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Hello! Happy Friday!

Friday, November 19, 2010
Well, it's been quite a week. The last time we visited, I had experienced an insane reaction to Flolan, the IV medicine I use that helps reduce my pulmonary hypertension symptoms. Well, a week later, we don't really have any answers. In a matter of a few hours I had to reduce my dosage from 50.5 ngs to 18 ngs. Since then I've reduced it again to 17 ngs. I don't know if this is going to be my "new normal," but, it is a good thing that I need less medicine!

I was also planning on switching to this new kind of Flolan that doesn't require me to include ice packs in the fanny pack that hold my Flolan pump and that I wear around my waist. But, because I appear to be "unstable" (no cracks from the peanut gallery) we're now holding off this switch to sometime in December. I'm sure we'll have a much better handle on things by then!

Plus, I'm actually feeling better! I certainly feel better than I did last week. But, I'm starting to think that I'm feeling better than I did BEFORE all of this happened.

Here's where it gets a bit frustrating...
I would really like to think that I've had a little miracle here and, that I really AM better. I'd like to think that maybe this Flolan did some remodeling of the cells in the pulmonary arteries (which is something that scientist are trying to determine)and that I am really, truly better!

But...since this came on so quickly, I'm concerned it can hit again and I'll need to start increasing my dosage again. This disease is really a roller-coaster ride. Although I've never had moments where things looked this good, I have had moments of improvement. Then, in a few hours, or days or weeks, I'm once again on the down-slide of the roller coaster.

So, here's the plan. Since I seem to be riding on the top of the roller coaster right now, I'm going to enjoy it and take advantage of it. But, I'm going to keep one foot planted on the ground so that when (or if) the ride heads downward, I'll be somewhat ready for it.

Does that make sense to anyone?

Well, I think that's all for this post. I woke up very early for some reason and now I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open. So, I'm going to sneak in a little mid-morning nap.

As always, thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for your prayers and your friendship.

Much love

It's been a rough week...

Friday, November 12, 2010
I thought I'd share a couple of things...
1. Thanks to all of you who came to our "5th Annual Phenomenal Hope for a Cure" that was held this last Saturday, November 6th. I promise I'll give you more details when I get better. It usually takes 1-2 days to recover from the amount of fun I had on Saturday. I was feeling pretty good on Monday, and then really good on Tuesday, until Tuesday night.

The following is what I posted on the PHA discussion boards looking for some help. I just can't write a better explanation, and, I really need to get some sleep.

"Horrific Flolan reaction! Anyone else?

On Tuesday evening, I did my normal routine of switching out the cassette I was using to a new cassette. I then mix a new cassette to have ready as an emergency back-up or to use when I switch out the cassette again the next evening. About 45-50 minutes after switching the new cassette, I started having some flushing problems. Now, if you are a Flolan user, you know that flushing is a side effect. This has happened maybe 3=4 times in the 6 years that I've been on Flolan. We were told to bump the pump flow down a notch or two to see if that helps. It always has helped and I either just keep the pump that rate until I mix and switch the next night, resetting the flow rate to what it was before. It's never been a problem beyond that. My doctor felt that, because Flolan is so sensitive that I maybe mixed a little incorrectly. As long as everything went back to normal when I put on a new cassette, there was really nothing to worry about.

Well, Tuesday night became a nightmare. The flushing came on fast and furiously. My entire head became bright red, then the flushing spread down my arms. Then I got a butt-kicking headache. So, we turned the pump down a couple more notches. I was at my normal pump rate of 76. We went down to 74 then 72. But the Flolan side effects continued to get worse. I started sweating profusely, all over my body. We bumped it down to 70 and things continued to get worse. I was feeling extremely nauseated and really felt like I was passing out. My husband ran downstairs, mixed a new cassette and hooked me up. I was having the same problems. My husband wanted to take me to the hospital, but we all know how "helpful" those ER visits can be. So, my husband called our doctor and he said to just keep decreasing the pump rate to see if we could get things settled down. Finally, at a pump rate of 62 (down from 76)the sweating stopped, the flushing was better and I felt alert. My doctor said to keep the pump at that rate and try to "sleep" it off. Things got quite a bit better, except that I've been extremely exhausted, continue to have an annoying headache and I did end up throwing up yesterday. Today I'm a bit less tired, very light flushing and still no appetite. I don't know what's going to happen next. This is so frustrating! We had our 5th Annual Phenomenal Hope for a Cure fundraiser this last weekend. I was so thrilled that I had backed off doing much for the event because I wasn't overly tired.

Have any of you had a similar experience? We're wondering if I have a "bad batch" of Flolan.
Thanks for reading."

**Since I wrote this yesterday morning, I had to decrease my pump again..twice. So, now I'm on a setting of 56, down from 76 when all of this started. It's very confusing and frustrating.

I'm asking for prayers that we figure out what is going on and that everything settles back down.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for your prayers.


I'm having a hard time getting to sleep...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I'm stopping by for a quick request. I'm scheduled to take yet another "fricken" test tomorrow. This one is called an "Exercise Pulmonary Function Stress Test.

Now I've done the treadmill stress test before.

I've also taken a pulmonary function test before.

It's just that I've never taken an "Excercise Pulmonary Function stress test."

