Monday, April 27, 2009


1994 was a roller coaster year, with some huge ups and downs. On the "up" side, René & Danny presented us with our first grandchild. This is the one with the worst case of colic that I've ever heard of. Danny gets the "father of his generation" award for taking at least 50% of Jenni's upbringing.  This is from the 'all night' vigils during her first 10 months of colic, to playing 'Barbie' or 'dress-up', to coaching her athletic events, and attending all games. I've never known another dad to match him—and his attentiveness continues today!

On the down side, both of my parents died. Mom had been declining for years, and everything was blamed on her diabetes. Had I known then what I know now, I'm sure she had MS. I've since learned the close relationship of diabetes & MS, and how naive most doctors really are. Anyway, she passed 2 months after Jenni was born, and never saw her. My dad passed 2 months after mom, I'm sure of a broken heart—though brain aneurism was the listed cause.

MS wise, I was slowly sliding, but continued to work, and actually did pretty well. I had noted that on a few trips away from Wichita (to CA and to AK during the folks' ails) my symptoms lessened. Also, the more time I spent at home, the more severe my symptoms became. I debated this with my MS support groups (2) and thoroughly investigated every suggested possible cause. 

More soon. Hugs!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


You seemed interested in my cane, so I thought I'd give you an introduction. His name "Casey" is derived from the initials "K" and "C" for Katy's Cane. It was love at first sight, when I was cane hunting. In case you can't make it out, the handle is a carved eagle. He's a bit beaten up, (ever dropped your cane?) but he faithfully stays by my side whenever I need him.  Hugs!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another Wedding

1993 brought the 3rd wedding, and an empty nest. Doug married the sister of Curtis' wife. In other words, brothers married sisters. My sister also had 2 sons who married sisters. It makes for a pretty close-knit family with the in-laws.

At time of the photo, my MS had progressed to the point of my using an orthodic, on occasion, for foot drop. And, I used a cane—for balance—mainly so strangers would be aware that I had a problem and wouldn't be so concerned about my staggering. But, I could still hold my own at the restaurant, for the most part. I had to slow down, and compensate here and there for some rather strange incidents. But, I attended two different MS support groups, and was learning some good coping skills. 


Friday, April 17, 2009


I 'm going to make this short, and go off of our story, for today. I just wanted to say that my rash is healing beautifully, and that my sleeping is improved. 

I was fooling around with the "Photo Booth" on my computer, and am thinking of using the picture above as my profile picture on Facebook—Mel saw absolutely no humor in it—what's your opinion?


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


My first hummer has arrived! I've seen 3 hummers feeding, so far, but think that two of those sightings were the same bird. Anyway, they appeared a day earlier than last year. And, Judy, they were first sighted in this county on March 23rd. But remember I'm much further south and west of you. And, they return to favorite former feeding sights, so these are MY birds! lol   They typically feed for about 10 days to fatten up before moving on to the next location in their migration. It'll still be close to May for you. Hugs!


In my studies to learn more about Ménièr's Disease, I found that there was a doctor in Denver who specialized in Ménièr's Disease, and if I qualified, he could perform a surgery to destroy the balance system which would get rid of the spinners and wobblies. I'd have to "learn" to balance without my own built-in system, but that it was doable and I'd be able to maintain my life without the nausea, and weird sensations resulting from my vertigo. This was two years after my initial "spin out", and there had been no improvement.

I wound up setting up an appointment, and arranging the trip to Denver. The clinics in Denver had some apartments for out-of-town patients (similar to Cleveland Clinic) which were within walking (staggering) distance of the doctor(s). While walking to the ear doc's office, I walked right by the Rocky Mountain MS Center. Something told me (God shoved me, again) that I'd be back there. I'd never heard "MS" with regards to my condition , and knew nothing about it—but somehow I knew that MS was the culprit.

I went through MANY tests, including one which tested my balance system. I could see, from the contraption, (an 18" platform, a harness, and a 3 sided screen) that I was in for a wild ride! I told them that I'd been living on that ride for two years, and they'd never be able to shake me off of it. They couldn't!

At the end of my all-day testing, the doctor went over the results with me. He could neither confirm, nor rule out Ménièr's Disease. But said that my balance system was profound, and "you don't want to destroy THAT". He also recommended an MRI to "rule out" MS. They had an immediate opening, and I had my first MRI—but the results wouldn't be available for days. 

Back home several days later, I got the call with MRI results—"highly consistent with MS". More studies to find out about this disorder, and, what next? The next step was to see a Neurologist. I couldn't get in to see a local neuro for months, and wound up going back to Denver to the MS Center. The wonderful neuro there gave me a thorough exam, and explained the stages of confirming a diagnosis—possible, probable, and definite. She said that the MRI had given me a "possible" and that her exam gave me a "probable". She prescribed 3 evoked potential tests to complete the diagnosis. I was able to have the evoked potential tests done in Wichita, and had the results sent to a Wichita neuro. The new neuro was another fantastic doctor! Her review of the tests gave me a "definite progressive MS" diagnosis.

More soon!  No hummers yet. Hugs!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I'd said that The Puddle story was a set-up for  the next major event in our story. It is now March of 1990. On a Monday afternoon, we did our usual Monday after work activity, which was to hitch up the boat, and head out to The Puddle, and to the motel where we stayed each Monday night. After we got settled in our room, I went to the bathroom before we went fishin'. A few feet outside the bathroom, my world started spinning violently, and I went to my hands and knees. I called to Mel for help, and he was able to get me to a sitting position and the spinning gradually subsided. (though I've had problems ever since) We didn't have a clue then, but we now know that that was the beginning of the secondary stage of my MS.

