Saturday, September 27, 2008

Back to June 23

I just learned that two pictures of Ally and Pat were on our family Kodak Gallery Album so I'm posting them. These were taken the night of her dance recital in two of the seven costumes she wore. I am never able to take pictures of her in costume because you can't while they are dancing on stage. These were taken by the photographer who was there.

Today is Ted's 64th birthday. We are going to a Legends show and dinner at the Texas Opry tonight with Rick and Brenda. Ted went shooting this morning for the first time since we came home. He is able to stand and shoot now that his leg is better. I think we're on the road to "normal" whatever that is.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Calm After the Storm

Things are getting back to normal here in The Woodlands but there are 10,000 families south of Houston who are in need of living quarters. Clearing and disposing of the debris is a monumental task. Some still don't have power and it has been almost two weeks.

We went to church last Saturday, only the second time in five weeks ... and we never miss. However, the Sunday in Orlando I needed to stay with Ted after his ER visit, the next week we were caught in the Beaumont evacuation. We went to Mass one week and then Ike came and there was no church. When we went last Saturday I felt like the little girl in the book "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret." Except it was me, Donna.

We went to Chili's with Terry, Carol, Jody and Dave Saturday night. Terry & Carol were leaving early in the morning on a 3-week trip so we didn't stay out late. I tried to shop Sunday but the shopping center had no power. You could shop in Target in the dark and pay cash if you wanted.

The beginning of the week was spent trying to determine why Terry & Carol's old house had no water. After conversations with Conroe Water, Conroe Repair, Windsor Lake Sprinklers and a plumber, it was determined they needed a new part in an outside meter. That will come next week and Ted will meet them over there to get that fixed. I also had to get a lot of tests set up for Ted.

Ted had his spine x-ray on Tuesday, his nerve test on Wednesday and we saw Dr. Shedden this morning. He said there is nothing wrong with Ted's spine. The "5th nerve"

The smaller part of the fourth joins with the fifth to form the lumbosacral trunk, which assists in the formation of the sacral plexus

was irritated and that caused the pain and weakness. Since Ted is doing well and down to only taking Tylenol he felt that six weeks of physical therapy three times a week will be enough treatment for now. We were greatly relieved. He did say this could occur again but we pray that it won't. At least there's no surgery in his future and probably no golfing either.

The nerve doctor wanted an x-ray of Ted's shin where he had walked into a picnic table bench the day before his trouble started. It is still numb and they wanted to be sure it didn't have a hair line fracture. No one can say if this incident started the chain of events. So we had to see Dr. Chang for an x-ray prescription. While we were there he did Ted's blood work for his PSA. There was no fracture, just a contusion and his PSA was .8! Hooray, one more thing out of the way.

Our friends Rick and Brenda arrived back from their summer sojourn and we met up with them at Timber Ridge Campground, owned by the same couple that own Rayford. It's a few miles from where we store our RV. We helped them get set up, went to lunch and stayed until early evening before heading home. It's great to have them back in town.

Next week we see Dr. Ertan downtown as a follow-up to the endoscopy done at the end of July. I assume he will discuss the need for surveillance with endoscopies on a regular basis for Ted. We're hoping for once a year. Of course we'll do whatever he says needs to be done.

Happy Autumn to all! Smile it will make people wonder what you're up to.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Texans are "hunkered down" no more

That good old Texas spirit is alive and well all over the southeast portion of Texas. What has been accomplished in one week is astounding. We have a long way to go but Galveston will be back, mark my word.

Terry & Carol asked to come over Wednesday to watch Sarah Palin's interview on TV since their cable was still out so we pooled our food resources and had some dinner and watched the TV. Terry and I killed a bottle of red wine in the process.

On Thursday Ted and I went to find out where his tests stood. Dr. Chang's office at St. Luke's Medical Center was dark, locked and no one answered the phone. The 6th floor had flooded and his office is on the 5th floor. So I went directly to Diagnostic Tests. They gave me some lip about the doctor had to request a copy of the report and I s-l-o-w-l-y explained Dr. Chang was MIA and I wasn't leaving there without a report for Dr. Shedden. Guess who won that one!