I honestly feel that I'm being a wimp and have no reason to be nervous about this test. It's just that I'm a bit tired of doing uncomfortable tests, with results that come in with no answers. I'm worried (irrationally worried I should add) that I'm going to take yet another test, and learn that the only thing wrong with me is that I'm an old woman who is overweight and out of shape.

So, if I may be selfish, would you please pray that this test is not too difficult, I'm able to push myself hard enough so that the doctors can analyze the information and get some answers, AND that the results do not include any of the following words, "Mrs. Markin, these results show that you have turned into a lazy lump. Your biggest problems are that you are just really overweight, really out of shape and lazy."

I will also be getting my blood drawn to see if I'm still anemic.

OK, that's all for now. I really need to be trying harder to clear my head and get some sleep.

Thank you so much for checking in.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog
And, thanks for caring.


I said I'd try to post a bit more.....

Thursday, October 21, 2010
But, this is going to be short and sweet. I went to the dentist today (6 month cleaning....soooo exciting, aren't I?) AND I went to a movie this afternoon with my dear daughter-in-law's mother, Jeane. I tell you, we really hit the jackpot when Nick married Kara! Her entire family is incredibly wonderful! Anyway, Jeane and I went to see "The Social Network" which is the movie about how "Facebook" came into being.

It was a really interesting and well made movie. I do have to admit though, there were many discussions about computers and algorithms that were way above my head!
I give this movie 8 puppy paws up!

When I got home from the movie, I fell asleep on the couch until about an hour ago. Now I need to go take care of my medicine and get to bed. I sure hope these iron pills kick in soon. Sleeping away my life is not my idea of a good time. (Sorry. I told myself I wasn't going to do any whining in this posting.)

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for hanging in there with me.


Excuse me while I rev up my engine..vroom...vroom..vr...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Thank you for continuing to come back to "AnnettesexcitingBlog" to see if there is anything exciting being posted, or at least to see if anything NEW has been posted.

It has been a lo-o-o-o-o-ong summer and proving to be a lo-o-o-o-ng fall. And NOW it looks like I was given incorrect information that, in turn, makes me look like a LIAR! LIAR! PANTS ON FIRE!

After my last post I had an appointment with my "GP." I soon discovered that I misunderstood the results of the procedures done in the hospital. They did find an AVM, but, it wasn't actively bleeding. The good thing is that with all of these tests, we were able to rule out really bad reasons for being anemic. But, we're left with no explanation for the anemia. The "game plan" is still the same, though. Keep taking the iron and....wait! That is the worse 4-letter word in the world! I'm so sick and tired of WAITING to find out what's going on. I know that I need to be thrilled with the fact that the doctor's were able to rule out really bad reasons for the anemia and tiredness. I have never been a patient individual. Having PH and Addison's have forced me to become a very patient woman, or I would go crazy. I've felt, ever since I was diagnosed, that knowledge is power. The more I know and understand what is happening with my body, the less afraid and more confident I become in fighting these illnesses.

OK, that's all of the whining for now. I'm going to walk down to the street and grab the mail and the newspaper. I'll be back soon, maybe even tonight, and write a bit more.

Thanks for staying with me.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for your support.


A Quick Update

Friday, October 8, 2010
First, thanks so much for all of the posts, emails, cards, calls and prayers. I'm home and really tired. I wanted to let you know what we learned and I'll fill in more later. But, the basic info is that they discovered the source of the bleeding. I have a AVM, which is an arteriovenous malformation in my colon. I have an artery and a vein that have grown together, causing some slight bleeding or leaking.Usually it wouldn't be a big enough deal to cause anemia, but, because I'm on blood thinners, it is bleeding a bit too much. I'm going to see the doctor next week, but, the general thought is I'll just continue to take iron pills.
OK, I need to take a nap.

Thanks again for everything.

A Quick "Hello."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I'm heading into the hospital tomorrow. I'm scheduled for a colonoscopy and endoscopy on Thursday morning. The plan is to find a cause for this anemia I'm been dealing with for a couple of months now. It's crazy how we "hurry up to wait" and "hurry up to wait" again in our society, getting no further than where we were before we started that insane dance!

So, today I prepared for being on a liquid diet for tonight and tomorrow before being admitted into the hospital. I've also had one of two Lovinox shots just for today that will help thicken my blood that I try to to thin on a regular basis with blood thinners.
I thought about going on a food binge...but I kept hearing the song, "Spinning Wheels" by Blood, Sweat and Tears...."What goes up, must come down..."....only in my head, the words changed a bit..."What goes in, must come out!" So, I decided that a "food binge" wasn't such a good move (so to speak).

Going to the hospital and, especially having to spend the night, is a big mess when you have Pulmonary Hypertension and Addison's disease which both require lots of drugs, ice bags and cassette's of mixed medicine.

I would love to ask you all to send a prayer my way and some good thoughts that things go well and that we finally get some answers and I can get back some energy.

Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for listening.


Hello. I'm here...it's been a lo-o-o-o-ong summer!

