Sunday, November 25, 2012

We’re in Santa Clara, CA

11/25/12                                                                                                                                         Chuck’s report

We are still in the Bay area, things could be worse as we are able to spend time with our daughter and grand daughter.  Lorraine is really loving the quality time she is spending with Kaitlyn and vice versa, they have so much fun.

Once again Lorraine is not writing her report.  She still is having trouble putting/writing the correct words and she is playing with Kaitlyn now anyway. 

We’ve started with the doctor visits here and as expected, things are going slowly.  I was scheduled for a pulmonary function test on Monday, basically they put me in a glass enclosure about the shape and size of a phone booth.  They then have me blow into a machine that tests how well my lungs are working then redo the same tests after I use an inhaler.  Of course, I can’t get the results from the tech running the test but have to wait until I see the doctor next month. 

Then on Tuesday we had to drive about 50 miles to a different VA office and pick up a machine that I would wear overnight to conduct a sleep study.  It tests my oxygen level, heart rate, breathing rate and carbon dioxide level while sleeping.  The tech gave me instructions on how to hook it up and told me to return it the next morning so he could issue it out again that night. 

Later that afternoon we saw Lorraine’s new doctor for the first time.  He checked her over, ran some tests but mostly just listened to her medical history and asked questions.  He said he wanted her to see three different therapy folks, physical, occupational and speech.  With this being Thanksgiving week, we didn’t figure to hear from any of them until next week.  But Lorraine did feel comfortable with this new doctor and they agreed that he would be her primary doctor in this area. 

Wednesday Kaitlyn didn’t have school so we picked her up from her mom’s about 9 and drove over to return the sleep study machine.  There was a wreck on the road which caused a huge traffic jam, we must have taken 45 minutes to travel two miles.  We don’t know the area well enough to take a different route so we just stuck with the freeway.  It was over an hour before we finally got to where the traffic was flowing better.

It only took a few minutes to return the machine and once again the tech told me I wouldn’t hear anything until I saw my doctor next month.  That is, unless there was some problem then the doctor who read the results would call me. 

This VA center is in a nice country setting and there are signs to not feed the wild turkeys.  We drove around a bit and soon found some wild turkeys, lots of them.  They were spread out with some right alongside the road, others across the field and still others in a different area.  We parked the car and got out to see if we could get closer.  Kaitlyn wanted to get closer still and finally the turkeys started running away.  Kaitlyn started chasing them and soon they were across the field, faster than this old man could keep up.  I told her the turkeys didn’t want to end up as our Thanksgiving dinner, that’s why they were running away.  She informed me that turkeys didn’t know it was Thanksgiving.  She had lots of fun chasing those things around. 

A couple of hours later I got a call from the doctor who read the results of my sleep study.  I was surprised because the tech said I wouldn’t hear from anyone.  Anyway, the doc said I failed the test, I have sleep apnea which was no big surprise.  What was surprising to me was there are three types of sleep apnea, central, obstructive and a combination of the two.  I have the combo type, apparently pretty severe.  Central sleep apnea, as I understand, means the brain doesn’t tell the body to take a breath while sleeping and is more of a problem while obstructive is more common and means the airway is constricted when I try to take a breath. 

Anyway, the doctor wanted me to know there was a problem and said he would contact me later with more information.  About an hour later he called back and said he is setting me up for a complete sleep study workup at Stanford University.  We don’t have a date for that yet but he said he will push for an earlier vs. later date.  This may be part of the shortness of breath I’ve been having but they will check that out to be sure. 

In between these calls, we got a call from the physical therapist for Lorraine.  He wanted to come to our place to evaluate her and complete paperwork on Friday morning.  Lorraine wanted to do some Black Friday shopping but I told her I thought it was more important to start the therapy so we made the decision to meet with the therapist then she and Susy could do some shopping later in the day.  

Thanksgiving we spent the morning around the coach with Kaitlyn and Susy then met Mark for dinner at Black Angus.  We’ve done that for the past five years and find those who want can get a full turkey dinner and others can get steak or seafood, so something for everyone.  And the place is packed every year so we aren’t the only ones who do this.  We had a good dinner and a good time. 

Friday morning the therapist got here at 9:30, right on schedule.  He had a 20 page form that had to be filled out plus a bunch of other paperwork for insurance and such.  He then checked Lorraine’s strength, movement and muscle control.  His determination was that she would benefit with some therapy from him, between 4 and 6 sessions over the next two weeks.   

He said the paperwork they filled out will work for the occupational and speech therapists and they will be calling her to set up appointments too.   We expect both of them will want to have more sessions her, especially the speech therapist.  But they haven’t called yet for their first evaluation appointment so we’ll see. 

Susy has been having a time with pain in her back for the last couple of years.  She had a MRI last year that shows she has some damage to two disks in her neck.  She had another MRI last Friday and because it didn’t heal itself they are going to do some “repair” to these disks.  They will start with a cortisone injection into her spine.  This will be done at an outpatient surgical center with her being having to be there for a few hours, at least until she is fully awake and they are sure the injection didn’t cause any damage. 

That will let them know more about what needs to be done but at this time she is looking at the final repair being an operation.  We will be here when she has the injection on Dec. 4th to help her as needed.  And of course, if she has surgery later we will try to be here to help then too.  That’s a good thing about being retired and living in our motorhome, we can adjust as needed.  

After the visit from the therapist on Friday we drove over to Susy’s place.  The gals went out shopping for a few hours while I brought Kaitlyn back to our place.  We played with some of her favorite dolls and such, watched some kids shows on TV and took a walk with the dogs.  Lorraine and Susy soon tired out and came back too. 

On Saturday we went over to Susy’s place again.  This time the gals took Kaitlyn with them while they were shopping and I did some repairs around her place.  One of the shelves in Kaitlyn’s bedroom closet had fallen and Susy’s garage door opener was broken and she couldn’t get the door to open.  She doesn’t have a man door for entry into the garage so the only access is through the garage door. 