Next we went to Dr. Shedden's office because his phone was still not working. We gave them the report and films and they gave us an appointment for Saturday morning. We stopped at Wal-Mart which had no dairy other than milk, no frozen food, no meat and minimal produce. I got one of the last three heads of lettuce. I poked every tomato until I found one that was firm. We invited Terry & Carol back for Part Two of the interview and we once again pooled our food and had excellent chicken salads for dinner. It seems we had both grilled chicken breasts earlier in the week.

Friday Ted took some of our garbage to Terry's house because they were getting theirs picked up. We had missed our pick up day and with emptying the refrigerator we were out of space and won't get service until Tuesday. What we've kept is getting somewhat "ripe" out there in the garage. I spent the day doing laundry. Ted stopped at Sam's and bought a roast chicken so we had that with Stove Top and a salad.

Today we finally got to see Dr. Shedden, almost a month after Ted's ER visit in Florida. Doctor wants a flexion/extension L-spine x-ray and an EMG/NCV nerve test. He is concerned about the weakness in Ted's right leg even though the pain is a whole lot better even without pain pills just ibuprofen. So he's back to being a professional patient for next week with two tests and one doctor appointment scheduled.

Today was the first I've been out and about and was amazed at all the signs, billboards, lettering, etc. missing from businesses. We drove a road in Oak Ridge North and the debris was stacked on both sides of the road so that you felt as if you were in a tunnel. The Woodlands is just that - woods. The debris is "natural stuff" but still needs to be hauled away. Everyone is working diligently and within a week I think this area will be cleared of Mother Nature's housecleaning.

Wish us luck with all the medical stuff next week. Ted is feeling pretty good though I don't think he's up for Disney World or standing in line for water, ice or MREs just yet. Good thing we don't have to.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Then God said "Let There Be Light" and there was light - Genesis 1:3

The lights are on! The answering machine picked up when I made my call to the house this morning. So we packed up and came home.

I don't know if The Woodlands being a highly populated area of Entergy customers, or that The Woodlands Park Department was out immediately removing trees from streets and power lines or that the CEO of Entergy lives here, but we only had to wait four days, not four weeks for our power to come back on.

We enjoyed the little town of Hempstead during our short stay and appreciated the wifi at the library. We had lunch at the Coyote Moon on Tuesday before going to visit LeAnne and Jim in Brenham. We spent the day with them and refused their kind offer of bringing the RV to their house or of just staying in the house with them. The RV was quite comfortable and we were already set up. We all had dinner in town and left quite late to go home.

We are now putting the yard stuff back out, sweeping up pine needles, etc. and trying to figure out what food we can buy and where. Randall's across 242 has no power so there are no perishable items. We don't want to waste fuel driving around so we'll try to learn who has what before we head out. I think we're good for a couple of days especially in the PB&J department. Then there's always tuna ...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Like Ike (Eisenhower campaign slogan) - NOT!!

Friday was pretty boring. Once we got everything ready we just sort of sat and waited. We expected rain and wind to start around 2 or so but when we went to bed at 11, there still was nothing.

The wind and rain started around 3 a.m. Saturday and never let up until the next afternoon. We had about 12 hours of hurricane and tropical storm force winds. At 6:30 a.m. the power went off. The click, click, click of everything going off woke me; Ted’s CPAP machine stopping woke him.

There was nothing to do but watch the trees sway to and fro (fro is better), look at the leaves plastered on the windows and listen to the woo, woo, woo of the wind like a freight train that went nowhere. It stayed in the side yard the whole time. We got about 12 inches of rain, most of it coming sideways.

By late afternoon the rain stopped and we went out to meet our neighbors and assess the damage. Our little court was pretty much spared but Foxbriar Forest Drive was a real mess. Trees blocked the street, houses had roof damage and fences were crushed under the weight of other fallen trees.

Ike came on shore at Galveston (I-45, exit 1) and pretty much followed the interstate all the way north, with the eye passing 20 miles to the east of us (we live two miles from I-45 Exit 79) until Rusk and Palestine where it veered to the northeast. We had three radios, a 5 inch B&W TV, four different lights plus candles and matches. What we didn’t have enough of was ice. The stores were out of ice on Friday and it became apparent early on that what we had was not going to last long. I had minimal things in the refrigerator but the jars of condiments, salad dressings, jellies, etc. that fill the door were going to end up in the garbage. We had bottled water and the grill with a side burner to cook on.

