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Jun. 21st, 2016

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Miracle

I left Buffi the Kidney Slayer’s office today bewildered. Two years ago I was informed I had kidney stones in both kidneys. The ones on the left side were very small, and there were four in the right kidney. The largest was 11 mm. That’s too big to pass. Due to the “lack of meat” at the bottom of my right kidney caused by previous surgeries, my surgeon recommended cutting off the bottom of the kidney. She would have to use the rib spreader. Having been through rib spreading o...nly two years earlier, I was not gung ho about the idea. Since I had no current pain or infection she agreed to put off the surgery. Six months, and one year checkups revealed no change.

For today’s checkup I wondered how much the stones had grown and if I was closer to having to bite the bullet and go under the knife again. In my mind I ran through all the things I have been doing wrong recently: not drinking enough water, eating too much chocolate and nuts (high oxalate), and having more than two servings of calcium per day. The last couple days I have had a pain in my back. This morning I looked in the mirror to see where my scars were in relation to the pain. I determined it was too high to be the kidneys – a small relief.

Dr. Buffi came into the room with a new med student - probably the sixth or seventh to benefit from my remarkable stone building ability. First, she asked how I was doing and if I had felt any pain. I told her the only pain occurred on the right side after an ice skating fall. It hurt for a day. I surmised maybe the stone shifted to another part of the kidney causing pain. She said they compared x-rays from a year ago and last November with today’s and the stone dissipated. Whhaat? My immediate thought was that she must have made a mistake. She must be looking at someone else’s x-ray, because I last saw her in June not November. But I had forgotten that I saw her PA in November for a sick visit. Scott asked if she thought the fall broke up the stone. The doctor said the calcium-oxalate stones I build are hard and would not be broken by a fall. Her best guess is that the image of the large stone was actually a conglomeration of little stones and when I fell they scattered. She noted that she has heard of people passing stones who don’t feel them and she thinks this is what happened to me. She showed me today’s x-ray. There is a miniscule scattering of very tiny stones in the right kidney. They looked smaller than the one 2mm stone in the left kidney (which is passable, especially since I have acquired this new skill). I still wondered if this was really my x-ray, because the whole theory sounded crazy. Then, she pointed to a line on the x-ray and told me that is the clip for my gall bladder. At that point, I accepted that this was real.

Feb. 9th, 2016

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Thoughts of Dad

I think it is weird that as the oldest child I am the same age Dad was when his mother died, and the youngest, Noah, is the same age Max was then. I didn’t speak at Dad’s memorial. At the event I just didn’t think I could get through it, but I did think of things to say if I had had the composure. Some of the things I thought of were expressed by others such as how he taught his kids though example the virtues of patience, kindness, hard work, and acceptance; and that we are fortunate to embody his characteristics.


A few people spoke about reading. As a kid I was a reluctant reader. I could read well, but had little desire to pick up a book longer than a picture book. Even to this day when I read a chapter book, I periodically calculate how many more pages I have to go. I remember the first book Dad bought me. It was The Phantom Tollbooth. I was in elementary school, probably third or fourth grade. Dad told me he had already read the book so that we could discuss it. I remember being really impressed that he would take the time to read a kid’s book. So, even though it was a “big” book, I started reading it. Dad would ask me where I was in the book and just as he promised we had a discussion about what I had read. Lo and behold, I actually finished the book and felt so proud. The ironic thing was about five years ago when Common Core came about the State of Georgia developed literature units to teach the standards. At the time I was teaching fifth grade reading. I think I was one of the few people excited about Common Core because one of the fifth grade units was The Phantom Tollbooth. Just as Dad had done with me thirty-some years ago, I was given the opportunity to do the same thing with my students.


A week after Dad passed away I had a slew of unexpected reminders. That morning I made scrambled eggs with zucchini and red bell pepper. Dad is the only person I know who put zucchini and yellow squash in his eggs. He told me it was good and I should try it.


The last song on the radio when I arrived at work was the Meghan Trainor/ John Legend song “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” It makes me think of Dad.


I had a substitute that day because I was working on a report. Despite this, my first class, fourth graders, kept coming to me to check their work or ask for help. The first two I directed to the sub, but then Kaleb came to me and asked, “What is 9 times 6?” I said, “Take the number you are multiplying by nine. What is one less than six?” “Five.” “That is your tens digit. Now what can you add to five to get you to nine?” “Four.” “That is the ones digit, so the answer is fifty-four. That strategy will work for all the nine times tables up to ten.” Then, I went back to looking at my computer. Apparently, Kaleb was a little skeptical. A few moments later, I turn as I heard him say, “Wow, it really is fifty-four!” He had taken the calculator I was using to do my report and was showing me that it read 54. I thought to myself, “Are you actually doubting the wisdom of my father?” You see no teacher taught me that strategy. It was my Dad.


When I left work, the first song on the radio was the Meghan Trainor/ John Legend song “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.”


That evening I was playing Yahtzee on my iPod. A started a game and was paired with PeacefulWater. That username brought to mind a few memories of Dad; although, in retrospect I wouldn’t classify them as peaceful. The first water memory was when I was a young teen, Dad got on this kick where he would take us to the beach every weekend at the crack of dawn. The waves were huge that time of day. We would get thoroughly worn out jumping over the waves. Dad would let us kids stand on his knees. As a monster wave came I would prepare to dive over it as he would propel me high into the air.


The next water memory was about ebay. Several years ago I often bid on Symons Brothers items. I noticed a new bidder called swimminginwater. After a few months, I was talking to Dad on the phone and he asked why I kept bidding against him. He had changed his username and I didn’t know that was him.


The last water memory is really my first water memory. When I was six I was at my grandmother’s house in the pool with my aunt and her friend. Myra made me get out of the pool since she needed to walk Denise home. However, I wasn’t ready to be done. After they left, I jumped over the steps at the shallow end. Unfortunately, I jumped a little too far. My feet didn’t reach the bottom. The problem was I couldn’t swim. I tried vigorously though. I stuck one arm up in an attempt to find the edge of the pool. I was vertical in the water. It felt like I was spinning and I was afraid I was being sucked into the drain. It felt like I was under an extremely long time, but I had the wherewithal to hold my breath. I don’t know how I managed to hold it for so long. I am told that my grandmother came looking for me and saw a small hand sticking out of the water in the deep end. She called for Dad and he jumped in with all his clothes on. He saved me. I know if he had come any later, I probably would not be here today. From time to time I reflect on my extra time and how Dad’s actions exponentially impacted others. If I hadn’t survived my siblings would not have known me, my kids wouldn’t exist, and hundreds of students would not learn an easy way to calculate nine times tables.


Earlier I said The Phantom Tollbooth was the first book Dad bought me, but it wasn’t the first book he gave me. He and my mom wrote and illustrated a book about my poor judgment. They got a couple details wrong. They thought I jumped in the deep end and drew me with a green bathing suit. The suit had red and white vertical stripes. I also didn’t fancy how my bangs were portrayed. They had gaps like jack-o-lantern teeth. Maybe that’s how they looked when my hair was wet. I admit that I loved that book, because my parents made it for me and it had a happy ending. Unfortunately, after I left home, I’m told the book fell apart and was thrown away.


My son and I left the memorial service together. The first song on the radio was the Meghan Trainor/ John Legend song “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” I exclaimed, “Ah, I can’t believe this song is on the radio. It reminds me of Dad.” Trying to do some emotion control Greg changed the channel. /Jump around/ /jump around/ /jump up, jump up, and get down/ /jump, jump…./ “Well, that doesn’t make me think of Dad.”

Aug. 3rd, 2015

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Back to Work

I went back to work today. I thought it would be hard waking up at 6 am, but I actually woke up like three times before my trusty alarm went off. I gave myself longer time to get to work since our school is at a different site. However, the traffic was light, so the commute was only a few minutes longer. I wonder if that will still be the case when school starts.

This morning the air in my room didn't work and there were three dead palmetto bugs in the room. One was nice enough to die in a trash can. Then, it rained and we began discussing buying galloshes to wade through the large puddles on the walkways. Luckily, the air conditioner was operational by lunch time.

So can you guess how I spent my whole day? It's the same old story - meetings and revising the master schedule.

But what really made my day was finding out there is no intercom system at this site.

Jun. 12th, 2015

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Waiting... ugh

After a few weeks of waiting I found out I passed the Educational Leadership test. That was a relief. I didn't want to dish out another $200 to retake it.

I was supposed to close on a house in Gainesville on May 30th, but there have been multiple bumps in the road over the last 6 weeks.

Yesterday I got a FedEx package with the closing paperwork with directions to sign, initial, notarize, and send back that day. Only problem was there had been no mention of Scott needing to sign anything since the loan is in my name. So I was a little panicked when I opened up the 2 inch high paper packet and saw that Scott did need to sign in many places. He was in Atlanta at the time. Scott and his coworkers had a lunch meeting with Coca Cola employees, so he couldn't get back to this area until 6:00. I had to scrap the plan for going to the bank for a notary and after several phone calls found one out west at a UPS store. The lady said she does not usually work that late. I was glad she did that day. We got everything signed and notarized in time to drop off at FedEx before they closed. When I got home there were two emails about other things we needed to do. Got that done, scanned, and emailed after dinner. So today I found out that money and paperwork arrived at the various locations, however, the seller did not put her social security number on four documents. The attorney has to send back her paperwork.

