Thursday, January 03, 2008

One More Year and Counting

January has held a special place in my heart for the last ten years. It marks for me one more year of life that I have survived my prognosis of ALS...woot,woot! I have made it for 17 years and could not have expected the quality of life these years would bring. I was asked why I think I have survived this long when the average life expectancy is 3-5yrs. My answer has changed over the years because I've learned so much. At first I felt it was my fighting spirit (mind over matter)but then I witnessed God's hand holding me up when I felt my spirit becoming overwhelmed. In time I added the elements of drugs(on my terms), physical exercise(the pool), research on other people with ALS and taking control of my medical care. All of these things, along with love, have kept me strong.

When I hurt my shoulder I kept my spirit, prayed, threw away the sling, refused Vicaden, insisted on a more thorough exam, cancelled the MRI and am using my arm as Ibuprofen helps me push through the pain. I'm sad to report my co-ed showers are now over but my razor burned armpits are thrilled. Dave is back at work and I'm sure he is thrilled to get time off from his PMSing, helpless, pissy wife. Caregivers are certainly a rare breed and I get chills when I realize Dave chose me along with my colorful, heavy baggage.

Dave is not a saint but if you watch him as an observer in my home he knows what I need before I have to ask. My clothes, bras and jewelry give him fits because my arms won't cooperate, my breasts pop out the bottom of my bra and he can't see the earring holes without his glasses. He knows I need to get back to water therapy so his current plan is to give up his garage and add a above ground heated pool with a ramp and no slip Astro Turf, brilliant. Even though he leaves things lying around, is not a housekeeper, still mixes colors with the darks, has not mastered the remote, yet must control it, he is still the best man I'll ever know.

Two years ago we decided to sacrifice time and the luxuries money could buy to map out a dream. A home in the mountains, near a lake. We spent one year fixing up one home to sell and one year fixing up this one to live in, putting aside money for things we wanted for our dream house. We managed to not touch our stash for two years awaiting Dave's retirement, but then the housing market hit bottom and we got stuck with two mortgages. Dave got a job after he retired so we could wait out the market, allowing us to use our luxury stash to complete our dream. After two months of living our dream Dave was still waiting on paperwork to start his new job. I knew something was up after that first week of work and Dave was not being the best communicator so I had to pry it out of him. He confessed that now he's back working he hates having to work. The dream he had for retirement was dangling before him like a carrot.

My first reaction was a selfish one because I had been waiting two years to have some fun and thought to myself, he is 50 and healthy but I'm not, no way. I got where he was coming from but I could not wrap my brain around it. When I fell Dave was off work for the holidays and it scared us both. I came very close to losing the use of my left arm. If I had torn my Rotator Cuff completely I could not be alone and would be confined to a wheelchair overnight. The doctor warned me that my muscles are too weak to protect me in a fall. We dodged a bullet that would have changed our lives drastically. He wanted to quit his job the second I fell but I never thought he was serious and I don't want to get dependent on Dave but being home alone is tough.

I've had time to think about my attitude and I came up with a marital compromise. We listed what we needed for his summer yard projects (to keep him busy), cushion for emergencies and bills (with housekeeper). We have no debt except mortgages. If we can save enough by spring/summer I could make the money stretch until the other house sells so Dave can truly retire. Dave needs to keep busy and we've managed since Oct. so I'm thinking 2008 will be an interesting year.

That's our 2008 plan and for 2009, Kauai, here we come! Plans are good to have but keep in mind they may change when you least expect it, so expect it!


Photo by Dave

30 comments:

daisies said...

it sounds like a good plan honey and i am ever hopeful that your other house will sell soon :)

much love, xoxox

and that photo ~ lovely work dave :)

pepektheassassin said...

The new digs are fantastic! Stay warm, stay well, my friend.

Loved the pictures!

Chris said...

Actually Dave is a saint....YOUR saint. Here's best wishes for your both in 08!

Becca said...

You know what they say about plans...the best laid ones, and all that :)

I have confidence that whatever life throws you, you'll be able to handle. And I'm hoping it's all good stuff!

wanderlustandpixiedust said...

Hi from one proud Cali girl to another. I discovered your blog through Paris Parfait.

I agree with Chris, Dave sounds like a saint to me! Good luck to the both of you and I hope all your dreams come true in the coming years...

Just Jen said...

17 years is no small feat!! That's completely awesome and I'm proud of both of you!!
You are making your dreams come true (with a few reroutes...we always do...lol) and keeping things in perspective....you're both saints as far as I'm concerned!
I'm happy to hear your arm is healing so wonderfully...I'm sure you know how rare that is with als....I know your 2008 will be awesome!
Happy New Year!

Brian said...

((((Tammy)))))

I know you have an upbeat spirit, but my heart aches for you and all that you've gone through. I really, really hope and pray that 2008 brings you everything you need and that house #1 finally sells. Sending healing energy your way. Dave is amazing and so are you.

Star said...

It was so much fun scrolling through your slide shows; I love the pic of you with the Santa hat on the couch with TK standing right beside you :)

Sounds like you've thought things through and have a good plan in place; hopefully the buyer of your dreams will find you early in the year and all the rest will fall into place.