Terry & Carol lost shingles off the house they have for sale and there were a couple of leaks inside. There was also a small leak in their new roof. What was scary for them were the storm sewers clogging up and the water rising to within feet of their front door. Terry and the neighbors had to wade knee deep in water up and down the street to remove debris.

At first we had land line phones but no cell service. Then the land line went down. The next day it came back on and then went down again. I would receive voicemails but was unable to call myself to retrieve them. Every once in awhile my cell would ring. I was unable to call out. I received text messages but couldn’t send them. Once the land line went down I was at Kara’s mercy. She would keep calling my cell until she got through and then would call whomever I asked or retrieved info for me with her other phone.

The most irritating thing was listening to the radio and have them give you phone numbers to call and websites to access. They said this right after telling us that 99% of customers were without power and would be for up to FOUR WEEKS. If I could phone or look online, I wouldn’t have been listening to her on a portable radio!

We cleaned up the branches and leaves from the yard, grilled some hot dogs for dinner and went into the mostly dark house to watch the tiny TV. All that was on was Ike news and after awhile it was just the same thing over and over. No one had any real useful news.

With no A/C and no CPAP for Ted, neither of us slept very well. And it rained another seven inches over night. All the trees that were soaked from Ike, gave way by Saturday morning. So now we had a tree arched over the end of our street. Ted had gone out looking for ice and to check the RV. He cleared under the tree bridge by about two inches when he came home. The storage area electric gate had been hand cranked open so we could get the RV out. Once again Kara called the campgrounds to the west of home and found us a spot in Hempstead, TX, about an hour from home.

We gathered up some clothes and what food we had and took off. While driving west, the damage got less and less and as we came to gas stations with gas, the lines were along the shoulder at least 50 cars deep. We were at Hempstead before we found businesses open.

We set up, turned on the air and I put everything away. Eventually I made meatballs and spaghetti because it was thawed. Ted was happy to have his recliner, a 27 inch color TV to watch football and the A/C running. We have no idea how long we’ll be here. I hope we’re not at the end of that four week prediction.

The devastation to Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula is terrible. Even though there was a mandatory evacuation and buses to take you to shelters, 40% of residents stayed. So the first responders were doing rescues instead of organizing the help that was needed by everyone. I guess mandatory in my dictionary is different from those people.

Ted’s back tests are in limbo. The radiologist didn’t dictate the full report or the transcriptionist didn’t transcribe it all. Either way, our doctor called that to their attention and asked it be complete by the next day. He also told Ted he knew that Dr. Shedden the neurosurgeon was to receive a copy. Well everything has been chaotic since then so we have no idea of just what has been done by whom and when. I have been unable to reach either doctor because of the phone and electricity situation. His back is still bothering him and when his six hours are up for medicine he can feel it is time for another dose. We want to get this taken care of as soon as we can.

I want to thank all who called or tried to call to check on us. We’ve received calls from Greenwich, CT to Portland, OR and spots in between. We are glad to report that the house weathered the storm terrifically and now that we have electric, we’re going to be OK too even if we have to live in the RV for a month.

Here is a picture of the bridge we take south into The Woodlands. It is normally dry and a small creek behind some houses down the street from us empties into it when it does rain. In the middle of the picture are telephone poles that should be high and dry. I was going to take a picture of Ted driving us out under the tree bridge but someone had a chainsaw and had it cut up by the time we left.

Monday morning we received a call from the HitchHiker Wagonmaster and were asked to help them determine the feasibility of having the Rally as scheduled 10/3-10. Since we had a full tank of diesel we took off for Montgomery, TX. Here is a Shell gas station’s canopy that came down. We passed some distribution centers where water, ice and MREs were being given out.

The Rally has been cancelled because Entergy is staged at Haven’s Landing and they expect to be there through the end of October. The workers are sleeping on cots in their rally hall that is air conditioned using a generator. A dining tent for them had also been erected. The campground had no electric or water when we arrived. We met with the Events Manager and then were able to get Delores from HitchHiker on our cell phone and they made the decision to cancel.

