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Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Nick and Chris are both home! Chris left Chicago yesterday with his dog, Deeoje, along with a snowstorm that seemed to "ride along" with him all the way home! It took him 12 hours instead of the normal 8 due to the weather and accidents. So, praise God that he made it home safe and sound! Nick does not have to work tonight! Praise God once again! So, I need to get my butt in gear because the 4 of us are going to the 5:00 service at church. Then Rod's brother, his wife and their 3 kids will come over for Christmas Eve dinner! Nick is staying over, but he does have to get up very early to go into work to do rounds. But, tomorrow Rod's brother's family and my sister and her girls will all come over for Christmas day lunch and presents! Then, my sister and her girls, Rod, Nick, Chris and myself will go to our annual Christmas night movie! This year we're going to see, "The Day the Earth Stood Still!"
I'm going to try to write some more later, but, just in case I wanted to get on here and tell you all to have a very wonderful Christmas.
Thanks for reading.
much love

I can't believe that Christmas will be here in a week!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008
I'm almost finished with decorating, but I have done absolutely no Christmas shopping. There is actually a little method to my madness or perhaps madness to my method? We are having our 10th (I think, it could be 9th or 11th, we can't really remember) annual Christmas open house. We invite friends, neighbors, relatives, coworkers, people from church and anyone else we can think of! They can stop by to visit and get something to eat anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Yes, you read that correctly...9-6...9 HOURS! I convinced Rod to shorten the party and he actually changed the time from 9-7, so we cut the party from 10 hours to 9 hours! We have breakfast items from 9-11:30, lunch items from 11:30-3:00 and dinner items from 3-5. Included in every mealtime are Rod's famous cinnamon rolls! He makes....are you ready for this???? 24 DOZEN!!! If the weather is nice we eat most of them because we usually have 200-225 people stop by! I know it's crazy, but it's really a lot of fun. I no longer do any of the cooking or any of the serving. We get some delicious food from a local restaurant (Wheatfields) and two wonderful young woman who have helped us with this party for the last three years will be coming again doing the setting up, serving, cleaning and even answering the door if I need help! So basically all I have to do is sit around and talk. And eat. It really is fun.

Here is our tree:

This is my "Peggy Karr Tree." I'm am a huge Peggy Karr freak. In fact, someone actually called me a "Peggy Karr Stalker!" If you are unfamiliar with Peggy Karr, you really should go to: http://www.peggykarrglass.com

In terms of Christmas presents, I'm not worrying about buying anything until after this party. Most of what I'm buying are going to be gift certificates, which is pretty easy. Plus, Rod, Nick, Chris and I have decided that we are not buying each other any gifts this year. We have more than we want or need. The only thing we're short on is time together. So, we decided to nix the gift-buying and just focus on spending time together. It's going to be a great Christmas.

Asa...AKA "Skinny-Minnie"...
AKA "Mr. Anxiety"

Haver...AKA "Fatty-Fatty-Bo-Batty"...
AKA "Mr. I'm So Happy That No One Thinks I'm A Bully Any More!"


Friday, December 12, 2008
I would like to lie and say that I've not been posting for a few days because there hasn't been much going on. But, between the dogs and the PH, I've just not wanted to whine.

OK, on the dog front. Things have escalated to the point that when they "fight" Asa has actually been bit hard enough that he bled. We tried and tried and tried to get in touch with our vet. She didn't call back. Rod always ended up having to talk to Carl, "the doggy behavior specialist." Carl was helpful with the initial issue of food aggression, but things had progressed to where his "helpful hints" weren't at all helpful. Finally (after I called the vet's office and threatened to take the dogs somewhere else and finding out that our vet never got the messages because Carl kept intercepting them) we were actually able to talk to our vet. She was very, very helpful. The bottom line is that Haver is NOT being a bully! Yahoo!! It appears that Asa has some kind of anxiety problem and is very afraid of Haver along with some other things. Instead of walking away or being "submissive" he picks a fight with Haver, raising his back hair, curling his tail over his back, growling and making all kinds of weird noises.
This is Asa getting "geared up" when he sees Haver:

Then, this happens:

Asa barks at all kinds of noises we don't hear and things we (including Haver) do not see. Haver has never been mean or aggressive to any people or any other dogs except for Deeoje. But, as our vet pointed out, Deeoje did come into "Haver's territory," a territory that was already tense because of Asa's anxiety. So, we will be changing a few things around here and will be communicating with the vet on a regular basis. She assured us that this is not typical behavior at all and that Asa might actually need some medication for his extreme anxiety.

Just so you don't think it's always havoc and bloodshed around here, here is Asa when Haver isn't around:

And this is how Haver (AKA "Fatboy") thinks he should be getting his meals!

So, things are improving somewhat in the "doggy department." Keep your fingers crossed. I have no problems with giving this crazy little dog drugs, if it's what he needs. After all, "drugs are MY friend!"

