Thursday, August 28, 2014

Diverticulitis: the gift that keeps on giving

What a week so far.  But hey, I shouldn't limit it to just this week as this latest episode really began last week.   On Monday the 18th, I wasn't quite up to par but there were no specific symptoms.  On Tuesday, once again nothing specific, but that was my anniversary day and I was all wrapped up in my head so unless there had been some very pronounced sharp pains, I probably wouldn't have noticed anyway.  Then came Wednesday and the GI issues began.  I'll admit, I ate more cake than I should have on Tuesday night, but it was very good.  So it was no surprise that my tummy didn't feel great the next morning.  But by lunch time and the constant uncomfortable feeling was continuing to linger, I had to admit to myself that this might be more than a poor meal choice.  So beginning on Wednesday, I started a modified BRAT diet.  Now if anyone has done BRAT, you know that after just 24 hours, the idea of another banana is downright disgusting.  But I persevered.  Wednesday: 3 bananas, cup of applesauce, 2 pieces of toast.  Thursday: 2 bananas, white rice, baked potato, plain Greek yogurt.  Friday: 1 banana, baked potato (with butter), white rice, cup of applesauce.  Saturday: grits, 2 pieces of toast, 1 banana, baked potato, 2 boiled eggs. Sunday: grits, 2 boiled eggs, baked potato, grilled chicken breast, 1 banana, white rice.  Monday: 2 bananas, banana sandwich, Hershey's dark chocolate bar, 2 boiled eggs. Tuesday: 2 bananas, banana sandwich, Greek yogurt. Wednesday: saltines & pimento cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet potato, green beans. Thursday: mashed potatoes, Mac 'n cheese, green beans, grilled chicken breast.  Please note that the items that were actually cooked were seasoned with just a little salt.  I can't have anything spicy.  The pain remained at pretty consistent level until Tuesday night when it ramped up somewhat so I saw the doctor the next morning.  I'm on two antibiotics (500mg Ciproflaxin 2xday: 500mg Metronidazole 3xday). So after 48 hours my pain level has increased instead of decreased.  Go figure.  One of the side effects listed on the prescription for the Metronidazole is stomach pain.  But I'm taking it for stomach pain so how do I know if it's working if it causes stomach pain?  Do I just wait the 10 days til the pills are gone to know? I know I don't have to. Doc has given me three days for improvement or I might be visiting Duke again. Oh joy!  I haven't visited what Joe called the "Duke Spa" since last falls bout with the big D.   

All of this going on when I have plans to go to the beach for 3 days.  Trying to figure out how best to accomplish this-- I can't sit for long without having to either lay down or stand up, neither of which is conducive to driving the 3 1/2 hour trip to Holden; while on the Ciproflaxin I can't be in the sun which makes sitting on the beach less appealing however, that's what umbrellas are for and we have several; sitting in a beach chair is never high on the comfort scale so not sure about that given my current sitting issues anyway; last, nervous Nellie here can't help but think about the possibility that I could get to hurting and need medical care...Wilmington?...I don't think so...Fayetteville?...H#LL no. They killed my momma and almost killed Aimee.  So what to do?  Relaxing on the beach could be so wonderful and maybe just what the doctor ordered,... errrr no, he ordered antibiotics.  But you know what I mean.   I guess the best course is just to wait and see.  I'm such a patient person, that won't be a problem. ��.  JOE!!  Where are you?  You are supposed to be here taking care of me.  That was the plan and you promised!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Joe stories.......or "Joe-isms"

-The morning that Joe's mother announced at our townhome that she felt like she had spent the night in "a house of debauchery"

-The time that my family was visiting and we were putting the backyard swing together on the patio.  Joe had REALLY bad gas.  He was not shy about letting one rip in front of my family, although he would always put his hand up to his mouth like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar every time he did.  On this occasion, he let out the loudest fart imaginable and the odor wafted through the air and literally hung over the patio, no breeze could blow it away, even outside it would not dissipate for 30 minutes.  To this day it was the foulest odor I have ever smelled.  We all laughed, complained and fussed at him for the rest of the night.....and for the next 10 years we would bring it up every time he farted!  And Joe would just grin. 

