Friday, May 22, 2015

We Just Want What's Best For Her

Lots has been happening this past week for our family. My mom is in the Temporary Care Unit of Three Links Care Center in Northfield where she'll hopefully be for several more days or better yet, weeks. I say hopefully because there's a strong possibility that she'll be going home sooner than she should. She's still not strong enough to get around without help but she's determined to go back home and resume her life as she left it last Saturday.

I had been trying to get a hold of her Saturday morning but her phone was off the hook. I texted Tim (he lives with her) and he told me she wasn't feeling well; he suspected food poisoning. It concerned me because her health is frail to begin with and who knows how much her heart can take?

I was able to get in touch with Tracee and she offered to go over and check on her. It's a good thing she did. She rushed her to the emergency room at Ridges Hospital in Burnsville. Her heart was beating much too hard at 145 bpm, her blood pressure was dangerously high and her temperature was elevated. She was very dehydrated and some of the other values they check for were also out of range. She was in tough shape.

She spent the next few days at Ridges before being discharged to her room in Northfield where she remains.

As much as we'd like to see her remain there until she's better, the decision to leave or stay is up to her. The facility she's at has no ability to keep her from returning home no matter how weak or unable to care for herself she is.

We talked about getting her into an assisted living facility but she would need to be considerably stronger than she is for that to be an option. The other option we have is long term care or what's often referred to as a nursing home. It's not where we'd want to see her but it's a much safer environment than her home where I envision her sitting in front of the television watching Fox News and too weak to make it to the bathroom or kitchen without a huge effort on her part, say nothing of trying to bathe herself. It's very worrisome.

When all of this began to unfold we offered to take her in rather than having her return to her home but I began to have second thoughts about our offer. With Tammy's mother coming to stay with us next week, Tammy can't afford to have her back go out on her trying to lift my mother. With Tammy's fragile back, that's a real possibility and not a risk I want her to take.

This incident has weakened her quite a lot. I'm hopeful that she'll bounce back as she has in the past but that may be asking too much this time. There may be a new-normal that she's going to have to adjust to.

I want to say a special thank-you to Tracee for getting her to the hospital and quite likely saving her life. I don't think it can be overstated just how important it was that she received the medical care she did without any further delay last Saturday.

Also, a special thank-you to Tammy for putting in three full days with her making sure she was comfortable and easing her fears through it all.

I'm not sure how this will all unfold. We're working with a social worker to help us navigate these waters and discuss the options available to our mom. There's so much to consider and her options change as her health improves or declines and on the availability of rooms. We just want what's best for her.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Let the Growing Begin!

Tammy is rocking the gardening thing this year! We always take one day each spring to go shopping for flowers. It's a pretty big undertaking considering all of the flower gardens we have so it's best done as a team, plus we always love doing it together. Our schedules weren't lining up so well so Tammy offered to go out last Friday and get most of what we needed before the hordes of weekend shoppers scarfed them up.

I came home from work Friday night and she was excited to take me out and show me what she'd picked out. I had the biggest smile on my face. She did real well! Not only that but when I came home from work Saturday afternoon she was well on her way to having them all in the ground. Wow!

We went out Monday morning to find some hanging baskets for our deck and front step. The finishing touch to our outdoor work was an herb garden I made for her as a Mother's Day gift.

Let the growing begin!

We've had some cool weather here and I've been taking advantage of it by getting the pups out walking more than I usually do with two walks a day. They're loving it but I'm worried that they're going to expect me to do this every day. I just know that once the warm weather arrives Toby and Allie will have a difficult time doing these sort of distances. They'll be 12 this summer and I don't want to push them too hard. We've done 4 miles each of the last two days...this walk here broken up into two segments.

Toby is so adorable. He pretty much leads the way and he knows which roads lead to home and which ones will add distance to the walk. He was especially happy these last two days when I gave in to his pleadings to add the Fleet Farm kicker to our walk thereby adding an additional 15 minutes. It's tough to look into those sweet, aging eyes of his and say no. Usually once during each walk he'll slow and look at me and I'll know it's his signal for me to bring my face nearer to his so he can jump up and give me a lick. I always interpret it as him saying "Thanks for the walk, Dad!" He's such a sweetheart.