Monday, September 20, 2010
I would like to thank so many of you who have written, called and emailed to let me know you're out there and that I'm not here alone. I even received $$ from a friend (thank you Mary Jane!) so I could go out and get a magical Blizzard!! Of course, Rod's comment when he saw the kind card and cool cash was something like, "Annette, maybe you should start talking about how much a new Corvette would help you and that you might actually be CURED if you had a new Corvette!" That Rod is such a funny guy.....ha...ha...ha......

It's just been tough month since I wrote last month. The "car incident" is just a memory. But the high-velocity back-dive into the dresser is still causing some problems. Being on blood thinners seems to have slowed the healing a bit. But, the fist-size blood clot is almost completely dissolved.

Unfortunately the tiredness has not improved, it's actually gotten worse. Another appointment with my endocrine doctor provided some answers and some more "crap" to deal with. (Sorry...I've really developed a bad attitude) The increase in my thyroid medication has not increased those low levels. Plus, I'm severely anemic with significant iron loss. Those results lead the doctors to suspect bleeding from somewhere in my body, most likely my colon or my stomach. So, in two weeks I "get" to go into the hospital for a couple of days and have a colonoscopy and an endoscopy (The GI doctor whimsically calls it a "Tops and Bottoms!" Ha, ha, ha, ha....) Because I'm "so complicated" I need to be in the hospital for a couple of days, because I'm on a blood thinner I have to give myself some special shots for several days prior to the procedure....etc., etc., etc., whine, whine, whine...)

In the meantime, we've increased the thyroid medicine, added iron pills and, oh, I almost forgot, I've also added a new medication to take care of a case of thrush (a yeast infection in my mouth) I'm so proud to be able to share that little tidbit with all of you.

So, all of this whining and moaning and groaning is why I've stayed away from this blog for a month. First, I've really been tired and just didn't want to try to figure out what to write. But, mostly, I didn't want to come here with "doom and gloom." I'm hoping now that I've written it all down I can try to write some much more fun postings.

OK, I'm tired. I think I hear the couch and the TV remote calling my name.

Thank you so much for checking in.
Thanks for letting me vent.
Thanks for reading.


A (not so) funny thing happened on the way to a funeral and other problems and incidents since the beginning of July...

Thursday, August 19, 2010
It has been a tough summer. I don't wont to boor you with a laundry list of aches, pains and problems, but I also don't want you to think I've been a lazy old woman, lounging on he couch eating bon-bons and having Asa and Haver peel grapes for me. So, I'm going to just try to do a quick little list to bring you up to speed.

I starting doing some significant "butt-dragging" after Memorial Day. We spent most of June assuming it was the progression of the PH since I have been fighting this beast for 6 years now. But, in July we contacted my endocrine doctor to see if she had any insight. She came to the conclusion that much of the tiredness and body aches could be related to the Addison's disease (that, quite frankly, I'd forgotten about...even though I take supplemental steroids and thyroid every day). She suggested I try a round of increasing my steroids and see if that helps. About a week later I was actually starting to see some improvement when a (not so) funny thing happened on our way to a funeral. Nick, Kara and I drove down to Lincoln to attend a very good family friend's funeral. I was sitting in the back seat and was too stupid to buckle my seat belt. Nick did not see this drainage ditch/speed bump and we hit it going at a pretty good clip. I flew off the seat, hit my head on the ceiling and jammed my back on the landing. I went into complete back spasm with a pain level of about a 15 on the 1-10 scale. Luckily I had a doctor and a med student in the car with me. It was obvious that it was just muscle spasms so we went to a Walgreens and got some muscle relaxers, a heating pad and headed back to Omaha. If I needed to go to the hospital I was going to go my MY hospital where all of my doctor's practice.

After about a week of heating pads, ice packs and lots of drugs I was starting to feel better. Then...

Haver came up to "give me some love" which means he rubs his face and his body against my legs, very similar to what a cat does. The difference though between a cat doing this and Haver doing this is that Haver weighs 135 pounds! Consequently, as I was trying to get away from him without hurting my back again, he nailed the back out of my knee causing some kind of painful damage that resulted in immediate swelling. After a couple of days of icing the knee, it was starting to feel better. Then...

A week ago Monday, I was returning to bed after a midnight bathroom break when I lost my balance (God only knows WHY) and fell backward into my dresser gouging my back and my backside with a couple of the drawer knobs. I am still not able to sit down like a "normal" person and the backside wound is still oozing, but, the back wound is almost completely healed.

So, how has your summer been?

I so greatly, greatly appreciate so many of you coming back to this blog to see if there was anything happening. I also really, really appreciate all of the people who sent emails and left messages on this site. I would really like to give out cash prizes to all of you who tried to claim "your prize!"

I have been doing lots of sleeping over the last several months. Sometimes I think it's because I'm really tired and then there are those times that I just wish if I sleep long enough I'll wake up all healed and happy and there will be rainbows and flowers all around!...Did I tell you I've been taking lots of drugs???

So, I need to get switched, drugged and into bed. My dear sweet beloved husband has been a rock through this whole mess this summer and has been mixing my medicine almost every night. I'm a very lucky woman.

Well, thanks for checking in.
Thanks for hanging in there with me.
Thanks for reading.

I think I'll leave you with the wise words of Jeane, Kara's mom. After this latest disaster, she told me, "Annette, I have two words for you...BUBBLE WRAP!" She's like the Dalai Lama or something.

