Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Airplane Fun-NOT!

We FINALLY made it to Oregon...over 3 hours late ;>(

My alarm rang at 3:45 this morning. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:15, so I needed plenty of time to get ready because we had to pick up Shirley and make that hour drive to the airport. Brother Dave came along to drive the van home. We got to Shirley's house and loaded her stuff and were on our way to the airport.

Shirley drove, since I can't see in the dark and Dave drives slooooowwwwww. It was not only dark, but raining and it seemed to take forever to get to the airport, but we made it by 6 and got through security alright. We boarded and left right on time, getting to Minneapolis to make our connection to OR.

We had a very short layover, then we boarded the plane for Oregon. We started to taxi, then we stopped and waited. After about 15 minutes, the pilot came on the intercom and told us that a light had come on to show that there was a malfunction in the cabin AC/air pressure device.

Well, long story short, we waited nearly 2 hours on the tarmac, before they decided that we needed to change planes. Which took another hour, before we were finally on our way. We never had time to pick up any food, so we paid twelve dollars for some veggies and crackers. Hungry and exhausted, we finally got into OR about 5:30 our time.

What a day!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Another Anniversary

Today is another special day; we celebrated Mass for Dad. Four years ago this day, my father died. I was with him at the end and various details of his last illness replay in my mind. It all happened in just one week.

Dad became ill on the first weekend in May. That Sunday, I rushed him to our local hospital because he thought he was dying, but he couldn't quite explain what was wrong. He was in a lot of abdominal and chest pain, but all his vitals were stable. I was puzzled, but relieved when the ER doc told us all his tests were within normal limits.

However, as the week progressed, Dad continued to deteriorate. After a couple of visits to our family doctor and a CT scan, the problem was diagnosed: another abdominal aortic aneurysm, this one slowly leak. Dad had one AAA repaired back in 1995; this one was larger and extended into his thoracic aorta. He was taken into emergency surgery that Friday and never woke up. I was the one who took him to the surgeon and then to the hospital. Dave was visiting his girlfriend out of town and Mom was physically unable to go. It was just me and Dad for that final journey.

Surgery went well and for the first 24 hours post-op, Dad did great. He was on a ventilator and so was kept sedated. Mom could not stay at the hospital, so I ran her back and forth to home...forty minutes away. My brothers were on their way home, but Dave was driving, so could not get here before Saturday and Joe could not get a flight from Seattle until Monday.

Then things started to go wrong. First there was some evidence of blood loss in the abdomen. Then his kidneys started to fail. By 72 hours post-op, Dad’s belly was bloated and tests showed that his entire large and small intestines were dying. No more.
I discussed the situation with Dad’s doctors and the family; we decided to stop his meds and within the hour, Dad died.

I miss him every day.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Bust

BFF and I were scheduled to “hawk our wares” at a local pet store today. We got dressed up, loaded up and headed over there. When we pulled up, we were underwhelmed by the lack of any kind of notice that the ol’ Doc was coming. We went inside and we both got a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs….there was no table, no display, nothing, nada. Uh-oh, we should have called and confirmed…although we did email and confirm about six weeks ago.

We went to the store manager’s office and when he saw us standing there, he looked puzzled. We point-blank asked him if he had forgotten about our arrangement and, with a sheepish look, he nodded his head, “yes”. He offered to set us up with a table, but without any advance advertising, we didn’t want to waste any more time. We both have a million other things we could be doing.

So we packed up and headed back home. Lesson learned: confirm events!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Full Load

Wow, today was a back-breaker at work! Just like nothing had happened, it was a fully booked appointment schedule and then some. I got through the day, but l am totally exhausted tonight. I could barely crawl into bed; I guess I still have some post-op fatigue. I should know better…even with less invasive surgery, I usually take about a month to return to top form. And top form these days means being able to stay out of bed for over two hours-LOL!

But I don’t have any pain or nausea and that is amazing in itself. When you live day-to-day with something, you forget what it is to feel “normal”. I think this gall bladder has bothered me for a loonnggg time. I am so glad I had surgery before our trip to Oregon in ten days! Now I don't have to pack five bottles of Tums to take with me ;>))

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Road Trip

Yesterday my #2 assistant, Jill, and I made a home visit. We went to see Wiley, my mutilating Moluccan cockatoo patient. Wiley has been recovering well; it had been two weeks since I saw him last. He was so jazzed to see us. Typical cockatoo that he is, Wiley just knows every visitor comes to see him. This time he was absolutely right ;>) We were there just for him!

