Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Giddy-up Golf Cart!

One more "oldness" move into a 55+ community in Florida and buy a golf cart!
I've noticed golf carts in RV parks and many of the communities where we shopped for a winter abode.  I was inwardly amused at "oldsters" and their golf carts.

Things change when you're in a situation with only one car.  It seemed wasteful to think of buying another car with more insurance, upkeep, and taxes.  

BUT, it was becoming inconvenient for us.  Ed would drop me off at a club house for one of my activities.  Then I had to call and interrupt whatever he was doing or bum a ride home with someone....but there are only so many times I can bum rides without feeling guilty.

Thus, the "new" idea of getting a golf cart came about last year.  Our golf cart is used and old but has been well maintained.  Voila, problem solved!! 

Of course, when you do one thing, it often requires you must make changes with others.  

Change #1:  We needed to extend the driveway.
Above is the "Before" version.  You can see the tall eureka palms that were planted too close to the house.  They required constant trimming and picking up branches. So, we got rid of them (that was another complicated project).

Ed did a great job supervising the cement work.

Side story:  Just about the time  that the cement was finished, Blanche sneaked out the door and ran into the wet mess.  With each step, she sank deeper until she couldn't go any more.  It was quite a process to get her cleaned up.  Thankfully, the cement guy had a sense of humor and just smoothed out the mess.

Our friend, Dick Roy, can do anything.  Here he was putting rocks between our new driveway section and our neighbor's house.

Here's the "after" version of the driveway extension, which will be painted later.

Change #2:  Next issue to deal with was that when we parked the cart at the end of the garage, we couldn't open the door to our shed, where we keep the garbage can, etc.

Once again, Dick saved the day by adding a door at the end of the shed for access.


 He also put an opening for the charger cord.

No gas, insurance or taxes.  Here I am "putting in gas" (plugging it into the charger)

 Change #3:  Ed ordered and installed a back seat so when people visit us, we can give tours of Savanna Club.

Naturally, Ed did his research and bought a seat that folds down to make a cargo area.

Change #4:  He also got a dash insert that provides doors that can be locked and protect items from rain.  He was especially pleased that the installation involved getting a different ignition key, an added safety feature as it's a universal key for all carts of this brand.

Hence, we have more freedom thanks to our new-to-us helpful "toy".....

 and yet another sign of being "oldsters".

Yee Haw! 
Giddy-up, Golf Cart!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sandhill Crane Colts

Did you know that young Sandhill Cranes are called colts? People are surprised to learn that the baby crane designation is the same as a horse. However, with those long legs and their love of running there are similarities, if only in concept. 

We've seen some colts around Savanna Club this spring.  They just walked across our backyard and they are soooo cute!  
One stopped for a snack, happened to notice his fellow colt and parents were moving on, started running, and I could hear him holler,  "Hey, wait up, you guys.  Wait for me!!"

The novelty of seeing animals wander around naturally never wears off.  A zoo setting is never the same.
We are always thrilled at the various animals we see behind our house, both walking and in the water.  It's a daily show and the price is right --- free!  But the Sandhill Cranes will always be our favorites!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hold on Hospice

Hospice came to do a baseline evaluation of Ed today.  He says he's not ready for someone to come by to check on him, even as seldom as every two weeks.  We're glad to know there is such an excellent program here and it will be available to us in the future.

Yes, he's lost 45 pounds since October so looks very gaunt, but his meds have helped with his breathing and he seldom coughs these days.  

It seems like it's a relief to him that he's made the decision not to have any more chemo, especially since there's only a 10% chance it'll help.  We've also decided not to return to Virginia in May, but to see how things go, and I think he's relieved to have made that decision, too.  (Thank you to Maggie, our house sitter, for staying in our house there for now.)

His flamboyant, feisty spirit shone through for the Hospice nurse!    He told her he's also going to try to put on some of the weight he's lost.  He certainly is better than he was a month ago.

We know that his lung tumors aren't shrinking but, hey, he was told in October of 2008 that he had only 3-6 months to live!  He says he could be around another year!!

Prayer is powerful and I think it's helped!  Thanks to all our Prayer Warrior family and friends.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Savanna Club Surprise Turnout

They've been trying since November to get a Weight Watcher's meeting here in Savanna Club.  We had to have at least 20 people to warrant a meeting of our own and there were about 25-30 people expected for our first meeting on March 10th. 

Lo and behold, almost 75 people showed up!!! 

I'm pleased because I feared that when the "Snowbirds" flew North for the summer, there wouldn't be enough to keep the group going.  There are surely enough people who live here full-time to keep our meeting going all year.  Plus, the leader is young, poised, and enthusiastic, which makes things all the more pleasant.