I went to Lowe’s to find a new remote and found they had a sale on new garage door openers for $35 each, normally over $250, so I bought one of those instead of a new remote for $34.  Seemed like a no brainer to me, two remotes with the new one too.  But when I got the box open I found the new remotes required me to push a “learner” button on the actual opener so the remote and opener would “learn” the same code.  I couldn’t get inside to push this button so these remotes wouldn’t work. 

However, they also sell a universal remote that could learn or could be set with the proper setting of the 12 dip switches.  Seeing as how I had the old remote, I knew the proper dip switch positions so was able to get her a remote that worked but the two with the new opener didn’t work. 

I was going to return the new opener but it happens that the garage door opener at Mark’s place was broken and the new one I had bought will be installed there.  So it was a good deal after all, at least I hope so. 

Today Lorraine will help Susy and Kaitlyn put up their Christmas tree.  Susy can’t lift or move as well as normal and Lorraine tires out quickly so I’ll probably make sure they take lots of breaks and not overdo it.   I put her tree up yesterday and brought the boxes of ornaments up from the garage yesterday so it’s ready to go. 

Kaitlyn want’s to spend each night she can with us but Lorraine gets pretty tired when she does so I’m limiting the nights she can stay.  She has already spent a couple of nights with us but has been here parts of every day.  She did spend last night here and is her now with Lorraine taking care of her, feeding her and playing with her.  They are sure having fun. 

We’ve also been able to spend some time each evening with Susy after she gets off work.  We know we change/upset their normal routine but it’s nice to be here and spend time with them.

Our plans were to leave her tomorrow and head for Palm Springs 1000 Trails but we are going to stay here this week for Lorraine’s therapy.  I had to change our reservations there and was surprised to see they still had opening for the following week so I have reservations for two weeks. 

So at this time, we plan on staying here for another week then heading out to Palm Springs.  But I have a feeling the other therapists will be making appointments for Lorraine over the next two weeks so we will probably just stay here through the rest of the holidays and maybe head out after the first of the year. 

Lorraine hasn’t taken too many pictures this weeks so I will go through the ones she has and add some here.  She does have more pictures taken with her phone but I don’t know how to download them to my computer. 

Kaitlyn playing at the park. 

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Kaitlyn has her hair curled. 

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At Thanksgiving dinner. 

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Ok, now to post this and head over to Susy’s place. 

Thanks   Chuck 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

We’re in Santa Clara, CA


11/18/12                                                                                                                                   Chuck’s Report

First, Lorraine and I both wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope everyone stops and gives thanks for what they have.  Even with all the medical issues we have had the past couple of months, we still can give thanks that we haven’t had worse problems.  We all know of folks who have more problems, at least we can still travel and enjoy our lifestyle. 

Lorraine is not going to write her normal report this week.  She is keeping busy with our grand daughter plus she doesn’t want to task her brain too much writing.  She finds it almost as hard to write (type) as she does speaking.  What is amazing is she can still do math and spelling as well as before her problem started and doesn’t have any remaining physical issues either.  So like I said earlier, it could be worse. 

We are back here in the Bay area with our daughter, grand daughter and son-in-law for a couple of reasons.  We had planned on being here for Thanksgiving anyway so that hasn’t changed.  We have been here for the past 5 Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks, ever since we’ve been on the road.  And I hope that being with our grand daughter helps Lorraine too, I do know she was getting excited to see them and it’s only been two weeks. 

The other reason we are here is to have Lorraine see another doctor.  We have an appointment to see a family doctor with a degree in Geriatrics.  We are hoping with that background/training he may be able to help her with her speech issue or at least recommend someone who can help.  We picked this guy from the yellow pages and see him on Tuesday. 

Lorraine is better but I still see/hear some problems when she talks.  She sometimes still has a problem finding the  correct word, sometimes she points and says “thing”.  I don’t allow that and try to insist she say the correct word.  She tells me she knows the correct word, can “see” it in head but just can’t get it to come out right.

Just this morning, she asked me to put the ice on the counter.  I didn’t understand so she pointed to the front of the coach and said “the ice”.  I still didn’t understand and asked her what she wanted to do with it.  Finally I understood what she wanted, we have 1/2 rack of sodas stored under the steering wheel when we are parked and she wanted me to put them on the counter so she could replenish the stock in the fridge.  She knew what she wanted, knew the correct word but it came out as ice vs. soda. 

The speech therapist she saw in the hospital told us it is a good sign that she knows she isn’t using the right word, that makes it easier to work with.  I’m hoping to get some suggestions from the doctor or new speech therapist about what I can do to help her.  I try to not complete sentences for her but help her find the words she is searching for.  I’ve done some research on the net but still would like to have a professional teach me the right way to help her. 

At least she isn’t giving up!  And I am going to do my best to help her get back to normal.  It may take awhile and we may not see signs of recovery every day but we both will give it our best.  And any prayers and best wishes from family and friends will be appreciated too.  So once again, I’ll ask for that help from anyone who will help us. 

We were in Laughlin, NV. for the past two weeks.  The second week we spent time with our friends Joe/Alice, went to a casino or two.  Can’t say either of us had any luck but overall I think I was down less than $20 for the two weeks.  Not that losing is good but it could have been worse, those machine were pretty tight.  But we did have a good visit with Joe/Alice and looking forward to seeing them in Palm Springs in two week. 

The trip from Laughlin to here was ok but sure reminded us about the need for road repairs on some of the roads in California.  Boy did we get our teeth rattled in a few places.  The worse was bridge approaches and after the bridge.  There are lots of places where they have resurfaced the main road but they stopped at the bridges or under the overpasses, creating very rough, uneven, washboard, bouncy, teeth rattling and overall bad designed/engineered fixes. 

I usually try to not get political when I write our blog but I wish all the stimulus money our federal government gave away would have been used to update/repair the roads and such across the whole US.   That would have put the money back in circulation without just being a gift and put lots of people back to work.  They would have then spent their wages on items that would allow others to hire more workers.  As these workers spent some of their wages on cars, that would have kept the automakers in business without the government giving them stimulus money and we would have more people working and better infrastructure too.  They would also be buying houses and that would help our economy too.  If that had happened, our national unemployment numbers would be much better, our economy would be doing better and maybe our government would not be spending us deeper into debt.  And companies would be building stuff that consumers wanted instead of what our government is pushing (read “green” here).  Of course, that is just one man’s opinion and nobody has ever elected me to any office so what the heck do I know.

