Dec 1, 2008

The Shack

I started (and finished in a couple of days) this book a couple of weeks ago and picked it up again last night to read the last two-third's again. It is heavy. Very heavy. Mind-boggling heavy. And I LOVE it. Thanks, Dad, for recommending it. I will post my comments on it after I finish it again. I need to get some things on paper, I think, to grasp even more of its' wisdom.

Oct 18, 2008

The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch

I just watched this lecture, having read the book last week. I happened to pick the book up last month but hadn't opened it until I was talking to a very dear friend who is dying from pancreatic cancer. Dave and his wife, Cheryl, encouraged me to read the book and told me that they'd bought copies for their kids. I highly recommend both the book and the lecture to everyone. There are a few books that I would classify as "life changing." This is one of them.

Aug 15, 2008

Cherlyn's & Bobby's Birthdays

What with the birth of Michael and then being up in Oregon for almost a week, I never had the chance to post anything about their birthdays. That will be my first priority tomorrow!

Michael Update

Just talked to Cherlyn via iChat (thank you, Apple). She looks great and so does Michael. She says he's also acting great. They saw the pediatrician a little yesterday (remember, it's, or just finished being, morning there) and he told them that the cultures were downstairs in the lab and that nothing was growing yet. No idea yet what happened and it could end up being that way. There are several theories including, bacterial infection, apnea episode, acid reflux, and I'm not sure what else. The pediatrician explained that infants aren't able to "compartmentalize" illnesses the way we are. That means that if we have a problem with our lungs, it pretty much keeps to the lungs. With infants, it goes everywhere because their immune systems aren't up to snuff yet. The fact that he's a couple of weeks early could also have an effect on his immune system. The very earliest they would be released would be their Sunday afternoon but not to be at all surprised if it's longer. Rob is spending time with Bobby and doing special things. He explained to him that Michael was sick so Mommy's taking care of him in the hospital. Cherlyn says they're all doing better. They just want to know what happened. Cherlyn was awestruck at how far away, and spread out, the prayers have come from and they are both so appreciative. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Here are a few photos from our chat.

Pray for Little Michael

It's taken me a day to get to this because yesterday was pretty much a "just get through the day" kind of day. Michael stopped breathing and turned blue yesterday morning (Calif time). Was it really just yesterday? Anyway, they called an ambulance and took him to the ER, then admitted him so he's currently in ICU and should be there a couple of days or so. He's doing very well now, eating, crying, sleeping, being awake, and all the other normal stuff. Sounds like you wouldn't even know anything had happened to him by the way he's behaving now. He'd been having indigestion and was fussy before they took him in. Also, Bobby's had a bit of a cough. Cherlyn says Rob has been doing fun stuff with Bobby while she and Michael are at the hospital. As far as I know Cherlyn's the only one who reads this, but if anyone else does, please continue to pray for Michael. We'd like to know what happened and it'd be just wonderful if it was something minor.

Aug 3, 2008

Let me introduce you to . . .

Michael Lawrence Van Etta, born 10:35 am, August 2, 2008 (Japan time), weighing 8 lbs and measuring 19 inches.  They ended up having to do a C-section (after 13+ hours of labor), but he and Cherlyn are both doing fine. She goes home from the hospital today. Bobby is very excited to have a little brother and Rob and Cherlyn, though both exhausted, are very happy Michael is finally here. May the Lord bless them all. Amen.

Aug 1, 2008

This pertains to my post below about sacrifices and such

I really thought I should print a sort of semi-retraction. I didn't end up doing what I thought I would do on the 4th of July. I did the opposite and had a wonderful day. Katie, Emma, and I went to the parade and then the barbecue and just had a great day. It was so much fun seeing so many of the kids I worked with through the years, since everyone seems to come home for Frontier Days. It was very good. That'll teach me, eh?

He's almost here!

Just got the word from Cherlyn and Rob. Cherlyn's been admitted (finally) to Labor and Delivery and Michael should be here today. Our prayers are that this labor does not go the way Bobby's did. Maybe I'll be posting a photo of my new grandson later today!