-Jeff Whicker's version of the story about seeing Joe on WRAL and an Easter bunny (Joe did not find it as amusing as everyone else)

-Joe and I form a cradle by interlinking our arms to carry Joe's mom across 7th Avenue in NYC to get her into Carnegie Hall.  Then just left her there for three hours.

-Joe took my family for a ride around Jordan Lake for "fun" with the three of them in the back seat of the VW Beetle....but it was drought season and Jordan Lake was a huge dried up mud puddle.

-Every time a new road opened in the triangle we had to ride on it for "fun"

-Joe had a student steal his credit card number while a student in his class.  He had her removed from class but she was performing a vocal number for a different class.  Joe was accompanying the students but told the teacher he would not play for her.  When she came out to sing, Joe just sat there and stared at her.  After a minute or so she finally realized he wasn't going to play for her and she tried it a cappella.

-Joe got mad at me one night and grabbed the keys to his car, stormed out the garage door and backed the car out to leave.  Only, 2 minutes later he drove back in and linked into the house.  I had to ask him "why did you come back so quick?".  His answer, "I couldn't think of anywhere to go".  He was so defeated.  We both laughed about that temper tantrum for some time.

-Speaking of tantrums, he caused me to have two.  One was while I was driving home from Winston-Salem where I had been training a store manager for the company I worked for at the time, he tells me he bought the piano....and charged it on his credit card...a five figure piano on a MasterCard.  I yelled and screamed the whole way home and when the piano was delivered, I sat on the steps like a petulant child and wouldn't even tell the delivery men where to put it.  I made them wait until Joe got home.  "It's not my damn piano, it's his" was all I would say.  The second tantrum was when he surprised me with the purchase of the full 8 piece setting of the China & flatware that we had looked at.  I wasn't going to allow him to go with me to see my family at Christmas over that one.  Aimee had to call me and beg me to let him come.  After that second incident, he was put on a $25 budget without my approval.

-Everytime that Sara visited, he would slip a few cuss words when we would be in the car.  Just enough to make me yell at him, which would make Sara laugh.  I think he did it just to hear her laugh.

-Joe's belly laugh when he went to a comedy in a theater....he wasn't shy about enjoying himself.

-Joe's ability to amuse himself with his own wit when no one, except Hannah Lingafelt, found him funny

-Joe saying something really inappropriate SO LOUD that he practically broadcast it to the world (myself and Jill shushed him so many times)

Got a "Joe-ism" or Joe story?  Please share.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July Reflection

July is a month of reflection I guess.  Should I be doing this?  Purposely reflecting?  Maybe not, but sometimes you just have to go where the brain and the heart tells you to and let the chips fall where they may.  Plus, I’m at an “all time favorite” location, Holden Beach, to start the month so I have lots of extra time and lots of emotions bubbling around just beneath the surface.

Now the emotion part is not anything new as anyone who knows me can attest.  However, the last few months it has been bubbling more and more.  I’m short tempered, my sleep rhythm is non rhythmic, and I can go from smiling to sobbing in .05 seconds.  This was one of many topics when I visited with my physician last month for my annual physical.  At that time he suggested, very gently, that I consider seeing a psychologist.  Starting back therapy was not in my grand scheme of things but something has got to give.  We went into a little more depth as to the why’s and how’s of what might be going on with me but I’ll leave that for another time.

So here I am.  At Holden Beach with my family.  As of the writing of this sentence it is me, Phyllis and Woodie.  Tomorrow, Aimee and Sara are to join us.   Several things happened yesterday that were important.  I had dreaded the drive over the bridge onto Holden as in the past that was when Joe would perk up and start with, “we’re here!!!!”  The saving grace for that expected sadness was the extreme traffic jam stretching back a couple of miles ahead of the bridge.  What could have been a sad moment turned into an irritating 45 minutes of sitting in traffic, moving less than 5 miles per hour.  That occupied my mind long enough and strong enough to keep me busy.  The arrival at the house, where Phyllis and Woodie were waiting, the unpacking and the tour of the house kept us all busy for the next couple of hours.  Then we ventured down to the beach where Phyllis & Woodie sat for awhile and I went for my run/walk.  I have pledged to get in a good long run/walk everyday that we are here.  I have GOT to get back into the routine of actually doing something and what better place than at the FLAT beach!!!  So I ran a couple of blocks, then walked a couple of blocks, then repeat the process.  It felt good, until this morning.  My calves are exploding!  No pain, no gain.