Apr. 13th, 2015

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Getting ready for surgery is a lot of work.

My checklist
Sub Plans
Get paperwork ready for person covering my meetings
Wash linens
Wash towels
Wash pjs
No alcohol
No blood thinners
Pay credit card due tomorrow
Remove ring
Remove nail polish
Shower with antibacterial soap
Clean belly button
Dry hair
Wait 1 to 2 hours after shower to apply antibacterial wipe
Pick out comfy hospital clothes
Take meds
No food or drink after midnight
Set alarm
Burp ten thousand times

Mar. 14th, 2015

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The Good and The Bad

Last night Lindsey's band had Large Group Performance Evaluation. They received a superior rating. The kids were on cloud nine, because this is the first time in the three years they have participated that they earned top marks. After the concert Lindsey found out she did not make it into the Governor's Honors Program.



Today Scott tried out his new kilt at the Tybee St. Patrick's Parade. Afterwards we went into town for dinner. While we were eating my car got hit. This is the 2nd time in three months it got hit in the rear driver's side. The first time the tail light was dislodged. Now there is a big dent and the tail light is loose again. Both were hit and run while I was at dinner. I think I need to put a stop sign sticker on that corner.

On Tuesday, Lindsey will be marching in the SAV St. Patrick's Day Parade. She is anticipating being very sore after the 5K while carrying a trombone.

A couple weeks ago I got a second opinion about the kidney surgery. I couldn't get a definitive answer out of the doctor, but it seemed as if what my doctor was recommending is not off the wall. Wednesday I go to the gallbladder surgeon.

Feb. 14th, 2015

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Solo Valentine

It’s just me and the dog spending Valentine’s Day together, so I have some free time to update the journal. Scott has been in Spain since the 6th, the day after his 50th birthday. (Wasn’t that nice of me to send him to Spain for his birthday? LOL) He is doing something snow related today with his two best work comrades. He comes home tomorrow. Lindsey is at a friend’s house for a Disney movie marathon.

A week ago I had to drive Lindsey 4 ½ hours to Mapleton, GA for a Governor’s Honors Program audition and interview. The night before she was 1st chair euphonium for the District Honor Band performance. The day she found out she made first chair there was a flurry of text messages between her and friends who attend the Arts high school. This was over her good friend from middle school, who attends the Arts Academy, being supremely miffed. For the last three years he had the first chair and she bumped him to second. Lindsey has only been playing euphonium for a year. She picked it up when she broke her wrist and could not hold her trombone. She played it for only a few weeks before last year’s District Honor Band audition where she made 3rd chair, beating out three other euphonium players that made it into the band.

For three days students, who made it into honor band, practiced with a clinician. Her clinician this year was a woodwind professor at UGA. It amazes me that they learn five songs in a short amount of time and sound amazing. We left around 10:30 PM. Originally, her audition for GHP was 8:30 the following morning. We were relieved when they honored her request for a later time and scheduled her for 2:00. We were only there for an hour and drove back home.

This past week she has had District Honor Marching Band practice. The practices have been at a high school across town, so I have gotten in some quality shopping time during her two hour practices. The DHMB will be playing in the Georgia Day Parade this coming week. Lindsey said she is actually leading the parade. The band is leading the parade and she is in the first row. I think it is going to be telecast by the local news over the Internet. I will be in the parade too, chaperoning my school’s second graders. This is the first year the district has had DHMB. The director said the superintendent envisions sending the band to perform at large events such as Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This school year, in addition to my teaching responsibilities, I have had the role of our school’s Response to Intervention (RTI) Coordinator. Without going into detail, this extra role has consumed a large amount of my time. I think this month alone my students will have more days with my substitutes than with me. In January my schedule changed. I went from only serving third grade to serving one class in every grade. I feel bad that I have not been there for my new students. I have had great subs, but feel my students would benefit most from me being there.

At the end of January, I was in a meeting with some other teacher leaders and the principal. The principal told me to get a sub for the next two days and the following week. I did it because she told me to, but honestly did not think I would need a sub for that long. Well, she was right.

The day following her order I went to my doctor for an annual checkup. Blood work showed my potassium levels were too high. I thought the way I had been feeling was just stress related. When I searched hyperkalemia on the web it explained a lot. I had so many of the side effects. Thankfully I did not have the heart stopping one! I had just started new potassium citrate medicine for kidney stones a couple weeks prior and did not realize it was making me sick. It was a liquid, because the pills were not digesting. So now, no more potassium citrate. My urologist has prescribed lemonade instead. Too bad I got a 90 day supply of the liquid medicine. I wonder if there are any other uses for 8 ½ large bottles of Cytra-K Sol? The stone update is I now have stones in both kidneys and I think my general practitioner may be referring me to a gall bladder surgeon. Too bad the hospitals don’t offer a frequent flyer program. When I had my follow up blood work to recheck the potassium the nurse looked at my arms and asked if I had been a frequent blood donor. (sigh)

Yesterday I got called to the principal’s office again. She told me who she wanted to be my replacement for next school year. She wants me to train that teacher in EIP and RTI. A few times in recent months I mentioned my idea that the district should have a person at each school to be the RTI, Data, and Testing Coordinator. That would be plenty for a full time position and would help to keep teachers, who now have those roles, in their classes. Apparently, that idea was expressed to the higher ups and I may just be an RTI Coordinator next year, possibly at more than one school.

Jan. 12th, 2015

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Sweet 16

Lindsey turned 16 today. Yesterday, she had her party with three of her best friends. They went skating and played laser tag. Scott scored 822 tickets for her on a game in the arcade. He started covering her in tickets, a' la Kiki syle, and her friends quickly joined in. For dinner we went to a Japanese hibachi and requested the same chef Lindsey has had for her last three or four birthdays. His name is Typhoon. As usual he put on a good show. We got Lindsey the birthday package which includes a cupcake, a candle, a picture, and dancing to a drum while standing on a chair.

This morning Lindsey's former English teacher wrote her a sweet email wishing her a happy birthday. The lady does not even work at the school anymore, so I thought that was way nice of her. Tonight we had Lindsey's pick for dinner: salad and baked potato. Then, she opened gifts. Right now she and Scott are working on the paint by numbers we bought her. I can't participate because of shakes. I'm ready for cookie cake.

Dec. 20th, 2014

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Lighted Bike Parade

Tonight we went to Tybee and were in the lighted bike parade. It is a fundraiser. This was our first year. We decorated our bikes with glow sticks. It was pretty time consuming attaching them with zip ties. Greg used rope lights with a inverter and battery jumper box, but the battery drained 1/2 way through the parade. We discovered that the way to go is battery operated Christmas lights. Scott plans to buy some when they go on clearance. The parade started at AJ's Dockside and we rode to the pier and back. We had dinner at AJ's where a musician was playing and we sang along to Blackbird, Piano Man, Daniel, and American Pie.

We got our stairs finished today. They look great.

Dec. 8th, 2014

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Better Than Expected

Well I don't have to have surgery... for at least six months. Since the stone did not grow in four months and it's not causing pain or infection the doctor suggested just monitoring it. She still is recommending cutting the bottom third of the kidney off when the time comes. However, I asked about doing it laproscopically and she was agreeable to that as long as I am aware that with the amount of scarring I have if the laproscopy was not going well I would have to get the ribs spread. I told her I knew that scenerio because my lung surgery went that way. She ran down the list of complications. She said 1 percent of patients need a blood transfusion. I thought to myself that with my luck I would be one of them.

Lindsey made it to the 2nd round of the application process for the Govenor's Honors Program. She had several obstacles to overcome to submit the application for this. First, she was supposed to receive an email with a link to an online application. She never received the email. Her music teacher happened to ask her less than a week ago if she completed the online application and that's how Lindsey found out about it. She was able to get the link from another student. Secondly, when she got into the application, there were items she could not immediately complete - items like who is the district coordinator. Then after she completed the main portion of the application a notice popped up saying she had to submit a video. She was in a parade on Saturday, so she could not make the video then. She spent about 5 hours Sunday shooting portions of the video. There were several retakes because she has had a cold and got winded during her piece. Then, when she viewed the finished video the sound quality was poor, so we filmed her again on her ipod this time. That turned out better. After she pieced together the three parts of the 3 minute video she went to upload it. That was at 10:30 PM. At 11:30 PM she came upstairs asking for help because the upload link opened a message saying the site was experiencing difficulties and try again in a few minutes. It had not changed in an hour. The deadline was midnight and she did not get the video uploaded. That was the last piece of the application. She did send and email to report the problem. This morning I told her to try to upload again. The link was gone. When we came home I told her to try again. This time when she logged on there was a message that the deadline was extended to tonight due to problems with the upload portal. She was able to upload the video and submit her application.

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