Fat Dog Drinking

Not as Fat Dog Drinking


I'm thinking about offering a cash prize to...

Thursday, August 5, 2010
anyone who is still reading this blog.

Another Lengthy Absence...

Sunday, July 11, 2010
I can see by the visitor counter that many of you have been very kind in "hanging in there" with me and checking to see if I've gotten my butt off the couch and posted something new. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. As I've told you before, it does take some energy to get a post written, edited and appropriate pictures added so it isn't all too boring.

So, what have I been up to?

Well, Chris came home the week of the 4th. A friend of his flew in for the weekend and stayed at our house. We had a 4th of July party with about 100 people in attendance. It took several days to recover. Just as I was feeling better, I either picked up a bug or had a strange batch of Flolan that caused me to spend a couple of days experiencing extreme Flolan side effects, the worse of all of them was leg and body pain.

So, now I'm feeling good enough to at least stop by and leave a boring explanation for being gone for a week. I really hope to be able to share our recent visit to the vet with Asa and Haver in the next day or so.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.

Hello! I'm here and I'm fine...

Thursday, July 1, 2010
I had a couple of good days and now I'm paying for it. No biggie...just typical for people with pulmonary hypertension.I going to mix and switch my medicine early tonight so I can try to get an early start on the day tomorrow. I've got lots of fun stories, just running out of energy and daylight. But, tomorrow's a new day. (I think that was a Broadway song?!?)

Thanks for your patience.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading ( very few words... )

Entertainment News!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010
Movie Review!

Rod and I enjoyed our regular Friday night date night by watching the new Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz movie called, "Night and Day."

This was a great movie and a real surprise! It's full of car chases, gun fights... a real action-packed movie! But, it's also really, really funny! Tom Cruise is a James Bond kind of guy and Cameron Diaz was a midwest tom boy who liked to restore cars, who was trying to get to Boston for her sister's wedding.

I'm so impressed with Tom Cruise's comedic side! Cameron Diaz was also very, very funny! I would highly recommend "Knight and Day!'

I give it 8 puppy paws up!

Book Review!

I just finished a great book called, "Walking in Circles Before Lying Down" by Merrill Markoe.

This is the perfect summer read! It funny, entertaining, easy to follow (code for "You don't have to think or pay a lot attention to the story!) and includes my favorite topic...TALKING DOGS!!

At only 270 pages, you can easily get through this book and still have time for lots of other books on your summer read list!

And, you guessed it....

OK, that's it for tonight! I hope you're having a nice weekend.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.

It's nearly 10:30 p.m. and I need to get to bed, but...

Thursday, June 24, 2010
I wanted to post something positive for a change, since I feel like I'm always whining about how crappy I feel.

I feel good tonight! We had a pantyhose dinner at a country club place for Rod's work tonight. I had to put on nice clothes (including pantyhose), use all of the correct silverware while dining, say nice comments using only appropriate words and be nice to everyone! I know!! What an exhausting experience! But, I came home tonight and realized that I actually FELT GOOD! I wasn't feeling very well today. But, tonight I feel good! I don't know why, but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth!
I'm not going to repeat the mistake that I've done before when I've "FELT GOOD" by thinking this is a sign that I've turned a corner. I'm taking it for what it is... a special little gift from God so I won't give up and will keep "fighting the good fight" with the mentality of a warrior!

So, thanks for letting me share something positive for a change!

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.

I'm Back. Sorry it took so long to get my keister in gear!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
When I PROMISED that I would be back here blogging away by Friday, June 18th, I thought I was giving myself plenty of time to kick-start my rear end. Unfortunately, it took a bit longer.

Chris did make it home on Wednesday. He stayed until yesterday morning (the 21st). He rode his motorcycle here from Chicago and was going to ride it back yesterday. But Mother Nature had other plans for him. So, he left his bike in our garage and took one of the inexpensive Southwest Airlines flights back to Chicago yesterday. He's planning on driving his truck home for several days over the 4th of July. So, he'll load his bike up in the back of the pick-up and take it back to Chicago when he heads back in July.

I did make it to my new bible study with my friend Martha. We are doing a study on The Psalms in a program put together by Beth Moore. She is known for her fabulous bible studies for women. I'm trying to get my reading done for class again tomorrow night.

On Thursday, June 17th, Rod and I celebrated 32 years of marriage! The evening was perfect since we had dinner at the Flat Iron with Chris, Nick and Kara!

On Saturday I went to our Pulmonary Hypertension support group meeting. We had a pretty good turnout with 7 phriends and numerous other friends and relatives. This is a picture of our support group leader Carol (in the back) and phriend Frances.

We celebrated Father's Day with Chris, Nick and Kara with having breakfast at one of our most favorite restaurants, Wheatfields! Yes, the Markins pretty much celebrate EVERYTHING with food!!
Can you see a family resemblance?

Well, I know this hasn't been very exciting. But, to tell you the truth, I'm still not feeling up to par.

I want to thank all of you that send emails and post comments on this blog. It is very hard to get motivated to sit down and figure out what to write about when I'm not feeling well. But, knowing that there are actually people out there in cyber-land who seem to enjoy the exciting life of The Markins, I feel honored to pull it together and share stories from our lives with you.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.

