Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sun., October 11 - A long, overdue update!

It has been several weeks since my last blog update, and there is lots of news to share ... all good!! First, I will start with George. He is making big strides in his progress every week. It seems like all of a sudden a light has been turned on, and he is walking just about everywhere in the house unassisted! He gets himself in and out of bed, to and from the bathroom, kitchen, and den. It is WONDERFUL for both of us that he is gaining some independence. He still needs a hand to keep him steady outside when walking on uneven surfaces, or over door thresholds, but hopefully before long, he can master that too! George continues to go to out-patient therapy on Mon-Wed-Fri of each week, and in fact, he was one of the patients recognized by Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital Katy during National Rehabilitation Awareness Week. A celebratory event was held on Friday, September 25 honoring him and others who are overcoming their disabilities as well as saluting the staff who have aided them in their efforts. George & I will both be forever grateful to the wonderful therapists, aides, assistants, nurses and medical staff who provide such compassionate care, not only to their patients, but to we the families who experience the anguish along with our loved ones.

Now, to my news ... tomorrow (Monday, 10/12) I am starting a new job! As many of you know, I have been working from home since April. It has been such a big blessing to be able to stay with George and nurse him back to health, but it has also been very hard for me to be a caregiver 24/7 and be tied to the house. The company that I have worked for over the past 9.5 years has been soo good to me and did everything they could to keep work flowing in my direction after the corporate move to Dallas. However, at the same time, I know it has been very hard for them to justify keeping me here in Houston. A month or so ago, I was contacted by a former co-worker about a position with her company. I turned the interview down ... I didn't think George was ready to be on his own during the day, and the company is located downtown (I've never worked that far from home before!). A week or two later, however, George started motoring all around the house and I was approached again about the position, so after praying about it, I agreed to an interview. Everything about the company and the position seemed right, and as the old saying goes, "they made me an offer I couldn't refuse!" So, as of tomorrow, I will be out in the working world again, and besides a little concern about George being "home alone," I am really excited about the opportunity. My back-up caregivers, Lindsay & Dave, are still working flood claims in Atlanta, but my mom has volunteered to help us out by taking George to therapy three days a week. My mom has never taken George out on her own before, so this experience will be new to both of them. Please keep them in your prayers; I don't want either one of them injured! And, if any of you are ever out in the Katy area with some spare time, I'm sure George would love to have some company during the day or have a lunch partner!

Hope all is well in your world!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, Sept. 21 - Take a Guess!

QUESTION: How many men does it take to get George through a yard and to the car? ANSWER: Six ... 5 nephews and 1 brother! Actually, the task started out with just three nephews, but they seemed to be having a little trouble, so the rest of the crew showed up and offered moral support, if nothing else! It was definitely a Kodak moment, and to think, I typically do all of this by myself!! However, I've had a LOT of practice! This family get-together we attended occurred on Friday for a very sad reason. George's niece passed away suddenly on Tuesday evening, so we traveled to Nixon on Friday for her funeral. Afterward, a family friend hosted a dinner, and while it was so nice to see everyone, we sure wish it would have been under different circumstances. This is the second death in the Luker family in just a few weeks; we certainly hope it will be the last for quite some time. Our deepest sympathy, love and prayers go out to George's sister, Peggy, on the loss of her daughter, as well as to Marti's husband, son, grandchildren, siblings, etc. I know she will be missed terribly!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tues., Sept. 8th - Happy Birthday to Me!!

Well ... today is my 51st birthday, and I've been celebrating with friends and family all weekend long! I received beautiful, sentimental cards from my daughter, brother, and mother that made me cry, funny cards from friends that made me laugh, a lot of great gifts, flowers and soo many birthday emails and phone calls today that I lost count. But I think these video clips that I shot this morning capture the best present of all ...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday, Aug 28 - We've Come A Long Way Baby!