This is the first in what I hope will be an expansion of my practice. I want to develop an in-home behavioral consultation service for parrots. I can learn so much more when I actually see the brids in their own envornment and how they interact with other members of the household and myself. Plus, it's a whole lotta fun ;>))

Wiley is looking good. He still has an open wound on his right leg, but all other areas are healed and there are lots of new feathers coming in. I was so worried that we might lose him, but his “parronts” have been faithfully following instructions. They are wonderful people and really love their bird. Yeah! Our prayers have been answered!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Thirty-one years ago, I stood in front of God and all my family and friends and vowed to love Raymond Frazier until death. Who knew that would take so long ;>) Seriously, I never dreamed then what marriage was all about. You know, in marriage retreats, we are told that “Love is not a feeling, love is a DECISION” and that is definitely the truth!

I dearly love Mr. Frazier, but it sure hasn’t been easy. We are polar opposites in so many areas. While opposites do attract, that attraction breeds a lot of friction ;>) We have had our ups and downs, our highs and lows, our separation and reunion and we are still together. How have we managed to do it, in spite of meddling friends and family, illness and tragedy, and our own innate cantankerous dispositions?

“We” haven’t done it at all. You see, a Catholic marriage (and our marriage qualifies even though I am the only Catholic) is a sacrament. And sacraments always confer the grace of God upon those who receive them. When we made our vows, we made them, not only to each other, but also to God. We invited God to be a partner in our marriage and when He agreed, He gives us all the grace we would ever need to get through all the tough times.

Another peculiarity of Catholic marriage is that our primary goal in life is to bring our partner to salvation. I really haven’t given that much thought until the last ten years or so. Initially, I thought “How can I “make” that ornery husband of mine see the error of his ways?” It gradually became apparent that Ray, through the grace of God, was helping me to look at my own faults and sins. That process is painful for anyone, but as strong-willed and opinionated as I am, it has been like swallowing knives.

However, I see now how helpful Ray has been to my spiritual growth. I thank God for bringing Ray into my life and I pray that I may be of some help to bringing him to the Lord. My love for Ray is not always pretty, but it is strong, deep and true. God bless you, Mr. Frazier!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

One Week

I can’t believe that it has only been a week since surgery. Everyone tells me how well I look and how great I am doing….and I think so, too! I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Is this belly muscle pain normal or is it the making of a hernia? Are those internal sutures holding or is there trouble brewing there? Will I be able to get right back in the swing of a full-force schedule or did I overestimate how much I can do? That is my natural worry-wart self coming out.

Me, me , me, it's all about me. Illness or surgery has a way of turning all your focus on yourself. And I have found that really doesn't help me rrecover; I only obsess over every scab or gas pain until I have made myself sicker by worry. Nope, the best thing for me is to think of something else. TV doesn't do it; reading will, but my eyes can only handle so much of the written word. What REALLY does it is getting out and doing something helpful for someone. God has blessed me with a miraculous ability to tune out everything when I really concentrate, as I do when working with my patients and children at church. I know what I need and want to do.

I am starting back to work at the clinic tomorrow; I schedule only a half-day to see how I could handle it. But after office hours, I have a home behavior consultation with one of my avian patients, so I guess it will be a long half-day. First Communion is technically when I really started working again, though ;>) Not counting the many phone calls from the clinic and the four hours I put in today on bookwork. Hmmm, did I really take more than a day or two off?!!

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Road to Recovery

I feel great as long as I am doing nothing. My abdominal muscles are still a bit twingy and I am slightly nauseous now and then, but nothing like before my gall bladder was removed. I suspect those stones have been there for some time and that was the source of most, if not all, my “sensitive stomach” issues. But if I exert myself in any way, I am exhausted. I guess that this was still a major surgery (it took nearly two hours) and I know that the human body (especially a 56 year old one) does not bounce back immediately from general anesthesia. Still, it does take me by surprise, since I feel so well mentally.

While yesterday was a momentous occasion that I would not miss for the world, it took a lot out of me. Between the three hour practice on Saturday and three hours preparing for and assisting at the liturgy yesterday, I had overdone it. By the time Mass started, my insides were jelly and my muscles were quivering. I couldn’t even stay for the reception afterward; I barely made it home in time to collapse in bed for the rest of the day.

