. It showed the word “low” which means I don’t have a lot of medicine left in the pump. It was so loud in the casino that I didn’t hear the alarm. Oh well, I just ran back up to the room, switched it out and went back to watch Rod lose all of our $20.00 gambling money!
Saturday, August 22, 2008. Sea Day. We spent the day sailing to the next port, which will be Oslo, Norway. We spent the day sleeping, eating, reading and knitting.

OK, one more after this one.

Thanks for reading.


Hello Again!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hello from the Baltics!
Well, it’s taken me a while to get my act together in order to bring you all along on this wonderful vacation! It’s been a bit difficult to get online, to be rested enough to figure out what to write, and, actually , just to be awake!

Anyway, it is now Saturday, August 23rd and we’ve been traveling since Wednesday, the 13th. We left Omaha, Wednesday evening and flew to Detroit. Detroit is a HUGE airport and we had an extremely long distance to travel to get from our arrival gate to our departure gate. Rod had been to Detroit before and decided that the best way this was going to work was to get a wheelchair for me. I hate getting special treatment and I really hate doing anything that will bring extra attention to myself and my problems. But, I was really, really glad to have that wheelchair because we had a very, very long way to go and not much time to get there.
We flew from Detroit to London, sleeping the entire time thanks to Ambien! After arriving in London, (it was Thursday) we took a taxi to a Holiday Inn that was about an hour away from the airport. We were in a nice little trendy area where we found a perfect little London pub that served typical fish and chips! We had another good night’s sleep, due to Ambien, and left the next morning for the cruise ship. It was suppose to be about a 2 hour drive (we had a driver) but turned into a 3 ½ hour trip due to some goofy man dressed up as Batman, and hanging from some bridge by the airport! He was supposed to be protesting something. Our driver didn’t know what it was, but, he said there is a group of men that dress up as Batman, Superman or any other “super-hero” then hold up traffic while they protest ridiculous things.
Anyway, we eventually made it to the cruise terminal, got on board and immediately fell asleep! (It was now Friday, the 15th) Luckily we woke in time to get to dinner! (We hate to miss a meal, especially on a cruise ship!) We lucked out by having 4 nice “table-mates.” One couple is from Canada and the other is from the Washington, D.C. area.
The first two days of the cruise were spent at sea. Each day we lost an hour of sleep due to the direction and speed in which we were moving. So, by the time Sunday night came along we were 9 hours ahead of our “home” time. As you can imagine, if we weren’t eating, we were sleeping!
We arrived in Tallinn, Estonia on Monday morning. Tallinn has only been an independent, democratic country since the 1990’s, when they won their independence from Russia. It was actually a somewhat sad little country. It’s history is filled with fighting, killing and invasion. Having the situation with Russia and Georgia did not help lighten the mood of our tour guide. She also told us that Estonia has the highest rate of AIDS of all the European countries. Alcoholism is also a very common disease. The “panoramic tour” unfortunately involved quite a bit of walking, with much of that being uphill and/or over cobblestone roads. It was a tough day. But, a very comfortable bed and some delicious food was waiting for us back on board!
OK, that’s it for now. I’ll add more later.

Thanks for reading.

ps (I just reread this entry…it is very depressing! I promise to try to lighten things up for the next entry.)

Sorry for another quick and boring post....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008
But, I have to go to bed. But, I needed any of you reading this to know that Rod and I were NOT in Spain, we were not on the plane in Spain that crashed. We were in St. Petersburg, Russia and are now floating on to Helsinki, Finland. I just wanted you to know if anyone heard the news and was worried.
more later
thanks for reading

From Russia with Love

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I just want you to know that we've made it as far as St. Petersburg. We've visited Tallin, Estonia and have now had one day here in St. Petersburg. We're having fun, but I'm really, really tired. I'm not handling the traveling and touring anywhere near as well as I did when we went to the Mediterrian (crap? spelling?) I might just need a good night's sleep. Our time zones are really off, plus, we've lost an hour each of the last two nights.
Anyway, just wanted you to know that we are here safe and sound. Now that I've figured out how to get on line, I'll try to get posting something exciting.
Take care all of you.
Thanks for reading.

OK folks, time to pack your virtual suitcases...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Rod and I are heading out on another cruise! This time, I'll be taking you on a tour of the Baltics!
We are leaving today, Wednesday the 13th, and will get back on the 27th. We are going on the Royal Caribbean cruise lines again. This time we'll be going on the "Jewel of the Seas."

