Sunday, September 11, 2016

What happened to May through August??!


I was going to be so good at everything. Keeping up on a blog, teaching, being a wife and mom and grandma and a writer and making an old house into a warm, welcoming home. Well, just the fact that I haven't written an update here since April proves the lie to that.  But I'm still trying.  Most of this blog, for a year has bee dedicated to updates about my brother Lance, so let me tell you a bit about him first.

The ninth is my Brother, Brett's third wedding anniversary. I didn't talk to him, Lance says they are on a trip, but I did talk to Lance today. He is very happy, still can't eat enough to take out feeding tube, because the exit from his stomach had narrowed and he doesn't recover well from surgery, but he visited Mom today and had lunch with her, he can eat things like soup, pudding, ice cream, cheese. he was sad, their dog died this week, but he is taking choir, computers and woodshop at Virginia college and stays a couple nights each week in a dorm. That is something he is thrilled about, even the homework. He says mom is happy and he insists she is getting better. When I talk to her she is confused but not totally, often less sure of time and place but more aware of who people are.  Lance is already planning his October 24th birthday when he will turn 41, with TGI Friday's CheeseSticks and Ice Cream Cake from Dairy Queen.   
cards are of course much anticipated
 Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to him or to Mom at the same address


  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118


 He also has his Mutant Ninja Turtle Halloween Costume planned and the sooner October gets here, the happier he will be.


My husband's Dad on the same redwood stump two decades ago

As for the rest of us, Daisy and her dad, (My youngest son) are living with us, and we are having fun being grandparents. My oldest son also has a four month old son, so I haven't even been on the blog since baby Gavin entered our life.  It is wonderful to see how fast he is learning to interact and laugh and be happy to see grandma.


I am teaching a Severely handicapped special day class at the high school three days a week, which is supposed to free up two days for writing, but so far is consumed by errands and dishes and laundry and life.  My husband is starting a children's choir, teaching High school band Choir and orchestra and organizing a spring break trip to Disneyland with his students.

anyway, there is so much more, but if I hit publish now, I can go fold laundry, Oh Joy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April update

#TeamLanceMiller update 4/2/2016

Lance called from home today and sang "Happy Birthday to Austin" (my 23 year old son) and told me he had ice cream to eat, at home, not in the hospital, and that he had stayed up but Brett and Emily (my other brother and his wife) were already in bed. He told me there were four baby cows that were twins in the stable on the same floor with his bedroom, and that they were being bottle fed. Then he asked to talk to my husband Greg, he told Greg, "There are a lot of elk out my window here." Then added a huge laugh and, "Happy April Fool's Yesterday."

4/4/2016

Talking to Lance today, he was excited about the baseball teams and their opening days. Very Happy the Pirates won, and trying to insist that everyone in my family had to have a favorite team.  I guess I failed. I did take my boys to see an Angels/Dodgers game several years ago, but it wasn't enough to turn his nephews into die hard sports fans.  Something about living 300 miles from any team is a bit non-conducive to rabid fandom.  He is also in love with the baby cows at the farm this spring and especially that there are so many twins, but our call was cut short when my brother's daughter delivered him some ice cream.


He was also delighted to talk to my granddaughter now that she is almost 2 and will use a phone a bit, and he was telling me which pictures he has on his wall. He has a lot of cards that you have sent him. Thanks for that, and if you think about sending another postcard his way, Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to him or to Mom at the same address


  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Team Lance Miller Update 3-11-2016

 Lance is having a rough time still, he has been moved to ICU at the University of Virginia Hospital where Infectious disease specialists are trying to figure out what he needs and discovered a lingering infection behind some vital organs in a spot fairly dangerous to operate on, but highly resistant to antibiotics.  Yesterday  3/10/2016 in the evening, 
Brett says Lance just now got out of surgery, they put in a drain directly in his kidney to give his ureter a break and allow it to heal and he seems to be doing really well but he is in ICU.
today I got this message on facebook

with this picture from today.

When I heard that my old classmate and buddy Lance Miller had been moved to UVA, I called on my friend Alice who works there to pop in to let him know that a friend from Cody, WY sent her to say hello! They talked about football, his job at Walmart and Cody. She said he was so happy and that the visit made her day! I bet it made his too😊Thanks Alice! Here's a pic she snapped for meπŸ’•

Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to him or to Mom at the same address


  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Lance Miller update March 1, 2016


Once again I come to bring an update of Lance Miller, and have to start with saying that Lance is back in the hospital again.  I hate saying that he is basically back dealing with the same thing that put him in ICU on September 1st, 2015  -   6 months go today but that is pretty much exactly where he is.

I talked to Lance 2 weeks ago on Valentine's Day and things seemed to be gong really well. He was happily ensconced in a Motel with our brother, Brett and Brett's wife. They had gone to an evening Church service, and to the beach and to a Horse race and shopping for a jacket because Lance was too cold, not on the beach, but in Church.

I also talked to my Sister-in-law and she said Lance was getting a lot stronger, but still on a feeding tube and a catheter. Still sick but making progress.

