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April, 2008:

Weekend Plans and Future Dreams

Yay! It’s Friday! Ivan & I are headed to the lake for the weekend without Lara or his dogs… just a guys weekend. We are going to finish the walkway/stairs down to where the boat dock walkway starts. Here is a link to pictures of the process so far.

http://www.ballawi.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3

We have one more long set of stairs to build. I’m looking forward to getting down there and working. Here is a picture of Ivan’s house. I helped him with a lot of this over the last few years. I’m going to build this same house on my property on the top of the hill overlooking the lake. I’m not sure how we’ll build the big deck on the back yet… but we’ll figure it out. This is a view from the front. I will probably use a brown brick though and a darker shingle.

Here is a view from the lakeside. You can see that the level under the deck (the front door is on the second (deck) level) is another whole part of the house. It’s a complete living quarters with bath, bedroom and kitchen. I won’t have that. First off, my basement will be ony 7-8 feet in height, not 12 or so like Ivans. Second, I will save money by just leaving it unfinished. I’ll probably still put sliding glass doors in though and plumb it for a bathroom so I can finish it one day if I want to.

Look at this picture:

This is the side view of Ivan’s house. Up at the top of the hill of my lot, where my house will go, it isn’t as steep as this. My slope up there will be about where the yellow line is. I won’t be digging out this side of the property as it isn’t wide enough to put a wide driveway and garage. So the bedroom windows will not be there. There may be something up higher but we’ll see.

Here is the view of the lake from the second floor balcony inside Ivan’s house. This picture shows that thie deck wan’t built yet, but the tounge and groove cedar ceiling is installed.

I’m going to make some minor changes to the design on mine. For instance, the main bathroom on the main floor will not have a tub. It will be rearranged so that I can put my washer and dryer in there rather than in the basement. I also intend on not having a tub in the master bathroom. Rather there will be a HUGE walk in steam room shower. The upstairs bathroom will have a tub if anyone finds the need to soak in it. I intend to soak in my hot tub which I plan to put out back.

Another change will be ‘widening’ the balcony. In this picture you can see how wide it is now.

I intend on making it as wide as where the last step comes to the top… leaving no ‘landing’ sticking out. On the right (the wall) I want to make it all book shelves… wall to wall and ceiling to floor. This will almost be like a reading area. Also the roof will extend out another couple feet in front and the porch made a couple feet deeper.

I’ll post some more pictures later but this is just the jist of it. I hope to start this project later this year or early next year.

Dad Update (From Mom) – 20 April, 2008

16 April 20, 2008 at 08:45 PM EDT

Want to see if ‘editing’ will send this to TRL

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Thanks everyone for your calls, prayers and support.

Bill is feeling much better since I last posted an update. He got pretty good news when we went up to Moffitt last week. He won’t be receiving any chemotherapy or radiation treatments. The radiation isn’t an option for that area. The cancer is rather rare and there are few trial drugs or papers written on it, so there’s nothing to indicate that any chemotherapy would really be effective. It’s the closest thing to pancreatic cancer and most chemo is not good for that either. In any case, he said in his present physical condition, he wouldn’t start chemotherapy anyway but would have to wait until he gained some weight and strength. Then, if he wanted to try it anyway, he might agree, but doesn’t really recommend it.

The doctor feels that since they feel that all of the cancer has been removed, and it has not invaded the lymph nodes and there is no evidence of it having spread anywhere else and it’s only a Stage I, that he would not recommend trying chemotherapy. He thinks we need to do a CT scan every 3 months for a year or so and then have one every year. He gave Bill a great physical exam and took a very thorough and detailed medical history from him. Since we will only have to go up every three months, we’ve decided to stay with him rather than see someone locally; we feel that as thorough as he is, it’s not likely that he’ll let anything slip by.