We stopped at the Orange Grove RV park in Bakersfield on the way here.  We were there two weeks ago and the oranges were showing signs of turning orange but they were not ripe.  This time, I found a few that were getting ripe but did find a grove of tangerines that were ready to pick.  Those are really good, tree ripened and fresh off the tree. 

We did drive through some rain, more on Saturday than Friday.  And last night we heard it really pour during the night, a real gully washer.  But this morning the skies are bright blue with a few clouds, temperature in the mid 60s now, expecting mid to high 60s for the rest of the week.   

The weather in Laughlin for the past week has been cooler than the first week we were there.  We were seeing highs in the 70s but the wind was blowing hard enough that we didn’t/couldn’t sit outside very much.  And that’s one of the reasons we were there too, shoot. 

We have reservations at 1000 Trails in Palm Springs starting Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  We will be there for two weeks before returning back here to share Christmas with our daughter, grand daughter and son-in-law.  Then it will be back to Palm Springs for two more weeks in January. 

Of course, all this is dependent on the doctors suggestions.  We can stay right here at the Elks in Santa Clara if needed.  They have a two week maximum stay but make allowances for medical needs.  So if we have to stay in the area, at least we don’t have to worry about a place to park. 

Lorraine took some pictures on our drive from Laughlin to here so I’ll add a few and get this posted. 

This is just pictures of the desert with some cactus and mountains.  There sure aren’t too many trees out here.  But there was plenty of blue skies and it wasn’t too windy this trip.  

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And now to get this posted. 


Thanks   Chuck


Saturday, November 10, 2012

We’re in Laughlin, NV


This has been a trying week for us as Lorraine has had some medical issues.  I’m writing this blog just to record the details of, and solution to, her problems this week.  I want it mostly to record her issues whenever we need to remember them.  It will not be of much interest to most people. 

On Sunday afternoon we were at a local casino, AVI, where we had entered a slot tournament.  Lorraine hit the top prize during her spins but missed making the finals by just a few points.  I didn’t come close.  However, they gave us a ticket that was good for a change to make the finals via a drawing if we were still there at 5:30. 

As luck would have it, they drew my name for the last spot in the finals.  I was assigned to the machine at the end of the row and there was an extra chair close by so I had Lorraine sit in it so she could watch.  This was a five minute flurry of pushing the spin button and getting as many points as possible in the five minutes.  Once again, I wasn’t getting very many points on my machine and I was talking with Lorraine too. 

Before the five minutes were up, I noticed Lorraine had a glazed, far-away look to her eyes.  I figured she might just be deep in thought but the next time I looked at her, I noticed one side of her face was slack and disfigured.  I stopped playing the machine and gave her my full focus, the folks running the tournament came over and told me to continue pushing the button, I’m not sure what I told them but they quickly left me alone. 

I tried talking with Lorraine but she was unable to talk, she would just grab my arm and shake her head in a yes or no manner.  What speech she could make was just a garbled noise, I couldn’t understand her at all.  We left before the tournament was over and got her to our car and back to our coach. 

A little background here.  In 2000 Lorraine was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had to have three surgeries, chemo treatment followed my x-ray treatment.  It was during her second round of chemo infusion, as she was laying in the lounge chair, that I noticed she was showing signs of a stoke, very similar to the symptoms she was showing Sunday evening.  The right side of her face was slack, her right foot was drooping, her speech was slurred and she couldn’t move her right arm.  I was scared and called the doctor over to check her out, told him I thought she was having a stroke right there. 

The doctor checked her, ran some blood tests and told me she was NOT having stoke and we should continue with the treatment.  As soon as the infusion was over, Lorraine showed some signs of improvement but was still very bad off.  The chemo doctor said not to worry as he was sure she wasn’t having a stroke but he couldn’t explain the symptoms she was having. 

We left the chemo area and took her straight to the emergency room where they once again checked her for a stoke.  They weren’t as positive that she didn’t have a stroke but also continued to check for other causes.  To make a long story short on this episode, she had a migraine headache that showed itself with the same symptoms of a stoke.  They gave her medicine for a migraine and within a hour she was back to her normal self.  She couldn’t remember the past three hours but otherwise everything was good.  She had absolutely no remaining physical, mental or speech problems.

So now back to this Sunday night.  As with her previous episode, I hoped she was only having a migraine and took her back to the coach where I gave her the pills she takes for a migraine headache.  I laid her down in bed for 10 minutes and watched her.  She fell asleep and when I woke her in 10 minutes she was somewhat better, she could talk but wasn’t following simple instructions. 

I gave her another pill and let her go back to sleep for another 10 minutes.  When I woke her this time she was showing significant signs of improvement in her speech.  I asked her a few questions and found that although she could talk, she wasn’t comprehending things.  I asked her where we were and she knew that but when I asked her what her name was, she couldn’t think of it.  Finally she got a big smile on her face and told me her name, Lorraine.  I asked her what my name was and got the same big smile as she said “Lorraine”.  I asked her the dog’s name and got the same results.  When I asked her what our grand daughter’s name was, she still said “Lorraine”.  That’s when I had enough of the layman's medical treatment and took her to the local hospital.

Once we got to the hospital things started happening quickly.  To their credit, they didn’t worry too much about the paperwork to get her checked in, we got to an exam room and the doctor and nurses started checking her out quickly.  I tried to give them all her background info and tried to explain her stroke like symptoms in 2000.  They didn’t think these symptoms were the same and continued treating her for stroke. 

There is a normal treatment for victims of stroke, I don’t remember the name but they give a blood thinning shot within the first three hours.  We had a friend that had a very minor stroke and when they gave him this shot, it caused something to break free and caused a major stroke.  I remembered this and wasn’t too keen on having Lorraine get this if she in fact didn’t have a stroke. 

The doctor was good, discussing this with us and calling other doctors too.  By this time, Lorraine was showing no physical signs of a stroke but was still a bit confused and she wasn’t making much sense when she tried to talk.   She couldn’t remember what year it was but was doing ok when it came to remembering family names. 