This week marked the 9-month anniversary of George's stroke, and he knew how to make it memorable!! Yesterday, for the first time ever, George got up from the kitchen table and walked to the den ALL BY HIMSELF ... meaning both unassisted and unescorted!! As many of you know, his walking has really improved and he has needed little help now for a few weeks except around corners, through doorways, or on/off the couch, etc. I think with September just a few days away, and hunting season lurking, he's decided to put some extra effort into his recovery. So yesterday, he and I were both finishing up lunch, when I got a business call. I stepped out of the kitchen into my office which is in the front of the house, and when I hung up 10 minutes later, I headed back to the kitchen to check on him. As I turned the corner, he wasn't there, and for a minute I thought, "Where did I leave him?!?" And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him sitting on the far end of the couch with a big ol' smile on his face! If any of the neighbors were out, I'm sure they thought we were having a party inside, because I started hooping and hollering, praising the Lord, and then Brady got all excited, and he started barking and running around with his squeaky toys! However, I think George got the biggest kick out of my excitement and wanted to "high five" me several times during my celebration! And then this morning, I had walked him into the bathroom and before I knew it, there he was coming back toward me down the hallway! I could hardly wait for his therapy appointments at MHKRH today so I could relay the good news to all of the therapists, aides and assistants who have worked so tirelessly in getting us to this point. In fact, I took cupcakes to sweeten the occasion! Paige and Jennifer, a PT student that has been also working with George for the last month, posed for a picture with him before they got started today, but don't let those smiles and cute faces fool you. They make George work really hard for the full hour they have him, and then Jennifer has to "recharge him" before they hand him over to Darrell for OT! Darrell has done a great job on George's right hand. Thanks to the use of pulleys, building blocks and peg boards, George is finally starting to use his hand more and more. In fact, over the weekend, I sat him at the table and had him cut up all of the veggies I use in my blackened fish tacos. I worried about him using a paring knife, but I kept a close eye on him (and band-aids handy!) and he did awesome! So, as you can see, we've had a really remarkable week on this 9-month anniversary.

I want to thank Mike Ligon for bringing over dinner last night and staying with George while we girls attended a church function. We are certainly blessed to have such wonderful friends and health professionals in our lives. We could not have made it through this very tumultuous time without all of you ... you're the best!!

On a much sadder note, George's "partner-in-crime" ... Charles Lee Luker ... lost his battle with lung cancer. The deer lease trips will never be the same, and George will miss their annual fishing trips to Port O'Connor the most. They were family, but they were also best friends. We look forward to being with family members on Tuesday in Victoria to share stories and memories at Charlie's memorial service.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday, August 22 - All is Well!

We have good news to share ... Emily, our sweet, 13-year old granddaughter is home from Texas Children's Hospital and all is well! As many of you know, Emily was born with a heart defect, and she had open heart surgery before she was a year old. The doctors perform thorough tests every year, and after her check-up a few weeks ago, they saw some changes and decided they needed a closer look. They told Emily that they might put a stent in one of her arteries so her heart didn't have to work soo hard since one of her valves does not work properly. However, once they got the cameras inside, they didn't think the stent would be beneficial, and it might make it more difficult for the surgeons down the road when they have to replace her "broken" valve. So, after a very long day at Texas Children's Hospital on Thursday (where her mom, dad, grandpap, her "CiCi" and Lindsay & Dave kept her company), she got to come home that very same night ... with only an incision and sore groin area. And, the best news is that after 5 days of limited activity, she can continue to play volleyball and stay on the 8th grade cheerleading squad ... GO EMILY, WE LOVE YOU!!

On Wednesday evening, our good friend, Van Gilbert, came to stay with George so I could go play bunko! He and George ate dinner and then rooted the Astros on to victory! We met Van, and his wife Jo, when we all joined St. Peter's UMC many years ago. We both had daughters the same age, so they went through Sunday School together, and then they both became awesome volleyball players in high school, played club ball together, and then went on and played intramural volleyball together at Texas A&M. Amy just had an adorable baby boy, Evan, two months ago, so Van & Jo are experiencing the joys of being a grandparent. And they also have a very handsome younger son, James, flying for the Naval Air Force. (this picture was taken Christmas 2007; I just love a man in a uniform!). Congrats and God's blessings to the entire family!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mon, August 17 - Mixing and Mingling

