|One of many beautiful butterflies fluttering about during the relatively warm January weather we had in Florida|
On the first day of the new year, Ralph and I had a talk about what we wanted to accomplish this year and what things we would like to change for the better.
Our main priority right now is to improve Ralph's health. After decades of feeling great with minimal need to contact doctors, we are suddenly entrenched in a medical maze scheduling doctor's appointments, going for tests, talking to insurance companies and trying (unsuccessfully for the most part) to find out in advance how much things will cost.
The problem is that Ralph's right renal artery is blocked, which is causing his blood pressure to be dangerously high. This determination came after numerous blood tests, a renal ultrasound, an MRI, several EKGs and two MRAs.
In addition to our primary care physician, we have seen two interventional cardiologists and one nephologist. The conclusion of all is that Ralph needs an angiogram to determine the exact extent of the blockage and most likely a stent to unblock the artery and return his blood pressure to a more normal reading.
|Our primary care physician, Memory Crowley, takes notes about Ralph's medical progress while Ralph hold his own burgeoning files of records/notes.|
Following doctor's orders, Ralph has tried various BP meds to lower his blood pressure but so far none have really helped and a couple of the medicines actually caused severe side effects that made him quit them entirely. After decades of eating healthily, exercising regularly and taking no medicines at all, it's very weird to suddenly have your well being tethered to blood pressure readings, pharmaceuticals and medical procedures.
Needless to say, the adjustment has been tough. We've been reading countless books and online articles, each with its own perspective on how to deal with renal artery blockages and control high blood pressure. As wonderful as it is to have all this information at our fingertips, it can also be extremely baffling. Which "expert" should we believe? Does anyone have a definitive answer? Is it even possible for any one answer to fit everyone with the same problem or does each person have to determine for themselves through trial and error what works and what doesn't? Such are the questions we've been struggling with this month in addition to all our ordinary stuff.
On the rental scene, we have been renovating one unit and showing it to prospective tenants. On the employee scene, we have had yet another disappointment with one of our helpers who hasn't been able to fulfill his commitment to us. Fortunately, Jennifer Baehne, who primarily helps Tim at the bamboo nursery, is still here to fill in when needed and we also found another local person to assist with repairs and carpentry when things come up. My writing continues to go well. I love doing my weekly column and blog, fooling around on Facebook and escaping into novels as often as possible. Tim (with Jennifer's help) is doing a great job at the bamboo nursery and Ralph and I are very grateful that we no longer have to be involved in the day-to-day operations of that business anymore.
As every month goes by we are getting to know Tim's girlfriend Malory better. We like her so much! We enjoyed a couple yummy meals together in January and look forward to doing that more often as the year progresses.
We spent one day early in January with Amber, Atom and Trillian at our house and another day toward the end of the month when I visited with them at their house. In the middle of the month, Ralph and I spend a few days at our friend Pam's condo in New Smyrna Beach and we invited Amber, Scott and the kids to join us there. We had fun spending time on the beach with Trillian and Atom, jumping the waves, playing in the sand and seeing the delight on their faces as they tried to "catch" a seagull. Below are a few pictures from our day together at the beach:
|It was hard to pose for a picture with the waves coming in and two toddlers who wanted to be off running on the beach|
|But we finally got one pretty good portrait of us with Atom and Trillian|
|Amber and Trillian share smiles|
|Trillian chased this seagull up and down the beach|
|Playing on the beach|
|Scott and Amber together on the sand|
Although we didn't see Jenny's family in person this month, we enjoyed many fun Skype conversations. I'm so glad we live in an age when technology can help us bridge the miles. Skype is a wonderful way to stay in touch with far-away children and grandchildren. We love watching Ella and Maya on the computer.
|Maya (in red) and Ella (in purple) all bundled up and enjoying the snow on January 1st in Florence, MA|
Although Toby lives near by, we didn't get to see him in January either. After returning from his trip to NY, MA and VT, he started the semester with a relatively light schedule but with some TA responsibilities for a Discrete Structures II class. Work, school and an active social life are keeping him busy. He also played in a chess tournament during January and tied for 1st place, winning $700!
|Toby shared his cash prize with Rachel Gologorsky|
We attended two folk music concerts in January. Cindy Mangsen and Steve Gillette made their annual winter stop in Eustis at the Trout Lake Nature Center and Dave Roth came to Orlando to perform a concert at the downtown Unitarian-Universalist church.
We enjoyed seeing them all perform and look forward to seeing one or two more of our other favorite folk musicians next month when they also escape Northern climes for some Florida sunshine.
The books I read this month included a re-read of Jeffrey Archer's short story collection, To Cut a Long Story Short, as well as two Stephanie Gertler novels, Jimmy's Girl and The Windmill. I also read The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger.