All Systems GO!

(an oddly religious post…)

We’ve been waiting for the final approval from our insurance company for Gerry’s transplant.

The way they do things is they give a pre-approval – a guarantee that they’ll cover us being here for testing and all of the preliminary stuff. After the testing is turned in and reviewed by the insurance company, then they either approve or reject the actual procedure.

It’s a frustration – obviously Gerry needs this and we have felt like we’re waiting for someone in a cubicle to give a thumbs up – but it’s how the system works. In our case, our insurance company seemed oddly concerned with certain samples.

When these were finally turned in there was a several day delay, hand wringing, and as of last night we still hadn’t received approval.

Gerry’s been scheduled to start TODAY, so it was with GREAT relief that we heard from insurance that we’re good to go early this morning. Huzzah!

So today Gerry had his first Growth Hormone shot. These do several things; they make the body produce more stem cells (we’re looking for a total harvest of 12 million, but we’ll settle for 10) and they make the bones grow, causing pain in the joints.

The pain’s been described to us as ranging from severe, “I thought I’d go NUTS!” to mild, “I hardly noticed, I just took a tylenol.”

Every person is different. Gerry’s already on Oxy & Hydrocodone for his many bone fractures, so what we may do is just up the hydrocodone for his breakthrough pain.

Wednesday we had a ‘day off’ so we drove up to St. Paul to check in with our contractor. Work is moving along very nicely – things are being framed, the sub-floor is ready to go and everything looks good.

When we saw how little room there was between the new bathroom and dining room wall, we decided to forego our ‘pantry’ cabinets to retain a more open feeling in the kitchen, but we’re adding some overhead cabinetry to cover some of this lost storage.

There are two problems to deal with – not huge, but they have to be resolved.

#1 The plumber said that there is a problem on which the inspector is being very firm, so we’re waiting to hear the solution to this (we need a 2″ pipe where there’s currently a 1-1/2″ pipe – it’s sort of Greek to me…) It involves cutting into a wall and replacing a portion of pipe.

#2 A window has to be resized or moved, not as big a deal as it sounds, but something that became clear when physically marking out the measurements for the appliances. It’s not a huge deal, because getting a different sized window won’t be hard.

I visited the Mayo
myself on Tuesday, met with a pullmonary doctor, and had an excellent time trying to cough into a little cup for a few hours. Gerry has NOTHING on me. Well, maybe not…

So after the visit, and some blood tests, it seems that yes – I am having some breathing problems and as long as I’m going to be around they’d like me to have a pulmonary function test next Tuesday (after a week on the steroids I’m taking – something I usually do about twice a year depending on the weather when my breathing get bad) so we’ll see what broncho-dialator I’ll end up on this time.

To those of you who wrote me about my own small adventure, thanks for your concern!

This was instructional, though, and in a sense was kind of a cool thing to do as a caregiver here at Mayo. It gives me a much better sense of what it might be like – in a very small way – to be in Gerry’s shoes.

After my doc visit Gerry and I drove up to Lake City and had dinner at a very nice place on the lake. Our waitress was wearing one of the Lance Armstrong bracelets and we began chatting. Her son is at the Mayo right now, in this third year of treatment for Lung Cancer, and we had the feeling that his outlook wasn’t as bright as she’d like.

Cancer is odd. Or, rather, the way that cancer – any earth shaking, life shaking experience – can allow folks to open up to each other and understand what’s REALLY important is odd.

Speaking of earth shaking, if you’re in a house that isn’t rocking right now – that’s standing – and you’re safe, think about visiting Save The Children to make a donation to help folks in the middle of a huge natural disaster.

As we chatted with this woman, we felt we’d been lightly adopted – she took extra pains with Gerry’s meal (he ordered the Bison, and loved it!) and several times we all just escaped tears. She told us she has 10 kids. Now 12?

We’ve decided that – with our small appetites these days – the best thing we can do is have one nice meal a day around lunch then have the leftovers for dinner. It’s nice – not a lot of waste, we’re eating less, and we get to have a nice meal out!

She said she’d add Gerry to her prayer list, which was lovely of her (there was an off-duty priest sitting behind us, we felt very well covered) and it made me ponder something that’s been rolling around in my head.

