I'm feeling a little bummed. I miss Alex and Emma so much that my insides hurt. It's funny to me that sometimes these feelings are triggered by something rational (funerals or certain songs) and other times they just come out of nowhere. Maybe the fact that yesterday evening was the first NFL game of the preseason didn't help. Alex was Drew's football girl and it just felt strange to look forward to it without her. Heck, last year we had a paper chain to count down to the first Hogs football game, as if it were Christmas or something. Even our hike at Natural Falls was something of a trigger for me. You see, even now, I can't visit any new place without my subconscious evaluating the handicap accessibility. The main trail to the overlook was completely paved and, even though my body is able, my mind was still considering the fact that I could have pushed two wheel chairs easily enough for the girls to see the falls.
So, you see, this hurt comes from two places. On one side is the fact that everything we are doing this year, we are doing without Alex for the first time. It's all still so fresh and each tradition feels wonky without her. On the other side is the absolutely absurd fact that Emma has been gone so long. It's been almost 2 1/2 years since she was here. That's insane. I can't think of a single word to describe that feeling that isn't a synonym of absurd. It is completely ludicrous that she has been gone that long and I hate it.
Yep. The pain in my heart is more than any words can express. You know what? I don't know if I would want to put such a feeling into words anyway. I don't want to feel this pain, so I surely wouldn't want anyone else to.
Despite feeling kind of down, I got up this morning and took my grandpa to the neurologist. When we saw his primary doctor a month or two ago he suggested that we see neuro to evaluate Grandpa's problems with memory loss (and sometimes confusion) as well as feeling unsteady on his feet. I'm glad that we went and, while I sometimes wish that I wasn't, I am quite familiar with everything that the doctor did during the appointment. I know so much of the lingo and what the doc is looking for in certain tests and situations. (I've been there and done that with my grandma and both of my girls.) Grandpa did great and I think that our time there showed, quite accurately, the issues that he is dealing with. He had blood drawn today for some specific lab work, he will have an MRI next month and we are waiting to hear about an appointment for a more specific evaluation concerning his memory loss. Once all of that is done, we will go back to the neurologist in October to discuss the results of these tests and what, if anything, to do about it. I think these are all the right things. Even if there is nothing major to worry about or treat right now, it is very beneficial to have a baseline to judge future issues off of.
I don't think I've updated on Dad's health lately, so I will do that now while I'm on a roll. He's hanging in there, but I can't really say that he's had it easy. In fact, he's felt pretty rotten for a good long while now. It has been almost 2 months since his initial issue with high ammonia levels and the consequential encephalopathy (thanks to his non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver). He has had a handful of "good" days (which is a relative term now), but the last two months, and especially the last two weeks, have been pretty rough for him. A doctor's appointment and lab work (two weeks ago) showed that his ammonia levels were higher than ever. That is what leaves him feeling dizzy, foggy headed, exhausted and generally rotten. Encephalopathy (altered mental state or a "foggy" feeling) occurs when the high ammonia levels begin to affect the brain. A new medication was prescribed to try and help with that. (Many thanks to the nurse and pharmacist that worked with his insurance company and the manufacturer of this new drug to get the price down from $1800 a month to $10 a month!) Two of the side effects of this medication are dizziness and tiredness. Strange how that works, right? However, he does feel like the medication is helping and I would agree that he is acting like himself. He takes the new medication twice a day and just has to plan on laying down for a bit after taking it to try and sleep off the tiredness and dizziness. I think he still has just over a month left of his FMLA (medical leave from work) and after that I'm not sure what will happen. It all just depends on how he feels. I think he would honestly tell you that there is really no way he could have been working for the last two months. The only real plan to have here is to take things one day at a time and hope for more good days than bad. Thank you to everyone who has checked on him and I would ask that you continue to keep him in your prayers.
As far as Grandpa & Dad are concerned, I do what I can to help. Neither of them needs personal care, but I am taking them to appointments and doing the grocery shopping since neither of them can drive. (I think Dad has felt well enough to drive only a handful of times in the last two months and even then it was only for a quick errand.) Kyle keeps the yard and dog pen looking great and checks in on them when he can. I am grateful to have the time and ability to help them as needed (and spend some quality time just being together), as I would not have had the ability a year ago. I guess God really does have this timing thing worked out, doesn't He?
The rest of my day? I'm making spaghetti sauce. Yeah, that's right! As of this morning I had 10 large tomatoes and 42 cherry tomatoes sitting on my kitchen cabinet. I've been a bit intimidated by making homemade sauce, but my lovely neighbor shared a recipe with me that uses the crock pot and then freezing the bagged sauce (instead of canning). I'm giving it a try, so you can expect my next post to be a review of how it went. For now my only report is that my fingers smell like garlic. You can't just wash off that smell!