After discussing pro and con about this blood thinning medicine and getting close to the end of the three hour window, I still didn’t want to have her get it.  The doctor still was not convinced she had a stroke and agreed, she didn’t get this shot.

The doctor scheduled her for a CT scan of her brain and got her admitted to the hospital.  They couldn’t (wouldn’t) do the CT scan then, probably didn’t want to call out a tech I guess.  So it was scheduled for the next morning.  I stayed around until she was in her hospital room and the nurses had talked to her (and me) enough that I felt it was ok to leave her until morning. 

Next morning I headed out at 7 am, not remembering that I was staying in Nevada but the hospital was across the river in Arizona, a different time zone.  So it was actually after 8 when I got to the hospital on Monday morning.  Unfortunately her doctor had already been in to see her so I didn’t meet her new doctor.  However they now had her scheduled for a CT scan of her brain, an ultra sound of her carotid arteries and a MRI of her brain.  I also missed it when a speech therapist showed up so I didn’t even know he had been there and checked her.  

By now, Lorraine was hooked up to an IV but was showing very little physical signs or symptoms of a stroke.  She was able to walk by herself, could operate the remote control and was able to talk with the nurses.  But if you knew her, it didn’t take much to realize she wasn’t normal.  For example, I would point to objects in the room and ask her what it was was.  Sometimes she could get the correct name, other times she would say the last object we had talked about.  I pointed to her glasses and asked what they were, she knew the word but when I pointed to a clock on the wall and asked her what it was, she said glasses, same with TV.  But the next object was a picture and she named it correctly.  This continued throughout the day with some signs of improvement but when she was tired it was worse. 

I had to leave her and return to the coach to let our dog out every five hours or so and would always check in with the nurses when I returned.  They soon got to know me and realize I was taking a big part in her care so they soon included me in all of Lorraine’s care.  We mostly had good nurses, both on days and nights. 

They finally got her CT scan but I was having problems finding out her results.  When I went home that evening, I still had not gotten the results of it but was determined to see her doctor the next morning to get this and more information. 

I was in her room before 6 on Tuesday morning, hoping to see her doctor.  I hung around and saw them preform the ultra sound on her neck to check out her carotid arteries and was there when they took her away for her MRI.  I took advantage of this time to run back to the coach to take our dog out for a break. 

When I got back back, I found I had missed her doctor while I was gone, damn.  But I made the nurse get me the results of the CT scan she had the previous day.  They had to get the nurse supervisor to get the results for me, I couldn’t understand why I was having problems getting this info.  But I did find out there was no indication of any damage to her brain or any sign of a clot there either. 

Later that afternoon I got a call from our friends, Joe/Alice, who were coming into town for two weeks.  They wanted to get together but didn’t know Lorraine was in the hospital.  They came up to visit her and I was watching very carefully to see Lorraine’s reaction to someone beside a doctor or nurse.  Their visit went well, Lorraine knew who they were and was able to hold a fairly normal conversation with them. 

At this time, we were planning on Lorraine going home on Wednesday after we got the results of her ultra sound and MRI.  She had a problem letting them do the MRI, was getting claustrophobic about getting in the machine.  There were three tests they wanted to run but were only able to complete one, lucky it was the most critical one. 

Wednesday morning I was back to her room before 6 once again, hoping to see her doctor when she made her rounds.  I did get to see the speech therapist who checked her out and said he saw lots of improvements too.  He did, however, try a few things to check her speech.  He asked her simple questions and got normal answers.  But he wasn’t satisfied with them and suggested some things to help her.  For example, he asked her to name the states in the US.  Lorraine could say about 5 of them.  He then suggested to close her eyes and “see” a map of the states then name some.  She rattled off about 10 before he had her stop. 

He also asked her to name some vegetables and once again she was able to name about 5.  He then suggested she close her eyes and “see” herself in a store in the vegetable section and name some of what she “sees”.  She could name lots.

One other question he asked was “Is it faster to ride a bicycle or ride a train?”  Lorraine couldn’t seem to figure out the answer to this but he said that was ok, he just wanted me to see her reaction to a more complicated question.  

He had also checked out her writing ability when he was in two days before and told me she could only write her name, nothing else.  I had unknowingly checked this out a few hours earlier when I has asked her to name some items in the room and write down their names on a piece of paper.  I showed him what she had done and he was very pleased with the improvements she had shown.  Only problem was, after she had written these items, I asked her to tell me what she had just written and she couldn’t remember but when I pointed to items in the room she could remember if they were on the list or not. 

Lorraine started complaining of a pain on her right side about this time.  As it happens, finally her doctor showed up about that time.  I let her check out Lorraine then tried asking some questions.  The doctor didn’t want to talk to me, said she needed to review her chart and would let the nurses know what was going on.  I wasn’t happy with this and tried to get more information from her.  She was very evasive, I don’t know if it was because she didn’t know or just didn’t want to tell me. 

She left the room and I called in the nurse and told them I wanted some good answers before the doctor left the area.  He went out to talk with her and returned very soon to say she was sure close mouthed and arrogant.  He said there was no way he would ever have her for a doctor and was going to tell her so. 

Once again, I called the nurse supervisor and asked for help getting info from this doctor.  She said she would get to the bottom of this and would get the info I wanted/needed.  About five minutes later, she and the off going shift nurse supervisor came back to the room with very long faces. 

They closed the curtain and said they needed to talk with us.  They were pretty solemn, really got my antenna up for sure.  They had some papers with them and said they wanted to go over them with us.  I asked about the doctor and they said she had talked to them then left but agreed the nurses could go over some of Lorraine’s information. 

Anyway, the papers were the results of her CT scan, ultra sound and MRI test.  They said the CT scan of her brain was good, same as we had heard before.  The MRI of her brain was good too but (that isn’t a good word to hear at a time like this) her ultra sound results showed major blockage and the doctor was not going to release her.  She also wanted a neurologist to check out the images and she what they suggested.  Also, she ordered a CT scan of her right abdomen to check out the pain she had been experiencing.  But she wouldn’t come in and talk with us, like I said, she left the floor before I could get ahold of her.

