Sunday, October 19, 2014

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

By now I imagine most of you know how I spent my summer.  If not, you can read about it on the Caring Bridge site Erin started.  And several of you have asked when I would be returning to this blog.  Wow!  You missed me?  Turns out I have more readers than I realized! 

I've thought long and hard about whether or not I should write about the accident.  More to the point. COULD I write about it?  Fortunately, I haven't had nightmares or flashbacks to the fire.  I've told the story so many times, at this point I'm pretty sure I say the exact same thing, word for word.  No deviating.  No thinking about what could have been.  No concentrating on the fear or the pain.  It's all about the recovery.  Not that I remember much about that.  The first 4-5 weeks in the KU Burn Unit are pretty foggy.  Gotta love narcotics!  What I do remember is the wonderful care I received from the nurses, some of the visitors (sorry if you came early and I didn't remember!) and the tons of cards I received.  

Not so surprisingly, this whole experience has been life changing.  I've certainly learned a lot about myself.  For the first time in my life, people are telling me how strong I am.  The Doctors, nurses, and therapists all praised me for my determination to get better.  They were amazed at how hard I worked to get back on my feet and home.  Well guess who is even more amazed?  Yep - that would be me.  My entire life I've considered myself the complete opposite from the person I became this summer.  The real challenge will be to see if I can retain these qualities. 

My relationship with Greg was also drastically affected.  He's not really the type to discuss these things, but I believe the thought of losing me scared the bejesus out of him!  His caring side came roaring out and took over.  It was nice to be reminded that he really does love me. 

I always knew how strong Erin is, but boy, let me tell you, she kicked butt when it came to taking care of her momma!  I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful, caring daughter. 

Friends.  Boy oh boy do I have some awesome friends.  Not that I didn't already know that, but they not so subtly reminded me just how lucky I am to have such generous and caring people in my life.  I'll never ever take them for granted.   

We're 4 months out now, and things are going well.  I rushed back to work just a week after getting out of rehab.  Turns out that might not have been the best idea.  My employer, who, did I mention, has been awesome throughout this whole thing?  Anyway, they agreed to let me cut back to 6 hour days for now, until I can get my strength back.  It's not easy to accept that your body won't let you do what your mind thinks you can do.  I'm working on that. 

Last thing -- a big thank you to all of you.  When I went back and read all of the FB posts and Caring Bridge messages, I felt the love.  And then I cried.  But they were happy tears, so it's all good. 


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Because I'm Happy*

Hi Barb -- I'm Barb -- nice to meet you.  Or something like that.  Recently I feel like I've seen a new side of my personality that I either didn't know existed or more likely, pretended didn't exist. 

I've always been  a positive person.  No matter how dark and dreary things are, I will always find the silver lining.  Feeling down?  Come see me!  I promise you'll be a happier person when you leave.  If you enjoy wallowing in your pain, you probably don't want to talk to me.   So how is it I never saw the negativity inside myself?  When it comes to making myself feel better?  I suck! 

For the last couple of weeks I've made a concerted effort to stay away from negativity.  Not saying I was 100% successful, but it's coming along.  Change is never easy, right?  You know the old saying "you reap what you sow"?  I feel like the more positivity I project, the more I will attract.  I think that may be the concept behind the book "The Secret" that my bff/sister/cousin Julie gave me several years ago.  She said it would change my life.  It sat on my laundry chute in my bathroom for years, begging me to read it.  And I did.  I read the same few pages over and over again, but could never get past them.  Maybe it's time to try again.  Now where did I put that darn book? 

In other news... I recently did a sleep study, and was diagnosed with moderate Sleep Apnea.  The next step is to get a CPAP machine calibrated and start using it.  I'll let you know how that goes.  I have very high expectations for this treatment.  I've had so much difficulty just waking up every morning and getting to work on time, that the idea of getting a good night's sleep and waking up refreshed has me positively giddy!!!

*The old me would say "I HATE THAT SONG!!!"  The new me says I can't wait till that Pharrell guy puts out a new single!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

My Big Brother

I just talked to Bill on the phone, and I'm beyond thrilled to say it really was my brother on the other end.  Not that heavily medicated, groggy, hurting beyond imagination man of the last two weeks.   When Mom and I visited 2 days ago, he was better than when he was still in the Trauma ICU, but he was still in a great deal of pain.  One of the Orthopedic Doctors came in while we were there and gave us a run down of his injuries.

1) broke three of the five metatarsal bones in his right foot, which
     they haven't repaired yet
2) broken right tibia with loss of bone, which will require a bone graft in
     the future
3) broken right distal femur just above the knee - they put a metal plate in
     to help stabilize it
4) severe soft tissue damage on back side of  his right calf - skin and muscle
     grafts were done

WOW.  That's a lot of hurting going on right there. 