Jul 3, 2008

Sacrifices for those who don't know sacrifices are made for them

Today's not been a great day. Don't get me wrong. It hasn't been a bad day. It's just been one of those putter around the house and not really have anything to do/wander aimlessly day. Kind of like a day without a purpose. A morose day. I can tell it's close to a holiday because this has become kind of a "regular" feeling for these kinds of days. With the kids gone or off doing their own things and living their own lives on Christmas, mother's day, my birthday, etc., it makes the day kind of a downer. My usual 4th of July has been to ride with Mike patrolling around the parade and then for whatever shift he's on. Right now, though, he has a trainee so my spot in his car is currently taken. My day tomorrow, the 4th of July, a day I always loved, by the way, will consist of hanging out around the house while Mike sleeps off his graveyard. Yes, I could go to the parade . . . if I wanted to go alone. That sounds thrilling. I could go to the rodeo . . . alone. Or the barbecue . . . alone. Get my drift? I could hang out around home alone (or at least with Mike as company downstairs, asleep in bed) where it's comfortable and just putter around or I could go downtown and be with all sorts of lively people having fun with their families. Eh. No thanks. I'll take being home alone. Then, tomorrow night, a night I usually ride with him, I won't be able to. This has all made me think. I sure hope that my 21 years of sacrificing holidays, family dinners, i.e. a normal life, is not going to be extended beyond Mike's retirement. It would be heartbreaking to have had to sacrifice so much (for people and a place that never knew it was being sacrificed for) with the anticipation of finally being able to spend time together only to have that time torn asunder because of the effects of those 21 years of sacrifice. Just doesn't seem fair, does it? So that's my day. My night will be better because I'm going to sit and read magazines I bought several months ago but haven't had the time to read. I'll work a little downstairs, too, which I also haven't done in a while because of Mike sleeping down there during the day. It will be ok. Cherlyn actually cheered me up some by me telling her my woes and laughing and joking about them. Let's face it, if we can't laugh at our woes, we'd just end up crying. I don't want to go around being mopey all day. Things are as they are and we press on, knowing that every so often days like this will pop up. Tomorrow will be fine. Now if i could just get some of that work done downstairs without getting TOO sidetracked . . .

May 8, 2008

Time To Say Goodbye

The pea gravel gave way noisily, slipping and sliding beneath their feet, sounding, to her, like the snap crackle pop of a mouthful of fresh Rice Krispies. Her husband was just behind her as she strode to the front sidewalk, stepping carefully over the curb that her Grandma had once slipped on, past the painted block of wood one of the kids from the old youth group had made for her dad and to the front door, the front door of her childhood, youth and growing up years. "We're here!" she announced, as she opened the door and stepped into the warm front room. Their living room had changed little over the course of the almost 40 years her family had lived in the little house. Sure, the carpet had been upgraded and the furniture was different, but the basic living room was just as it had been when she had first set foot inside this house as a three year old toddler. The knotty pine paneling gave off a cabin-like feel to the little house, while the entire front wall of floor to ceiling picture windows provided the necessary light; a light, right now, that was a soft, late afternoon glow. To the right was the hallway that led to the den, Mom and Dad's bedroom and the bathroom. To the left was the threshold to the dining room, the kitchen and the back bedroom, which was now known as 'Mom's Room.' It didn't matter if she'd last visited 2 weeks ago or a year ago. It was always the same. One step inside this house and she was Home. "Hello? Mom?"

"I'm in here!" a voice called out from the back of the house. Ah, that would be Mom, back in the kitchen cooking something, or maybe in her room, working on projects. They went in and found her sorting out things in her room. "How was the drive?" Mom asked after she'd given both of them a big hug and, I might add, told the husband how handsome he looked and asked how things were at work and if he had enough time off so that he was able to relax at home.

"Good," she said, "only took three and a half hours." This was a special trip that was going to be beneficial in a couple of ways. They were down to attend the anniversary party that was going to be held that night for his parents. Twenty-five years looked very good on them. She was pleased that he'd been able to get the time off work to go. Vacations, even very short ones, were sometimes difficult to manage with his work schedule. There was another reason for this trip and she was going to take care of that first. "I'll be right back. I need to go see Jen." Her husband looked at her with an obvious "I don't know what you are doing or where you are going" look and she walked out the door.

Across the street, in Mr. Hannebaum's old house, lived a young couple. Well, they'd been young when they moved in with their toddler daughter, but she supposed one would not necessarily call them a "young couple" any more. The toddler was now in her early twenties and it was she who was now the object of the visit. She walked across the street and up the driveway to the house hoping that the young woman had been able to help her. It didn't appear that anyone was home and that was somewhat concerning, but she continued on. An envelope was taped to the front door. She opened it up and inside was a note and a very small amount of dried green plant. She opened the note and read, "For a friend in need."