He came home in a much more optimistic mode and has begun eating much better; says food is tasting better now. He still doesn’t have a lot of energy and sleeps a lot, but he’s really much better. We both believe that he has finally turned the corner. He will be starting physical therapy this week, so that should help him to rebuild his muscles and get more energy.

We have to go back up on May 8th to see his surgeon, because he was in surgery when we were there.

Billy was down this weekend and it did us both good to see him. He helped us out by doing a few things that I can’t handle and we had a lot of time to talk. Poor guy will have to get up around 3:00 am tomorrow morning to make the drive back up to Tampa and get his plane back to Memphis and go to work!!

Thanks again for the concern and prayers and support you all have shown us…we really appreciate it.

Dad Status – April 17, 2008

I called the house yesterday and my dad answered the phone.  He sounded great.  He told me mom was at the pharmacy picking up a perscription.  They had been up in Tampa for a couple days for tests, to see the oncologist and the surgeon.

Everyone told him it looked great and that he was doing well.  They told him that sometimes the antibiotics they give affect your taste buds, but that the taste of food should be coming back soon.

The oncologist said that he doesn’t need to get radiation or chemotherapy.  I think he said that the type of cancer he has doesn’t respond well to radiation and that it is very rare and there is not a documented path of drugs to use for chemo.

They’re going to have him come up for scans every three months and just keep an eye on the area where the cancer was and see how it is doing.

I’m headed to Tampa tonight after work.  After driving the 1.5 hours to their house from Tampa it will be pretty late by the time I get there.  But I will stay Saturday and Sunday and come home on a 6:22AM flight Monday morning.  Because of the time difference I’ll get back here by 7:30…. EARLY for work (since I work right here near the airport).

 Looking forward to seeing them.  Since I got my new ipod touch, I’m going to take my old ipod video down so he can use it.  It has all 500 of my CDs on it… so he should never ever run out of music to listen to… lol.

Lake Lot II

I bought this property last year.  I want to build a house up on top of this hill eventually… but I have to sell another property I own first in order to afford it.

I helped my buddy Ivan build his lake home (on the same lake – different location) back in 2006/2007.  We just build some stairs/walkway from his home down to the walkway to his boat dock.  My ‘hill’ is much higher and will require a lot more material (and muscle) to do.  We’ve been talking and since I’m not building yet, I think I may build the stairway down to the shoreline.  I have someone building a boathouse/floating boat dock/swim pier right now and when it is completed and installed I’m going to need a way to get down to it right?

We climbed around on the hillside this past weekend and took some measurements.  It just so happens that the slope of the hill is just about right to take the stairway straight down the hill!  That is a very good thing.  You need about a 36 degree angle to your stairway so that it feels like a normal stairway.  If you build it to match the contor of the hill and it is steeper than 36 degrees you’ll feel like you’re going to take a header straight down the stairs.  On the other hand, if you build it to match the contor of the hill and it is LESS than 36 degrees, you’ll feel like you’re walking down baby steps and it throws your ‘timing’ way off.  A good way to trip and tumble.

You may think ‘so what?  build the stairs at 36 degrees anyway’.  Well if you’re less than that on the hill you’ll be going into the earth… lol.  If you’re MORE than that you’ll end up 10′ off the ground when you get to the bottom.

What you want to do is keep the stairs at that angle and only a foot or two off the ground the whole way down.  To do that on a steeper hill you have to ‘zig-zag’ which translates into a LOT more work (muscle/time) and a LOT more material (money).  The material alone for this stairway will probably run 5,000 bucks or so…. so zig-zagging would almost double it! 😮

 Anyhow we played with it and I think we don’t want to go STRAIGHT down the hill.  Thats an awful lot of steps to walk up at once.  So we’ll go about halfway down, then land on a nice size 16’x10′ or so deck.  The deck will be a nice place to climb down to and watch the lake… and a good place to ‘rest’ on the hike up.  The view is fabulous from that location.  Then drop down a few steps off the other side of the deck to the ground again and continue to the bottom.  At the bottom I’m sure I’ll eventually put another small deck that you can sit on.  I’ll probably put a roof over the mid-level deck too eventually.

