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Posted Jan 03 2010 2:18pm
I hope everyone had a nice holiday season. Our holidays were good but filled with unexpected challenges. I'm very glad to be back home and am looking forward to getting back to my own routines (though the next couple of weeks will still be very un-routine).

We were enjoying a nice Christmas Eve - dinner out with the kids, candlelight church service, and a neighbor's open house - when my husband, Ken, mentioned that he was seeing spots in his left eye. I didn't think it was anything serious, but it got worse on Christmas Day (not an ideal time to seek medical assistance!). By the next morning, he was really scared, and, after looking up his symptoms online, I was, too. WebMD basically said, "Seek medical care immediately." We finally found an ophthalmologist who was open on the Saturday after Christmas, and I drove him over to the office.

The doctor examined Ken's eye and said he had a tear in his retina and that he needed surgery immediately. He made some calls for us, and at 7 am Sunday morning, I drove Ken to Philadelphia for emergency laser eye surgery. The eye institute was closed - the surgeon, a resident, and Ken and I were the only ones there! Fortunately, the doctor was able to repair the tear with a laser (conventional surgery would have been much more risky), and he gave us the OK to keep our travel reservations for the next morning. Besides being scared about Ken's eye, we were terrified that we'd have to cancel our trip and would lose the very large sum of money we'd paid for the tickets and couldn't really afford in the first place. I told Ken I never would have guessed that, of the four of us, he might be the reason we'd have to cancel a trip! Thankfully, it all worked out, though Ken's vision is still impaired because of blood in the eye; the doctor said it could take weeks to clear completely.

We left for Oklahoma the next morning to see Ken's parents, completely skipping the quiet, relaxing days we'd anticipated at home! Our flights went OK, but our bags didn't arrive until 24 hours later (by which time we were all desperate for our toothbrushes and clean clothes). Our visit was difficult. Ken's mom, who has advanced Parkinson's disease and is in a nursing home, was much worse than when we visited this summer. Her limbs are stiff and almost completely immobile now, and it's almost impossible to understand her when she talks (both common symptoms of Parkinson's). His dad has severe spinal stenosis and is having trouble even walking up the driveway, though he still spends every single day at the nursing home.

It's very difficult to live so far away and only be able to visit every six months. I keep feeling like we should DO something, but moving us out there or somehow moving them here both seem impossible. It was very hard to leave them.

Despite all these extra challenges, we did have a nice Christmas and New Year's. On New Year's Eve (a quiet tradition on our Oklahoma visits, where we celebrate the new year at 6 pm before Ken's mom goes back to the nursing home for the night), I was suddenly struck, as I often am, by just how wonderful our two sons are. They're both incredibly kind, caring, and lots of fun! I just feel so fortunate to have them in my life (and my husband, too!). People always say when things go wrong, "at least you have your health," but even without good health, we still have each other. There is nothing more important in life than good, loving relationships with people you care about.

Here's to a happy and healthy New Year with the people you love!
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