Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Thomas and Lori, Thirty Years

Today is our 30th Wedding Anniversary. It's a Tuesday, and we actually celebrated with family over the weekend, so tonight Thomas is cooking dinner for me. It's a simple, low-key anniversary day. 

I wanted to make a post but really couldn't think of much to write about. I mean, I'm amazed sometimes that we've stayed married for thirty years, but then after I think about it a minute, I know that I am not really amazed.  We've put up with a lot from each other, and we've been through a lot together, and we've made two very wonderful children together -- why wouldn't we still be married? :)

So in honor of our marriage I'm going to re-post a blog post from 2005 that I actually wrote about my father, but has to do with mine and Thomas' marriage.

Here it is:

"Letting Go of Prejudices"

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Closing Out April with Family and Creek Wading

The kids and I were able to get down to Mom's when my sister Maxine came in from Florida. Andrew and Eler Beth both happened to have that weekend off, so they and Alexandria could go down with me. Thomas had planned to go as well, but at the last minute on the Friday before they scheduled him to work all weekend. 

We had a great visit though. Maxine was the only one of my siblings who hadn't met Alexandria yet. I'd been hoping Alva, Alex's mom, would be able to go down with us, too, but she wasn't able to.  So maybe next time. But at least all of Mom's kids were there, all seven of us.

I surprised the engaged couple with a cake decorated with Alex's two favorite colors, and we had a wonderful dinner, with (eldest sister) Dennice doing most of the cooking this time. I still marvel at how well Alexandria fits into our family. 



I got a picture of the kids with Mom. Who knows how many more years we'll have with my Mother? I need to get down there more often. I managed to visit three times in April, and I'm going to try to get down at least two times this coming month. 

Andrew and Eler Beth wanted to take Alexandria to the creek where I learned to swim as a child, Dorridge Creek (called Dodge Creek, locally), and they wanted her to experience the winding, curvy, steep road to get down to it, so I obliged and drove them there. They waded in the creek and climbed up the banks a few times. Even Alexandria took off her shoes and socks and waded right in. 
  


Earlier they had taken a long walk down the road and were still gone when dinner was ready, so I took the car and went to get them. I put the passenger window down and told them to hop in, dinner was getting cold. Eler Beth promptly hopped onto the car door at the open window, and Andrew sat on the trunk of the car, telling Alexandria, "Hop on!" She looked dubious and said she'd ride inside, but then he said, "Hop on! This is how we do it in the country!" So she hopped on, and I drove VERY carefully back to Mom's house. (Didn't want to have to explain to Alva how I'd injured her daughter!)  It was funny because Andrew is very much a city boy, although he does love to fish and go exploring in the woods. But it just really sounded funny coming from him. I wanted to say, "How would YOU know how WE do it in the country?" LOL  But later, coming back from the creek, I drove a different route and he began noticing all the "Dowell" names on mailboxes and even road signs -- Coleman Dowell Road, Burton Dowell Road -- and I saw an interest in his roots taking root. Eler Beth has always been interested in her KY roots and has paid more attention when I talk about ancestors and relatives that are no longer with us that were a part of my childhood. Seeing those names caused a feeling of connection in Andrew that I hadn't sensed before. He was so very, very close to my Mom and Dad when he was little and still cries when he visits Dad's grave, and he adores my sisters and brother and the cousins that he knows. But I'd never seen him go deeper into a feeling for family and family history before then. He really paid attention as I pointed out where this or that ancestor had lived.  All in all, it was a nice weekend.

I went back later in the week, just me, and had a wonderful time playing music and singing with my sisters. Going to definitely have to do that more often.

Thomas is doing well. On the 19th he will have the CT scan to map the radiotherapy. Then approximately two weeks later, the therapy will start. We are expecting the best outcome, and so far he doesn't seem to be slowing down in any way, so -- so far, so good!

This isn't much of a post, but I kind of wanted to close out April with something, and this is it!

Hope everyone is doing well.

~~ Lori

Friday, April 7, 2017

C is for ... {sigh}

Over the winter Thomas had his yearly exam which included blood work. The blood work showed his PSA levels were elevated. He had a follow-up in March that showed they were even more elevated, and his prostate was enlarged.

So, C is for Cancer, specifically Prostate Cancer. 

He had a biopsy of the prostate on March 9 -- not a pleasant procedure. Then on the 21st we went in for the results and found they were positive. We were neither of us surprised, but it does still hit, doesn't it? Even when the prognosis is good, and you feel as positive about it as you reasonably can feel, the diagnosis still hits you as a solid blow, doesn't it? 