She had never dreamed that she would be going to the neighbor's to buy pot. More than that, though, she had never dreamed that she would need to do that in order to help her Aunt Madelynne. She hadn't known Aunt Madelynne to ever be sick. This was the woman who went white-water rafting for her most recent birthday, her 75th! The closest she ever came to being sick, she remembered, was when Aunt Madelynne was attacked by a dog on one of her morning runs when she was almost sixty years old! This was much worse, though. For six months now they had been getting used to the news. Stage 4 cancer and, the doctors were guessing, she had a year or two left on this earth. Placing the envelope in her pocket, she crossed the street back to the house. "I'm going on over there now. I'll be back in just a bit."

Ten short minutes later she was strolling along the walkways to the little apartment Aunt Madelynne had called home for the last couple of years. She was thinking back over the last few months worth of visits. She'd been trying to get down every couple of weeks or so. Her boss, the principal of the middle school where she worked, had even given her an indefinite leave of absence so that she had time to be with her aunt. Because of that, she was able to visit more often, most often driving down in the mornings, staying for a couple of hours, and then driving back home. It made for a long day but it was worth it.

The last visit, a week or two earlier, had been particularly poignant. "You keep that, Mel. You're helping me go through this stuff and you can have that. I don't think anyone will care. I used to wear it to football games." They were going through her big trunk and Aunt Madelynne was telling her what she wanted done with all of her most important possessions. Or, at least, oldest possessions. "Oh, this is a purse I used to take with me to dances. You can have it, too." She handed over a small needlepoint clutch and it was received graciously. They went through the trunk, item by item, making a list of everything inside and putting names next to each item. "Now, this is done. I have some other boxes in the closet I'd like to go through, too. Is that ok?" Of course it was. It had been a good visit. They'd finished going through everything important enough to write down and felt a sense of accomplishment. Aunt Madelynne had even given her all of her get well cards and asked her to put them in an album for her so she could easily look through them. Of course she would. She would be happy to. She didn't say it, but most of all she felt honored to be asked. It was something to do, some small way to help.

Back in the present, she walked up to the door and knocked. "Aunt Madelynne?" she called through the door. There was no answer so she opened it and stepped in. "Aunt Madelynne?" she called out again. Alarmed, she heard groans coming from the hallway by the bedroom and bathroom. "Aunt Madelynne." This time it was a statement. An announcement that someone was there to help. She moved quickly to the bathroom and the sight she saw chilled her. Her aunt lay on the floor, wedged beneath and between the sink, toilet and tub. She knelt next to her and gently pulled her from where she was wedged. She sat on the ground with her legs in front of her and, leaning against the tub, pulled her aunt to her, resting her so that the older woman could lean back on the younger one. They sat this way for a while, calmly talking, while she tried to figure out a plan to get both she and her aunt up and back into the living room.

She sat there with her for what seemed like an eternity, but which was probably only half or quarter of an hour. "We're going to get you into the living room, Aunt Madelynne, so you can sit down where it's comfortable. Ok?" Her aunt was all too happy to get up off the cold floor and into her nice, comfortable wing chair. She gently pushed her aunt into a sitting position and looked down at her own front. There was a large bloodstain where her aunt's head had rested. Wriggling out from beneath her aunt, she stood up and helped the older woman to her feet shakily. Supporting her, she walked her into the living room and sat her down. "You have a little cut on the back of your head, Aunt Madelynne. I'm going to get you some ice." Fortunately her aunt didn't notice the bloodstain on the front of her niece's denim overalls and crisp white blouse. She got the ice and the towel and gingerly placed it on her aunt's head all the while thinking about how to call her parents and husband back at the house.

It was here, for the one and only time she could ever remember, that her aunt spoke sharply to her. She knew that she didn't mean it and that it wasn't really her aunt speaking, but, for a moment, her feelings were hurt. She knew she needed to be more cautious. She very gently and carefully repositioned the ice pack and her aunt was back to being herself.

Once she settled her aunt comfortably, she called the house and talked to them once, twice, thrice? She lost count. The last time she talked for a while with her husband, answering his questions. "No, I don't know if she lost consciousness. She doesn't know how long, if at all, she was out. She says she was just in the bathroom and then, next thing she knew, she was on the floor. No, she doesn't know how long she was on the floor. It's a good-sized cut. I can't see it very well. It's probably quarter or half dollar sized. Yes, I think someone needs to come over. I think she needs to go to the ER. Uh-huh. Ok. Good. Bye." "Mom and Dad are coming right over, Aunt Madelynne" she said to her aunt as she hung up the phone. "They're leaving now."