Just now, on the phone he reported that he'd had an excellent day and reached several milestones, including:

    * The drains in his back were removed
    * He was able to stand on "one weak leg" as he put it, for the first time
    * The Physical Therapists (who he referred to on Saturday as the Crash
       Test Dummies) helped him get into a wheelchair and he was able to
       wheel himself around the nurses station a few times and then sit up
       in the chair for 1/2 hour.  (I think he's changed his opinion of the
       PTs now)
    * They were able to remove the nerve block that was helping ease
       some of the pain
    * He had them stop the IV pain medicine

So again, WOW!   That's more like a lot of HEALING going on!!  I told him he needs to call Mom so she can hear just how great he sounds.  I know how relieved she'll be when she hears his voice.  It sounds like he'll be leaving KUMC sometime this week, but we're not sure where he's headed.

He's still got a long road ahead before he's healed, but he's certainly headed in the right direction.  Thank you to each and every one of you who said a prayer, sent good thoughts, and continue to ask about him.  He's been overwhelmed by the response of so many friends. 

To my brave big brother, I just have to say I'm so proud of you, I love you and I'm really glad it wasn't your time to leave us!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Tomorrow would have been my dad's 95th birthday.  He's been gone for almost 15 years and I still think about him every day.  I suppose most daughters think their dad was the best, but really, my dad WAS the best!!  I remember when I was a little girl, I'd sit on the back of the couch behind him and pretend to dump ketchup, mustard, and anything else I could think of on his hair, and then rub it all in.  His hair was a disaster when I was done, but he didn't mind.  That tradition continued on with the grandkids - I even have a picture somewhere of Rosalie playing with his hair.  Of course, she had much less to play with than I did! 

My dad came from a family of 9 kids, and family was always very important to him. As a child, we visited my Grandma and Grandpa Granger in Strong City at least once a month, maybe more often.  (kids don't keep great track of time you know)  There was always lots of family there, and Grandma always fixed a big meal for everyone.  I was close to all of my aunts and uncles, but not my cousins so much.  Most of my cousins were considerably older than me.  I was the youngest grandchild, and there were many great grandkids older than me.  He inherited his love for flowers and gardening from his mother.  Gardening was how my dad relaxed after a hard day of bricklaying.  Can you imagine?  He worked for hours in the garden and it showed.  After Greg and I were married, he tried to help me with a garden, even helping me harvest and can green beans.  He finally figured out it just wasn't my thing, but he never judged me for it.  He also had a nice little orchard with fruit trees, grape vines, and black raspberries.  Mom and Dad spent hours every summer canning green beans, tomatoes, raspberry, grape and rhubarb jelly, and freezing corn and fruit for pies.  He always helped Mom out with that kind of stuff.

He taught me to drive, change a tire, check my oil, and pump gas.  He always wanted me to be able to  take care of myself.   He reluctantly let me mow the yard.  Now I'm not sure if it was because he was worried I'd get hurt or that I'd hurt the mower! 

I think my dad was the most gentle man I've ever known.  He had a soft spot for babies, both human and animal.  He even loved the pet raccoon we had when Erin was little.  Being around babies made his whole face light up.  He couldn't keep his hands off of them.

showing new baby Erin to her cousin 

November 1983 with 7 month old Erin 
love that look of contentment on his face

sneakin' a smooch - Christmas 1983
(not sure what Miss Erin's problem was!)

After he retired, he and mom moved into Burlingame, and he missed the country so much.  He'd get restless in town, and the next thing I knew, he'd be at my house.  He didn't want anything special, and didn't expect me to entertain him.  He just liked being on the farm.  The last ten years of so of his life, he and mom came out every Sunday afternoon, like clockwork.  We watched football or basketball, or whatever other sport was on together.  Those Sundays are one of the things I miss the most.  

One thing that did keep him busy in those later years was baking.  He became famous for the cakes he shared with this Masonic brothers and at the Sr. Center Meal Site.  He checked Greg's Grass and Grain every week for new recipes.   

Tomorrow will be a bittersweet day.  I'm taking Carter and Chloe with me to put flowers on his grave.  I wish with all my heart that they could have known their Great Grandpa Granger.  I'll share some stories with them, but of course it won't be the same.  We'll just have to settle for a visit with Great Grandma Granger.  She's pretty cool too. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

So long George.....

What a great weekend I just spent with Erin!  Shopping for baby clothes for my new great niece Jolie!  Lunch out at Chilis!  Driving all over downtown KC looking for the elusive "Liquor Store", and finally driving all the way back out to KCK before we found one!  Hanging out at the Power and Light District, drinking free drinks!  Finding friends in line to have fun with while waiting to get into the Sprint Center!  Watching Eric Church!  Falling down concrete steps and cracking my elbow open!  GEORGE STRAIT LIVE!!!!!!!  Standing out in the cold for 45 minutes with Rose and Evelyn, 2 little old ladies from Joplin, Missouri, trying to hail a cab!  A trip to Truman Medical Center for stitches!  Staying out till 4:00 AM!  