We are flying to London this afternoon, staying a day to sleep and get somewhat adjusted to the time zone change. Then, we get on the boat and start cruising!!

So, give me a couple of days to get settled, then you can start CRUISING!!
Have fun and behave yourselves while I'm gone. Oh, and please, please, please say many, many prayers for my good friend (at least she still is.....hopefully will still be by the time we get back!)Tammy! She has dog, fish, horse and house duty! Yes, we are bringing her a big, big present....maybe we'll just bring her back a castle or art museum....

Thanks for reading.


Oh, by the way, in case you were wondering...I have a large, hard-sided suitcase that is just filled with stuff for my Flolan medicine for 14 days. I also have part of another suitcase filled with charging things for my portable oxygen concentrator, plus a couple of chargers in my carry-on, plus additional batteries (8 in all). It's a good thing that Rod has been working out. He's going to need it!

A little tired...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008
We've been busy. Friday, Rod and I went to the new mummy movie, "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor."

It was a great movie, but a bit creepy and it did manage to give me a few nightmares.

On Saturday, the Periwinkles met to discuss and organize our "Third Annual Phenomenal Hope for a Cure" that we're going to be having on November 1, 2008! We will be having a brunch and a silent and oral auction. The First Lady of Nebraska, Governor Dave Heineman's wife, Sally Ganem will be our honorary chairwoman. The local ABC news anchor, Brandi Petersen, will be our emcee. We are trying to get someone from PHA to come and speak. It should be, yet another wonderful event!

Sunday we went to church, breakfast and I was a complete bum all afternoon! I watched lots of the Olympics and knitted a new prayer shawl for a young woman who's battling cancer. We also got to go to dinner with Nick and his girlfriend! It was a great evening.

Then, last night Rod and I went to see....DOLLY PARTON!! She was here in Omaha for a concert! It was one of the best concerts that I've ever been to!

No, I didn't take this picture, I copied it from her website. Dolly has quite the following! There were people there from 6-80 years of age. Evidently she's been on the Hannah Montana show as "Aunt Dolly." So, she now has a whole new crop of followers. The last song she sang at the end of her 2 hour concert, was a new song called, "Jesus and Gravity." This is the refrain:

I've got
Somethin' lifting me up
Somethin' holding me down
Somethin' to give me wings and
Somethin' to keep my feet on the ground
I've got all I'll need
cause I've got Jesus and gravity

If I knew how to attach a YouTube thing, I'd show you how good it is. Please o to YouTube and check it out! It is so great!

Well, today I've increased my Flolan because I've really been dragging my butt and having some heart flip-fops. Plus, I can't seem to walk very far or very fast without getting light-headed. So, that's going to keep me busy today.

I know this is kind of an odd post. But there's something big going on "behind the scenes." I'll be sure to blog later and let you all in on it!

Thanks for reading.


Ok, I'm going to try this again...

Friday, August 8, 2008
On Tuesday I received a phone call from a woman I met a few months ago and have seen publicly maybe 3 times. She is ill with a heart and lung disease. I don't remember what it's called, but it's not pulmonary hypertension. Although, after talking with her on Tuesday about her pulmonologist, I'm convinced that she may not have an accurate diagnosis and/or appropriate treatment. I convinced her to make an appointment with my pulmonologist and to call me back after she sees him. She said she had called to ask me about my portable concentrator, how I liked it, where I got it, etc... We have talked before about our illnesses and she was very interested in learning more about pulmonary hypertension. Well, when she called me on Tuesday, she also told me that she had been reading about PH on the internet. She found the information that talked about diagnosis, treatment and about the prognosis that said the average person with PH lives 3-5 after diagnosis, but that with treatment some patients have been able to live quite a bit longer. Then, she discovered that sometimes PH progresses to whatever this disease is that she has. She was a mess. She said that if someone with PH only lives 3-5 years and she has something that PH can progress to, then she was convinced that she's got a very bleak future. So, the REAL reason for her call was that she wanted to know how I lived with the knowledge that I have a disease with a 3-5 year prognosis. She wanted to know how my husband handled the knowledge that his wife would die in a few years.

Then Wednesday, I had lunch with a very, very dear friend that I have known for years. We were getting all caught up on each other's families, etc. Things were winding down when she looked at me with these loving eyes and said, "Annette, how do you REALLY feel?" She then asked me how do I live with the knowledge that I have a disease that could very well significantly shorten my life? And, how does Rod live with that same knowledge?