Dear Faithful Readers..

Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I've been "dragging my keister" for the last few days. I don't know if it's the PH, the Addison's, the fact that I'm an old woman and it's hot outside...but..whatever it is, I've not been able to get anything done.

Tonight I'm going to attend a new bible study with my friend Martha. Also, Chris is driving home on his motorcycle today and will be home for a couple of days.

So, I'm going to take a little break. But, I promise I'll be back on Friday, June 18th.
Thanks for your understanding.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.

A Polo Match in Nebraska?

Sunday, June 13, 2010
It was another busy weekend in the Markin household! We had a couple of "pantyhose" dinners, a 50th wedding anniversary celebration, a surprise breakfast with Nick and Kara after church on Sunday morning, and a polo match.

Yes, you read that correctly, we went to a POLO MATCH in Omaha, Nebraska! On Saturday, the University of Nebraska Medical Center held "Polo for Patients," a fundraiser for UNMC's patient assistance fun. The money raised helps patients and their families with basic needs, such as clothing, lodging and food.

This was the second year for this event and was quite an experience! Rod and I had never watched a polo match before and were very intrigued with the event when it was held in 2008. This year we had a better idea of what to expect. It was so much fun! The horses were beautiful!

The horses work so hard that a "polo guy" uses 4 different horses for each match so that the horses don't overheat or get sick.

Speaking of "beautiful" and speaking of "polo guys" there was a very special "polo guy" who played on Saturday. His name is, Nacho Figueras.

Let me show you a better picture...

or this really, really nice picture...

Nacho is not only a "polo guy," but he is also a model for Ralph Lauren. Big, big shock...huh??

I'm sorry to say that I can't report who won the match. It was incredibly hot and humid on Saturday. Those two words are kind of like Kryptonite to someone with pulmonary hypertension. So, we needed to come home early. But, if you go to this site, you can read all about the fundraiser and even watch a fantastic video of Nacho visiting kids at the hospital.

No weekend would be complete without a little "dog action."

Asa LOVED his new toy. It's a "gutless" stuffed fox. It actually comes without any filler so when the dogs destroy the toy they don't make such big mess! Brilliant idea!
Here is Asa bringing "the kill" into the kitchen.

And, here he is trying to hurl said "gutless fox" across the room to where his brother, Haver,

was playing hide and seek with himself and his favorite blanket. "Peek-a-boo, Haver...

we see you!!

Never a dull moment at the Markin household!

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.

Rainy Day...

Thursday, June 10, 2010
It's funny how differently we look at rainy, overcast days, depending on our age, location, experiences or frame of mind...

It was a very, very rainy day here in Omaha until around 2:00 p.m. We had some thunder and lightning (which caused my dark blue sweats to instantly be decorated with yellow lab hair....big chickens!) along with some really heavy downpours.

When I was a little girl going to school, I LOVED rainy days! The rain would make us have inside recess! In the primary grades inside recess meant getting to play in the gym. We would have free time with the balls, jump-ropes, basketball hoops AND there was a stage in the gym, where we could pretend we were putting on shows!

In the junior high grades, inside recess meant we could visit with our friends, read books, write notes...all the things we wanted to do during class but would normally get in trouble for doing!

Of course, by high school, the rainy days started to loose their appeal. Now, instead of having inside recess, we just still had classes. Plus, the rain played havoc with our hair and our clothes as we waited for buses, or ran from the cars in the parking lot. Something that we LOVED a few years ago, became something we dreaded, as high school divas!

While in college, learning to become a teacher, I would imagine just how my classes would be, how well-behaved the students would be, how much fun we would have together AND all the great things we would do when we had inside recess!!

During my first year of teaching (5th graders!) I soon learned that while I was in college, I had a really, inventive imagination! Those 5th graders had no intention of "behaving" and "enjoying" board games and other inside recess activities I slaved over creating in my teacher education classes! The students seemed to think that inside recess was the perfect time to push the teachers' buttons and see just how many rules they could break in a short time-span!

The longer I taught, the better I learned how to create a more productive and enjoyable inside recess experience. But, it never lived up to the picture I created in my head back in college, with the kids all sitting around, quietly visiting, reading books and coloring. It certainly wasn't the way I remembered it when I was a student. I'm thinking those nuns must have been way tougher on us than I was with my students!

As I was teaching, I had another vision of what I'd like to be doing on a rainy day. While I was trying to "redirect and contain" what was happening in my classroom during inside recess, I would always daydream about what I would be doing if I wasn't working. I always figured that when I retired, I would embrace rainy days as the perfect break to a busy life as a retired teacher. In my imagination, I was always cuddled up on the couch with a cup of tea, a lap blanket and a great book! The more it rained, the more I read! Quite honestly, that vision kept me going on many of those rainy days during my 27 years of teaching!