Hope to see less of everyone next week!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Trek to Tampa

Ed had his appointment at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa last week. Steve, his son, came up from Ft. Lauderdale to drive us over. The trip took about four hours because of tons of traffic around Tampa.  We stayed one night at a hotel nearby.   Moffitt is part of the University of South Florida and the campus/hospital complex is huge with many, many buildings. 

We saw Dr. Jhanelle Gray, who went to medical school at Cornell. Since Ed had been to 5 oncologists (see "A Bit of Background", below) there were lots of records and disks but Dr. Gray had read them thoroughly and came in with a paper full of notes. She took her time, answering our questions as she went. A clinical trial would involve many trips to Moffitt and, considering the advanced stage of his cancer, Ed said he does not want to do that.

She gave him a prescription for an Advair inhaler to help with the breathing, along with the nebulizer and other things he’s already using. She gave two treatment suggestions. One is a pill called Tarceva. This used to be only for a certain type cancer but is now used with other types. The other option is a type of chemo called Pemetraxed. Dr. Bellam will be able handle this her in Port St. Lucie, thus avoiding that long haul to Tampa.  

Ed will decide which suggestion he wants to try first.  He also has the option not to try either treatment for now and if that's his choice, I'll try to accept it.

Ed, Steve, and I feel it was worthwhile to have made the trip, especially since the Advair is helping with Ed's breathing. 

A Bit of Background about Ed’s Cancer and Chemo
When Ed was diagnosed with lung cancer in the fall of 2008 in Virginia, he did not want to let chemo interfere with his life.  He started chemo in Virginia and we took off to Florida in our RV.  We spent part of the winter in Ft. Lauderdale, where he continued chemo, and the rest of the winter in Ft. Myers, where he finished the 2nd course in the spring of 2009.  At that point, the treatments didn’t shrink the tumors much and Ed decided to quit chemo.

He went to Dr. Augustin Schwartz in West Palm Beach after being referred by Rene Angelil (Ed’s first cousin who’s married to Celine Dion).  Dr. Schwartz monitored his spring and fall CT scans until policies changed and he
no longer accepted our insurance.

The tumors stayed about the same until the fall of 2011 when growth showed.  So, he took two courses of chemo in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  The chemo didn’t work and, much to the disappointment of his oncologist, Dr. Bellam, the main tumor grew even more.  That motivated the trip to Moffitt for another opinion.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Enjoying the Equinox

Yes, I'm already enjoying the Equinox, and I don't mean "the time when the sun crosses the plane of the earth's equator, making night and day of approximately equal length..."

After my LITTLE accident with the BIG Chrysler Town and Country Minivan two weeks ago,  I've been totally gun-shy about driving that big car.  When we bought it last fall, Ed was doing most of the driving.  But, as his health situation has changed, I'm the main driver.  I had a heart attack every time I pulled into the carport because it felt like I was going to scrape the sides.

We spent almost the whole day at the Chevy dealer yesterday but they couldn't locate a 4-cylinder car for us.  The 6-cylinder doesn't get the good gas mileage Ed was after.  

He went back online and we headed out to test drive a Kia today.  Within half a mile, I discovered that their headrest is at an angle that put my neck into major pain and no adjustment of the seat would change that angle.  Sounds kinda silly, but that was the end of the Kia for me.  

Turns out that they had a 4-cylinder Chevy Equinox that someone who wanted a larger car had just traded in.  It isn't the white that I thought I wanted, but it has every other feature we were after.  Turns out that I like the shade of blue just fine.  

We now own a car that I feel comfortable with.  Whew, I feel equalized in an Equinox! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shucks, It's Shingles

Ed went to our Primary Care Physician (PCP) Wednesday morning for his follow-up visit after 4 days in the hospital last week.  At the end of his visit, he asked the doctor to take a look at the redness on the side of my face.  

As Dr. Pinto approached me I said,  "It can't be shingles because I had my shingles shot last fall."  He took a look, declared it shingles, sent me for blood-work, and gave me a prescription for the virus.  The dermatologist verified his diagnosis today. 

He said shingles shots are only 60% effective.  If I had known that, I might not have gone through all the hassle to get the shot last fall.   (Misinformation Melodrama - November 5, 2011)  Than again, I would have thought I wouldn't have fallen into the 40% of non-success stories!

He even said to not use my CPAP machine for a few nights because the straps are going to aggravate the red rash, swelling, pain, etc.

I think the stress of dealing with Ed's worsening lung cancer and getting cars repaired undoubtedly helped bring this on.   (I backed into a our friends' empty car last Saturday evening, breaking both driver side tail lights and causing some scraping on both cars.)

My shingles aren't super painful and I first thought it was because it was diagnosed and treated quickly.  Now, I'd be willing to bet it's a mild case because of my shingles shot!!  (I just read online that if you had the shot, you have less pain and shorter duration of shingles)

So "shucks on shingles" but when you hit 50 or 60, DO get your shingles shot!