Morning number one has brought me up predawn but not early enough for me to climb up on the widows walk to watch the sunrise.  I will do that one morning before this is said and done though.  But back to the reflection. this was not meant to be a day by day by hour by hour account…well not only that.

One drop
Two drops
Three drops
Floodgates open
the waters pour

Cool and warm and clear and red

How can I be alive?
and Joe be dead?

Switch places with me.
Let me rest on the brink of that ancient flight.
You sit here and wait.
Where would you go.
You know nothing of the world beyond this dirt.
Nothing now, but I’m willing to learn.

This sanctuary is all I have.
I’m grateful for it.
Grateful to have some place to wait.
Wait for the waters to recede. 
My path now visible.
Visible to lead me away from here.

Walking up the steps to the church.
Each step bends and creaks from my weight.
Each step is a guardian deciding if I may enter.
Will they break in half and swallow me whole.
How ironic, that’s how I already feel.
Swallowed up by the earth.

I just need a place to hide for a few minutes.

Dinner time end of day one.  7 beach hours. Pink chest, pink feet, pink legs, pink face.  Good day.  Good breeze, a little cloudy keeping the temperature just right.  Huge crowds today.  I’ve never been down here and seen so many people but then it is the end of the 4th weekend.  Phyllis is cooking dinner (actually right now she is playing on Facebook) but it’s CHICKEN night!  Woodie is firing up the grill.  What am I doing?  Not much of anything.  I’m so lazy.

After chicken night was cube steak night and then Taco Tuesday.  It’s now sausage Wednesday after 3 days of sun, wind and MORE wind.

Loneliness should be the stranger
when you are alone.
Friends, family filling the space that is left vacant.
Alone and lonely are close cousins.
Their relationship can not be denied.
But they are also quiet different from one another.
Loneliness resolution requires company.
Alone can be a crowded room.
Alone inside.

Sara and Aimee left to return to their lives today.  Sara prepares for the move to her college apartment in a couple of weeks.  What a change that is going to be.  I’m not ready but then I have learned that I am not a fan of change.  At least not anymore.  Right now I have one change that I am hopeful for, although not expectant of it happening.  If you don’t get your hopes up too high, it’s not such a painful fall when/if it doesn’t happen.  Would it be a cure all fix?  Absolutely not, but it would be a step in the right direction.  One I have sorely missed for the last 4 years.

Tears are running down my face.
Where do I run? 
I need to escape. 

I'm trapped inside, my thoughts flow. 
I'm broken, so alone.
Which way? 

Traveling through fog, needing to be found 
I'm cracked like glass.

I'm hurting inside.
I try to hide so nobody sees.
God, answer me. 

Falling into darkness being clouded by lies. 
I need to get out.

Slipping and tumbling into things that are unseen.
I need to escape.

Vacation ends tomorrow.  Long drive home.  Then hopefully a good rest in my OWN BED.  It was a great week.  Restful.  Peaceful.  Jovial.  Family.

I feel no interest
Just force a smile upon.

I see no color 
But, I am not blind 
I see, the world is black.

What is this?
This emptiness I never felt before
Life of mere glass that can shatter 
Shatter at the slightest touch. 

I am breathless
As if someone is following me
How do people smile so easily?
Live so freely.

What is this? 
I feel alone, separated, anxious.
I am scared. 
I want to live.
No perhaps I don’t.
No matter where I search
Whom I ask 
They give no reply.

What is this? 
I am eager.
I want someone to share my feelings with 
I searched here and there
Tried to open up to many. 

Why is life bestowed upon us?
Why is it taken?
I am alone 
I call out with all my might 
But no one listens
I am tired.

I am really afraid 
I am as if bound by invisible chains of 
Love, anger?
No perhaps emptiness

I am alone
In this darkness days pass 
But no one comes..

This life is itself,
Having no reason to exist.
Is there an afterlife?
A happy one?