Now that I'm not teaching, and didn't really "retire," rainy days have become a bit of a "downer day." I'm home because I got sick 6 years ago and was no longer able to teach, I really didn't retire, or "burn out" of the profession. I had planned on teaching at least another 15 years when I had to "hang it up." Now, every day can be sitting on the couch reading with a cup of tea, if I want it to. The thrill of "doing what I wanted to do during class, but would get in trouble for" is gone. Now, when it rains, that means that the humidity levels will be higher, so when I walk down to the street to get the mail and/or the newspaper, I'll be more short of breath than normal, and get tired a bit quicker. It also means that I'll probably stay home and not try to run an errand or go see a "chick flick" because my oxygen concentrator can't get wet and it's hard to drag it out of the car into a building without hitting puddles or getting hit with raindrops.

Even though my "inside recess days" are not quite what I planned for, I do still find joy in them. I already mentioned the addition of a significant amount of dog hair on my clothes. It is a real hoot to watch these 125 and 140 pound "yellow beasts" get scared with a little clap of thunder and see them running for safety on the couch right next to me.

I also enjoy the notion that I no longer have to monitor inside recess. There were too many times where I had to "pick my battles" during that inside 20 minute period in order to save any hope of keeping my sanity and not get in trouble for saying OR DOING something to the "little darlings!"

And, even though I can sit on the couch and read a good book any day of the week, a really good rainy day is the perfect time for a long and enjoyable nap...of which I've taken two today!!

So, here's to rainy days and inside recesses. I hope you've had many joyous ones in your life.

Thanks for checking in.
Thanks for reading.

2 Brushes with Fame, 1 smash against the Wall and 1 Smashing Good Book About a Famous Person!

Monday, June 7, 2010
Yes, I know, that title is quite of mouthful! Well, let's see if I can clear things up!

Several weeks ago, Rod and I went to a Med Center dinner. I don't usually get excited about these events. In fact, I not so lovingly call them, "Pantyhose dinners!" You see, "Pantyhose Dinners" usually involve putting on nice clothes (hence the "Pantyhose" title) sitting with people I may or may not know, making small-talk, watching out that I don't tell any "good" jokes...basically, spending the evening working very hard at behaving myself! That is a tough job!!

Well, it was time to get ready for this dinner and I couldn't get there fast enough! You see, we got to sit at the table with the special guest speaker of the evening!! Are you ready?!?! The one and only....MARG HELGENBERGER from my very favorite show, CSI!!! She is originally from Nebraska and was asked to come to Omaha and speak about surviving cancer. Her mother, who now lives in Omaha, is a breast cancer survivor! Marg's mom (yes, we are now on a first name basis) was at the dinner, but didn't sit at our table. I made Rod sit next to Marg because I was so nervous that I would say or do something stupid. I couldn't come up with a single "good" question, so I...are you ready for this?...I just sat there and ate my dinner! I DIDN'T SAY ONE WORD THE WHOLE EVENING! Well, that's not entirely true. My dear, sweet, beloved husband asked if I could have my picture taken with her. As I was standing there, panicking about what I could/should say, I blurted out the only thing I could think of...."Wow! I can't believe I'm standing here next to you! I love your show! I'm so excited, I hope I don't pass out!"

Yes, me, the "Word Wizard" said those lovely, lovely words! Marg kindly responded, "Well, I'm glad that you are such a fan!" Oh LORD!! WHY ME!! After the photo op, I sat back down in my seat, still in awe of my luck, not realizing my lovely word choice. I dreamily smooth out my skirt and discover a BIG BLOB OF DESSERT ON MY SKIRT...SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF MY BELLY!!! ARG!!! God was looking out for me though, the photographer only took head shots. Plus, I'm pretty sure Marg didn't notice my meal on my stomach, since she was still trying to figure out how "her people" let this crazy woman get so close to her!

My second brush with fame just happened this weekend. Rod and I attended "The Cattlemen's Ball" in Kearney, Nebraska.

This is the 12th year that this group of people have held these amazing fundraisers where they have raised millions of dollars for the Eppley Cancer Center and cancer research in Omaha.

We drove to Kearney Saturday morning (about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Omaha) and found the ranch where all of the festivities were being held. There were all kinds of things to do, look at cattle, farm equipment, eat, drink, shop and bid on silent auction items. After dinner was when the excitement happened! Our evening entertainment was the one and only RANDY TRAVIS!!

We were so close! Rod thought that we were maybe 50 feet from the stage! He sang for nearly 2 hours.

The real treat happened after the concert! There was a small reception for Randy that Rod and I were invited to attend! He autographed a couple of CD's for us and we got our picture taken with him!

He was very kind. He even asked about my oxygen. I told him about Pulmonary Hypertension, although I was a bit tongue-tied (yes, shocker!) and am not sure I was really making any sense! But, it was still a fantastic experience!

Now, for the "Smash Against the Wall." Our evening went quite late, with Rod and I getting back to the hotel around 11:30 p.m. You realize, I've usually mixed and switched my Flolan and am in bed by 9:30 or 10:00! Rod was kind enough to mix for me. But, by the time I switched and cleaned up, it was almost 12:30 a.m. before I got to sleep. During the evening, I got up to use the restroom. I was not very "with it" and managed to trip over the suitcase! Somehow when I fell, my arm hit the corner of the wall!

Lovely isn't it? That's what being on blood thinners will do for you!!

Now, for the final part of this post...the "Smashing Good Book About a Famous Person!"