Only five days later Lance was back in the hospital for a barium swallow test to see why he couldn't eat but could drink things like Ensure or juice.  The barium test went OK, but once he was home he was violently ill, all night with the heaves but nothing in his stomach. A new Dr. said he might have a narrowing where his stomach entered the bowels and he does, and his pancreas was inflamed so he needed antibiotics, and still the urine leak, "Repaired" in September, is unhealed, as if it had just been done inside, only the skin healing. So the urine leak can be causing the pancreas inflation, and the stomach narrowing needs addressed but at the heart of the matter, most of ll he either needs the kidney bypassed of the leak repaired and that means more surgery. So tonight he heads to UVA hospital and the knowledge that every surgery impacts his blood pressure and breathing enough to put him in ICU.  He still is having issues getting approved for medicare and his hospital bills are outrageous by now of course.

If that isn't enough, Brett's wife has been very sick too, and 
mom's money is running out so they may need to bring her home to their house soon, but she is really difficult to care for too.  Any positive thought, prayers or funny cards you care to send their way would be greatly appreciated I'm sure.

All the other details in life pale beside the fact that they are actually still together, still sounding cheerful and hopeful and not giving up.



Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to him or to Mom at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118

Monday, January 25, 2016

Worries and Joys

Let me start todays post with a quick update on my brother

Five months after he first went to ICU
Last night, 1/22/16 I got a call from Lance, at first he sounded normal, chatting about the upcoming games in the run up to SuperBowl and making certain Austin and Emerson were doing good, and their girlfriends and Daisy, but once he had checked on all of us he started sobbing, "I'm sorry, Dixie. Brett's upset with me."
I asked why, but Lance is hard to understand in person at times, and even when he knows what he is saying, he has to triple check that you understand him, he won't accept just "uh, huh" but makes me repeat what he said back to him because he's used to people nodding even when they can't understand. He's harder on the phone and even more difficult when he is upset. So with the tears all I was getting was "work out, hospital, I'm tired. Hurts"
I had to get in touch with Brett to get a clearer picture. He says Lance was fine by then, showered and in his pajamas. But that he had a difficult day. He was refusing to do his physical therapy, even though he knows he needs to get strong and even though he doesn't want to end up back in the hospital. So Brett had to make him do it, and of course Lance is so dependent on Brett now that the idea of making our brother mad, terrifies him. but of course he is exhausted and no one likes pt every day.
Brett is worried still, Lance went into ICU BEFORE Christmas again, and the micro robotics revealed he hasn't healed at all from the original leak in his bladder/kidneys. They did a feeding tube then and Brett feeds him 4 times a day. He is also being treated for sores from sitting and laying in the same position so much. He still has a catheter and sometimes is incontinent and the nurse says the feeding tube can make it hard for him to tell he has had a bowel movement. 
Brett swears he is slowly getting better, and I think Brett is an amazingly patient caretaker, but the long, slow road has been brutal on their side of the country. That is without considering that both our Mom, and Brett's Mother-in-law are there and suffering dementia and physical issues too.

Edited to add that I talked to Lance Sunday the 24th and he was in much better spirits, the snow in that DC area this weekend, and the two teams who are headed to the Super Bowl have him energized and playful sounding.
The picture is Brett, and Dad's dad, Emerson Miller and Lance in about 1985

Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to them at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118



The rest of my life since Christmas has been a mixed bag.  Things are really saturated here, I've measured 60 inches of rain at my house since Thanksgiving, and our town has flooded and receded a few times, my firewood is soaked and the woodstove is hard to keep burning so the house feels cold. My bills are a stressor, and my abdominal pain has been back at the old mystery attacks.  But it has been beautiful too, and I've made a lot of progress on my novel editing, and over all the frustration and worry is the Joy of knowing I have a great family, a chance to sell a few more books and a school or two that like having me teach, or present as an author. I have a granddaughter who means the world to me, and a grandson due in early May.




 So while somedays I want to burrow into my blankets and refuse to face the world, I do keep getting up and forcing a smile, until the smile is real.


 I hope you are all into 2016, and finding more to interest you than the political scene.  Thank God life is so much more than the debates.  More later, but not promising how soon.  Joy for now.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas 2015


Merry Christmas 2015 and May A Happy and Healthy 2016 Be Heading Your Way.

This was a year of changes for our extended family, it was a scary and emotional roller coaster at times, but we are finding ourselves at the end of it with a lot to be thankful for.

First of all, as we have had so many of you asking about Mom
and Lance,                         



 let me update you on what has been happening with them this year.  Lance and Mom were living in Virginia with Brett and his wife, Emily. Mom’s dementia got really bad and she was hallucinating, and paranoid and unable to take care of basic hygiene. She tried to run away and got lost, so she has been in assisted living, not far from Brett and Emily’s home, for over a year. The first home really made her worse and messed with her meds, changing her from just insulin and blood pressure meds, to 27 different medicines a month later.  The home she is in now, she likes, but she fell in June and broke her hip and was in a hospital and rehab before getting to go “home.” She is weaker and needs a wheelchair and once when Brett went to talk to her and asked her if she was worried about Lance, she answered, “I’m worried about him, but I don’t know who he is. Did I meet him here?”
 
