Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Never Thought . . .

I never thought I'd be using terms like neurologist and cardiologist or life expentancy subjects with my 48 year old son and be talking about him.

Paul was born strong; he walked early, pulled himself up before other children; played viorously and then graduated to sports where he gave 110% encountering various injuries along the way. He was great in baseball and basketball and, while he wasn't really interested in football, gave that a try too. He was a healthy baby and even though he suffered various injuries during his rough play and sports years, he was always healthy and strong. He was a good worker and loved his job.

In June 2008, Paul contracted, if that's the right word, a disease called Legionnaires Disease. I didn't know much about this disease except that it was first detected and named when a group of Legionnaires attended a 1976 convention in Philadelphia and suddenly came down with a malady. There were many attendees who became very ill and some who died, so it made the news for quite some time.

When Paul was hospitalized and then diagnosed with LD he was away with friends and his two youngest children on a camping trip. They were about 100 miles from home up in the mountains of Pennsylvania. He was rushed to the nearest hospital and, of course, at that time the diagnosis hadn't been made. He was put on life-support and remained there for eleven days. I was 1200 miles away and had to rely on his two sisters and the hospital staff for daily updates. The staff at the hospital was exceptionally good in explaining things to me. As they put it, "LD is like the worst case of pneumonia possible." Clear, but not too encouraging. Later, after he was off life-support, I Googled Legionnaires Disease and found some pretty startling statistics, such as the death rate for those hospitalized with this disease is 50%. I'm glad I didn't Google while he was still on life-support.

This disease is caused by bacteria which grow in warm, wet places like hot water tanks and air-conditioning systems. He had a window air-conditioner in his bedroom however, we have no proof as to whether that was the source or not. No other family member contracted the disease and none of the other campers were or became sick.

After the hospital stay, which revealed some other problems such as he had a small stroke although it wasn't clear whether this happened prior to or during the onset of the disease, or while on life-support.

His recovery has been slow, he is no longer strong, he has terrible headached and he is always tired. Paul also had back surgery prior to this incident and while that was a recurring problem, it was manageable before this latest incident. He has been told, and understands, he will never work again. That, in itself, is a discouraging outlook for a man his age and certainly nothing a parent wants to hear.

These continuing symptoms have sent him to his doctor time and time again and it was he who finally recommended Paul see a neurologist. Since then there have been tests after tests over the past year and a half and yesterday when he called me he said, "Mom, the neurologist wants me to see a cardiologist. He thinks that because of some of the test results there may be blockage in my heart and there may have been another stroke. He's not sure. I'll let you know when the next test is scheduled."

It was a shock to hear these words but being the consummate Mother and optimist, I gave him the Mom's positive outlook speech. "We'll continue to pray, Paul. It will be okay, you have good doctors."

Then he said, "Well, I told the neurologist I'll do anything they order but I want to live to see my kids graduate from high school." That knocked a big hole in my positive reaction but I said nothing negative. I will continue to pray, that's all I can do.

Paul has five children, three of his own and two he adopted; his eldest, Andrew is married and has a boy and two step-daughters. One of Paul's adopted daughters has a little girl so Paul is a grandfather to two. His youngest children, a boy and a girl are 12 and 8. When he told me he wanted to live until the kids have graduated high school my heart shrank but what can I do but be supportive and pray for him.

A mother's heart can take a lot but sometimes there are things . . .I never thought . . .

Monday, October 25, 2010

Something Wonderful

Well, there are hardly words to describe my feelings for the past weekend. I attended my second Florida Writers Conference in Orlando, Florida and it was even better than the first one, something I just didn't think could be topped.

For only two and a half days, we sure packed a lot into that time. Workshops that really meant something, events that mixed us together like a giant stew of talent and creativity spiced with huge dollop of camaraderie; the time flew by. The workshops were interesting, helpful and delivered with a sincerity and expertise hard to top. The accommodations were exceptional, the staff excellent and the FWA folks awesome. Their organizational skills were very evident when event after event flowed with a pace that was perfect. This time I met old friends and made new ones. And the best part…it was fun, fun, fun from beginning to end.

Even with a broken foot I enjoyed every minute. Of course, that was only because my dear friend Lynn provided transportation to and from Orlando; pushed the wheelchair the hotel provided for me; fetched and gathered what I couldn't reach and generally saw that I was able to get from place to place. Therefore, I didn't miss a thing and was even able to participate. There was an overwhelming feeling of being in the right place at the right time with the right people. What a conglomeration of talent to be a part of! I thought last year's couldn't be topped but this one did and I'm already looking forward to next year.

One special bonus to the occasion was meeting with my publisher,Rebecca Melvin. I met Rebecca last year. It was a chance meeting and we seemed to often be crossing paths. It was shortly after the conference that she selected my manuscript Forgiven for publication; the book will be released in November and I am so excited I can't describe my feelings but elation comes to mind. Rebecca was at the conference again this year. This time I got to meet her husband, Neil, and renew my friendship with her mother, Martha. The trio are more than delightful and I was so pleased with the time we shared, even if it was snatched between events. But, having dinner with them on Friday evening was like the whipped cream and cherry on the top of the sundae.

The list of events and happenings seemed endless yet they flowed, one after the other. This year's FWA collection, Slices of Life, was finally unveiled for the participants and the joint book signings were such fun and again, an opportunity to meet new authors and renew friendships with those from last year.