Hello there. It's been a couple of weeks since our last blog update. I believe I was off to Dallas to train at my corporate office when I last wrote. Lindsay, Dave and their dogs moved in for 3 days to take care of George, and they did a great job. Lindsay is an awesome cook and Dave is a master at the grill, so I know George ate much better than when I am at home with him. I was a "side dish" queen, George always grilled the meat or made the main dish, and I came home from work and did the veggies and salad. Now since I am in charge of all three meals, I have to really work in the kitchen, and I must admit that things get a little boring. We seem to take the easy way out more and more ... meaning ordering "to go" several days a week. It's hard to come up with both lunch and dinner every day and doing all of the cooking and the clean-up by myself. Life was much easier when I had a side-kick to help me out with meals (and the house, the errands, the finances, Brady, etc. ) and I wasn't a full-time caregiver and taxi service to therapy and doctor appointments too! Ahh, the good ol' days! During the days I was Dallas, Dave played baseball and basketball with George on the Wii. He really enjoyed that, and it's great therapy for his right arm and hand, but I can't get George to do it by himself! The kids also took him and my mom to Kemah for lunch one afternoon which I know he really enjoyed as well. Terri & Emily had an appointment in the medical center that same evening, so they stopped by and had dinner with them too. All-in-all it was a good three days for BOTH OF US! I loved being in the office with my co-workers once again, going out to lunch together, sleeping all night long, and getting up and just getting me ready for the day ... it was great and I sure appreciated the break.

Nothing much new and exciting to report as far as George's progress. Paige has a "partner in crime" with her these days ... Jennifer, a new graduate of PT school who is doing her internship at KRH, so George is getting the benefit of working with two physical therapists during his sessions. Jennifer is eager to put her skills to work, so she is trying electrical stimulation of his leg once again, and some other new mat exercises, so we'll see what happens! Hopefully this week I'll get a chance to take some new video or pictures.

Yesterday evening, George & I took our neighbors, Pat & Mike MacKenzie, out for burgers and fries at Mooyah. It's a great new little burger place across from Cinco Ranch High School that has the BEST fries in town. Mike has been such a great help to me since George's stroke. He installed our new light fixture in the hall bathroom as well as the towel bars, mirror, toilet paper holder, etc. He has also come to our rescue when George has fallen, and he and Pat are always there for moral support as well. And, when I invited them out for a burger on Sunday, I didn't realize it was also his birthday, so it worked out perfectly! My sweet Mom also had a birthday this weekend, as well as Dave's sister, Kate ... and there are more August birthdays coming up in the next couple of weeks of some of my favorite people! Party time!!

I also want to thank Jack Peak for calling George this week, as well as Butch Scherer. I know George appreciates the calls!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Saturday, Aug. 1 - Hello Old Friend

George got a surprise phone call last week from an old friend who lives in Arkansas ... he and his wife were in Houston and wanted to come by for a visit. George and John Sullivan worked together here in Houston more than 30 years ago and were great friends "back in the day!" They had lost touch over the years, but when they saw each other, they picked right up where they left off! John & Jeanie came by the house and visited for a while, and then we all went to lunch before George had to go to therapy. George had a lot of fun reminiscing about plumbing jobs and also about the good times they had after a hard day's work! John is semi-retired now; he has owned his own plumbing company in Arkansas for many years, and his customers won't let him fully retire, so they had to head back this weekend, but we hope it's not too long before they come back to Texas and visit again!

We also had a fun visit with another one of George's former co-workers ... Karen Bradford from Klare Plumbing and her son, Derek, came over Tuesday evening. We went to Victor's for some mexican food and then came back to our house for dessert. I made a homemade angel food cake with crushed pineapple baked inside, and even though it tasted good, it all fell apart when taking it out of the pan! Derek made me feel good, however, he went back for seconds! Derek is going to come spend a day with us very soon. He is going to show George how to play some games on the Wii that I bought recently. George gets bored sitting on the couch during the day, so I thought some sport-type games would not only keep him occupied, but would possibly help rehabilitate that right hand! From what I understand, Derek is a real pro at Wii, so George will be learning how to play from the "master!" We look forward to your visit, Derek!!

There will even be more activity at the Luker household this coming week ... Lindsay & Dave and their two dogs are moving in for a few days! I have to go to Dallas on business; our corporate office is there, and I will be doing some training and having meetings on streamlining our accounting procedures. George will be in good hands with our daughter and son-in-law, and Brady will be soo happy having Macy & Cooper here to play with 24/hours a day! Have a great week ahead!!