The urologist was very good. He listened and took his time explaining everything. Out of 12 biopsy sticks, 10 showed cancer. None of the locations had very high numbers. Thomas' age and the lower numbers (T-numbers?) would put him at the low risk level, but because it is throughout the prostate and the fact that his PSA numbers had increased so rapidly between the two blood tests, raised him to the intermediate risk level. 

Three options were put before him -- surgery to remove the prostate, radiotherapy, and a different, new, very expensive surgery that doesn't remove the entire prostate and that most insurances won't cover. Each was explained and later we did our own research as well. The urologist explained that, in his opinion, each option would be as effective as the other, with the main difference being the side effects.

Thomas decided on the radiation.  We met with the doctor at the radiotherapy clinic for a consult on March 28, and he explained what would happen over the next several months. One other optional thing was explained -- a shot that would stop the production of testosterone, which would slow down the cancer cell growth. This would make the radiotherapy more effective, although it would postpone when he will begin receiving the radiation. It isn't "putting off" the treatment, though, because the shot is part of the treatment. 

Now, not to give TMI, but my husband has a very healthy sex drive, so, aside from the whole "deadly cancer" thing, I have to admit, my other main worry was how he would deal with the possibility of any part of the treatment affecting our love life. He never hesitated. He said it made sense to him to get the shot, and that if there was a noticeable diminution (well, that was MY word, not his) in his ability to perform, there are things that can be done to help that situation. So, Monday, April 3, he met again with the urologist, and he got the shot. 

On Wednesday, April 5, we went to the urologist to have three gold markers placed in his prostate for the imaging that will be done next month. That was a procedure very similar to the biopsy, although it didn't take as long and the discomfort was a bit less. We joked about whether they would take the gold out after his treatment or if they'd be part of my inheritance if I outlive him. He will have to remember that they are there any time he has to have x-rays or go through a metal detector.

On May 19 he goes in to have the CT scan, to determine what path the radiation will take to hit the prostate. Approximately two weeks after that he will begin the radiotherapy. That will be every day, five days a week, for nine weeks. They can do late appointments, so he won't even have to take time off from work.  The most common side effect from the radiation is fatigue, but most men, according to both doctors, continue working their regular jobs with no problem.  

The day we got the results, Andrew dropped by just as we were getting home, so we told him and Eler Beth at the same time. Andrew's fiancee and her mother, all of my family, and two other good friends are the only ones we've told. Thomas does not want it going around among our circle of friends or his workmates in general, and he does not want his family to know until after the treatments are finished. His sister who lives near us is quite a drama queen, and he'd probably be ready to strangle her if he had to listen to her going on and on about it every time he saw her. Also, his brother's wife died only a few months ago, and his sister died even more recently, so we figured there was no reason to have them worrying or simply thinking about it at all.  So I'm not posting in general on Facebook, but I have no problem writing about it in my blog. I knew it would probably make me feel better, and I know my J-Land friends -- any who still read this blog -- will be supportive but not oppressive. 

The prognosis is very good, but I have to admit that once in a while I get a bit nervous when it comes to mind. Then I feel silly for that because it is a very curable cancer, and we've caught it early. And for that I have our GP to thank. Before he renewed a prescription for one of Thomas' maintenance medications, he insisted that Thomas come in and have his yearly tests done because he was overdue. It was the blood test and that alone that could have shown evidence of this cancer. At this stage there are no other symptoms. If he'd continued putting it off, and if the cancer growth was as rapid as it appeared to be, this whole story could be totally different. So don't put off getting an annual physical, gentlemen. This is my birth month, and I plan to get all of my yearly things done this month as well. 

Thank you for letting me write about this.

Now, Mary said she hoped that C could be for "Caracal," and I think that's a wonderful idea. The Caracal is that African cat with the long, tufted ears, if I'm not mistaken -- a wonderful, beautiful bit of creation to write about! As a matter of fact, I'll close this post with a Google image of one.

Until next time  ~~ 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

C is for....

...Cookies

...Caring

...Calm

...Cabriolet

...Cancer


Guess which one I'm going to write about.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 2017 ~~ Full of Positives

Two big things happened this month. Eler Beth turned 21, and Andrew and Alexandria got engaged! 

I could not ever, in a million years, have chosen a better life partner for Andrew than Alexandria. She is a sweetheart. She is funny and true and fierce. She is gentle and smart and exuberant. She knows Andrew's faults and loves him in spite of them. She builds him up where he is lacking, and he builds her up where she is lacking. I have seen them, over the past two+ years, work through problems together, learning the proper way to communicate with one another. Andrew told me once that they suddenly realized that when they have an argument it is usually because one of them hasn't properly understood where the other is coming from. But that once that person is able to explain what's behind the point that one is making or the reason that one is being insistent, then they are able to talk it through. It sounds like a simple thing, but I know couples who have been married for many years who haven't figured that out yet!

Thomas and I are thrilled to have Alexandria as a daughter, and her mother is thrilled to have Andrew as a son. Eler Beth and Alexandria are so very close. Alex is an only child, so now each of them has a sister they didn't have before. They've confided in one another over the years and gone to one another for advice. Eler Beth and Andrew are so very close that not just any woman was going to be able to smoothly enter into that dynamic, but Alex has. She respects their relationship and traditions and gives them space to deal with brother/sister spats when they need to. She hasn't pulled Andrew away from his sister but has just become a part of the glue that keeps them together. 






 



And my family adores her!
 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Gains and Losses ~~ 2016

So 2016 comes to a close, and I think I can hear a huge sigh of relief going around the Earth's sphere; it began around Samoa and is heading my way as I type.

I haven't blogged much this year, and I haven't read other blogs much either.  I hope I do better in 2017, but no promises. 

So 2016...

My mother turned 93. Her health is very good still. She had a bad bought of sciatica during the summer, however, and for the first time EVER she lost some of her independence and had to use a cane or walker and a wheelchair when she had to go out somewhere, and was in so much almost constant pain that she couldn't really relax and do even little things that usually bring her pleasure, like baking biscuits. They found the nerve causing the pain and gave her a shot in it with minimal success.  She went to a chiropractor two and three times a week during this time, also with minimal success.  But then she began physical therapy and that began working quite quickly. Very soon my sisters were able to put the walker, cane, and wheelchair back in the storage shed, and she is, for the most part, back to her happy self. I hope she continues this way forever! :)

Thomas and I celebrated our 29th anniversary. There are, supposedly, landmark years where things change for people as individuals biologically and mentally, aren't there? I mean, supposedly our food tastes change every so-many years. We go through periods where things shift inside us, physically and emotionally, (like adolescence, mid-life crises, adjusting to senior status, etc.), right? I can't really find the words to describe what I'm talking about, but I have noticed that as far as our marriage goes, every few years something seems to shift, for the better, so far. Maturity? Is that what I'm talking about? lol  Well, anyway, I found that this year Thomas and I reached a new "plane" in our marriage, and it's a very good plane. It seems like in areas where we might have been prone to disagree or make a big deal out of something, we are now more relaxed and accommodating toward one another.  We've always been close, but every few years that closeness that was already there seems to tighten up considerably so that we are bound exponentially tighter than before. And that happened this year. We're both in our 50s now, so maybe it has to do with the time of life we're in. We've stuck together through thick and thin, weathered some really difficult times, and weathered the good, easier times too (which sometimes are harder on a marriage, to speak truth). We've seen what we can do together and we appreciate it. We have more health problems, and we see ourselves slowing down a bit, but we still have (hopefully) so many more years ahead of us. Anyway, THIS YEAR I have seen and felt a lot of little things solidify or bend, as the need may be, and I have felt more contentment as an individual and as a couple and a family. 

Eler Beth turned 20, so I no longer have a teenager. Very soon in 2017 she will be 21, actually. She is now working a job that gives her much satisfaction and is content with her private life as well. She has great friends she can depend on, and is still intent on staying single until the perfect man for her comes along. I have a feeling she may be thinking about getting her own place in the next year or two, and I will deal with that well, I hope, if and when it happens. She is a great girl with a big heart and a good head on her shoulders.

Andrew turned 27, and I still have a hard time believing that. He too has a career that he is happy with and is doing well on his own.  His girlfriend of two years now, Alexandria, is the daughter-in-law of our dreams, even though they haven't made any announcement yet. We think of her as a daughter (and sister) and love her with all our heart. They hit a rough patch this year, and for about a week I grieved their separation as if I'd actually lost a daughter. I was actually shocked at how hard it hit me, and I think they were too.  But they patched things up and seem to be sailing along. Andrew is so much more mature than he was just a couple of years ago. I think it's true that men don't really reach a good level of maturity until they are well into their twenties. He and Alex are a good combination, boosting one another up where needed, and encouraging the good in one another. 