I guess there are good things and then there are GOOD THINGS and this weekend was surely in that latter category. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this awesome time tomorrow. This first day home was a bit gruelling but tomorrow beckons and I'll be back.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 21, 2010

This has been an interesting day, not that many of my days are dull. But sometimes, as one of my teachers once said while trying to make the point that overdoing something can be as harmful as underdoing something. He said, "It's like trying to put ten pounds of sugar in a five pound sack."

Since my transportation is still provided by the lovely people in my community, I went to the foot doctor this morning with the help of my friend Ginna. It's not only driving from home to office, it's loading the dreaded wheeled walker into trunk or back seat at home, then out at the office, then back into the car and out when we get home. But, these friends do this willingly. Then in the afternoon because I'm going away to the conference tomorrow, I went to get my hair cut and styled. Another friend provided the transportation and this time Sharon took the honor. Again with the walker and then on to Wal-Mart's to pick up prescriptions for both Lenny and me, then a quick trip around the grocery portion of the huge store in one of those electric carts. I'm getting good at that, only toppled one display case to date and that was weeks ago. Sharon, dear girl, walked with me with the walker because if she didn't she'd have had to take it out to the car, go get it when I was finished shopping and that meant at least two more times of in and out of the car with the walker. This kind of friendship is immeasurable.

The good news of the day was that the doctor is 'pleased' and if he's pleased shouldn't I be? Of course, he did say the dreaded boot will remain with me for another 4 weeks, at least. Well, guess I'm glad that things are moving forward although at the speed of a snail on tranquillizers.

I've packed and you don't realize how nice it is to move easily until you can't. Seemed to take an inordinate number of trips back and forth but the suitcase is packed, the suitcase carrying 30 of my books for the conference book store has made it to the back seat of our car so that in the morning (4:25 a.m.) my friend Lynn and I will only have to more that mountain from my car to hers.

So if you look carefully you can see the rosy side of today. I got good news from the doctor, I went to the beauty shop, I picked up the much needed prescriptions and got in a few groceries to hold my husband over the three days I'll be away. And the best good news message of all - - - -I have wonderful friends.

Tomorrow we're off to the Writer's Conference. I'm as excited as can be. Won't be able to post for three days but when I can it should be full of all kinds of good news.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

About Me

I can't believe it's been so many months since I added anything to my blog. Forgive me! There are things that happen and perhaps I can use some of them as an excuse although I really don't like excuses.

I told you about the health problems earlier this year. Well, they continue and I'm not going into all the details but I will bring you up-to-date on the latest. Sixteen days ago I fractured a bone in my right ankle and two in my right foot. I think I have the nastiest feet in the world. Not so much what they look like, although I'd never be picked out of a crowd of feet to be a 'foot model'. They were functional with a bit pain here and there which you kind of get used to; they have been in a painful condition for years and at this time are riddled with arthritis. Not the most interesting subject, right? Of course it had to be my right foot and so for the time-being I can't drive. Being the only driver in the family (the kids are scattered thither and yon [I always wanted to use that phrase]) and my husband hasn't driven in 6 years due to medical conditions, it makes for some interesting getting around. Thank God I have wonderful friends who have volunteered to provide transportation when needed. Now for the good news.

As most of you know, I've been an author for several years. During that time I was never able to get through to an agent, editor or publisher so, being the optimistic soul I am, I published ten books myself always hoping to find that elusive publisher. Last year at the Florida Writers Conference in October 2009 I met Rebecca Melvin of Double Edge Publishing. A Christian publisher who accepted my latest book, Forgiven. I was so excited and the excitement hasn't lessened. She is wonderful to work with, fair, honest and oh-so-helpful. Forgiven will be released in November of this year! I feel as if I should use capital letters for that sentence.

So I've been busy with editing, arranging for promotional help for Double Edge and doing whatever I can to make this the truly exciting, magnificent event of a lifetime. I can't wait to hold the finished project in my hands.

Of course, being the prolific writer I am, I've also been working on the next book. I have about 20 chapters finished but this latest setback (the broken foot) has sapped a lot of time from my days and strength from my body. Still I know that with God's help and encouragement, I will finish this book too.

Let's see what else is new? One of my poems(I don't write many) was accepted for publication in the Fall Issue of the Pen Women, a quarterly magazine sponsored by the National League of American Pen Women. A nice recognition and if I can figure out how to add poetry to my blog, I'll so so. So far the mechanics elude me.

I was asked to teach another creative writing course at South Florida Community College which was to have begun yesterday. Of course, being disadvantaged at the moment we had to postpone that to January when, hopefully, all the parts are back where they should be. I still chair the weekly writer's critique group at Avon Park Library every Friday, I attend as many Florida Writers Association local meetings as I can. I've recently given several speeches but those for next month are iffy unless I can get transportation but all that can be handled, I'm sure. See, I told you I was the eternal optimist.

I am making a promise to myself to write on this blog much more often and hope that some of my faithful blogers will continue to visit. In spite of it all, I consider myself to be one of the luckiest, blessed women. I'm where I want to be; I'm with whom I want to be (Lenny) and I'm doing what I love to do and what I've wanted to do for most of my life (writing). What more could I ask? See you soon, promise.