Speaking of drugs...
I've been having some chest pain (PH-related) and some muscle and head pain (Flolan side-effects related). Sometimes if I increase my Flolan dose I can get the chest pain to go away, but then the Flolan side-effects increase. I was maxed-out on the pain meds I was already taking, so, I went in to see my PH doctor on Tuesday. He did some tests and checked some records and ruled out that the chest pains were heart related. He decided to switch my pain meds. So, hopefully this will help keep the pain under control. I don't want you to think that this pain is unbearable, it's just draining. It also makes it hard to concentrate. So, I'm not getting squat done around here. I'm not even doing a lot of reading. So, hopefully this new pain medication will kick in and make a difference.

I've also been frustrated with the difficulty of getting out and about. The cold weather is tough (even though my PH doc said that cold weather does not make pulmonary hypertension worse...it just feels like it), making my lungs hurt and tiring me out. But, it's also difficult with the extra weight of the layers of clothes I wear to help keep me warm, the heavier coat and then dragging the oxygen concentrator around. If I go out for one of these parties, or, like on Monday night it was two parties, then I have to bring along extra batteries so I'll have enough power to keep the concentrator working all night. That machine becomes quite heavy. Then if there are any steps, even a few, it becomes very difficult very quickly. I've gotten to the point where I'd really just like to stay home, all of the time. That's just not a very healthy attitude and I need to work through it. Maybe the new pain meds will help. Also, when we get the "boys" settled back down, that extra stress will be gone and that should also help.

So, that's about it. We won't be going to a movie tonight because we have a Med Center holiday party. We have another one tomorrow night. So no movie reviews this weekend. Sorry.

Thanks for letting me "get it all out" and thanks for reading.


I've forgotten to share good news about Mason!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
He's out of the hospital. Here's a copy of what he posted recently on the PHA website. I need to thank you all and make sure you all realize how powerful your prayers are!
Hi all,

Im finally back home. What a experince it was. A brief review of it what happened while i was there was, respiratory failure, kidney failure, internal bleeding, c-diff. I spent 10 days on the vent and about 15 in icu. I think about 21 or 22 days altogether. I Have never been so weak after waking up from the vent. I couldnt even move myself in bed about a 10 days ago and now can stand on my own and walk a few feet. Alot of work to go but making progress. Thank you all for your support. I will post more when im a little more alert. I still get dizzy and tired fast.

Thanks for reading.

An interesting story....

Friday, December 5, 2008
Last week I stopped into Panera's to buy some bagels to have around the house when Chris was home for Thanksgiving. I was standing at the counter, drooling over the variety of bagels, cookies, etc., drool., etc., drool., etc. I didn't really pay attention to any of the customers, and was surprised when this gentleman came up to me and said, "Well hello honey! How are you doing? Can I have a hug?" He had a young boy (about 12 years old) with him and both he and the boy looked incredibly familiar. Having a certified "PH brain," I assumed that I knew the guy and just couldn't remember exactly who he was and where I knew him from. I was thinking he was one of the docs from the med center and that most likely they had both been to our annual Christmas open house. Then he asked me why I had oxygen. OK, now I'm starting to wonder who this guy is that he doesn't know what's wrong with me. Maybe I taught his son or one of his other children. So, I told him all about PH, doing my normal "let me teach you all about pulmonary hypertension" speech. All of a sudden he said, "You know, I hope you don't mind that I gave you a hug. I know WE DON"T KNOW EACH OTHER, but you looked like you needed a hug!" Holy crap!! Here I've been all nice and cozy to a COMPLETE STRANGER!! Then he told me he was an author and that he wrote a book called, "Prayer Poems to Live By" and would I like him to mail me a copy? He asked me if I "had a card" with my address which of course I didn't but I did rip off a piece of paper and wrote down my address. (In retrospect, that was probably really stupid, but I was still trying to wrap my hear around the fact that I thought I knew this guy and I didn't, I gave this stranger a hug and he wanted to give me a gift!)
Thanksgiving came and went and this week I received a package in the mail. It was the book from this "stranger." It is a self-published book filled with very nice prayers in the form of poems. I looked at his name and his picture (that was on the back of the book) and still couldn't get past that feeling of somehow knowing this guy. So, being a techno-wonder, I decided to "Google" the guy. Well, I figured out how I knew the guy...he had been prominently in the news a couple of years ago. Here's the headline:

"Former Strip Club Owner Denied Liquor License"

I knew the guy and his son from the news. He wanted to open a new restaurant and was going to name it after his son. Because of his former business the neighborhood thought he would open a similar type of establishment. From the poems and the comments in his book, it's obvious that this man has been through wringer with everything.

So, it's not everyday that I've been hugged by a "former strip club owner" turned prayer poem author.

Only in America.

Thanks for reading.

What does a woman with pulmonary hypertension do when the temperature is 24 degrees on December 3nd and it feels like 9 degrees?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008
1. sleep late
2. have breakfast
sit on the couch with a warm blanket and watch TV....all day.

Thanks for reading.