A deep, deep week.  Home, safe and sound.  The drive wasn't terrible.  Good tunes playing.  Traffic moving.  I even stopped for the BBQ burger at Burger King that I kept seeing advertised on TV all week.  (Don’t bother, it isn’t very good….at least not to me).  Tomorrow, back to the routine.  Back to the drudgery.  Back to this life.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

48 Hours to VACATION!!!!!!!

Even at the glacial place that the month of June moved, it’s hard to believe that it’s already July.  The year is half over.  Is that a pessimistic point of view like the glass is half empty?  I guess a more positive point of view might be we are half way to Christmas!  Assuming everyone looks forward to Christmas.  My verdict is still out on that one.  But I digress.  July is here!  You know what that means?….VACATION!  Just 2 more days and I’m free for the next 10 days.  I am so, so, so ready!   Holden Beach, here I come.  

June was a month that appeared to be spiraling down the drain, at least as far as my mood and attitude.  Although I could recognize with my head what I was doing, I was unable to stop myself.  Daily, almost hourly, I could feel myself pulling away.  Withdrawing into myself each and every day.  I didn’t go to the Y any.  I didn’t go out after work any.  I didn’t see anyone outside of work unless I had too.  I got up each weekday morning at my usual 6:15am and went to work.  On Mondays and Fridays I left work in Raleigh at 6:00pm and drove home, arriving by 6:30pm, ate dinner and would be up in the bedroom by 8:00pm and would either read or watch TV in bed until sleep overtook me.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I woke up at the appointed 6:15am, went to work and left work in Chapel Hill at 5:00pm arriving home by 5:30pm.  On those days, I could eat and be upstairs in bed by 7:00pm.  As exciting as the week days were, the weekends were even more so.  I went two weekends and didn’t even go outside from the time I got home on Friday evening until I left for work on Monday morning.  Now that is a thrilling existence, huh?  So, maybe a week at the beach will be just what the doctor ordered.  And speaking of doctor, during the excitement that was June, I did manage to have my annual physical.  With the exception of slightly elevated blood pressure (does your blood pressure increase as you get older??? I’ve never had BP issues before), all was well.  Blood work came back good with decreased cholesterol levels and even my PSA was within normal range.  The doctor was very happy with my weight also, but I did have a Big Mac for lunch that day afterwards!  That’s another thing that June brought….I ate A LOT!  2 pounds heavier as of this writing.  Just another reason to SNAP OUT OF IT.

Okay, okay.  Enough moaning and groaning about being down.  It’s 48 hours to VACATION!  Although this will be my first trip to Holden Beach without Joe since many, many years before we met, I'm determined to make it a good one.  New memories, new laughs, new suntan.  Will there be photos?  Maybe, if I can come in out of the sun long enough. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Relay for Life 2014 is in the Books! YAY!!!!!

Instead of long prose about how this and that was, let me just give you the vitals.  I think you will be able to glean from them how special the night was.

The people at 2014 Relay for Life from PGUMC 

Caroline Bray Winters, Challie Sullivan, Drew Sullivan, Claire Sullivan, Danny Sullivan, Lucinda Sullivan, Kelly Werner, Chris Werner, Mark Potratz, Stacy Potratz, Hannah Potratz, Sophie Potratz, Ivey Dodd, Noel Currin, Kevin Currin, Sandy Jennekens, Martha Brown, Heather Jerman, Donald Jerman, Kara Lakey, Harper Minnick, Owen Cole, Christian Santos, Taylor Speri, Jeannette Day, Matt Day, Izzie Day, Jake Day, Chelsea Brown, Amos Brown, Asher Brown, Nikki Speri, Bill Speri, Kathy Lakey, Micah Minnick, Michelle Baitsholts, Todd Baitsholts, Mike Pfeiffer, Suzanne Pfeiffer, Leslie Schreiner, Martin Schreiner, Adam Schreiner, Tara Hardy, Jack Lakey, Mandy Cousins, Emmaline Cousins, Shannon Hardy, Vickie McGee, Sydney McGee, Allana Minnick, Molly Minnick, Derek Osterhoudt, Lindsay Osterhoudt, Chandler Osterhoudt, Brighton Osterhoudt, Maverick Osterhoudt, Jamison Osterhoudt, Grace Guinn, Harrison Sullivan, Jill Boliek, Mark Boliek and many middle school youth that I do not know personally.