The reason Brett asked about Lance is that he has been really sick since mid August, and in the Hospital, in ICU and a Rehab Hospital again and again ever since September began.  He was nearly dead (not an exaggeration) before the Dr. decided to do emergency exploratory abdominal surgery starting at 10 PM. He came out of surgery around midnight, and they had found his bladder blocked and holding 800 ccs of urine when a normal adult male would be uncomfortable with 300 ccs. They cleaned out the infection and put in a drain, but that only began the journey.  He has kept getting sick when he leaves ICU and they reduce antibiotics.  He has had his gallbladder removed and had a bad case of staff infection in his lungs.  He still has need of the Rehab hospital, the staff infection in his lungs is gone, the gall bladder cured the need for the drain in his abdomen, but he still can't eat much beyond ice cream without vomiting and he still needs a catheter, so he still has an appointment for micro-biotic robot cameras to scan his abdomen in the end of December. He can walk, but has no stamina so needs a wheelchair when Brett takes him out. Three months now has been a huge financial drain on Brett's family. He'd be able to take mom out too, if he had a wheelchair Van, but of course that would be another big financial hit, so probably won't happen. Anyway, Lance sounded excited to be out of ICU, happy to talk and more energetic than I've heard in ages when he talked to Greg and me on Thanksgiving. Brett had sprung him from the rehab hospital to go eat Turkey with Mom at her Assisted Living Center.  Mom doesn’t really talk on the phone anymore, but Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to them at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118


Then in October we had to face the death of the daycare grandma who had helped us raise our boys when they were toddlers. Nadine was a large part of who they became and of why we have a family of daycare cousins and their parents here in Crescent City. It was such a blessing to have had her so long.







So, now for news about the rest of us.  Greg and I have not changed as much as the other people in our families.  He is teaching again up in Brookings, OR. (year 10 I think.)  He only has choir this year, and with a local choir on Monday evenings is working with kids age 9 to High School.  He is also singing in the adult community Choir in Crescent City.  In February he flew a bunch of kids to Spokane for the All Northwest Choir Festival, while I went to Gold Beach for a writer’s conference.  I am still substitute teaching, and writing, and finished my sixth book this November which I hope to have edited and available by the beginning of February. This summer he tried his hand working with Special Ed. and taught a summer school class before we drove to Wyoming to visit his family.  Mimi and Harvey were both doing great, and had celebrated their 65th anniversary in June. All of Greg’s surviving siblings were there, but the only one from our children’s generation (The grandchildren) who made it, was our niece Remi, at age 15, just back from touring China with the Tucson Girls Choir.  Mimi and Harvey have three great-grandchildren, but none of them could be there either. We did manage to get to Laramie, and saw our nephew Colton there as well. 

Emerson and Lula’s daughter, Daisy turned 1 on April 28th, and we were able to spend a lot of time with her between April and September when she was living part time with Emerson and us, and part time with Lula. Now we are happy to say that Emerson and Lula are back together and Daisy is happy being with both parents, but selfishly, Greg and I miss having the little Miss Daisy here on a daily basis. She has totally stolen our hearts. Emerson and Lula both work as assistants in the School District where I sub, and they both had summer jobs as well.




Austin and Trisha seem happy and busy but we don’t ever see enough of them either.  It has been hard going from being Mom and Dad to being empty nesters for Greg and I. Still we are lucky that they live in the county here, so we do see them a couple times a month at least.  They have been keeping us in firewood, and have gone to dinner, or celebrated a holiday with us occasionally.  I am excited to see Trisha’s baby bump growing and to welcome our second grandchild in May of 2016.  Austin is still working with the crew he supervises at G & H outreach, a group of handicapped adults. He seems to enjoy the fact that a lot of their work is outside and active. They appear to be happy and that is really what parents want most of all I think.

So that is the news, and I hope next year is less newsy and more peaceful. Merry Christmas!


Love,
 


 


Dixie and Greg




 oh and PS. I did get my novel finished, at least the first draft, in the NaNoWriMo month of November. Yes!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lance Miller Update to be Thankful For




remember, if you have a moment, a photo, card or postcard can make his entire day.  and Thank you again.
Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118

 team Lance Miller update 11/26/2015
Today Lance Called to Say "Happy Birthday, Greg!" And he was in Brett's Truck on their way to Mom's assisted Living Center to eat Thanksgiving Lunch with her. He is still in the Rehab hospital, the staff infection in his lungs is gone, the gall bladder cured the need for the drain in his abdomen, but he still can't eat much beyond ice cream and he still needs a catheter, so he still has an appointment for micro-biotic robot cameras to scan his abdomen in the end of December. He can walk, but has no stamina so needs a wheelchair when Brett takes him out. Three months now has been a huge financial drain on Brett's family. He'd be able to take mom out too, if he had a wheelchair Van, but of course that would be another big financial hit, so probably won't happen. Anyway, Lance sounded excited to be out, happy to talk and more energetic than I've heard in ages. Thankful he is my brother and has so many who care about him!