So, here I was...two people from two totally different walks of life, in two totally different settings asking me the exact same question. When I was asked the question the first time, I was a little surprised and a little annoyed. I didn't really know this woman. It really seemed like an extremely private kind of question to ask of someone who you just "kind of know," and to ask it over the phone... oh, I don't know... PLUS, this woman is a fierce, and I mean fierce Christian. So, I honestly thought things like, "Well, she appears to be a more knowledgeable Christian than I am. I mean, she always knows all of the answers in our bible study class. She should certainly know how to answer that question." I went ahead and gave her my answer, feeling a bit annoyed thinking that I was literally preaching to the choir. But, I gave her my spiel. The longer I talked to her though, the less annoyed I got. In fact, I started feeling bad for her. Obviously she had never really thought this whole "being sick" thing through.

Then, when my dear, dear friend asked me the same question, I was actually shocked! I was perfectly happy to talk to my beloved friend about this because she is a beloved friend and that question is something you talk about with that type of friend. But, I was shocked because this dear friend is also a very devout Christian. I just assumed that she would "know" the answer to the question. So, we ended up having a wonderful conversation about the whole thing.

So, later that night I got to thinking about the whole "two different people in two completely different settings asking the exact same question" situation. I've honestly thought, for quite a while, that being sick had lots of positive outcomes and opportunities. I wondered if maybe God was giving me an opportunity that I shouldn't pass up. I do NOT want to be making any assumptions that I'm special and that I have all of the answers and that I'm God's "special helper." But, it did make me think that maybe I should put my opinion "out there." After all, it is my blog and I guess that's kind of what blogs can be about...opinions, thoughts, theories, philosophies, etc...

So, my answer:
I was diagnosed with a progressive lung disease with no known cure, other than a lung transplant. Lung transplants are rare and are not a "walk in the park." The average PH patient lives 3-5 years and some live significantly longer with successful treatment. I was diagnosed 4 years ago. I'm doing well. But, I'm not sticking my head in the sand. My disease is progressing, my pressures are increasing, my symptoms are increasing, I'm having to increase my IV medicine (Flolan), but, SO WHAT? I strongly believe that our life here on earth is temporary. This life, again, in my opinion, is basically a "test run" for the life we will have with God after we die. That is, if we live a descent life and do our very best to be the very best person we can be. We are all going to die at some time. I feel, very strongly, that I was given a kind of gift when I was given my diagnosis. It was a wake-up call. I realized that I am not immortal and that I darn well better get my soul in shape and enjoy every minute of whatever time I have left. Some people never get a wake-up call, or get one a little too late. We should all be getting a wake up call right now because NONE of us know how much time we have left on this earth. Sure, I still get sad sometimes, frustrated sometimes and even scared sometimes. But, that's life and that's a gift.

As for part 2 of the question, Rod handles things pretty much the same way I do. He also feels that this life is temporary and he also knows that we will be together again after our time on this earth. He, along with both Nick and Chris were very sad and frightened when I was diagnosed. But, now they just take advantage of opportunities where we can spend time together. Rod takes off so he and I can go on trips. Nick tries to have brunch with us every Sunday and if that doesn't work, he sneaks in a visit some other time during the week, or at least a couple of extra phone calls. Chris calls nearly every night. We try to make sure we see each other an average of once a month. He either comes home or we go see him. None of us ever end a conversation, visit or phone call without telling the other one that we love them.

Being diagnosed with PH was a gift, for all of us and I thank God for this wake-up call.

I hope this makes sense. I hope I didn't bore you. I hope that I listened correctly to God and did right by Him with my response to my friend and my explanation to you.

Thanks for reading.

Well, I've had two people from two......

Wednesday, August 6, 2008
completely different walks of life ask me the exact same question over the last two days. So, maybe God is telling me that I need to discuss the topic with all of you. So, here goes...

Well, crap! I'm afraid I'm going to have to save the serious conversation for tomorrow. Because I just HAVE to tell a couple of quick dog stories tonight. Sorry. I hate to do a little tease, but...well, maybe I don't hate to do it, because I'm pretty sure if I REALLY hated to do it I would have just erased the whole darn thing and started fresh.