Yes indeed, it was a night to remember.  At least I'll know when I had my last tetanus shot, right?  I mean, that's handy!  The TMC Emergency Room is interesting, to say the least.  Lots of drunks, passed out.  A strange lady singing and warning of her bathroom problems.  But above all, the nicest staff of nurses and Drs. I could have asked for.  When I was "this" close to passing out, they started talking about Dolly's boobies just to distract me.  Now who does that?   The people around me at the Sprint Center were also very kind.  There was a nurse sitting in front of us, and she took care of me till the medical staff took over.  The dude pushing my wheelchair was a maniac!  He was threatening to throw people out of the building if they didn't get out of his way!  He might take his job just a little too seriously, that's all I'm sayin.  And when I refused to leave the concert until George was done, they didn't push me.  Pretty sure they knew if was useless. 

And then there was George.  Oh George.  He sounds just as good today as he did 30 years ago.  Now I'm really kicking myself for not buying tickets to the Wichita concert in April when I had the chance.  Who knows?  I might have been able to get through the night in one piece!

Sharing a few pictures from the night...

Sprint Center fun on a budget...

Cowboy Boots are a MUST for George.... pay no attention to those little bottles....

Fun at Power and Light!

Look who found us in line!  Julie and her sisters!  And some little guy???

Eric who?  (sorry, not a fan) 
There's the evidence -- in case I decide to sue Sprint Center!


my love!!!


apparently I'm not his only fan....

The Cowboy RIdes Away.....


No George!!!!  please don't go!!!!


Feel free to stop here if you'd rather not see my ugly elbow!

at the ER before they stitched it up

the day after.... bruises make everything look worse!

At the end of the day, stitches and all, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.  But only with my best friend by my side -- love ya Erin!  Thanks for taking such good care of your momma!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Harry Houdini Bryson Douglas Whitesell

Here's the story
Of a cat named Harry
Who was born ten long years ago

His momma kicked him
Out of the family
Cuz he was abnormal

Here's the story
of a mom named Barb
Who heard this kitten crying, all alone

They were destined
To find each other
And that's the way they all became a family

Raise your hand if you don't know who Harry is.  My former co-workers certainly knew Harry.  He spent his first couple of weeks with me at work until he was politely asked to leave.  The constant screaming might have been an issue. 

When I found baby Harry, he was cold, wet and hungry.  I swept him up, dried him off and fed him watered down milk that night, and went to the pet store the next day to stock up on all things needed to keep a baby kitten alive.  He gained weight and thrived despite chronic diarrhea. (this would be where the constant screaming came into play)  We later learned he suffered from a mild case of Cerebellar Hypoplasia, basically Cerebral Palsy for cats. 

He quickly became a beloved member of our family, and Greg was particularly attached to him.  He also developed a bit of a mean streak.  Like, when he was 3 months old, and Greg and I weren't home.  Erin and Brent stopped by, and Harry wouldn't let them in the back door.  They were finally able to run him off to the basement and come inside, but he was not happy about it.   

Another odd thing about Harry.  He didn't meow; he screamed.  And once he figured out his scream would scare people, he relished in it.  He also liked to reach out and swipe people as they walked past him.  It was particularly funny when they didn't know he was nearby, thus not expecting it.  There was really only one person that he couldn't act up around, and that was Greg.  For some reason, he just knew better than to mess with Daddy. 


Once Harry was old enough to stay outside, he became a part time house cat.  He only used the litter box periodically, which was big problem.  For the last several years, he only came in at night, so he could sleep with his daddy.  First thing in the morning, he was back outside.  During the winter, Greg took pity on him and let him stay in the shop all day, out of the bad weather. 

Visitors to Greg's shop were all very familiar with Harry and his ways.  On the rare occasion someone new would stop by, he loved to trick them into thinking Harry was such a sweet, loving kitty -- "here, you can pet him" he would say, knowing exactly what was about to happen. 

When the grandkids showed up, Harry was not amused, to say the least.  He tolerated them at best, and always made sure they knew he was boss.  Both kids learned very quickly not to mess with Harry UNLESS Greg was holding him.  Old Harry knew better than to be mean to those kids when he was in Greg's arms. 

I'm sure by now you've figured out why I'm writing this homage to Harry.  Today, he finally picked on the wrong dog, and lost the battle.  I tried to get him to the vet, but he just couldn't hold on that long.  It's a pretty sad night here at the Bryson farm.  About now, Harry should be laying on the couch with Greg, snuggling up to him. 