Friends who stopped in from other teams to say hello and walk along side us: Dana Murphy, Sherwin Murphy, Jr., and many more who went unnamed.


  • The beginning: cheering on the cancer survivors during lap one at 6:30pm
  • I began on lap two, the caregiver lap - walking along side Chris & Kelly Werner.  Tears flowing freely.  Subsequently then walking shoulder to shoulder with Claire, Ivey, Kelly, Challie, Caroline, Drew, Danny, Stacy, Mark, Jill & Mark Boliek
  • Pausing at each of Joe’s 7 luminaries as they were put out along the side of the track. Shedding tears each time a new one was seen
  • Joe’s name & photo during luminaria ceremony slide show.
  • Quiet, darkness filled luminary walk.  Pausing just a moment again at each of Joe’s luminaries, then many, many, many laps over the next 10 hours.  
  • So glad to have the middle school youth there to take up the slack when the adults just couldn’t pull themselves up out of chairs in the middle of the night
  • Watching those participating in the hour long Zumba class.
  • Watching the belly dancer …a bit odd but the husbands & young kids in the first row seemed to have enjoyed.
  • The ear splitting rendition of Grease
  • The hourly game announcements
  • The lights
  • The high humidity
  • The cool overnight temperatures
  • The laughs
  • The stories
  • The tears
  • The aches & pains; the cramps & swollen ankles & feet; the aching backs
  • The dazed expressions of middle school kids going with minimal sleep
  • The even more dazed expression on adults faces who went with even less sleep
  • The breaking down of the campsite
  • Being told I came in second only to learn 5 minutes later of a mathematical error and I actually finished first in fundraising
  • The loud cheering from my fellow PGUMC team members when I accepted my little trophy for most individual fundraising 2014
  • The long last lap around the track and to the car
  • The even longer drive home, subsequent shower and brushing of teeth
  • The sheer exhaustion and being unable to sleep
  • The tears shed sitting typing highlights when thinking back to how this has become such a part of my life.  How did I get to this point?  Thats when the sobbing began.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who supported me with a donation this year.  I am so incredibly grateful for your financial generosity and your generosity of spirit. Without you, walking around a high school track for 15 hours in muggy, cold temperatures with painful feet, legs & back would be just another Friday night.  But thanks to you, its RELAY FOR LIFE.   Making more birthdays happen with every lap walked.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Only One Week to Relay. Am I Ready?

The time is drawing very, very close.  One week from today I will have my walking shoes on and come the end of the Opening Ceremony at Relay for Life, start walking on Lap 2.  For those that have never participated in a Relay for Life, the first lap is for Cancer Survivors.  Caregivers start on Lap 2, then everyone joins in from there on.  My plea last week to help me over the hump to hit my $3000 goal worked and as of this typing, I am at $3171.  Wow! 

However, you know me and I don’t give up easily so I’m still asking, begging, annoying anyone and everyone for more donations.  I’ve been at this since February 3rd.  I’m like a dog with a bone..I won’t let go!!  As with each of the many previous pleas for support, it is very easy to make a donation, no matter how small or large.  You can click the link below to make a donation online using your credit card or you can use the same link to make a donation with a check by printing off a donation sheet and mailing the sheet along with the check to the American Cancer Society.  Please also make the check payable to The American Cancer Society.

I am sure next weekend will be an emotional one for me, as it was last year.  This year during the Luminaria Ceremony for those that lost the battle to cancer that precedes the Luminaria Walk, when Joe’s name shows up on the big screen, his photo will be there too.  Like last year, unless I happen to be comatose by that time, I’m sure I will cry.  Just like last year, I’m sure I will shed tears each and every time I pass by one of the luminaries with Joe’s name on it that will line the track.  But just like last year, I know that Joe will be watching me, quietly walking by my side, holding my hand and holding me up. Urging me forward. 

The support of my friends & family have been critical this past year and I carry each of you in my heart as I walk this coming Friday and Saturday.  Thank you and Keep On Relaying to Fight Cancer!

All donations to Relay for Life/The American Cancer Society are 100% Tax Deductible.