Here is a general idea of where the stairway will go.  I don’t know when we’ll get started with this project but I’ll keep my blog up to date.

Dad Update (From Mom) – 14 April, 2008

15 April 14, 2008 at 12:43 PM EDT

Monday 4/14/08…..

Bill’s been having a hard time since we came home. He has lost a lot of weight and is anemic so he doesn’t have much strength or energy. He has difficulty with his eating because he says nothing tastes right. It’s just been a long haul for him and he can’t seem to push himself enough to eat more or to walk, so he doesn’t see much progress.

I’m sure that with our loss of our daughter and Bill’s brother recently, that he is experiencing a good degree of normal depression and then, going through such a tough surgical procedure with it’s inherent problems, it just makes things worse for him. We are going up to Moffitt this week though, so hopefully we’ll be getting good news that will reassure him; also, as much as these trips take out of him, I think the activity will do him some good.

Billy will be visiting this coming weekend and Bill’s brother & SIL Chas and Mary will be coming the following week with their daughter, Jeri, who will stay with us for a few days. This gives him something to look forward to and I’m sure that he will enjoy their company.

I don’t want to bring anyone down, but figured you’d wonder why you hadn’t gotten an update recently. It’s just a tough time right now, but I’m sure that things will improve. His vital signs are good and I think it will just be a matter of time.

Thanks for your continued prayers and good thoughts.

Update on Dad From Mom – April 8th, 2008

14 April 08, 2008 at 11:11 PM EDT

Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 10:59 pm

Well, I’m sure that I posted another update either just before or the day that Bill was discharged and I saw it on the site…but it’s not there now!! Now I know it is the site and not me that is crazy!! :o)

We had a nice visit with Bill’s sister and nephew on Sunday; it was so good seeing them again.

We left Moffitt yesterday around 1:30 pm and Bill felt great. It is a bit of a ride though….a little over 100 miles and it takes us about 1.5 to 2 hours, so Bill was pretty tired by the time we got home, and so was I. I unloaded the car and then we both took a nap!! It’s good to be home.

Bill ate pretty good yesterday and I had no real trouble with taking over the tube feedings and meds again but Bill woke up this morning feeling bad. He felt his distress was caused by the feedings; perhaps he is getting too much by tube right now. The visiting nurse came this morning and all Bill’s vital signs were good, so we weren’t too concerned.

He just laid around today and hardly ate or drank anything until late afternoon, when he woke up from a long nap and felt well again. I guess yesterday just took a lot out of him. He had a decent dinner and later a snack and has just settled in for the night. We’ve cut his tube feeding in half for a while, to see how he does and will increase it when he’s ready.

We return to Moffitt next Thursday to see his surgeon and have a consultation with the oncologist. He also has to have another CT scan; we’ll probably go up the day before and stay overnight, so we don’t have to do that trip twice in one day.

I finally got started on the IRS returns today. I just haven’t had time to work on it until now. I have Babe’s about ready; just have to run it up on the software. I have most of the numbers for ours; just have to review them and then finalize and print the return. I’ll be really glad when that is over with, so I can get my house cleaned. I don’t think it’s been cleaned since before Christmas, when I began staying with Babe, except for an occasional vacumning by Bill and minor tidying when I was home.

Things seem to be heading in the right direction now, and I’ll update the board periodically so you know Bill’s progress.

Dad Update (From Mom) – 05 April, 2008

I am posting this on April 8, 2008.  The Memphis Tigers lost to Kansas last night in the NCAA Championship which was a bummer.  When you’re up by 9 points with 2.5minutes to go you’re supposed to win.  Oh well.