What does a woman with pulmonary hypertension do when the temperature is 52 degrees on December 2nd and the high is normally 25.1 degrees?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
1. eat breakfast
2. stare at the TV, watching Rachel Ray when I don't even cook
3. pack my backup Flolan "stuff"
4. get extra Inogen oxygen concentrator batteries
5. load #3 and #4 and two bags of glass iced tea bottles for recycling in the car
6. go to the bank
7. get a hair cut (I no longer look like a homeless woman...a homeless woman with bad hair....ok, maybe just a lady with bad hair)
8. have a quick lunch with two friends
9. stop at Kohls to find some jeans that don't gap in the back showing off my underwear when I bend over
10. leave Kolhls empty handed with my underwear showing as I bend over to put my oxygen back in the car
11. go to Dillards to look for jeans that don't gap in the back showing off my underwear
12. leave Dillard with two pair of sweat outfits...with elastic
13. stop at Taco Bell for a much wanted and not needed Diet Pepsi and cinnamon twists
14. drop glass off at the recycle place
15. stop at grocery store to buy a few groceries and enough stuff to make some simple dinners for a few days for when the weather goes back to ridiculous "normal" cold
16. drive by the DSW shoe store twice, looking for a close parking spot
17. drop something off at a friend's house
18. come home and try to hurry up and post this while I still have energy
19. take lots of extra pain meds and put up my feet and watch TV
20. go to bed early.....sleep....sleep....sleep
I thought I'd share a picture of my oldest son, Nick, playing with Deooge on Thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading.

So, Annette, what have you been doing for 11 days?

Monday, December 1, 2008
I was really surprised to see how long it has been since I dropped in to post "what's happening" in Omaha! I have LOTS of excuses! So, are you ready?

1. Well, I was having some PH related problems for a few days. So, I increased my Flolan which helped with the PH related problems, but increased the side effects. But, that all leveled off and I'm doing much better....except that I went out to run a couple of quick errands today and it was so stinking cold and windy that I had to come home and take some extra Darvon and increase the pump for a while....no bible study for me tonight...unless I can figure out how to go and keep my lungs at home...I'll have to work on solving that little problem....

2. We've been having some serious DOG problems! Haver and Asa have continued their "pissing" contest (figuratively, not literally) about who is the alpha dog. They've finally figured out that I'M the alpha dog (no comments about what that makes me...you know, a b*&%@, because believe you me, I have lived up to that title with their behavior!). I've talked to the vet, the behaviorist, and lots of people with experience and NOTHING HAS WORKED! So, we've finally decided to stay out of it and let them work it out. They seem to actually be doing better! They have no problem outside and they are now starting to stay in different rooms when they are inside. Sounds like a plan to me!

3. I needed to get thank-you's written to all of the fabulous people who donated money to our 3rd Annual Phenomenal Hope for a Cure fundraiser and who were not able to come to the event. There were over 50 kind people who I wrote to.

4. I needed to finish reading my book club book because we are meeting this week to discuss it. This month we read "Three Cups of Tea, One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

What an incredible, incredible book! It's kind of a long one and there's lots of names that are hard to pronounce, but it's really worth the time (plus, you can just do what I do when I come to a name like Syed Abbas or Twaha or Saidullah Baig or, my personal favorite...Mohammad Ali Changazi....I just substituted "Bob" for their name). The book will give you hope and help you realize that one person can make a difference in the life of a child, or, in Greg Mortenson's case, how one person can make a difference in the lives of thousands of children!

5. Rod had a colonoscopy on Wednesday. Yes, I asked him if he was OK with me mentioning this piece of information in my blog. He said, "Sure, everyone should have one when they turn 50, just remind everyone of that!" So, you have been reminded, although he's 52...oh well, better late than never! Anyway, he did just fine and everything is normal. But, I had to be the "adult" because he was all doped up for the rest of the afternoon and early evening.

6. Chris flew home with his dog, Deeoge on Wednesday night. Rod was back to his "normal" self by the time Chris' flight came in, around 9:30 pm, so he drove us out to the airport to get both of the "guys!"

He's such a smart alec! He refused to give me a "normal" smile! Of course, when you read number 8, you'll see there was probably a reason for him not to smile...
Do you see my oxygen concentrator behind him? It's kind of like "Where's Waldo!)

7. Please reread number 2 and add one more dog into the mix...now close your eyes and imagine what might have happened....no...add more growling....add a little bit of blood...OK, now you've got it! It's times like that, that I wished I drank.

8. Chris woke up Saturday morning and said, "I'm ridiculously sick!" He had an infected tooth that caused his tonsils to swell up so much that they were touching! He was miserable! Between Rod, Nick, a doctor friend of Nick and our wonderful, wonderful dentist who came into the office on a Saturday afternoon, we got Chris all of the meds and attention he needed. He's starting to feel better, but he was absolutely miserable! It was very hard to put him and Deeoge back on that plane to Chicago on Sunday.

Well, I think that's about it. I have some pictures and a couple of cute little stories to share, but I'll do that later. If you are still reading, you are a very kind friend, or, you need to get a hobby! This was a very long post! Sorry!

Thanks for reading.