We watched Still Alice a couple nights ago after having read the book. It's a fictional story about a Harvard linguistics professor who is stricken with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease. I know there will be a significant difference between the trials of the woman in the movie compared to Tammy's mother but I think it's important for me to learn whatever I can ahead of time about the disease and its effect on a person's mind.

Yardwork and gardening took up most of my days off. I did manage one nice ride with Hynek; a 45 mile loop out to Hampton. My knees felt much better than normal so I was happy.

Hampton Loop with Hynek from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

New Normals

My routine in the morning is to get up and let the dogs out first thing before feeding them. Toby and Allie are pretty quick to jump out of bed but not nearly as fast as Charlie. He's on the floor spinning circles in excitement waiting for them. They race down the stairs and out into the front yard where they quickly do their business before hurrying in to be fed. The other morning Charlie was as excited as ever to eat. He ran inside and when Toby and Allie were too slow making their way back into the house he ran out onto the front porch while I waited there with the door open. He let out a big "woof" in their direction as if to say "c'mon...hurry it up!" before running back inside. It was so funny. He's such a character.

We picked up Mom on Monday afternoon and took her out for a late lunch at Olive Garden. I should clarify; we only drove. She insisted on paying the bill with a combination of a gift card from Bryan and Sue and her own money.

She doesn't get out very much anymore it seems unless it's for a doctor appointment. Since losing the vision in her right eye she's become so much less ambulatory. She uses a walker now but she'll still try and get by with just her cane but we don't let her. She simply can't afford to fall. It has to be so hard for her considering how active she used to be up until just a couple of years ago.

We had a very nice time.

Tammy made a quick trip up north to put some finishing touches on our plans to bring her mother down to live with us beginning in a few weeks. I think she pretty much has everything in order. A more giving person than Tammy I'm not aware of. She's so looking forward to having Elaine in our home and engaging her with crafts and conversation and taking her places. So am I.

Rachel spent Thursday night with us. We uncorked some wine and watched an episode of Parenthood while we chatted. There's always so much to catch up on with each other. I love our time together.

Tammy has a few weeks left in her Guardianship class through Hennepin County. It's a lot more rigorous than I think she figured it would be but she's enjoying it and learning a lot. She hopes to eventually volunteer her services to one or two people once she's certified. Having her mother come to stay with us wasn't really in the plans when she signed up for the class so it may be something she'll have to put on hold while she cares for Elaine. We'll see.

I got out yesterday morning for a loop to Jordan before heading in to work. I'm still trying to adjust to my new-normal with my sorer than normal knees. I'm managing. Tammy has been encouraging me to go in for another Synvisc (hyaluronic acid) injection but I'd like to hold off and see if I can get by without it for this year. Being slower than I'm used to is tough to accept but then I think about how I could easily be adjusting to life without my lower left leg and my pity-party comes to an abrupt halt.

It's all about perspective.

Jordan Loop from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Friday, May 1, 2015

So Long, Rick!

We were back in the studio Monday afternoon for a few hours. I haven't been happy with the color application of my last couple of votives so I switched to the Swedish overlay method and got much better results.

We've only been at Foci again for a few weeks but I'm feeling like I'm nearly back to where I was before we took those nine months off. I really enjoy making the candle votives I've been playing around with but I do need to do some other shapes too. I have a request from a friend for a larger mouth vase so maybe I'll put some thought into that as well but I don't think I'll stop doing the votives anytime soon.

I'm sitting at 246 days remaining in my career as an air traffic controller. Using this nifty calendar I can count back that same number of days and get a better feel for just how long 246 days is. This was us that many days ago. It's happening quickly now but I'm feeling ready.

Speaking of retiring: Rick Melhorn has left the building after having reached the mandatory retirement age of 56. A nicer guy you will not meet. I've worked on and off with Rick for the last 30 years. A retirement party was organized for him at one of the local pubs in town. It was nice to see such a good turnout.

Jeff Boyce even made the trip from Milwaukee to celebrate Rick's retirement. Jeff used to work with us until about 25 years ago when he decided to move closer to home and took a job at Milwaukee tower from where he recently retired. Jeff was the controller who took the initial emergency call from the ill-fated United-two-thirty-two. It was nice to see him but I wish we'd have had more time to chat.

Rachel texted us tonight with a link to a site that tries to calculate the age of people in photographs. Go to and submit a photo or two. Tammy's gonna love me for this one!