Both of them, relieved, now sat and stood, waiting, watching television. The scene then was one she knew she would never forget for as long as she lived. There she was, blood on the front of her overalls, standing behind the wing chair, her aunt seated upon it, holding an ice-filled towel to her aunt's head, watching Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman sing "Time To Say Goodbye" on a television special performance. Was it a divine message or a cruel joke?

More when I'm finished . . .

Jan 21, 2008


There's an awful lot going on so I haven't had much time for writing lately. Mike's ok. He had his angiogram last week and everything looked good. There was no damage, he didn't have a heart attack, his valves, muscle, blood vessels and everything looked good. Yay! That's a relief for all of us. We still have to figure out what's causing the arrhythmia, but he's having a sleep apnea appointment this week so maybe that will answer some questions. Cherlyn's going solo for a couple of weeks while Rob is TDY in Thailand. Katie's looking for a job. India's going to be staying at her aunt's for a while (long story). Those are the highlights. More later. I've been feeling like I'm spinning my wheels lately . . . if only I could get things DONE. Hey, look! A chicken!

Chuckle, chuckle. Ah, 'tis better to laugh at oneself or else one might give up and cry. I prefer to laugh. Here's the picture that's going on our new checks. Most of them are recent . . . at least within the last few months.

Jan 7, 2008

Open Letter Sent A Few Days Ago

January 3, 2008

Hello everyone. As you all know, when we were at Mom and Dad's in November, Mike had an "episode" wherein he ended up in the ER in Stayton. As he told people, he "had symptoms not inconsistent with a heart attack." After that happened, he started having "flutterings" in his heart. He's having fewer now but they're still there. As a result of it all, he's had a number of tests including wearing a 24 hour monitor, numerous EKGs, a nuclear stress test, and, most recently, an echocardiogram.

The monitor showed premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). That's when your heart sort of "skips" a beat. It's actually an extra beat that jumps in. He had about 300 or so in 24 hours but they don't get concerned unless it's in the thousands so that was ok. His stress test showed normal except that they thought he might have some heart wall thickening but couldn't really tell since the stress test isn't designed to diagnose that. The cardiologist also noticed an area at the bottom of his heart that didn't appear to be getting any blood but that was attributed to his diaphragm being in the way so that the heart wasn't being photographed well. EKGs always came out normal, too. The tech doing the echo had already told us that everything she measured fell within normal parameters. She was mainly looking at the heart wall to see if there was indeed any thickening. There wasn't. She also said that the valves looked good and were within normal range.

The doc's office (regular doc) called a couple of days ago because they wanted to talk about the echo because they said that there was some "mildly elevated pulmonary artery pressure." She stressed that it was mild and nothing to be concerned about. We had our appointment with his regular doctor today (an absolute genius and someone we trust absolutely) to talk about the echo results. He told us that the valves looked good and that's a really good thing. He also said that his heart is pumping at 60%, which is good. They want it to be anything over 50%. He said that there wasn't any thickening of the heart wall. But, he said, and "buts" aren't always good, there appeared to be some damage at the bottom of his heart. The area that didn't show up well on his stress test turned out to not be a case of not being photographed well. It was photographed just fine. The reason it didn't show any blood flow to the area was because there isn't any because it's been damaged. I believe he said that there was scarring, but I don't really remember. There was a lot of information passed around. He stressed that his heart is still pumping the way it's supposed to be and that's a good thing. He said that it appeared that Mike had a heart attack at some point. I asked if that's what the episode in November could have been and it now appears that it was. He said that what they try to do is to rule out all of the possible explanations for something to try to get to what the something might really be. At this point, they've ruled out just about everything else and all of this "circumstantial evidence" meshes perfectly with the explanation of a heart attack. The arrhythmia that he's having now would be a result of the episode. He said that a heart catheterization would conclusively show the damage as well as showing exactly what his pulmonary pressure is. The echo put it at 45. The doctor said he's not terribly concerned unless it hits 50. As we were talking, his doctor made some notes of 6 points to address. They are:

1. Did he have a heart attack?
2. Is the pulmonary hypertension for real?
3. Should he have cardiac catheter?
4. Restart aspirin, 162mg (2 baby)
5. Assuming heart attack, want LDL down from 110 to 70 - start Zocor
6. Should he be on beta blocker?