Ok, so Lorraine would be in the hospital at least one more day but I wasn’t going to let that doctor continue being our doctor.  I proceeded to find out what it takes to get a new doctor assigned.  Apparently not too many people do this as I was finding some “roadblocks” in the way. 

Finally I went to the administration office and got ahold of the supervisor there.  I told her I had a problem and needed some help so she invited me into her office and closed the door.  I think she had already heard about me and was ready but was surprised to find I was just trying to get the best help for Lorraine, not trying to make a big issue out of the first doctor.  She told me about two doctor that were just practicing in the hospital, didn’t have any outside practice so they only serve you while you are in the hospital.  She gave me their phone numbers and wished us well.

I tried calling the number she gave me three time and was unable to get an answer, not a good sign.  I tried going through the nurse supervisor and she said she couldn’t help me on that kind of a situation.  In fact, she couldn’t even tell me good or bad about these new doctors.  Boy, what a deal, try to fire a doctor that doesn’t work with you and get one that does is not easy. 

Finally I got ahold of someone from their office on the phone, she was very helpful.  She said they had all been in a big meeting and no one was available to answer the phone.  She said they would assign us one of their doctors, no problem and would make sure the other doctor was off Lorraine case.  They would get ahold of the hospital and nurses to insure all this was well coordinated and communicated.  What a difference.

About an hour later, two ladies came into Lorraine’s room.  They were from our new doctor's office and wanted to get all the information they needed.  It went very well and they said the new doctor would be in sometime that afternoon.  I went over to the nurse’s station to let the supervisor know and it so happened our new doctor was currently on the floor.  I made sure they let him know he was our new doctor and I needed to see him before he left. 

About 1/2 hour later this guy walks into the room with Lorraine’s medical chart in hand and introduces himself as her new doctor.  He asked Lorraine lots of questions then asked me a bunch too.  He then went over her records and explained everything in them, all the test results and such.  Just the kind of doctor we were looking for.  He was in the room for over 1/2 hour gathering and giving information and suggestions. 

He reviewed her info and said with no hesitation that Lorraine did NOT have a stroke but rather a TIA or mini-stroke.  He explained it as a stroke is when a loss of blood flow is severe and long enough to cause a section of the brain to die.  A TAI or mini-stroke is a loss of blood flow for a shorter time and no brain damage happens.  At least that is my interpretation of what he said and he agreed that was the base of it. 

He explained about the blockage in the carotid artery and what the normal treatment was, in this case to either remove the clot or install a shunt.  I asked about waiting to do this when we were back in the Bay area in two weeks and he strongly suggested doing it as soon as possible.  He said we would have to find a doctor and start all over back there and it might take awhile. 

So we got on the list to have this procedure done on Thursday.  Once again I was in her room early in the morning to wait for things to happen.  Of course, she couldn’t eat or drink from midnight until after the procedure so I was pushing for it to happen as soon as it could. 

I have put the rest of this story out in a couple of emails I sent out on Thursday and Friday night so I will include them here and not repeat it. 

Wednesday night’s note:

Lorraine had a "mini-stroke" Sunday evening and has been in the hospital since.  She had some symptoms of a stroke but almost all have gotten better now. No physical issue remain, she walks fine and has full strength in her legs, arms, hands and such.  She still has some issue with saying the correct word sometimes but even that is MUCH better. 
They have ran many tests, CT scans, MRI, ultra sound, blood test and others.  They say there is no sign of a stroke in her brain, ie, no brain damage.  They did find her carotid artery, the large vein in her neck to/from her brain, is over 80% plugged on the right side, 60% on the left side.  This may have been the cause of her mini stroke, we may never know.  The doctor said the policy is to repair any blockage over 70% and monitor anything over 50%. 
They have her scheduled for surgery tomorrow to correct this problem on the right side, not sure of the time yet.  We didn't get a chance to meet with the surgeon yet so we don't know if they will install a shunt or open and clean the vein. The doctor told us there could be complications but recommended she have it done ASAP rather than wait until we return to the Bay area. 
We are comfortable with this decision but any prayer for her would be appreciated!   More on her outcome tomorrow or the next day, I will be spending as much time with her as possible and will not have computer access. 
Thanks   Chuck

Thursday night’s note:

I sent out a note last night about Lorraine's medical problems and asked for everyone to include her in their prayers while she had surgery today. 
As you may remember, she had blockage of 80% on the right side, 60% on the left.  The surgery was to correct the problem on the right side, we weren't sure of the procedure the doctor was going to do at the time of my note. 
This morning I got to the hospital at 6 AM, hoping to see her doctor and the surgeon.  The nurses are used to seeing me there and don't give me any grieve about being there before or after visiting hours.  They checked the schedule and said she was on the list for morning surgery but didn't have an exact time as she was scheduled as a "fill-in". 
They had her off food and water since midnight until they gave her a couple of pills about 9:15 or so, then allowed her a small sip of juice with her pills. The floor nurse was changing her IV to a new spot on her arm when the surgery folks showed up to take her downstairs to the operating room at about 9:30 or so.  I followed along but had to stop at the door to the operating area, kissed her, told her I loved her and would see her soon.  I was told to wait in the waiting room and they would talk to me after the surgery, at least an hour or more later. 
After about 10 minutes a nurse came to get me, said the doctor wanted to talk to me, I haven't met with her yet.  So I was escorted into the operating area where Lorraine was waiting for her "turn".  The doc came over and told us the surgery wasn't what we were expecting, she was only going to send a camera up from the femur artery to see how bad the plugs were, not remove or shunt them at this time.  We would then meet with her in her office at a later date to discuss further treatment.  Shoot, not what we wanted to hear, we had hoped this would take care of the issue.
Back to the waiting room for about 1 1/2 hours before I was escorted into the recovery room to meet with Lorraine again.  She was still mostly asleep and I had to run back to the coach to take our dog out for a walk.  I got back in about 30 minutes and found her still groggy and sleeping most of the time.  About 10 minutes later the surgeon came over to let us know what she had found.
And here is the best part!!  She said she could find NO blockage in either carotid artery,  The plugs shown on the ultra sound were nowhere to be found.  She said Lorraine's arteries were positioned a bit different than normal and that may have shown up as blockage but the camera and contrast dye she injected proved there was no plug, both were clean. 
Her surgeon and our doctor back in her room said Lorraine would need NO further treatment although they both suggested a change in diet, more exercise and lose some weight.  The both agreed she could be released after giving the injection site time to heal, about 5 hours after the surgery. 
So thanks to everyone who replied to my note and especially to those who included us in your prayers, the results today were better than we had hoped. 
At this time, we are back in our coach, Lorraine has some discomfort in the site on her leg where they put the camera and her arm is full of bruises from the IV and taking of blood.  She has no remaining symptoms of the mini-stroke except for a few times she still has to search for a word but I've been doing that for the last 20 years. 
So like I said in the subject line, "Who says prayers don't work?"  I'm sure that we have just seen the results of it and once again I thank everyone for their prayers and well wishes. 
And for those who asked, yes we are still in Laughlin, NV. but the hospital we were at is in Bullhead City, AZ.  We had very good service there with one exception, a doctor who refused to answer our questions.  I'll cover that in our blog but for now I'll just say we fired her and got a new doctor.
So as my father used  to say and I now say to you "Until you are better paid, I thank you!" 
Thanks   Chuck