I just finished this incredible book called, "Boxes The Secret Life of Howard Hughes."
It is written by Douglas Wellman and tells about the secret life of Howard Hughes when he was married to Eva McLelland and was living under the assumed identity of Verner Nicely. Although, he went by the nickname of "Nik." It is an amazing story that includes photos, documentation and professional research that shows there were two "Howard Hughes" with the "stand-in" passing away in 1976 and the real Howard Hughes living until 2001! Eva promised "Nik" that she would not tell his story while he was alive. In 2002, she contacted Mark Miller to tell the "whole story" before she passed away. It is an amazing story! If you are interested in this book, you can go to Amazon.com, or a much easier way would be to go to the top of this pages and click on the "writelife" icon.

OK, this is the 2nd novel I have written! I've got to shorten these babies, or no one is going to want to read them!

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Thanks for reading.


3 Interactions, 3 Outcomes, 3 Final scores

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday was a very hot and humid day here in Nebraska. Haver, being a bit more chubby than Asa, does not tolerate the heat very well. His cranky levels increase dramatically and his ability to be patient pretty much melts away. Asa, on the other hand, seems to never have a "bad day." In fact, when his brother is hot and tired, Asa seems to think that Haver is an easier mark. You see, Asa's goal in life seems to be to steal everything that is near and dear to Haver's heart. Then, Asa takes his new "catch" up to the landing on the stairs in the entryway of the house. He considers this his "safe
zone" because:

#1. He has the vantage point of being able to see anyone coming or going.
#2. To get to his "safe spot" someone has to walk up a flight of stairs. As mentioned before, Haver is a bit chubby and tends to avoid any unnecessary movement or exertion. So, Asa's "stash" is pretty safe.

I had to run a couple of errands, leaving Haver and Asa outside in the elements for about an hour. (Now, before someone decides they need to call the Humane Society, please understand that Asa and Haver have the complete run of the property which includes lots of shade and a big container or water.) Whenever we leave the dogs while we go run errands (or attempt to have some kind of a social life) Rod or I will give each of the them a large-sized Milk Bone for them to enjoy while we're gone. (It also doubles as an attempt to not feel so guilty when we see their little faces look so sad as we drive away...yes...we are SUCKERS!)

Generally, what happens with these treats is, Asa eats his in record time. Haver acts very nonchalant, like he doesn't want his, until, Asa comes around and tries to steal it! Then Haver goes into WILD DOG/MICHAEL VICK DOG mode! These little "games" drive me insane!! Asa never, ever learns and Haver never ever changes his reaction. So...

Tuesday, June 2, 2010 1:30 pm...

I return home from running errands. Haver waddles out from the cool bushes to tell me hello. Asa notices that Haver has left his Milk Bone unattended. As Haver gets closer to me, Asa goes in for the grab...One little problem...Asa has miscalculated the level of grumpiness in hot and chubby Haver. When Haver sees Asa going for his beloved Milk Bone, Mr. Big Boy pivots on his back feet and goes after Asa! Unfortunately, Asa has not positioned his body well... and he is now literally backed into a corner...a corner of bushes! The "interaction" doesn't last long, but the outcome is obvious...

Haver: 1 Asa: 0



Wednesday, June 2, 2010 9:00 p.m...

It was around 9:00 Wednesday night, which means it's time for nightly chores. Nightly chores include:
1. feeding the fish
2. giving Asa and Haver their Prozac (real big shocker...huh???)
3. feed the horses and check their water tanks.

When Rod asks Asa and Haver if they "want to go feed the horses?" they respond as if they've just won lottery! (Of course, for a dog, I think "winning the lottery" would most likely be lots of dog treats and the opportunity to sniff 100 dog rear ends!) The three of them head over to the barn. Usually Asa and Haver will hear or smell something and have to make a couple of side trips before they actually get over to the barn.

On this night, Haver pretty much stayed by Rod on their walk to the barn. Asa however, took off like a shot as soon as they left the house! While Rod and Haver were checking out the horses, Asa comes into the barn, pleased as punch!! He managed to catch a baby bunny! The bunny was fine, very much alive, and something that Haver thought should be his! He starts barking at Asa. Asa (not the smartest one of the two) drops the bunny so he can bark back at Haver. They continue their "He's mine!" "No, he's mine!" conversation while the bunny quickly and quietly hops out of the barn and into the neighbor's yard. Suddenly, Asa and Haver notice "the great find" is gone! They smash their noses to the ground to follow the scent, only to discover that the bunny outsmarted both of them by hopping into the neighbor's yard, where Asa and Haver can't get access!!

Asa: 0 Haver: 0 Bunny:1


Thursday, June 3, 2010 2:30 p.m....

I just returned home from a busy day! In the morning I went out to a friend's house for our PEO book club where we enjoyed discussing, "The Help."

After that, I met my friend Dean for lunch at "The Cheesecake Factory." It's so very hard to believe that his wife, my friend, Cindy, passed away a year ago...

Anyway, when I got home, I was pooped! That's one of the things about Pulmonary Hypertension that I don't understand. Socializing, talking and laughing are exhausting! It's kind of a cruel side effect, getting worn out from having fun. A couple of phriends (friends that also have Pulmonary Hypertension) thought it might be from using up so much oxygen while laughing and talking. Whatever the reason, I usually need to rest after having a good time, especially having fun like I did with my PEO friends and my friend Dean!