After a good night’s rest, I feel good as new this morning. As I told Father this morning, the spirit was willing, but this flesh was awfully weak ;>)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

First Holy Communion

Today is the culmination of my preparations for the past year: our parish children received the Lord in Holy Eucharist for the very first of many, many times. When I watched each one of those little faces, in awe and faith, take the Host, and then the Cup, my heart overflowed with the love of Christ. As ornery and sinful as we all are, even these little ones, our Lord has forgiven us and calls us to a closer union with Him and with each other.

For this is the meaning of the word “communion”, that we all, joined by our common Catholic faith in the Real Presence of our Lord and Savior in this Blessed Sacrament, become one with Him. We draw our spiritual strength from consuming His actual Body and Blood, as He instructed His disciples to do at the Last Supper. It is an inexplicable Mystery, not understood, but believed in blind faith. For only by becoming blind to the attractions of this material world, can we see in faith the infinite glories which our Lord has promised us.

How I love this faith and how I thank God that He has blessed me with it. For it is only through His grace that I am here, in Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Cicero, Indiana, becoming closer to my brothers and sisters, living and dead, in Christ as we partake of His Holy Communion.

Alleluia, He is Risen!

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Yesterday after eating, Shirley took me to the Hamilton County courthouse so that I could cast my absentee ballot. That way I won’t have to stand in line next Tuesday at the polls. I had forgotten that you can absentee vote some time in advance of the election.; I always voted absentee when I was in college.

I was under twenty-one when the legal voting age was changed from twenty-one to eighteen.
I treasured the right to voice my opinion and never could understand how someone took this privilege for granted or, worse yet, didn’t vote at all! And it hasn’t been easy; I was born and raised a Democrat in a Republican state ;>) When I went to veterinary school (ultra-conservative politics), I actively campaigned for Democratic candidates.

It has always been of paramount importance for me to vote in every election that I could, primary or regular. Whenever we moved, one of the first things I did was to register to vote in the new district. I have gone to the polls when I was so sick I had to have help standing.

So it has been with a growing sense of shame and disillusionment that I have not voted in the last five years. All politicians seemed to be saying the same thing, and lying about that, anyway. What difference did it make who I voted for? None of them were trustworthy or stood for anything except selfish greed.

My friend Shirley has been actively campaigning for Senator Obama the last couple of weeks before our primary here in Indiana. I tried to dampen her enthusiasm with my cynical philosophy, but she would have none of it. Even though I do not agree with all Shirley’s politics, her earnest belief in our system reawakened my civic pride. When Shirley said that no candidate would every perfectly agree with me on every issue, I knew she was right. And I knew what I had to do! My vote does count...and so does yours. Get out there next Tuesday and help elect those who govern us. It’s your God-given right and your civic duty!

Friday, May 2, 2008

First Friday

I got up this morning and felt great, so I decided to go to First Friday Mass. Our parish here in Cicero is the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so we practice First Friday devotions to the Sacred Heart. This involves Mass at 11:00 in the morning, followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament all day, closing with Benediction at 7:00 p.m.

This is the first time I have driven since surgery three days ago and I was interested to see how that would go. I was surprised at how weak and shaky I felt. Kind of like when you first get up after being in bed for days with the flu. I made it through Mass OK, but that wiped me out.

I was supposed to meet Shirley at the clinic for lunch and then for absentee voting, so I called her and tried to cancel. She twisted my arm and I agreed that I did have to eat, so off we went to Bob Evans. Mmm, that turkey and dressing was yummy ;>)

After stuffing myself, I waited for that all-familiar pain and nausea that comes after every large meal I eat….but nothing happened! I wonder this is how life without a gall bladder goes. I am well and truly blessed!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Back To School

I did it, I made it to class tonight! Brother Dave took me, as I didn’t feel quite up to driving yet. I caught a ride home with one of my classmates. My first spirituality class on St. Benedict started this evening and I really didn’t want to miss it. There are only five sessions in this class and I will miss one when we go to Oregon in three weeks. Plus, I want to take it for credit, so I really need to be there;>)

It was great getting out and about. I have had to stay at home so much because of health issues, that I really hate not being able to leave the house. I start to get cabin fever if I can’t get out every day ;>) I very much enjoyed seeing lots of old friends and making some new ones. I am so spiritually recharged after these classes that they are important to keep me moving on my spiritual journey. Plus, I always have loved learning ;>)

And I love the Benedictine motto: "Ora et Labora" ... Pray and Work. Everything we do can be offered to God...how cool is that?!