Lorraine wanted to send a note also, I've copied and pasted her note here.  This is just as she wrote it.
Hello everyone,
It's Thursday and I would like to send a great big thank you to all my family, friends in Facebook, on the social network.  I can not believe all the great good wishes you all sent to me over the Internet.  All of your great wishes meant the world to me.  As Chuck used to say, it is not over until it is over.  
Today I went into the the surgery so see what would happen.  I was loosing all my faith and hope, but I prayed my good thoughts and wishes would see me through.  As Chuck would have it, he knew I would need all faith and hope to get me through this one.  He is one funny man.  I have the faith of a man of God.  God is, was, and is the one true and living God.  I prayed and prayed that my faith would see me through.  God was good to me.  He not only saved my day, but He made it as real as real could be. 
Not only did my faith leave me to another situation, but one thing that the Doctor said came true.  He said my faith and sole would not be let go, but my faith would be restored.  God took me out of that situation, he turned it around, and He said God would make it all the better.   That is what happened to me.  God was good to be to me.  I am safe and sound, I am at home in my home.  Thank you lord for all your great good works.   
It really is a safe and wonderful world.  Thanks again  for all your good wishes. 
Lorraine North
PS  We are at Laughlin, Nevada

Ok, now for the rest of the story.  I got Lorraine home on Thursday evening and had her rest for awhile.  We later went to the Black Bear Diner for dinner, hospital food isn’t that good and she needed something good.  Afterwards we came back and Lorraine went to bed.

Friday morning we both slept in a bit although our dog has now been used to me getting up and out at 4 so she wanted to continue with that schedule.  She did let me stay in until about 6 before she started prancing about letting me know she had to go out and go out now.  Lorraine got up and I checked her out, still no physical issues, still having some speech problems however. 

Later Joe/Alice came by to see Lorraine.  They are staying at the same park as us and have checked in with her twice in the hospital and kept in touch via phone often.  Anyway, they came by and we made plans to go shopping later. 

We stopped by their place a before noon then left to go to town.  We had an appointment to get our dog into the groomers and we were going to Wal-Mart then a nearby casino while we waited for Misty to get done.  But Pet Smart wouldn’t accept Misty because I didn’t have proof of her current rabies shot, like I carry that everywhere.  So we dropped the ladies off at Wal-Mart, drove back the coach to drop Misty off then returned back to Wal-Mart. 

First thing is Alice tells me that Lorraine is having some issues in the store, she can’t come up with the correct word of what she is looking for.  Once they see it, Lorraine can pick out the correct object, just having trouble saying without seeing it.  I tried the trick the speech therapist told us about and it helped.  Guess I’ll just have to work with her more and stay with her in the stores for awhile. 

We decided not to go to the nearby casino but rather to return to the coach, put stuff away and go to a Bar-B-Q competition at a casino just down the way from us.  We toured the tents and stuff then decided to go down the road to a different casino for dinner.  We had a good dinner, played a few slots where once again I lost but Lorraine won.  By the way, Lorraine had NO problems playing the slots.  She wouldn’t even believe me when I told her the speech therapist suggested she not play the slot anymore, can you believe that?

It appears that Lorraine’s speech gets worse if she is tired.  At least that is my observation over the day and half she’s been out of the hospital.  The site on her thigh where they injected the camera is now very bruised and sore.  Other than that, she is doing well physically. 

I got a call from Lorraine’s doctor from the hospital on Saturday morning, he wanted to check up on her.  I asked him about her speech issues and he said we need to find a family doctor in the Bay area and work with him to possibly get some speech therapy while we are there.  So I’ll work on that Monday, want to have them ready to go when we get there or as soon as possible. 

He also said he thinks she will have complete recovery from this problem and live a long life.  His specialty is actually as a heart doctor and internal medicine and he said all the test results say Lorraine’s heart is better than his, no signs of heart problem there either.  Thank you everyone for keeping Lorraine in your thoughts and prayers, that is always a good thing and I know it helped her. 

So our plan is to stay here in Laughlin until Friday when we will return to the Bay area.  We will be there through Thanksgiving, maybe longer depending on what the local doctor we find there tells us.  But at least we are leaving here knowing that Lorraine has a problem and we are working on it as best we can. 

The weather has been nice so far although Lorraine and I have spent too many hours inside the hospital instead of being outside.  The cold front they have been talking about came in yesterday so instead having the highs in the upper 80s, we will be having upper 60s for the next two days.  But early next week will bring us back to the lower 80s, yea. 

For anyone who has read this far, I want tell all veterans and current military personnel thank you for your service.  It is because of you that we have a great country!  Thanks to you all (or is it “all you all”?).

