Saturday, July 8, 2017

Early Summer Happenings 2017

Sometimes life catches me in its tide, and I just have to go with it.

LE in burgundy is one of the society ladies in "Pollyanna"

Joe's first spring recital.  I just love to listen to all of the kids play.

The younger kids finished school at the end of May.  There were music recitals at school and two for Joe's violin group.  There was a play that LE was in.  There was a graduation ceremony that both kids played instruments in (Joe on violin and drums).  The school also had a spring concert in which both kids played solos, and LE sang a solo.

JJ in middle hamming it up as the youth group gets ready to head to Florida

JJ finished 11th grade, went to CamPossible as a volunteer and is just returning from a week in Florida with her youth group today.  In another week she may go to high school camp at Camp MennoHaven.  In August she will be a Leader in Training at Camp Oasis in Wisconsin.  She wants to try public high school for her 12th grade year, which will be a wild transition with all her health issues, especially since she has never experienced normal public high school.

CC came home from Bluffton University and is experiencing her own set of health issues.  I think they are getting in better control, but she has seen three specialists (gyne, cardiology and neurology).  We have ruled out seizures with a 5 day inpatient EEG ($30,000!).  We have found help with her horrible periods with hormone therapy she can tolerate.  We have found a medication that takes care of her chronic daily headaches.  She is still having a lot of anxiety issues and dysautonomia symptoms.She is doing physical therapy, which hopefully will help her back pain.

I'm second from the right with the scissors.
Joe and LE with a friend at Walnut Days showing off their balloon creations.

On June 19, we opened the Perry Memorial Walnut Clinic.  That has been an exciting adventure!  Last weekend, July 1, we had an open house, grand opening and parade complete with ribbon cutting  ceremony that went along with Walnut Days.  The community seems very pleased to have us there.

LE and Joe with DH after fishing contest.
LE won largest fish overall for the girls and largest catfish in her age category

On Monday, July 10, we will close on the house that we are buying.  We've been living in a pretty primitive cabin in some woods.  There is one window air conditioner and wood floors, walls and ceilings.  It is dark (which helps it stay cool, but is hard on the girls with depressive tendencies).  There is a large hole (5 inches across) that leads to the crawl space and if we don't cover it with the litter box, big spiders make their way into our home at night.  Don't get me wrong, however, I am really grateful to have a place to live since we had to leave the camp we've been helping to staff at the beginning of the summer to make room for the new facilities director and his family and other summer staff.  Our new house wasn't available yet and we otherwise would have found ourselves homeless.

This is the agreement DH had to read over and sign for his C-Pap machine!

Speaking of such things, DH is done at camp now.  It was determined this spring that he would never be released from restrictions on his ankle to be able to do his job as facilities director.  He gracefully bowed out.  He went before a legal advocate (acting like a judge) on the worker's comp claim that they were trying to settle out of court.  The advocate didn't feel like the insurance company was giving DH a fair deal, so he refused to sign it.  He encouraged Tim to get a lawyer who can help get at least future medical coverage for when the ankle replacement needs to be redone in 10-15 years.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Navy Pier trip to see Romeo and Juliet with Eliana

Eliana's junior high from Princeton Christian Academy took a trip to Navy Pier in Chicago to see Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.  We took a train from Princeton to Chicago, then rode a bus to the Navy Pier.  After the show Eliana and I hung out with some of her friends and rode the giant ferris wheel and ate Chicago style deep dish pizza - yum!  It was a fantastic trip and the show was amazing!

Illinois Valley Honor Band

Elli was chosen as one of three from her school to be a part of the area wide junior high honor band.  She was thrilled to be chosen.  They went on two separate occasions.  The first was an evening to practice together.  The next was to actually perform for us.  It was a great experience for her.

On the right is her teacher, Mrs. Dawn Marshall

Tim's Recovery and Prayers about What's Next

Tim has been trying his hand at making knives.
In this picture he is doing a method of patina which
decorates the blade with a design which causes a protective
oxidation that also prohibits bad rust.
Tim finally finished the last day of his work conditioning yesterday.  He has been lifting heavy boxes, carrying 80 lb beams, walking on treadmill, riding an exercise bike, using a stair stepper, riding an arm bike, lifting weights, carrying 5 gallon buckets around the room, pushing and pulling a loaded sled around, going up and down a step-ladder, shoveling fake snow, stretching, working on balance apparatuses, stretching and undergoing manual joint manipulation.  Oh, and he said he had to operate a remote (LOL!)
The kids joined a group from our church at some friends' house
for making valentines in February.

His ankle doctor has released him back to work by increments.  In about 5 weeks he will be able to work full time.  Right now he is supposed to work 4 hours a day, then in another week, he'd be allowed to work 6 hours a week.  Finally two weeks after that, he could work full time (8 hour days).  Unfortunately, the director of the camp he worked at is gone on sabbatical and won't be back for another 2 weeks.  Another person is doing Tim's job in the interim of his leave (since last August).  We don't really know if he will have a job now or if this other person will be better suited to the job and replace him permanently.  The boss has been forbidden to talk to Tim about anything work related due to his worker's comp restrictions.  This has been very awkward for us and them.  Tim hasn't talked to him about what the future holds for us for months.

This possum was sitting on a log near the driveway to Camp
Menno Haven in February.  He just sat there and stared and let
us take picture.  Sorry for the blurriness.  It was taken on my
phone with a zoom.

This muskrat decided to walk along the sidewalk in Sterling
right in front of my car when I started home from work on a
weekend day at Ready Care.  I wasn't sure what this oversized
rodent was when I first saw it!