I've been out on my bike just a couple of times this week and because I can I've got some video from both rides. I made it out Tuesday morning with some (much younger!) friends from work and did my best to not let my age show. I did okay.

Ride with Hynek and Jason from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

I was also out yesterday morning before work doing my Hampton Loop. I felt pretty good out there and was able to keep my watts well above 200 for much of it.

Hampton Loop from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

And that's a wrap! Enjoy your weekend...

Over and out!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

No Joke

Rachel was back at Canvas and Chardonnay a few nights ago. She texted Tammy and me this photo of the painting she'd done but we couldn't figure out what it was or if it was a finished product. Hmmm...a little later she sent us the completed painting (photo to the left).

I think this is her third time taking a class there. I told her she should look into applying for a job there teaching classes. I could very much see her doing that. Oops...I just forgot...she's moving home in a few weeks!

Tammy has been preparing for her mother to come and stay with us at the end of May. She's purchased a wheelchair that we can use to take her out and about. We'll have walkers on each level of our home for her to more safely get around and minimize her risk of falling. I don't think I can fully appreciate just how big of an undertaking this is going to be but we know it's the right thing to do. Tammy has many years of experience in this area so I'll just follow her lead.

She was online tonight ordering some in-home monitors so she can more easily keep a watchful eye on her mother when she's in another room or while Tammy is working out or whatever. I think that's a very good idea.

4/20 is National Weed Day. I posted the graphic to the right on my Facebook wall the next day. Haha...funny! And wouldn't you know it, my first day back to work this week I was pulled aside and told I needed to go down and pee in a cup for the drug testers. No worries because it's been well over 33 years since I've indulged in the evil weed or any other forbidden mind altering substances. I wouldn't mind making a trip out west though in another 252 days or so. Not that that would be necessary but I think it would be a hoot. Watch this space.

I'm still enjoying my walks as much as ever. I try and get out for at least a 10 mile walk a couple times each week; sometimes more often. I'd like to be on my bike more but I think it's best for my knee health if I mix it up a little. I had planned to ride after work today but I was tired and I'm trying to do a better job of listening to my body. I don't need anymore asleep at the wheel incidents. Regardless of whether it's walking or riding, there's something very therapeutic about being alone with my thoughts for a few hours at a time

A friend at work lost his home in a fire yesterday afternoon. I can't begin to imagine what all Brian is going through. He's the 2nd controller in the last few years at our facility who's suffered this tragedy. Shortly after Brian left for home we got a message at the sectors saying the cafeteria was closing early because the chef had an emergency at home. We heard later that he too had a house fire. What are the odds of two people at the same facility experiencing a house fire on the same day?

A few of us were talking today at work about insurance agencies. We're with State Farm but mostly because our policy is through a former neighbor. A friend said he uses USAA and is very happy with them for both their attention to claims and cost savings. I may have to spend some time this week comparing companies.

Any suggestions about insurance companies would be welcome.

Morning Ride from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Change is Coming and Change is Here

I received some very good news Monday night in a call from Dr Johnstone. I posted the news to my Facebook wall:

"I just got off the phone with my doctor/surgeon. She updated me on my CT scan from last Wednesday and used the word "lovely" a few times to describe what she saw. The clot in my left common iliac artery that had an irregular shape and was most concerning to her was no longer there. Wow! I wasn't expecting to hear that at all. The clot in my right iliac artery had diminished in size. Another wow! I thank God and medical science for that great news and anybody who may have offered up their prayers or good thoughts or well-wishes. This is welcome news to me/us."

I had mentally prepared myself for a result that would have had me undergoing a surgical procedure that would've meant the end of my career and months of recovery. This gives me some breathing room and I'm once again focused on a retirement date of 1/2/2016, 259 days from now.

Our quiet household is about to become much more alive in a little more than a month. Rachel will be moving back home for the summer (maybe longer) and Tammy's mother will be coming to stay with us. Elaine will be 90 at the end of the year and is in the early stages of Alzheimers. Tammy was a nurse on an alzheimers wing at a retirement home for many years and is in a great position in life to be able to care for her. We're hopeful that she'll adapt to her new life with us without too much stress but we really have no way of knowing how smoothly she'll make the transition. We're looking forward to making her as comfortable and as happy as we can.

