Thursday, September 03, 2015

Here We Go Again - PLOT TWIST TAKE 3

I will most likely edit this post - but here is the text of an email I sent to a few sister-friends this a.m. Michael said it would be simplest to just post it .

I realize we left you hanging after the neurologist appointment. We wanted to talk to the kids before I emailed or posted anything online so  there was no chance of them finding out family news online.

Anyway - we lost internet when we arrived at our campground. We're back now.

Our appt was 1.5 hours long. They listened. They asked for my input on questions where Michael wasn't sure or hadn't noticed problems. First he saw a "fellow" who did quite an exam and then he saw the neurologist  - who did the same exam. This was at UC Davis...then they brought in more to observe him walk etc. Upshot....she has diagnosed Michael as having Parkinsonism rather than essential tremors....this simply means Parkinson-like symptoms. She said based on the history and her exam she is confident in saying he appears to be in the early stages of Parkinson's Disease. She agreed with the base doc (and us) that if he had "atypical essential tremors" the beta blocker would have worked by now and that it is stupid to keep increasing the dosage. His resting heart rate is now 53. We are happy to cancel further appointments with neurologist #1.

She said the DAT SCAN does not always show changes early on and that PD is one where the doctor needs to make a clinical assessment. She noted his right arm doesn't swing when he walks, the tremor, the quiet voice (which is getting quieter), he sways when he gets up from sitting etc. She said the jitteriness he feels is not him being crazy - it's an internal tremor and the external tremors usually follow.

To give a firm diagnosis of PD she would start him on the Parkinson meds and if he responds, he has it. If not, it IS something else odd....and she said we will track it down. Much better response than, "I TOLD you - I don't know."

The complication came when she remembered he's on the beta blocker. A person doesn't willy-nilly stop this med.  They don't want to start another new drug while weaning him from the beta blocker. They are slowly weaning him off it. We will see her again in Nov, she will evaluate him again (looking to see if the symptoms are progressing) and then start him on levodopo. So we are still months away from a final diagnosis - but it is heading towards PD.  It's odd - I feel like we dodged the bullet before but this time it found it's target - and yet the treatment for ET simply isn't helping much - it's always good to have answers - even when they are answers we don't like much.

She said to continue on with life. She said there are new treatment options and we will get through this together. We are trying not to consider the implications too much just yet....we are focusing on adjusting to RETIREMENT first.... Michael sees the military doc on Tuesday to discuss the way forward as it impacts care and VA claim.
Let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name....

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The One Where Family Gets Involved in Organizing

I woke up this morning and simply could NOT believe we are LIVING in The Caboose. It was a good disbelief. We are still amazingly over-crowded and unorganized.
Yuuki and I took a beautiful 3 mile walk along the McKenzie River. I also started a couple of loads of laundry. I washed Yuuki's bedding (which she didn't totally appreciate, everyone else does) and the curtains from our home.
Ah the visual clutter - we're working on it
When everyone finally began to rouse, we tried out the showers. Stacia and I can take 3 min showers. The others could - but they seemed to think the 9 min limit on the free showers invites one to luxuriate after finishing the essential "get clean" 3 min part of the shower.
BreAnne took the day off of work and we savored spending time with her!

We headed over to Mom and Dad's next and unloaded 3 van seats, 8 suitcases, and several tubs and boxes of books we may need before we are ready to see ALL of our household goods again.
I hoped to work on a project while we visited. I thought the curtains from our bedroom and the patio could be repurposed to curtains for the kids bunks. They are good quality black out curtains and we need curtains it made sense to use them rather than store them. Mom took pity on my unorthodox cutting methods and together we finished the project. To be honest, I sewed up one set and then it was time to run to lunch. She sewed the other two sets. ::snort::

We stopped at Best Buy and bought a wifi range extender - BEST BUY EVER. I feel much more at peace if I know others can reach us - and I can reach others. Found out many of you feel the same way about being able to reach us.  We looked around for a Vita mix.
We left Yuuki at Mom and Dad's while we went to lunch. She was having a great time with their two pugs and we thought she'd be happier waiting there than in the van. Turns out she seems to be worried we'd finally left her. I've not seen her so excited in years. She ran around and around us when we returned.

We all went to dinner at Jung's Mongolian Grill .....well except for Arielle who had college, work study, then work at Fred Myers. After dinner we headed to Fred Myers to pick up a few things so we can begin to sort out the caboose - curtain rods, COMMAND HOOKS and COMMAND VELCRO STRIPS.  We found Arielle and tormented her - though she was happy to see us all - even with the group of fellow-trainees around her.
Back at the trailer, we hung curtains, moved stuff from one spot to another again and installed with wifi extender.

We really need to find a day or two to focus solely on organizing. The visual clutter is wearing on me - but I expected it. I will continue to choose joy while we wait for the magical moment when we're settled.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


We're in OREGON for five days. We brought a load of stuff up to family, so we can load the things at Matt and Rachel's into the trailer. This is our "shake-down" trip -  a chance for us to discover what is working, and what isn't working, before we get too far away from our tether.

We've discovered the trailer is VERY squirrely. We stopped a couple of times and rearranged the load. We've never had  a problem with this before, but today was positively faith enhancing. I think the pass-through storage in the rear is a design flaw. A trailer should have 60% of the weight in front of the axle  - but the big storage compartment is at the very back of the trailer.

We've discovered you can park RIGHT UNDER THE WIFI ROUTER and still not get wifi.