When I drove into the driveway, Asa and Haver did their usual Happy Dance!! They run around the car, wagging their tails, picking up whatever they can find...just generally letting us know that whoever is in the car is the most important person in the world! Unfortunately, their excitement doesn't slow down once I get out of the car. Then, when we get into the house, they pick up the pace! They each find something to carry, usually a shoe, or a blanket, then they carry it around and around the house like they are in a parade! It's really pretty cute...unless you're really, really tired! There is no calming them down until they finish their "parade" which may last for 3-5 minutes!

Usually, after the "parade" is over, they'll go find a quiet spot to lay down and take a nap. But, not this day! This day Asa spies a bone that he wants! Unfortunately, Haver also sees it! Asa, being lighter on his feet grabs the bone first. While he's trying to sneak it up to his "perch" Haver realizes what's going on. So, Haver goes all CRAZY DOG and, I, being a really tired and crabby old woman, slides into first grade teacher mode! I clap my hands and tell them to "Knock it off!" I grab the bone out of Asa's mouth, open up the front door and throw the bone out into the yard! They look at me, look out the door and they both turn around and go lay down to take a nap! Hah! I still have it!!

Asa: 0 Haver:0 Annette: 1

Life is never dull with the Markins!

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Sorry, I lied...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I didn't mean to lie...I really WAS going to write a very interesting blog today...but..I had a headache most of the day. But, it did finally go away and I was able to go to a PARTY tonight and I just got home...
so...sorry I lied...I'll write something exciting tomorrow...or at least download a picture or two...

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I hope you all had a great holiday weekend! Rod and I did our 10 hour Memorial Day marathon tour of a variety of cemeteries in the state of Nebraska yesterday. Today, I'm pooped! I keep falling asleep sitting up. I will be back tomorrow.

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Book Review Time!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010
Nick called the other night to chat. Somehow we got on the topic of wondering how some people are able to persevere and reach there goals while some others will drag their feet and never even have goals, let alone reaching them! I told him that I had a perfect example of that with a book I just finished! I went on to tell him about my latest book club read and how people persevered even under horrible circumstances. I told Nick that I LOVED this book and that it was probably one of the best books I've ever read. Mr. Wise-A*% then says, "Mom, every book you read is always your favorite book!" I informed Mr. Smartypants that I do not always love every book that I read, it just so happens that I just finished this book about 30 minutes before he called and I was excited about it. So, Mr. You-Know-What says,"That's why you're so buzzed!"
THAT'S WHY I WAS SO BUZZED???? I just finished a book, not a six-pack!!

Later that night, while I was mixing my Flolan and replaying the discussion in my head, I realized that I do get kind of a "buzz" when I read, especially when I read a good book. I have always loved to read.

When I was a little girl, every day after school I would walk to the public library (10 miles... uphill...both ways...no shoes...freezing weather... ) every day after school and hang out in the children's book section until my mom would come and pick me up after she got finished at work. I would usually run in, return my book and search for a new one. Once I found my new book. I'd check it out and then have a seat somewhere in the library and read. Nine times out of ten, I'd finish that book before mom arrived. So, I would return that book, search for the next "perfect story," check that one out, find a good reading spot, sit down and read. It was not unusual for me to get 3 or 4 books checked out and read before my mom got to the library! I now realize that I could have checked out more than one book at a time, or, sit and read it, put it back on the shelf and pick another one. But, I just loved the idea of checking out a book and "owning" it, even if it was for a short time.

Once a week the "library lady" would have after school story time! I LOVED that time! Since I was already there, I usually got a great spot, right in front! When the "library lady" read, the whole library would turn into the location in the book! It was such a magical time. When I read to my own boys, and then later to my first graders, I always tried to recapture that feeling, wanting them to feel the magic in the written word.

So, speaking of "magic," my new favorite book is written so very well that I "magically" felt I was experiencing the lives of people living in Mississippi in the 1960's. It is called, "The Help."

The story follows three woman in Jackson, Mississippi during a time when wealthy white families had African-American maids/nannies. It was not unusual for one of these nannies to be more of a mother than the children's biological mother. Consequently, their treatment of their "white children" impacted many of those kids in ways they didn't realize until they were grown.

In "The Help" we meet "Skeeter," a 20-something white girl who is an aspiring writer, "Aibileen" a 50-something maid/nanny and "Minnie," a 30-something (I'm guessing here) maid/nanny who is near and dear to my heart......her mouth is always getting her in trouble!

The story gives us insight into what life was like for all of these women who lived in the deep south at a time when the civil rights movement was just beginning to grow. These three women work together to write a book showing a different side of life for these maids/nannies, who give so much of themselves to their "white families." It's so difficult to review a book, especially this book, without giving too much away. I highly recommend this book, but, be careful! Once you start, it's really hard to put it down! I finished this book in record time, but, missed some much-needed sleep!

Obviously it is receiving 8 PUPPY PAWS UP!!

Well, it's Friday night. That is usually movie night for Rod and I. But, we have two graduation parties to attend. We might try to take a movie in this weekend. We'll just have to see.

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

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Thanks for reading.