I'm not sure how we'll fit activities such as glassblowing into our routine once Elaine is with us. It may be that we'll have to put that hobby on hold or possibly find other temporary partners in the studio.

Speaking of glassblowing; we were back in the studio again on Wednesday afternoon. I struggled with my first 2 pieces but managed to do what I think will be a nice candle votive on my third try. We'll be back at Foci on Tuesday for another 3 hour session and to pick up our work.

I was happy with the pieces we made 2 weeks earlier. For not having been at the bench in nearly 9 months I thought we did okay.

Our hummingbird feeder is out and ready for any early arrivals. I've had such a difficult time attracting the little guys in previous years. It wasn't until late last summer when I finally had a pair that appeared to make it their go-to place to feed. I want to be sure I'm ready for them if they return and any others that may happen by.

I've been taking glucosamine/chondroitin for knee pain for a couple months now and I think it may be starting to help, either that or my knees are getting used to the more regular demands I'm putting on them. I did fine on Tuesday's 55 mile ride through the first 30 miles but then the pain kicked in and I had to limp home. Yesterday was so much better. I did my Jordan loop and was able to keep my watts well above a 200 average for the last 29 miles with very little pain. I'm still nowhere near where I was last year at this time but I'm making progress and for that I'm grateful.

The synvisc (hyaluronic acid) injection I had last year in my right knee worked wonders but I'm hesitant to go that route again. I find that without pain I push harder than I should and I'm worried that I may have stressed my knee more than is good for it. I'd like to give the glucosamine/chondroitin combination a chance to do all it can for me. A little pain can be a good thing if it keeps me in check.

My days off at work have changed to a more junior schedule, one where I'm working with several people I've seldom ever had the chance to work with previously. I'm just putting the finishing touches on a Saturday day-shift as I write this. I can't recall the last time I was here on a Saturday morning but I'm quite sure it's been decades! I think it's gonna be a nice change.

South Loop to Northfield from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Celebration to Remember

I had another CT scan Wednesday morning. The results of the scan were to give my surgeon a better idea about the timetable for performing bypass surgery on my common iliac arteries. I was expecting a call with the results but I've heard nothing yet. I would think that if there was anything of urgency on the scan she would've gotten in touch with me by now.

We took a drive into St Paul Friday morning to take in the American Craft Council art show. It's a yearly thing we try and do since first attending maybe 10 years ago. We came close to getting Tammy a new Ann Ringness purse but she opted to get some more miles out of the one I bought for her a few years ago. Perhaps we'll see Ann again at the Uptown Art Fair in August and get one then. We chatted for a while with David Royce, one of the glassblowing artists we met when we first began at Foci. His work is just so beautiful and unique.

On the way back to our car I noticed some pigeons walking along the metal supports for the skyway. I looked a little closer and saw that there were maybe a dozen pairs with the males bringing the females nesting material while they laid on their eggs. It was interesting to watch.

We made a stop at Cossetta's for some Italian cuisine before leaving for home. It's been several months since we were there so we were overdue. It's easily our favorite place for something tasty in St Paul. There's typically a wait to place your order but there's so much visually to take in that the time passes quickly. There's a reason it's always so busy.

This past weekend was a full one for us both culminating in a small retirement party for Tammy with a few of our closer friends. It was almost a perfect evening.

Rachel came bee-bopping in around 5:00 Friday afternoon, a couple hours before the party. She took over preparations. This girl knows how to throw a party! She brought some nice decorations, assorted foods to make appetizers and the fixings for Mint Mojitos! Between the food we had catered from Davanni's and her appetizers we had more than enough.

I had ordered a cake from Cub Foods (the local grocery store) and gave them a cutout of a photo of Tammy from when she was first licensed as a nurse. I had asked for a lighter lavender background color but it didn't quite turn out that way. That's okay because it tasted just like cake (duh!) I think she was too surprised by the idea to care. She cried a few tears, so thankful for her retirement, friends and the party. We were all so happy for her.

It was almost a perfect evening until our garbage disposal decided to develop a hole in its side and allow water to spew out of it and inside the cabinet below. Luckily I noticed it right away. Rachel and I cleaned up the mess and resumed the celebration.

Here's a link to a set of a few photos from the party.

I made it out for a couple rides this past week. Here's video from a loop into St Paul.

Windy Loop into St Paul from kevin gilmore on Vimeo.