Thanks   Chuck






Sunday, November 4, 2012

We’re in Laughlin, NV


Sunday, November 04, 2012                                                                                         Lorraine’s report

It’s Sunday and time to write the blog again. Hello from wonderfully warm and sunny Laughlin, NV. We are on the bluff overlooking the Colorado River at the Don Laughlin Riverside RV Park. We arrived here late Friday night, and by late I mean 6:30 pm which meant it was dark out. We don’t like to travel much less set up in the dark.

It has been a week of messing with computers trying to figure out what to do. I bought a new Samsung on the 18th in Oregon. I was finally getting everything up and running well and rebuilding all my lists when Best Buy said I should go in and get the new Microsoft Windows 8 program installed, it was included with the purchase of the new computer. Well, we did that and I have to say it was a bad move. I didn’t know enough about the new program or what it was going to do, and the tech at Best Buy wasn’t enough of a help to tell me about it and they took off Windows 7 forever.

Windows 8 was made for the computer to be used like a smart phone. You know, where you swipe the phone to get to different places, using different applications. Only the computer I bought wasn’t touch screen, I was just using the pad on the bottom, which made it very hard and not user friendly.

The final straw came after we left the bay area to come here. I had asked Chuck to load a game and he started that, but then we lost the cursor and couldn’t get it back; it just disappeared. I didn’t want to call the Geed Squad at 9 in the evening and have them try to help. I was better off using the Windows 7 program originally loaded onto it. It was a pretty nice computer, 8 gigs of memory, really fast and light, 14 inches.

Chuck said we would take the computer back to Best Buy. We were at the Orange Grove in Bakersfield, CA. We were up bright and early and took the computer back and bought this one, another Samsung, sight unseen. That Best Buy was having a clearance sale on a bunch of their computers, none of the boxes were open and no floor models to look at. The only thing I don’t like about this computer is the off-set keyboard. It has 6 gigs, has a 15 inch screen, and is a bit heavier and we got $$ back.

We took my Toshiba the computer that broke, to the Geek squad on Halloween; they did their diagnostic test and found I needed a new hard drive, mine had died. They said we could have it back the next morning; they lied. Chuck went into the store to pick it up and it wasn’t ready by the time they promised. He left it there for when we go back to the bay area in two weeks; we didn’t leave the bay area until after 11:30, a late start for us.

I am really glad to be done with this compute mess. I am still trying to rebuild all my files and such on this computer; I had to use Chuck’s computer for a few days, so I put some of my stuff on his.

On another note, my hair dryer died while I was drying my hair to leave Bakersfield. It just stopped, couldn’t get it to go again. Chuck picked me up one in Best Buy when he went to pick up this computer. It works well. Man, have we had a bunch of stuff give up the ghost on us, hopefully that is all of it!!!

In the meantime, we spent another great week with Susy and Kaitlyn. She was tired from her trip to Seattle for the memorial. She wanted to color and draw and watch Sponge Bob on Monday after school. And of course Nana cooked her favorite foods for dinner most of the week with her. She is just getting ready to grow again, I couldn’t fill her up. We had fun coloring, she is reading to us, and is always going, going, going.

Wednesday, on Halloween we were up early again to go to Kaitlyn’s school for the school-wide Halloween parade. What a fun activity for all the students! Most of the kids dressed up in their Halloween costumes; Kaitlyn was Indiana Jones from the movies this year. Chuck and I were surprised by this, no more princesses for her, in fact there were a whole lot less princesses this year than last year in Kaitlyn’s school. What is happening to all the little girls?

Of course we went Trick or Treating, Kaitlyn had a blast, but without her friend from pre-school, Gracie. Gracie had other plans and left with other friends as soon as we got to Gracie’s home. But Kaitlyn had fun none the less. She was one tired little girl. I told her we would be leaving the next morning, I also told her we would be back in two weeks or so and she was okay with that. She still wants Nana and Papa to stay there full time!

Saturday I got up and Chuck said we were moving, we were in a pull through behind the bluff and Chuck was able to get us a place on the bluff, so we moved. I was putting stuff away by the kitchen sink when I got a migraine headache. I took my medicine, and it seemed to be working, but while lying down, the headache started all over again. I decided to take my allergy inhaler, and low and behold the inhaler made the headache disappear, just like that. Of course, Chuck said I had to take it easy all day, which we did. In fact, it was just what we needed. We were both tired. And I have to say, this is the first time since mid-August we were in shorts, sandals and t-shirts, we found the warm weather again.

Thank you Kaitlyn and Susy for sharing your time with us, we enjoyed ourselves and hope you did too.

So that’s it for me…Until next time…



11/4/12                                                                                                                          Chuck’s report

Last week we were still trying to decide whether we wanted to go to Santa Barbara or Laughlin.  I sort of wanted to try Santa Barbara but Lorraine wanted Laughlin.  “Happy wife, happy life” comes to mind in making the final decision so that’s one of the main reasons we are here. 

Last week we were able to be with Susy and Kaitlyn until we left on Thursday.  That meant picking her up from school and being with her until Susy got off work each day.  We really enjoy our time with them but at the same time, it’s nice to get away for awhile by ourselves and rest too. 

Wednesday was a particularly busy day for us.  We got to Kaitlyn’s school by 10 for their Halloween celebration.  They have all the classes come to the playground then parade around in their costumes.  This year Kaitlyn wanted to be Indiana Jones, not a princess like she has been.  Not sure where that came from but apparently it was her choice.  Of course, Lorraine said she was the cutest Indiana Jones ever. 

We returned back to pick her up later in the afternoon, they had an afternoon party she wanted to attend.  After Susy got off work, we headed over to Kaitlyn’s friend’s house so they could go trick or treating.  They do a great job decorating their house each year, this year it was Star Wars theme.  They do the whole meal deal, including dressing in costume to go with the house decorations. 

Unfortunately, Gracie was getting ready to leave with a different friend so they were only able to be together for a few minutes before she left.  So Kaitlyn had to “settle” to go trick or treating with her mom, Nana and Papa.  Probably not as much fun but she said she had a good time. 

Lorraine has been having a time with her laptop.  Her old one died when we were in Oregon at the repair shop that was doing our fridge remove/replace.  We were able to buy a new one while we were in Oregon, a Samsung that had Windows 7 but came with a free upgrade to Window 8 when it came out a week or so later. 