Will I miss stepping into cat poop on my way to the basement some mornings?  Definitely not.  But I'll miss those occasional times he felt generous enough to let me love on him for a few minutes, before he told me in no uncertain terms I was done. 

Now is the part when I say rest in peace Harry old Buddy.  But I think we all know peace wasn't in Harry's destiny.  I tend to think he's down stairs giving the devil a run for his money.  Get 'em Harry!!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Talkin' Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving Eve (if I get this posted tonight).  I really should not be sitting here writing a post.  There’s floors to mop, people!  However, my partner who OFFERED to scrub them is asleep on the couch.  Hmp.  Did I mention it’s not even 8:30?  I thought for sure the noise from the vacuum cleaner would stir him, but not so much.  Also on tap, a delicious Cocoa Apple Cake to be made.  Ooh, I should totally write a post about that on my cooking blog!

Thanksgiving plans include a Granger get-together on Thursday at Jan and Keith’s house.  So excited that Libby was able to come home for a few weeks from Afghanistan!  I think she’s here for a few more days, and then once she goes back, will only be there a couple of more months.  Will feel much better when she’s home for good.  And I swear if she volunteers to go to some other war zone again, I’m gonna wring her neck!  Did I mention how proud I am of her?  So anyway, back to the plans… depending on the Black Friday ads, Erin and I are heading to Topeka some time mid to late Thursday afternoon to get started shopping.  Hoping to be home by 10:00 AM Friday or earlier (please please please) since I’m hosting the Bryson Thanksgiving here at noon on Saturday.  Especially since I haven’t started cooking anything for that dinner.  Well that’s not entirely true.  I baked a loaf of bread today to use in my dressing.  But sometime Friday when I’m not catching up on my sleep, I’ve got to bake a turkey and a ham.  And cook my potatoes and make my gravy.  And dressing.  That way on Saturday, it’s really just a matter of warming everything up without drying it out, and enjoying the day and the family.  And the wine.  And the Apple Pie.  Moonshine.  Yeehaw!  I made that yesterday, and I simmered the cider, juice and sugar for about an hour to concentrate the flavors.  Well Mr. Bryson, who considers himself a bit of a liquor connoisseur (and rightly so I guess) deemed it too sweet.  After adding another jug of apple juice and a jug of EverClear it’s pretty darn tasty.  But I have to remind myself it’s for SIPPING, not chugging. 

Since Erin and I are going shopping, and Brent is working Thursday and Friday, Carter will be spending Thursday night here with Papa.  Miss Chloe gets to go to Lyndon and stay with Grandma Gibby.  For some reason, no one wants to watch both of them alone.  I can’t imagine why!!!  I have to admit, sometimes it is a little easier with just one.  Like when I’m trying to get Chloe to take a nap or go to bed.  That’s pretty much a lost cause when big brother is around since 1) he doesn’t want her to sleep, and 2) she only wants to do whatever Carter is doing.  But If I’m trying to get something done (like today… cleaning house…) Carter does a pretty good job of entertaining Chloe.  Most of the time.  Except when he’s helping her find trouble.  Today, he happily showed her the door to the laundry chute.  Up until now, I’ve managed to keep it covered with stuff so she had no idea.  Stupid clean house.  I guess now if I’m missing anything, I’ll be in the basement checking the laundry pile.  I took the two strands of Halloween Lights down today (hey – I didn’t put them up till like Oct 28 or something, so I had to get my money’s worth) and Carter threw an absolute fit.  I told him I had to take them down so we could put up Christmas lights, to which he replied “I don’t want you to put up Christmas lights!”  When I whole heartedly agreed to NOT decorate for Christmas, he back tracked pretty darn fast.  Dang it. 

Ok – I really have to get something done so I’m not up all night.  Since I didn’t participate in the Daily Thankful FB posts, I’ll share with my readers what I’m most thankful for. 
I'm thankful I can still call my momma and visit, take her to the store, or just hang out at her house, listening to her stories, (sometimes more than once).  And believe me, I do not take any of that for granted.

I’m thankful that my daughter and her wonderful family live less than 7 miles from our house.  Watching my grandchildren grow up and being such a big part of their lives is more than I could ask for. 

I’m thankful to go to work every day to a job that I love.  After 30 years, it’s about time! 

I’m thankful to be married to a man who puts up with me, takes care of me, makes me laugh, and above all loves me more than I probably deserve. 

And it wouldn't be right not to mention how thankful I am for all of my friends who read this little blog, and still want to be my friend!!!  Sometimes I worry that I'm oversharing, but getting my thoughts out is my therapy, and you all know how much I love the attention it brings me!  haha!! 
And with that, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of love, family, and good food.