We’ve traveled to Shawnee, OK and Sedalia, MO for past HitchHiker Rallies and were so happy this year’s was 15 miles from home. And now it’s cancelled! Next year is Sparta, IL but Delores indicated they would consider Texas for 2010.

Things are getting under control and I hope the national news is reporting that. This is a huge undertaking and there are going to be problems. Some people think the government has a magic wand that will make it all better. If people had evacuated when told to there wouldn't be such horrible conditions in some places right now. Dealing with no electricity is a burden for everyone regardless of what else happened. I heard a woman on TV who did not evacuate Galveston complain NOW that there are no buses to take her out. Why wasn't she on the ones they sent BEFORE the storm. I'm a mean spirited Republican I guess. People make bad decisions and then it's everyone else's duty to fix the problem for them. That makes it hard on everyone else.

We are safe and comfortable, able to use wi-fi at Hempstead's library and have friends who live just a few miles down the road and we are going there for a visit. I thank God for the solution for our situation. But enough with the hurricanes, God, OK?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We May Be In For A Wild Ride From Ike!

Ted was feeling better on Tuesday. The doctor said sometimes the pressure of the dye gives just enough push to the nerves to stop the "pinching" so people get some relief. He went to the bank, post office and grocery. He did the drive thru at the bank, leaned on the counter at the post office and on the cart at the grocery. He only picked up a few things so none of the stops took too long.

After dinner I went to play bunco and I won! It was great to see everyone again after the summer. I didn't get home until 11:00 and we got to bed late.

Ted was still feeling good on Wednesday and went to the gun club. His sister-in-law gave him a rifle scope that belonged to his brother along with some other things. He took his rifle and the new scope to the gun club to get it changed out. He said he didn't shoot but since he was wearing his T-shirt with the padded shoulder (for shooting) I think maybe he was fibbing. I don't want him to overdo it and have that nerve go berserk again.

Dr. Chang called and said the report he received wasn't complete. He arranged for the radiologist to complete it so hopefully today he will have the whole report and can fax it to Dr. Shedden. Good thing Ted is feeling better because once again we need to be patient. After dinner we watched TV with the constant interruptions about Ike.

This morning I received the Exxon Private Service Weather report from a friend whose husband works there. According to them the eye will pass 38 miles from our zip code. We can expect winds from 25-68 mph with gusts up to 92. It will start 1 p.m. Friday and go until 10:00 Saturday night with the worse from 5 to 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Today we'll be busy filling both vehicles with fuel, getting some cash, going to the RV to get our Black & Decker Storm Center, filling the tubs with water and buying a few groceries that don't need refrigeration. We had put all our yard things away for Eduoard and left them inside while we were gone in August. I just put them back out and now I need to bring them in again. I don't understand people who deal with this time and time again.

Wish us luck. If we lose electricity we may hook the RV up after this is all over and find a campground that isn't affected. I've done without electricity and water this summer and I know I don't want to do it for too long at home.

Monday, September 8, 2008

We're Hurricane Magnets, Not Hunters!

After waiting out Eduord, and waiting out Fay, then outrunning Gustav, we thought we were done with the hurricanes. But oh no, here comes Ike heading straight for Texas! I will be glad when 2008 is over. If it could go wrong this year, it did, but we enjoyed ourselves anyway.

Thursday LeAnne called from Rayford. She said Jim was on his way home from the VA dentist and was hungry because he missed lunch. It was 4:00 and we hadn't eaten either so we drove down, picked them up and went to an early dinner. We hadn't seen them since our visit to Brenham in April and it was fun to get caught up, especially about their new granddaughter.

I did laundry on Friday and made a cake for the Seniors' Meeting at church on Saturday. I went by myself to the Seniors' Meeting since Ted was still sleeping. The medication is making him sleep a lot. We headed to Rayford around 4:30 for the potluck dinner. True to our word, we stopped at PitMaster BBQ and bought 3 lbs. of brisket. There were close to 25 people for dinner and the food was great as always.