This morning I came downstairs and saw a strange truck in the driveway. I went outside to check it out and saw our friend Bod, the concrete guy. Rod has a short list of vices, and concrete, along with tractors and dirt, is on the list. Evidently Bob and his crew were asked to fix a couple of bad spots on the driveway. Bob wasn't suppose to come till next week. But, because Bob is Bob, he came early. As I'm talking to Bob, Asa and Haver come running up all happy and, Asa, being Asa, is prancing like a princess! (I wonder if that's why everyone thinks he's a girl?) As Asa comes closer, I notice his normal "blond" fur has some new "highlights"....florescent orange paint!! Before the concrete guys could start digging to fix the driveway, they had to mark all of the underground stuff was with...yes! FLORESCENT ORANGE SPRAY PAINT!! Well, if you are a dog owner, you know that nothing makes a dog happier than to catch a sniff of something bad. As soon as they find the source of the smell, they put their head down and roll in it. (Haver did that last week to some bird poop!) Evidently Asa decided that spray paint smell was "deliciously smelly" and that he had to ROLL IN IT!!!

This is a small part on his neck:

This is a bit of a better picture:

I was trying really hard to get a really good picture of his "highlights," but all I could get was the two of them playing.

When I turn on the digital camera it makes a little "bling" noise. I'm afraid I've created a couple of hams because every time they hear the camera turn on, they start rough-housing!

When the paint predicament happened this morning, I was sure that I was going to blog
about that and show the pictures that I tried to take. But, after I had lunch with a dear, dear friend who asked me the same question that was asked of me yesterday (yes, yet another tease) I decided I should write about "the question." I actually started it and got as far as the first paragraph.

Then, about an hour ago, I went outside to move my car into the garage since the concrete had dried. As I pulled the car around the front, I noticed the dogs were out in the middle of the front yard with their heads together. When they heard my car, their heads popped up! I'm hoping that they are having so much fun in the yard, they won't want to come inside. Well, as soon as I opened the car door, they came running all happy and Asa was prancing...again! I looked down expecting to see an orange dog. Instead I found a prancing Asa with two frog legs sticking out of his mouth! I came inside, sat down and started typing this post. Sometimes, you just have to go with "Plan B."

I'll write about "the question" tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.


A few puppy pictures

Monday, August 4, 2008
I realized today that I haven't posted any new pictures of "the boys" for quite a few days. I almost hate to say this, and am quite afraid of the possibility of jinxing anything but....they've been pretty well behaved! I think heat waves are really good for wearing out puppies! So either 1.they are getting better or 2.we have lowered our expectations....Let's vote for #1!!

Haver, the hunter...He's tracking a "killer" spider....

Nick visited on Sunday. We were sitting in the sunroom as he was trying to give me a tutorial on some features of my laptop that I had no idea even existed. Asa came along and decided to "cuddle" Nick.

While Asa was cuddling, Haver found something else he wanted to hunt. I'm not sure what it was. In fact, I'm betting that HE didn't even know what he was looking for! But, he had to go under the footstool to find it and then he got stuck! It's tough when your're a big boy!

By the way, he got out of his predicament by standing up and toppling the footstool! Way to problem solve, Haver!!

That's it for now. Thanks for reading.


Hot, hot, hot!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008
It is 7:34 p.m. and it's still 96 degrees. The dew point is at 71%, which makes the heat index 103 degrees! So, what did we do for dinner tonight? We decided to go OUT TO DINNER!! We went to Panera's and Rod...get this...had FRENCH ONION SOUP!! It feels like 103 outside and he eats HOT SOUP!! He is one tough, tough man! I had salad and a chicken salad sandwich. Then, in case I hadn't decided going out to dinner when it felt like 103 wasn't bad enough, I asked Rod if we could go and look at our friend's house that backs up to the Elkhorn River. Their property is slowly "landsliding away" into the river. THEN, just to prove how stupid I am, I decided to walk around their property....WITHOUT MY OXYGEN!!! I figured I would just do a quick walk around and hop right back into the air conditioned car. Of course, nothing is every as "quick and easy" as you think it's going to be! (ex: diets, New Year's resolutions, cooking, puppy training...) So, now I'm sitting on the couch, sucking on the O2 and blogging about how stupid I can still be...Evidently wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age...

A couple of friends told me that they thought it was so great how I added pictures to my blog...

But, like I told them pictures take up space and then I don't have to write as much!!

So, I firmly believe that this posting proves that I am BOTH STUPID AND LAZY!! It's good to be me!!