We've discovered if you PACK TIGHTLY things won't spill over and run down your walls.

Yes, that IS a couch pillow!
We've discovered Krista and Arielle have a darling house - and are great cooks. They treated us to Veggie Pot Pie and Chicken.  We unloaded our pantry and a box of things Arielle had left behind.

We've discovered we like Armitage County Park/Campground...nice campground right on the McKenzie River...and our home for three nights.

It Worked!

We've attempted to grow watermelon for years. This year Michael had saved some seeds from a Texas Rattler Melon. He faithful watered the, fertilized them and tended them in our container garden.

Unfortunately, we had to move from our home before they were ready.  Michael harvested the two biggest.
Personal size

Tonight he cut them up and we had them with dinner at Krista and Arielle's.

He and Shannon carried the rest of the containers over to their house. We hope they will continue to grow.  Shannon was wonderful enough to stop and offer to use his leaf blower to clear out our garage and driveway. Kyle and Michelle showed up and we exchanged a deposit check for a house and keys.  It's been a busy few weeks.

We miss Shannon and Valerie - great neighbors
YES , we needed to drop things off in OREGON so we could organize.

Monday, August 31, 2015


I had nearly forgotten four of us saw the optometrist last week. We wanted to get this done before we "hit the road." Three of us needed glasses.

Stacia saw the doc first and was fine.

Alex was next and was near-sighted.
Nolan told her his eyes were just fine, really good in fact. She said, "We'll see." What do you know? His eyes were worst than Alex's. He's enjoying the new glasses. He said he hadn't realized how many stars were in the sky. He must have wondered why we all liked to sit in the hot tub and watch the stars. ::snort::
I got chewed out. Over a year ago progressives were prescribed for me - I simply couldn't get used to them and kept wearing my readers. Now I have bifocals. They all told me that progressives are more "ascetically pleasing." If they give me migraines and make me throw up - they aren't the look for me.  I shouldn't have picked out glasses in the middle of a move...alone. They look suspiciously like red-wire-horn-rimmed glasses.  Supposedly they say, "I'm 50 and I'm fabulous. Get over the bi-focal thing."  I'm not quite sure that's the message I get from them - BUT I am seeing much better. Turns out I needed 250 in my readers and I got this steal of a deal at the Misawa BX a couple of years ago on 200's. I knew they were a bit fuzzy lately, but I wanted to use them all up....
In other news, we cleared our home in Olivehurst.
We returned Rachel's vacuum and two boxes of cleaning supplies we don't need to haul in The Caboose. It appears I have a "buy in bulk" obsession. Living in 268.5 (Michael says DON'T FORGET THE .5) may cure me of this.

AND, I got Eliana time as well as meeting the most adorable 9 month old girl, Tegan, in the spot next door. Yep - in one of those odd coincidences, a family we thought had moved away is right next door to us. That was fun. I wish we hadn't been so busy and could have sat and visited. Next week?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Our First Night as Full Timers

We assured the Gherkins we will not often be setting up camp after 10 p.m.
I guaranteed all I would NOT make this mistake again. We were met with a strong smell of balsamic vinegar and lemon oil when we opened the door of The Caboose.

I'll have to find a better spot for these to travel.

I expressed my confidence to Michael and the Gherkins that things will feel much better when everything finds a home. For tonight, the priority is beds....which everyone found.

Yuuki was miffed to find her bed crammed in our room, but made the best of the situation.
 As did everyone else


Everyone was in bed by midnight. Tomorrow will be another busy day as we tie up loose ends, see a neurologist, turn over keys, pick up glasses and settle into our new 268 square foot home.

Saying Farwell to This Season

This home has been more than a shelter, it's been a respite for us during our time at Beale. It's  enough under our BAH t we were able to cover utilities. It's provided comfortable opportunities for Pizza and Games at G's, chapel fellowships, PWOC board retreats, hospitality to mission teams and travelers,  and numerous family Holiday gatherings.  We've loved the neighborhood, the hot tub, our neighbors AND living in 3200 Square Feet.
We've had a Gherkin-specific way of saying our goodbyes to a location  since Elmendorf AFB/Anchorage, AK (10 years).  We circle up, share our most challenging and our favorite memories from our time in said location, pray and commit to release the hard (forgive) and move on from the good. We don't want to ever be "stuck" - but to always live fully present where God leads us.

We've made good friends, watched Izaak propose to BreAnne, grieved the loss of two unborn grandchildren and welcomed Dakota into our lives. We've welcomed a daughter in law into our family and mourned her choice to leave our family.  I've been christened Gemma De'Etta by Joy, Michael's mentored two wonderful chaplains as they began their careers, we've loved on countless pre-schoolers and their mommies...and our little gal has learned not all girls are welcoming - the lesson to forgive and move on wiser and stronger will serve her well in the future. She also shared three names of girls who extended true friendship. She also worries about the opportunities for community as we move into our next season.
We've faced health challenges and learned God is truly with us in the midst of each and every Plot Twist.

Some Chaplain may have sang, "Let It Go," as we released our balloons and determined to move fully into the next season.


It IS Sunday; but there was NO WAY I was allowing ice cream, spoons and mugs into the kitchen. I picked up Hagan Daz when I purchased balloons....we enjoyed the splurge outside, near the hot tub, and continued to reminisce.

It was time to hook up The Caboose and move to Fam Camp. We arrived shortly after 10 p.m.

We're full timers!
Note - Michael says we will not release balloons at every campground. LOL