2016…transition year

front-of-house

Retirement plans and house hunting. So much happened in 2016. During the fall of 2015 my husband and I decided he should retire a few years early. We crunched the numbers and decided we could manage. Early in 2016 we started looking for houses. We finally found a house we loved as soon as we walked in. (It’s not perfect, of course, but I can see myself living here for years.) I moved into the house during the spring while my husband finished up at work and put our house in Maryland up for sale.

Flash ahead to first of July. My husband retired, we moved the rest of the household goods, thought we had the Maryland house sold and had a party for my husband here in Iowa. We had a wonderful summer just relaxing, unpacking and getting settled in. (The house sale fell through a couple more times. Finally, our Maryland house sold at the end of September. Yay!)

And now it was Autumn. We planned a road trip for much of 20160919_104029September and some of October while we meandered our way to a family wedding at the end of September. A few days before the wedding and a few miles from the U.S. border, but still in Canada we hit a deer with our car. The car was then towed almost 100 miles to Spokane, Washington for repairs. We rented a car and continued to the wedding. The wedding was wonderful and our niece beautiful. Our nephew-in-law and his family were wonderful, too. Lots of great memories.

Road trip finishes early. We continued in our rental into Oregon, visited some of my family and spent a few days at the Oregon Coast (one of my favorite places in the world). We were still hopeful our car would be repaired before we were ready to head home, but that didn’t happen. We flew home and waited for word the car was repaired. Over a month later we finally found out it was ready for the drive home and we booked tickets to Spokane. Our trip didn’t happen and we ended up shipping the car home. That was a good decision.

My husband in pain. Just a couple of days before the flight my husband had a terrible pain in his back which kept him from sleeping. After several trips to the emergency room, acute care and a hospital stay, lots of tests, pain medications, after two weeks we finally found out it was cancer. However, the oncologist is very encouraging. He started radiology and chemotherapy the first part of November. He’s doing well, is optimistic and his next chemo is scheduled around the first of February.

(You notice I didn’t include world events, politics, elections and other happenings in this post. I decided to keep this personal. I’m waiting to see what 2017 brings–and hoping for the best.)

So. . . it was a full and sometimes stressful year.

However, we have so much to be thankful for:

  1. For our children who have helped us out so much during the year
  2. For our extended family who have helped us move, cheered us on and sent good wishes
  3. For neither of us getting hurt when we hit the deer
  4. For the beautiful home we found in Iowa
  5. For the encouraging diagnosis my husband received
  6. And for so many, many other things in our lives

What about all of you? What happened in 2016 in your life? What are you thankful for?

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The C word

The C word–such a scary word. Cancer.

The last month was difficult. A little over a month ago my husband suddenly had severe back pain that kept him from sleeping. He thought he might have kidney stones. We went to the emergency room and he got a CT scan that found inflamed lymph nodes in his abdomen. Who knew there even were lymph nodes there? Not me.

They thought he had a virus and weren’t sure why his back was hurting so much. They gave him pain meds and sent him home. Over the course of the next week the pain got worse and he went to acute care and back to the emergency room since the pain meds weren’t working. He was finally admitted to the hospital where biopsies were done, then a PET scan. The diagnosis came back–Cancer.

Luckily, the hospital we had gone to has a very good cancer center and we have a very good oncologist. He’s an older man and has a very calm manner and is willing to talk and answer questions. The type of lymphoma my husband has is very slow-growing. (Sometimes doctors just watch it for years before anything is done.) The back pain was caused by a small portion of the spine and rib which are also cancerous.

So much has happened since the cancer diagnosis: chemotherapy, radiation treatments for the back and he’s home from the hospital. This week he’s receiving the rest of his radiation and he’s pretty much pain-free. He will get three more chemotherapy treatments over the course of three more months.

He’s continuing to feel well and is very positive. I have a cold so I’m staying away from him. Our daughter who lives here is staying with us right now to help out. And our daughter in Illinois has come for a weekend. Our son who is in NYC calls almost every day.

So we are blessed with wonderful kids, a diagnosis that could have been much worse, a great oncologist, a great hospital.

But I have to admit hearing the Cancer diagnosis felt like a knock out punch. When I was a child and someone got that diagnosis it pretty much meant one thing: a painful death before too much time passed. It’s hard to get that image out of my mind even though I know great strides have been made on many types of cancer.

However, there are still many cancers which bring that death sentence. One of my husband’s cousins is bravely fighting her cancer right now. She started with Stage IV breast cancer two years ago. She had chemo and that held things in abeyance for almost two years. She has traveled (a trip to Ireland), spent time with her children and grandchild and other family and done many things she had put off. However, in August the cancer came roaring back–it’s now in her brain and in other parts of her body. She decided to aggressively treat it to buy some more time with her family. She came to a family wedding in Seattle at the end of September and is planning to be at the family Thanksgiving later this month. She’s an amazing, positive person who’s an inspiration to all of us–but especially to my husband and me.

The C word still scares me.