She had a few issues with the new one but was getting to understand it better.  On Monday we dropped it off at Best Buy for the Windows 8 upgrade and told them we would pick it up the next morning.  On Tuesday we picked it up and dropped off her old one to see if they could determine why it had died.  We got a call from them that the hard drive was bad but they could install a new one for about $70.  I told them to go ahead and I would be in on Wednesday afternoon to pick it up. 

Well, Wednesday when I got there, it wasn’t ready.  We were leaving the next day and they guaranteed it would be ready by 10 am when they opened.  I told them I would be there when the doors opened for business and would expect it ready to go.  Of course, when I got there, it wasn’t ready but if I would wait a few minutes - - -.  After about an hour, I told them to just fix the damn thing and we would pick it up next time we were in town.  I expect it should be ready to go in two weeks but also expect I’ll have an issue or two.

When I got back, Lorraine had everything ready to go, I just had to unhook the power, dump the tanks and hook up the car.  We got on the road and headed out to our planned destination in Bakersfield.  We like this park, especially in December when the oranges are ripe, we can just pick them off the trees in the park.  They are not ready to pick yet but the trees look to be loaded this year, maybe we can get some on our next trip through there.  We decided not to unhook the car, just be ready to leave the next morning with a minimum of hassle. 

Later that evening, I figured how to load a slot machine game on her new computer.  Everything when well until after the load was completed.  Now it wouldn’t show a curser no matter what I tried.  We checked and there is not a Best Buy close to Laughlin, nearest one is in Las Vegas about 80 miles away.  However, there is one on Bakersfield and it would be open at 10 the next morning. 

After unhooking the car, we were at the door when it opened and first in line at the customer service desk with her new computer.  We told them we just wanted to get rid of that one and purchase a different one, one that was built for and used Windows 7.  As luck would have it, all of those type machines were on a clearance sale and we found one we thought might work. 

We told the clerk at the Geek Squad desk our issues and asked if it would be possible to have the new (est) machine loaded and ready to go that day.  Oh no, it takes at least 24 hours to load up a new computer we were told and we could pick it up the next morning.  After asking them a few pointed questions, they determined that they might just be able to get it ready in two hours, not 24 like they had said.  Sheesh, why couldn’t they just have said that in the first place?

So it was back to the coach to get everything ready for travel, I left Lorraine there to finish up her stuff and returned back to Best Buy to pick up the computer.  Guess what, it was ready and all I had to wait for was the paperwork, what a surprise.  So I got the new one and returned back to the coach and finished preparing to get on the road.  We actually got on the road before 1:00.

We headed out for Laughlin, the GPS said we would be there a little after 6, much later than we like to stop but seeing as how we got a late start we decided to push on.  We got to the park a bit after 6:30 and found our site, luckily it was a pull through.  This was probably only the third time we’ve set up in the dark in the five years we’ve been on the road so we weren’t very good at it but got it done with no problems. 

Later I got Lorraine’s new computer out of the box and lo and behold, it started up and worked, yea.  She was able to get some of the sites she goes to every day, banking and such, into her bookmarks.  It has a 10 key number keypad on the right side of the keyboard that she isn’t used to, it makes the keyboard seem to not be centered.  Other than that, she has had no issues with the new one.  She is currently writing her blog report on it now and will send it to me to add to this.  

Yesterday morning I was at the main check in desk here at the park to see if we could move to a spot on the bluff overlooking the city like we’ve had each of the last times we were there.  They said they didn’t have any openings so I told them about two I had found that were currently empty.  Of course, they weren’t available for the two weeks until I asked why we couldn’t make reservations for a particular site and they could.  After a short consultation with her boss, one of the sites became available.  To make a long story short, after three trips to the office, we were able to get assigned to one of the sites on the bluff just like we had asked for when we made the reservation a few weeks ago.  Sheesh, here again it would have been a lot easier to have done that the first time I was at the office. 

So here we are with a good view overlooking the city; the casinos are lit up at night and look good too.  We haven’t been out of the park yet, just rested yesterday after we moved to this site.  We got set up and put out all the stuff as we plan on being here for two weeks.  We don’t have any grass at our site, only gravel but with our patio mat out and pegged down, it makes for a nice area to sit out there.  We sat outside for a couple of hours yesterday, just enjoying the weather.  It was about 80F with a slight breeze, really nice. 

Like I said, the weather here is really nice, they say we might break a few records for high temperatures in the next few days.  But they also said there is a cold front moving in later this week, highs in the upper 50s or low 60s.  Maybe we need to head further South, our lows have been in the lower 60s.  We did have good weather in the Bay area too, at least until Halloween evening when it started to rain.  Of course, it continued raining until after we got on the road the next morning too so the coach is pretty dirty now and needs a good wash.  I don’t know if they allow us to wash our own rigs but I’ve seen a RV Wash crew driving around and have their phone number if we decide to go that route.

As I said, we plan on being here for two weeks then return back to the Bay area.  We will be there over Thanksgiving and the weekend following.  I know we will be picking Kaitlyn up after school each day we can too, looking forward to that once again. 

I have one doctor visit scheduled at the VA and need to make another but guess I’ll have to phone them again, last time they said they would send me some forms to fill out and we haven’t received them yet.  Sure would like to get to the bottom of the breathing problem I’m experiencing, it sucks! 

So now to add some pictures. 


Kaitlyn with one of her Halloween dresses.  Susy and Kaitlyn reading, that’s their unicorn horn on their forehead.

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Kaitlyn at the pumpkin patch picking out her pumpkin for jack-o-lantern. 

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Kaitlyn playing on the pumped up house and slides. 

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Kaitlyn with two more Halloween dresses, the one on the right is her as Indiana Jones. 

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With her classmates at school.

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That’s a self-portrait of Kaitlyn on the right.  

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At her friend Gracie’s house.  That’s Jobba the Hut on the left, looks better in person I guess. 

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On the road again.  We don’t see too many cotton fields or different color of sage in Washington. 

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Field of roses, late in the season so not as nice as we’ve seen before. 

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Lots of open space.

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And now to get this posted.