We've been wondering what God has for us next, of course.  Will it be here?  We do want to stay in the area.  We've looked at houses around us, but can't make an offer unless we know for sure we have to move.  We've seen some houses we liked be sold out from under us.  We've considered moving to Plow Creek again.  That is an intentional Christian community not far from here where we lived in the early 2000s.  That community is in limbo now.  They are considering closing their doors, but that hasn't been decided for sure.  There is still a core group of people who are interested in reviving/reinventing it, and we are considering being a part of that.  Lots of things to pray about!

At the Flour House in Princeton

Ciara home for spring break. 
We are enjoying some time at the Flour House in Princeton.

Our friends had an accident that we came upon on our way home from Princeton
on another day.  Thankfully, no one was seriously injured.

My new employer, Perry Memorial Hospital, put on a
community educational event a couple weeks ago.

My nephew Cannon, in the middle, is fighting a rare form of sarcoma.
Posing with him is his brother Matthew and sister Melissa.
Please pray for his full recovery and the cancer to die!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Tim and I having a date at the Flour House in Princeton.
  I love the ambiance of this little bakery/coffee shop.
My dear JJ.  Pray that 2017 will be her year for healing and
getting her life back.

2016 started on the heels of a rough fall 2015 with

JJ's health issues going sour and three hospitalizations.  She crashed in April on all fields - GI pain, depression, seizures and spent 9 days in another hospital scenario.  We seem to have gotten into a vortex that we can't seem to pull out of and move forward with her.  I kept her home this year to keep the stress at a minimum.  She gained weight up to 125 lbs and grew another 3/4 inch, much to her delight.  In the fall she started sliding backwards again - the seizures returned over the past 2-3 months on a weekly basis.  We tried another seizure medicine but couldn't get past the lowest dose due to severe depression, suicidal feelings, abdominal pain and weight loss.  She still is slipping down on her weight and is down to about 114 again.  It is very discouraging.  We are frustrated with her current GI, who never seems to offer much hope of improvement and doesn't really try anything new either.  We have started at another GI's office, and have been waiting 2 weeks since our visit to have all her other records gathered and reviewed.  Our current GI seems to look at her through Crohn's glasses only, look at her labs and past scopes, and say, "oh looks like her Crohn's is in remission" and then don't try to figure out what the problem is.  My biggest pet peeve is the diagnosis IBS.  It really is a catch-all for "I don't know what the heck is wrong, so I'm just going to throw antispasmotics her way and hope she gets better."  We've tried all the traditional IBS meds, but most of them increase her seizure activity.  Their answer for her weight loss and rectal pain was a painful rectal ultrasound, in spite of her abnormal MRI, and not only that, but they wanted me to figure out who could do it.  I've given up hope that the original GI will ever move forward with her. In January she will see a new neurologist as well, since she's pretty much blown through anything the current neurologist feels she can offer.

CC, LE, me, JoJo, JJ
CC finished her first semester with high standing - As and Bs.  She is feeling much better about school.  She isn't having as much back pain, but seems tired all the time.  We took her to the doctor over Christmas break and found some things out of whack, and have made a few changes in her medications.  Hopefully this makes a great improvement in her life.  On New Year's Eve, she ended the year with a bang, literally, when she was involved in a motor vehicle accident which totaled our beater van.  Fortunately only her pride was hurt.

LE is on the right between cheers.  Isn't she cute?

LE had a great semester overall.  Her grades are outstanding - the best I've seen for her. She is making friends, was a cheerleader for boys basketball, continued her flute at school and with Music Suite 408.  Just before Christmas break, she found out that she was invited to be in the area wide Junior High Honor Band.  She had many concerts this fall and Christmastime and was in a school wide Christmas musical with a solo part.  She has grown so much in her flute skills and actually thanked me for making her keep with it.

Celebrating JoJo's 10th birthday in November.

JoJo is thriving at Princeton Christian Academy as well.  This semester he was involved with basketball, which was a very good thing.  I loved the coaches and the whole atmosphere of it at PCA.  Joe is also busy with his violin and has started doing percussion with his school band.
Tim had his second surgery in September, a total ankle replacement.  He is now out of his boot and walking unassisted, but he is still having a lot of pain in his foot.  He does therapy 3 times a week.  They said that he should be able to do light duty in February.  I hope that his foot stops hurting by then.  They also said he'd be back to full duty in April.  We are waiting for a call from a place that does orthotics so that he can get some, but there seems to be a hold up due to the holidays.  We're hoping that these help with his foot pain.  In the picture to the left, he is eating at a the Naf Naf Grill in Orland Park during one of our trips to see his surgeon.  He really enjoyed this.

We lit the Hanukkah candles this year.  It is a small thing, but reminds us God has things under control and He is our light when the world is a dark place.  This Moses bush on the right also reminds me of God shining hope in my life when things are overwhelmingly dark.

Tim's father passed away peacefully just before Thanksgiving.  We were able to see all of the Gales and many other family friends that week.  Christmas day was spent peacefully with Tim's mother and a local friend we invited to share it with us.  Randy has been very good to reach out to Tim during his convalescence.

One last mention before I close, is that two close family members were diagnosed with cancer this year.  My 48 year old sister in law was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemo and radiation and surgery.  My 19 year old nephew was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma over Christmas break.  He underwent surgery just before Christmas and is suffering as he waits to see the oncologist for further treatment and answers this month.

Tim's dad passed away just before Thanksgiving. 
Here is a picture of all the Gale cousins gathering for Thanksgiving. 
Being near family in times like this is wonderful.