I guess a lot of them went back to the RVs for a campfire because 8 of us ended up alone in the rally room playing Mexican Train. Ted was in the game room on the couch watching football. I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye to the rest of the group. Don ALWAYS brings firewood, even if it is 104 degrees. So I suspect that is where they went. We were parked by the pool so we didn't see what was going on back in the park.

Ted made it to church, sitting in the back row and having the usher bring the EME to him for communion. He is OK sitting and laying, but standing and walking is just like last time his back went out. When we got home he watched more football and I went shopping.

This morning we went to St. Luke's for an 11 o'clock appointment. At noon they said their imaging machine was being serviced and it would be about an hour. We decided to drive home and go back. They took him in about 2:00 and had to give him some pain relief so he could lay on his stomach. Because of this medicine we had to stay 3 hours after the procedure and didn't get home until 6:00. I have the films to take to Dr. Shedden and we'll get the report from Dr. Chang tomorrow.

Jay called and asked what we planned to do about Ike heading our way. He is taking his RV to Boerne, TX. They live in Dickinson which would get a storm surge and high winds from landfall around Galveston. He is also a law enforcement officer and won't be able to move the RV later on in the week. We have the luxury of waiting for awhile longer to see where it is going. We are also 80 miles inland. With Ted's back, I'm in no hurry to get back out on the road though he did OK driving from Florida.

So now we wait. For test results, for doctors' opinions, for Ike to decide where to hit. There's never a dull moment it seems.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

Our friends at Rayford took such good care of us Sunday and Monday. Besides getting us all set up and the RV and truck washed, they invited us to join them for dinner. I had next to nothing in the RV but I did have two steaks for us. My contribution to the rest of the dinner was two bottles of wine with salt, pepper and butter for the corn. How lame!

The next morning they fixed breakfast tacos and refused my offer of the pound of bacon I had left. Afterwards they helped Ted tear down and we were on our way. I had emptied and cleaned the RV (though Ted did not clean the carpets this time) and all he had to do was back it into its storage spot. The last thing we do is empty the refrigerator and freezer. That's why I had so little in there because I don't want to carry a lot of food home.

We always manage to mess up the kitchen and bedroom with what we bring home and this time was no exception. We didn't have a lot of time because we were invited to Terry & Carol's new house for Labor Day. They had invited three other couples that are friends of ours too and it would be the first time we've seen their new house since they moved in.

The house turned out beautifully and they are pretty settled. Of course pictures aren't hung and there are still some boxes to empty but Carol will soon be able to put her decorative touch throughout the house and she does this so well. The home they just moved from looks like a model home and this one will be no exception.

We had ribs for dinner and they certainly were good. Again I had nothing to bring but a bottle of wine. I started wondering how long I could play this out and keep getting people to feed us! We had a lot of laughs and they all expressed their relief that we were home from all the hurricanes.

Tuesday we went to see Dr. Chang who wrote new anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant and pain pill prescriptions for Ted. He also gave us an order for a mylegram. We went downstairs to St. Luke's Hospital and made an appointment for Thursday. I took Ted home and then went to Walgreen's and the post office to get our month's mail. The rest of the day was spent opening up and shredding credit card offers. If I could stop those and catalogues we would have very little mail to deal with. I had a pork tenderloin in the freezer and cooked dinner for the two of us.

On Wednesday I went to the nail salon for a manicure and pedicure. Afterwards I finally made it to the grocery. It's been awhile since I've totally filled a basket because we live so close to the grocery that I stop frequently. But this time it was to the top. But guess what? We had invited Jay & Stella and Dee & Rick from the campground out to dinner as a thank you for their help and hospitality. Another night of not cooking! Yeah!

St. Luke's had called Ted about his procedure and they had to postpone it from Thursday until Monday because he had been taking ibuprofen. I certainly hope he doesn't backslide without any anti-inflammatory in his system. He's been moving around better, at least in the morning, but I don't know what to expect now.

We ate at Texas Roadhouse on Wednesday night and had a good visit with our friends. There will be lots of Texas Boomers at the campground this weekend but we cancelled our spot. There's no sense aggravating Ted's back and leg. We will go over to visit with LeAnne and Jim and then again on Saturday night for the potluck ... and I will take brisket for the meal. There's a delicate balance here between accepting help and being a freeloader!