I'd had ear problems (ruptured ear drums) my whole life, and had long ago discovered that they were primarily allergy related, and specific to something that bloomed in spring—generally April, but sometimes an early spring brought March woes. In 1990, we were experiencing an early spring, and I surmised that my "spin out" had something to do with my ears, and would likely resolve itself after spring passed. But I resolved to see our family doctor for his view.

We went ahead with our fishing, and the vertigo settled into self-describing "wobblies" and "spinners". The spinners didn't occur often, nor did they last long—fortunately, as they were totally debilitating. spinners meant "sit down" immediately, wherever I was—or fall down. I saw our family doctor after we had returned to our normal routine. He said "we'd" try a couple of medications, and if they didn't work, he'd send me to a neurologist. (he knew!) The meds didn't work, of course.

I gave it a couple of months, then set up an appointment with an otologist (ear doctor) as I was certain the problem stemmed from my ears. The otologist ran several tests, and diagnosed "Ménière's disease". The study was on to learn more about that. 

Still no hummers, here. They returned on April 16th last year—so I'm watching! Hugs.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Puddle

The next story needs a bit of an introduction. 

The restaurant occupied our lives. It was do or die for us, and dying looked imminent. We had assumed the restaurant as a 24 hour operation by the previous owner. We lost much of the help, and Mel and I, (alone much of the time) tried to keep the doors open round the clock. We worked 60 hours non-stop, relieving each other for occasional brief naps. After 60 consecutive hours, Mel announced that he was not able to continue—I admitted I was in the same shape. We locked the door, and went home for some much needed rest. After the brains started functioning, again, we concluded that a 24 hour schedule would not work. We reworked a schedule to accommodate 2 shifts, and reopened. But, we could not afford to go even a day without income, so worked 7 days per week, 365 for nearly 3 years before we ever took a day off! To prevent total burn-out, we took "micro-mini" vacations, where we'd get off at approximately  14:00, drive about 50 miles, spend the night in a motel, get up at 03:00 and reopen at 06:00! We finally got ahead sufficiently that we started closing one day per week. What a luxury that was! 

Tuesdays were sacred, and to leave "work" off of our minds for a whole day was life saving. We made the most of this precious day by occupying it with our favorite pastime—fishing. We leased a small lake in the next county, and for years, Tuesday was "our" day. The lease ("The Puddle" we called it) was over-stocked, and though most of the fish were small, they were plentiful, and we learned where and when to find them most of the time. I personally was intrigued by the skittish carp, and determined that I was going to catch one. The photo above shows my first triumph! Eventually, we bought a cheap flat-bottom boat which Mel fixed up. And, all of our family and friends bonded with The Puddle. I've got a large album filled with pictures and endless stories.

More soon....     Hugs!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another leaves the nest

The next major event in our lives was René's wedding. What a grueling event a wedding is! Like moving, it puts a strain on everyone involved. But, it also provides some serious tests for relationships. Children don't often learn from their parents' mistakes, but René decided that the alcoholism which nearly destroyed her "poppa" was never to be a part of her life again. Shy wanted a "dry" reception, and insisted, even, that her husband-to-be (Danny) be a non-drinker.  A couple of days before the wedding (invited guests on the way) Danny's buddies wanted to throw a bachelor's bash. René knew there'd be drinking and insisted that Danny choose between her and the "party". She sobbed as she explained her dilemma to us—feeling forced to go through with the wedding which we'd planned for so long, yet vowing not to cave in to her "booze free" policy. We assured her that she must follow her instincts, that we'd back her, and that we could have a huge booze-less party with all the guests, and forgo the ceremony. 

Danny did NOT attend a bachelor's party, and the lovely wedding went off without problems. The only thing we could have wished improving was that a severe thunderstorm caught them while on the carriage ride home. They got soaked! 

The wedding was in May 1988—it was the last time I ever wore "heels". Hugs!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Doin' Okay

I just returned from the dermatologist. He took a culture to check whether there was any infection, but left it up to me to go onto antibiotics before the culture results. I declined, because I'm not showing any signs of infection.

He agreed with my analysis of the cause, and agreed that I'm following the correct path to healing. So, I'll continue treating as I have been with the addition of a prescription topical ointment. I don't know (nor did doc) what might happen when the steroid shot which I got on Monday wears off, but for the moment, anyway, the rash  is looking better. I will continue using my spa, and my meds will remain the same. I'm itching terribly, which triggers "shooters", but for whatever reason, the hot water in the spa calms the itch a bit. And I'm coping fairly well.  Hugs!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hello April

The next major event occurred in 1987. This was a long planned and saved for trip to CA to celebrate my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. Mom and dad had eloped in 1937, during the height of the great depression. My dad was in dental school, at the time, and to my understanding was so distracted between his studies and his courtship of mom, that they decided the answer was to get married. Anyway, since they'd eloped, mom wanted a big to-do renewal of their vows for the 50th. The event was outstanding! The gathering included friends and family from across the US. A professional photographer recorded a treasure of pictures.

We closed the restaurant for a week, and seven of us (Mel & me + 3 kids + Curtis' wife + Arno) flew out, and enjoyed a first and last vacation together. The beautiful memories will live as long as we do.

The pictures above are of mom & dad, and our 3 now grown-up babies. Hugs!