No matter how we view our own spirituality – whether we’re born-again Fundamentalist, Agnostic, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, traditional Cathol
ics or Wikkan – anything, really – we appreciate the connection that prayer – or simple meditation – seems to give us to something great either inside or outside of us.

After all, Heaven is within us.

At first when folks were writing to us, telling us their church group was praying for Gerry, I wasn’t sure how to respond.

We have a Jewish home, I was raised somewhere between Presbyterian & Free Methodist, and have developed (what else?) unorthodox ideas about the concept of god (I’m rather Deist – yep, me and Tom Jefferson)

So usually I just write “Thank you!” and some version of, “Right back at ya!” I didn’t want to get into a situation where I was fending off a witnessing – hurt feelings on either side don’t help anyone, don’t go making me revile you!

But I do want folks to know that no matter where their good thoughts are coming from, we’re happy to have them. My personal belief is that they – the good wishes – all spring from the same place. Where this is, I don’t really know for sure.

But I DO know they’re there.

Maybe inside of this beautiful little glass bone bead, hand made for me by Judy (a local knitter who invited me to her knitting group at Dunn Bros coffee last night) and filled with Hope.

I just love this. Thank you, Judy! And thank you to EVERYONE last night who made Gerry and me feel so welcomed – we both really enjoyed our time together with you!

A good friend from back home wrote me the loveliest note a few weeks ago with this tidbit:

In Hinduism, there is a goddess called Durga. She is the goddess of strength and power and has ten hands (each with a special weapon from other gods) with which she single handedly kills the most powerful demon that had attacked our planet.

She is also a loving wife and caretaker of her family.

I wish you the strength of Durga as you chart your course through this difficult time in your lives. May she give you the strength to overcome your difficulties and may Kali protect you and remove the hurdles in your path.

Which is about the nicest thing anyone’s ever wished for me – for us.

After dinner in Lake City we drove on up to Red Wing so Gerry could see the house that I looked at – and loved – this past Fall.

We ultimately decided against the house for several reasons – being the only Jews in the county among them, think how long it would take to get the kids to Hebrew School!

But I was SO drawn by this house. At the time I thought, “A different time, different circumstances, and this would be the perfect house!” I wrote in my blog at the time that if I could run away with a house, this would be it.

We drove up to the house and were met buy the guy who DID buy it – he moved in 2 months ago – a very nice guy who lives there with his two dogs & wife.

We had the nicest chat about how beautiful the house is, how lucky they are to have it, and how lucky we were to find the right house for us in St. Paul.

We also talked about gardening – this fellow runs a website, The Pallina, where interesting gardening apparel is sold. There is certainly ample space at the Red Wing house – or Morningside as we discovered it’s been known in the past – for some wonderful English-type gardening.

Driving back to Rochester on 58, south of Red Wing, we saw this amusing corn fields – so I stopped the car and shot a few pictures. I don’t know if this was fun to plow and plant, but I hope so – it’s fun to see! It’s like a wave of corn!

We’re trying to take time to stop along the side of the road when we feel like it.

I turned back to the car and was startled to see this. Amusing, no?

It looks like someone is getting a little full of himself. This is the Gerry I fell in love with – it’s good to see him again!

Thank Durga!

When we picked up our mail in St. Paul there was a box of yarn from Tilli TomasI was so swoo
n-inclined that I had to rest when I opened the box – I had the vapors!

It’s as sumptuous in person as it seems in the photo. It’s a new yarn, Plie, which is spun much more tightly than other yarns by TT that I’ve used. Fabulous!

But then I realized that my long-suffering swift, good ol’ Swifty, has probably seen the end of the run. You’ve been a stalwart traveling companion, my umbrella-armed friend, and I’ve been patching you with odd bits of wire for years now. But I’m afraid we’ve reached the end of our time together.

So what to do with all this yarn & no swift? Yes, I used Gerry – but that’s only fun for one skein or so. Then I tried our office chair, but it was cumbersome and hard to get up to speed.

Finally I hit on the best solution – an inverted cone-shaped lampshade with it’s finial loosened. Maybe this is one of the tools that Durga’s been given?

Huzzah, huzzah!

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