Wishing you and Dave all the best in 2008!

Pam said...

Never stop dreaming, never stop fighting to win your war and keep on lovin' that man of yours

emmapeelDallas said...

Ditto Pam...

:)

paris parfait said...

As you know, the key to it all is resilience - and you both seem to have that in spades. I really hope your old house sells soon, so that your financial burden will ease. You are an inspiration, the way you always find new ways to look at things and ways to surmount challenges and obstacles that arise. Your bright spirit is a blessing to us all! xoxox

Tabor said...

I totally agree with Paris, you both have the maturity and resilience to make it through this time and I know that 2008 will be the turning year and you will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

A good plan is essential ... sending peace & love to you both. May 2008 fill you with blessings and joy. xx, JP/deb

Amber said...

Dito Tara. Totally. ;)

I think that last bit about expecting the change of plans is wise for all of us. That we we can roll with it a little better... At least people who are not totally type A, that is. Not me.

:)

Sky said...

good plan and great outlook! pool idea is so important. the exercise has kept you moving, and you want to keep on keeping on. hoping the house sells soon, tammy, and the financial strain diminshes. also hope you are moving that arm better soon.

you have so much to teach so many of us, and your loving heart is inspirational. add those things to your list of why your story is different.

chiefbiscuit said...

May all your dreams come true. I am sure they will. You are a miracle in living colour!

Vedrana M. said...

beautiful..i wish you many wonderful years and all your dreams come true...love and peace for new 2008 :)
p.s. that angel is gorgeous

bella said...

Hey Tammy. You are a strong woman who defies all odds against her. I am in awe of your fight against ALS. My hope for you and Dave is that you will make your new plan work, and that 2008 brings to you both all that you wish for. Many hugs and much love, Bella xo.

turquoise cro said...

O! Tams!!! That pool sounds just right!!! Can't wait to seeeeeeeee YOU lounging beside it!!! Give that SWEET Dave a Big SMOOCH for me!!! and NO MORE FALLS!!!! In my prayers, Cinda

THE BLUEST BUTTERFLY said...

Wow...what a year you have had and will have. I am always impressed by your life. Keep on fighting. I can't really put into words the encouragement that I want to give...I am just so impressed by the odds you continuously overcome.

Lucy said...

Marital compromise is the secret to a good Marriage. I hope all your plans pan out and keep hanging in there Tammy baby! 17 years AND COUNTING! Peace, Love, Health, Happiness to You and DAve. xo

Rachel said...

Happy New year my angels. Sorry about the fall honey, sounds like a major scare for you both. Plans are great, gives you something to aim for.

Heard a great quote recently:
ALWAYS AIM FOR THE MOON BECAUSE I YOU FAIL, YOU'LL STILL HIT THE STARS

x

giggles said...

I bow to you Queen Tammy and your Prince! He is quite the dream to have , faults and all! I wouldn't mind one of those for me! You are a resilient woman considering your situation! I'm so glad you are not more incapacitated from that fall! Thanks for sharing such intimate details of your life. Always inspirational to read your words. Happy New Year to you and your King!!! He's everything all wrapped up in one!

Love and Hugs Sherrie

May your year be full of good things, joy, laughter and abundance!

Mama P said...

Your posts always make me cry. Not your ALS (Like Pam - you kick some serious ass). It's your heart that breaks mine. Every time.

khambagirl said...

Tammy, you have two of the most important characteristics for a happy life (or for travelling overseas): being flexible and having a sense of humor! Happy New Year! And, BTW, I have tagged you!
http://yakattack.typepad.com/yak_attack/2008/01/happy-birthday.html

Jessie said...

I just love you, tammy. You have such an incredible attitude. You are positive, realistic, honest.

I wish you the best this year and EVERY year! May your house sell soon!

big hugs,
j.

lisser said...

Tamara,
Seventeen years of inspiration you have given many. But actually it has been many more that you have been a constant friend and inspiration to me. All I can think right now is of the song we sing in church that goes, "you humble me Lord". Tammy, you humble me with your life and now also with the beautiful words in which you have described it. I'm still waiting for the book. :)

I have printed your poem "Transitions" and posted it on my office wall to view everyday. Transitions have never been comfortable for me but I have a feeling that 2008 is going to be a year for me to get a little more comfortable with changes in my life. Your poem will surely give me strength.
With Love
Lisser xoxo

Catherine said...

Whatever 2008 brings, I hope it is good for you. We had some surprises in the past year, not all pleasant ones, and yet somehow the year was a real highlight for me. My troubles are nothing compared with yours, and 17 years is amazing!

Jana B said...

Awwwww... no more co-ed showers??? How sad...

My hubby complained about my boobs popping out of the bottom of my bra too... But because he loves me, he fiddled with the strap anyway. (Mainly because HE was the one who undid it! LOL)

Seriously though, it's awesome to see how you all planned for your dreams and are still finding ways to make the dreams a reality!! YOU GO GIRL!!!!

V said...

Hugs, warrior.
V