Dad went home yesterday.  I  spoke to him when they were about an hour from home in the car… but not since.  He sounded really good.  I’m sure whatever the problem was it got taken care of… hopefully he’ll continue to eat and be fine.  I think they go back up for a checkup with the surgeon in a week or two and they meet the oncologist.  Hopefully the future regarding cancer works out.  Here is a message mom posted on the hospital blog on April 5:

April 05, 2008 at 01:45 PM EDT

Saturday, 4/5/08…..Moffitt Cancer Institute

We BOTH slept much better last night!! Yippee!!!!

Woke up at 5:00 am when the nurse came in to do something or the other and realized we had slept through because NO ONE came into our room last night. Usually, someone is in there every hour or two doing SOMETHING!! Felt GREAT!!!

You wouldn’t believe the bed that I am sleeping in. It looks like a small, low cabinet. You open the doors and pull out a NARROW (a little less wide than ME) cot with a THIN mattress. It was hard getting used to, but seems okay now. Actually, we are so grateful just to be able to have me sleep in the hospital; the cost of a motel room for all this time would have been tremendous.

Bill’s CT scan showed a BIG reduction in size of the abscess since he was admitted and it has reduced some more since the scan done earlier this week. He is down to just tube feedings at night (usually only takes about 6 hours or so) an antibiotics and antacid medication. They’re planning on switching his meds to pills instead of the intravenous. This means he’ll be able to walk around without the IV pole MOST of the time!! He walks more often that way, since it was so cumbersome just getting READY to walk before!!

Bill started on a regular diet yesterday and is eating pretty well. He has a good selection of food at each meal and I would say that he is eating about 1/3 to 1/2 of it at each meal. He’s also been taking a small snack in between. This is MUCH better than he had been doing when he was home for those two days.

All in all, Bill is doing, looking and feeling well…..we’re hoping he is released early this coming week. We both are much more comfortable about him returning home this time, since he is so much better and eating so well.

Bill’s brother, Bube, visited yesterday. Bill was soooo glad to see him (as was I); we haven’t seen him & Mary since before Christmas, when I began caring for Babe. They had a very nice visit.

His sister, Jane and her son, Andy, will be visiting tomorrow. They came down for Fred’s memorial service and are taking the time to come down to visit before returning home. It’s been a couple of years since Bill has seen his sister and it’s been at least SIX years since we’ve seen Andy. Young Bill did make it to the memorial service but probably won’t be able to get down to Tampa tomorrow; I’m sure he’ll be down soon though.

Thank you all for your wonderful, uplifting messages. You can’t know how much this has meant to both of us. You are great friends and supporters!!

Love, Betty

April 1st, 2008 – Dad Update (From Mom)

11 April 01, 2008 at 01:45 PM EDT

Well, I had hoped that we would be home by now, but it didn’t work out that way. CT scans show that Bill has some leakage around where the pancreas was reattached to the small intestine. There is also an abscess and his stomach is not emptying, causing a huge amount of bile and acid to build up.

Bill is feeling better now though; the drainage of fluid from his stomach is much more clear and seems to be slowing down. He is still receiving antibiotics and is being fed intravenously with a formula which the pharmacy prepares each day for him, after reviewing his blood work, which is filled with calories, protein, carbs, vitamins, and other essential products geared to his individual needs. The doctors seem to feel that he is healing and once this fluid stops backing up, they will begin tube feedings again and then slowly get him on regular food.

He is trying to walk each day, but it is pretty hard. He has lost a lot of weight (down to 153 lbs) and is very weak and soooo thin. But each of the last three days he has shown improvement.

Since we will be spending a longer time at the hospital, I went home today to get some more clothing, do some laundry and pick up some stuff we need that I didn’t think of when we rushed out last Thursday evening.

I thank all of you for your many comments, notes, etc. and especially for your prayers. I am sorry to say that Bill’s brother, Fred, passed away this past Friday. We appreciate your prayers for him and I will be sure that his family knows about them. Thank you!!

Betty