I have Wilder, my English Setter. I wasn't looking for him or expecting him. I didn't think I'd have another dog who would grow to mean as much to me as my Scout, but by-dogies, this dog has! He is a sweet baby who looks after me, consoles me, needs me, knows when I'm feeling bad, loves me unconditionally and lets me know it, and loves being a part of our family. I needed him, and he came to me.

The losses?

Well, we've had what, 26 celebrities go this year? And in my own life I've lost four family members, namely, an aunt, a first cousin, and two sisters-in-law, and another family connection, the sister-in-law of one of my sisters, plus two classmates and a friend of the family. I've been to a lot of funerals and signed a lot of guestbooks. 

I had a LOT more trouble with depression this year. That may seem strange, considering the paragraph above about my marriage. But you can have a signally good year as a couple and still have a bad year mentally. I powered through a lot of it and then paid for it with some near breakdowns. My family, especially Thomas and the kids, helped, or it would have been so much worse. I learned that I do have limits that I'd been ignoring, and I'm learning to recognize them and respect them. I am probably peri-menopausal, and I wouldn't be surprised if that has been a very big factor. I'm not alone; I have a great network of friends and loved ones to call on, as long as I let myself call on them. I have a God who is real to me, a very real Father and Friend. And I'm here! I'm still alive and relatively healthy!

I don't do New Year's Resolutions or even really spend any time, usually, thinking about a past year critically or anticipating a new year in any special way. But this, my fiftieth year, has been different for me in very personal ways about which I can't do a good job of putting into words. For me Fifty HAS been a key, landmark year, an eye opener, in lots and lots and lots of little, unexpected ways.

I hope anyone reading this has a very nice 2017. I hope I do too.

~~ Lori

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Post of Gratitude From My Heart

I feel the need to check in again and express my gratitude about a couple of things.

Yesterday afternoon I made a FB post asking if anyone would have any items of clothing they'd be willing to donate to two young girls we know who are in real need of clothing for the new school year. We've known the family for a few years now, and we knew that this past year has been emotionally and financially tough for them. They are struggling but are not without any resources, but the school year has sneaked up on them, and they honestly have nothing for the girls. Thomas found out just the day before that the girls have no school clothes. The older girl, who is 13, hit a growing spurt at the end of the last school year, and she has shot up three inches to 5'5". The younger girl, the 9 year old, is still tiny, about 4' tall and weighing maybe 65 lbs. She can't quite wear any of her older sister's clothes that she'd grown out of. 

Anyway, Thomas told me the situation and asked if I'd post to our local Freecycle to see if anyone clearing out their children's closets might have something in the right sizes. He also suggested that we might be able to budget a bit to get them each an outfit or an article of clothing before next week. Eler Beth said she'd contribute something and, only half jokingly, said she'd go with me to get them something to make sure I didn't get anything a 13 or 9 year old wouldn't wear.  :)

SO..... I posted to Freecycle, and I decided to make a FB post as well. 

Wow! 

As of this typing, a J-Land friend in another state is contributing toward something new for the girls. A school friend of mine who lives in California put the word out to her friends who still live in our hometown in Kentucky and is expecting to be able to put together a few things. A friend of ours in Oregon has surveyed her friends there, and they are sending a package to me. A school friend in Bowling Green, Kentucky is mailing me some items of clothing, and another school friend is dropping off some things at my Mom's house tomorrow for me to pick up on Thursday. And that is in addition to some local friends who are going through their kids' closets and drawers right now to see if they have anything suitable. 

Having something nice to wear the first day -- the first week! -- of school, something that is neat and fits well, that is attractive, even if it isn't brand new, can mean a confident child who goes into the classroom feeling like she can handle anything thrown at her, especially if she's in those middle school years. Getting the response that I have gotten is very humbling and encouraging, and, besides private messages of gratitude, I wanted to post a big thank you here because I appreciate more than ever the friendships I have made through J-Land, be they ever so virtual!

Another thank you goes out to some J-Landers who made a donation to my sister-in-law's GoFundMe page last year. (You know who you are!) As a result she and my brother-in-law were able to get a little truck that was reliable enough to take them from their little town in Alabama on the hour+ drive to Atlanta for her cancer treatments. Sadly, she passed away from her terminal illness a few days ago, but this past year was a bit less stressful for them, knowing that she could get to her appointments without their old vehicle breaking down on them. This is Thomas' youngest brother and his wife; both of them so sweet and quiet and unassuming. Again, friends and family stepped up for them, and so did J-Landers whom I've never even met in real life. 

I will try to "pay forward" the generosity and willing spirit shown me at every future opportunity.

Thank you!