1 and 2 will be answered by 3, which he thinks he should have, but will leave it up to cardiologist. 6 he will also leave up to the cardiologist. Mike asked him if this was something he wanted to take care of himself or did he want the cardiologist to do it and the doc said that this would be the time his mentor would tell him was the time to "share the glory." He very much wants the cardiologist's opinions. We have an appointment on the 14th with the cardiologist and then back to his doctor on the 15th for more discussion.

He told Mike he knew he was concerned about his job and Mike reiterated that he wasn't ready to stop it. The doctor agreed and again stressed that his heart is working the way it's supposed to, that there's just a small area of damage. He said that the important thing was to start the zocor and aspirin today. Once the LDL is 70 and below, the zocor actually dissolves any plaque that may be there. If there is a blockage, the catheterization will show it. My guess is that if there is, a stent would be want they would do. This is what medline plus says about stents:

Angioplasty is performed in a special part of the hospital called a cardiac catheterization laboratory ("cath lab"). Angioplasty may involve the placement of a small wire device called a "stent," and the procedure is sometimes called "percutaneous coronary intervention," or PCI. A stent is shaped somewhat like the spring of a ballpoint pen and may be inserted into the artery to help it remain open after the clot is removed.

You can read about cardiac catheterization here:

I asked the doctor why the enzyme test, which is supposed to be 100% accurate, didn't show a heart attack. He said that there were two schools of thought on the enzyme tests. One is to do one blood draw after a suspected heart attack and call it good. The other is to do a draw and then wait a little bit and do a second. He said that it can take a little while for the enzymes to show up. Mike told him his test was about 45 minutes after the episode and the doctor thinks if they'd done it a second time, it would have shown increased enzymes. I just found this on medline plus:

CPK-2 levels rise 3 - 6 hours after a heart attack. If there is no further damage to the heart muscle, the level peaks at 12 - 24 hours and returns to normal 12 - 48 hours after tissue death. CPK-2 levels do not usually rise with chest pain caused by angina, pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung), or congestive heart failure.
Apparently, they should have waited a while before they did the enzyme test. I don't think we were even in the ER for 3 hours. Sheesh. Seems like that's pretty basic information.

I know I've left some of the stuff we talked about out, but that's because my mind is too full right now. Oh. I did ask our doc about the advisability of Mike being awake for 24-36 hours at a stretch. He'd been up since yesterday morning. The doctor said that it was NOT advisable. I also asked about our new exercise bike that we got for his knees and if he could use it and he said that it was ok. He stressed that the pumping wasn't damaged and that his heart was working well. Mike asked if this (having one event) made him more likely to have a second attack and that was answered in the affirmative.

Mike's going to try the Zocor for a couple of months to see how it works. It works for 8 hours. You take it when you go to bed, which is when your body makes cholesterol. Since his schedule isn't exactly what you call normal, the doctor couldn't guarantee when his cholesterol is made. Also, since he switches schedules every three months, it may not work out. We'll have to see how he does with it. Lipitor would be the next one they'd try.

Jan 2, 2008

New Year

"What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms, what a blessed mix, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms. Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarm, leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms."

I love the start of a new year. It's a time to start over, to not worry about what didn't get done the year before. I can let it all go and start from scratch. My mind is whirring with all of the things I want to do. Topping the list is our bedroom.

"When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul. It is well, it is well, it is well, it is well, it is well, it is well with my soul. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!"

Not only do I get to begin anew, I get to begin anew with Mike on days. That's normally not a shift we prefer, but when it's 12 hours of graves or 12 hours of days, I prefer the days. It means that I can work in our bedroom and get it to looking like a bedroom again, as opposed to a storage room with a bed.

"On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame; and I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown."

The new year was ushered in rather quietly with me riding with Mike until 1 am or so. The snap, crackle and pop of the fireworks resonating across town was the only "excitement" which is ok by me. I don't even think they got a deuce, it was fairly quiet. Not bad for 6 hours of OT.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; there is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not; As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be. Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

2008 promises to be a year full of change. There's an excellent chance that Katie and Emma will be moving out. It all hinges on Katie being hired as a dispatcher by the PD. She scored well on the initial test and her oral is scheduled for the 11th. If all goes well, she could start there in March or so . . . maybe even February. India turns 18 at the end of March and she's already saying that she's moving then. It would not surprise me in the least if she wants to go live with her aunt. I just want to see her graduate and then I can relax a little. We could conceivably have an empty house come April!

2008 could very well be The Year of Adjusting.

More a little later on Mom's Guide to Dating or What I've Tried To Teach My Three Daughters About Picking A Good Man Based On What I Learned The Hard Way.
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