Thursday, April 30, 2009

Okay - Today REALLY Was the Longest Day - at least for me!


We were at MDA for more than five hours today and for someone who has just had a really long neurosurgery, that's just too long. But, what we discovered while we were there is that they've been totally overmedicating me. Kinda funny because it has been my very precise legal eagle husband who has had control over the situation - honestly, I've heard the explanation several times and I still don't really get it, but the important thing is that he figured it out and I will be feeling much better very soon (so they say!). I am just absolutely pooped and that's not my usual mode. Look for more pep soon!

We came home to some great leftovers and now I am waiting for the dinner delivery - yummmmmm - special service - LOVE it! Then, I am going to force myself to nap for a few hours so that I can make it through dinner and then sleep again - sounds delicious! There will be four of us for dinner - should be very nice.

Family status: Braden and Maren have returned to Seattle and keep in touch. SK is in Denver until late Friday night - she returns to Houston on Sat. - not sure if she is coming alone or bringing Ryan and Winnie with her - and not sure how long she will stay - just glad that she will be here to take over her Asst. Little General position. Brian and Tiffany are here and come over every night to sample the latest culinary cuisine - so good to have them "in residence!" Clif, of course, is a constant - I am so grateful for him. Next week, I suppose that Mother and Shannon will rotate in and out - maybe even Daddy, too. It will be great to have them here. I have personally enjoyed a little alone time this week - it's hard for people to understand why I would want this, but I do - I just have to look in the mirror to know that it's probably for the best :)

Now, I'm going to hang this one up and wait for the doorbell to ring - shouldn't be long>

Love to you all - good grief, cards, flowers, food, and all that xxxoooxxx - just way too much! Thank you - you know I thank you!!!!

xxxgbg - the Brainiac!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

You Really Must Be Bored With Me By Now!

Quick post before those mean guys get home and shut me down! I am FINE - really, really FINE. Today, I did a lot of catching up on e-mail, FB, etc. You may have noticed that I didn't answer the phone - sorry about that - just not ready for that part yet, but I will be soon.

I guess that I am singing - you know me - I'm always singing :) even if it's just in my head. But dancing - no, not much of that for me. I do really want to - I just have no natural groove jive in spite of the fact that I was on a high school drill team. I just knew how to memorize and fooled you all - even Oma :)

I am bored after a day that I figured would be so restful - and it would have been if I would have just let myself do that. Instead, I spent way too much time on the Internet and FB and this blog, etc. Bedtime will definitely be earlier tonight - two a.m. appts. tomorrow and I am somewhat apprehensive about both. First is cognitive testing, which I believe will be very tiring. The next is with the surgeon and rumor has it that the staples are coming out - hmmmmmmmm - she's all undone!

Tomorrow, I'll let you know what really happened. In the meantime, help me remember butterfly, diamond and tree - the magic words :)

xxxtoall - the Brainiac!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Okay - quick post before this loses power. I am a-okay, I can still sing and I do remember all the words, I still can't dance - I've always wanted true, fluid movement - maybe some day - huh, maybe even tomorrow :)

Thanks for the love, concern, food, messages, cards, gifts - all of it. You guys are the BEST!!!!!!!!!

More soon - xxxxxxxxxxtheBrainiac


It occurred to me that the absence of a post yesterday might have some of you very concerned. Not to worry, Mom is still home and recovering. She is still not feeling 100% herself, which the doctors assured us is to be expected--she did have brain surgery after all!

Yesterday, we went back to MD Anderson to visit the beauty/barber shop because it had been closed over the weekend. She got a shampoo, which made her feel a lot better.

Assuming the roads in Houston are not too flooded to drive, Mom is scheduled to go back to MD Anderson again this week for appointments with her doctors. We will know more about the pathology then, and Mom will hopefully share that news herself when she is ready.

Thank you all for your continued support of all of us. Do not be afraid to write or call--we love hearing from you, and I'm hoping the Brainiac will feel up to chatting soon.

Sara Kate

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Brainiac is HOME!

Mom got her discharge order around noon today and she is very happily resting at home! She had a delicious lunch of yummy leftovers and a dessert sampler--thanks to the contributions of so many of you. She is currently enjoying a nap in her own bed.

Braden and Maren are on a plane returning to Seattle right now. Shannon will be arriving tomorrow. Brian, Tiffany, Ryan, and I are just hanging out taking orders from the Brainiac--as she herself admitted earlier, she's good at that. My dad is hanging in there too.

Thanks for checking in on our patient. We'll let you know if there is any more news, and hopefully the Brainiac herself will start posting again soon.

Sara Kate

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Belated update--and photos

A quick update: Mom is out of ICU--she got a room late yesterday afternoon. She is sleeping a lot and resting up so that she can go home as soon as possible. She's had a bit of a headache--go figure--but is healing well. The doctor thinks she could go home as early as tomorrow, but it may not be until Monday.

This afternoon we watched the NFL draft and saw Ziggy Hood--the cousin of Mom's nurse Stacy--get drafted by the Steelers--kinda cool.

We appreciate all of your continued thoughts, prayers, and support. And thank you Stephanie and Laura S. for the delicious dinners the past couple of nights.

Here are some of the photos that were taken on Wednesday and earlier this week. Unfortunately (or maybe it's a good thing), many of the pictures came out very blurry, so these are the best of the bunch.

Dr. Weinberg and his team after the surgery.

The finished puzzle! (Hopefully someone else got a shot that is less blurry.)

Completing the puzzle was a team effort.

Braden waiting...

SK with the Robins.

Honey, Sheila, and Linda.

Scott, SK, and Jane.

Brian and Connie.

Kim, Megan, and Shannon trying to work.

Early stages of the puzzle.

Carol and Brenda.

The Lauras!

Clif, Maggi, and Linda. And some very cute napkins!
Mom and Nancy Beck in the lobby at MD Anderson on Tuesday after Mom's appointment with Dr. Weinberg.

All the girls.

Here we all are at dinner on Monday night after Honey, Kim, and Shannon arrived in Houston.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday afternoon update

A quick update on the Brainiac... She has a room assignment and will be leaving the ICU in a couple of hours. We are all looking forward to a change of scenery!

Mom is doing well today. She got a glimpse of her new hairdo this morning when the doctors came and removed her bandage/turban. She is hoping for a visit to the beauty/barber shop this weekend (run by Volunteer Services) to "cute" her up. The songs keep coming too!

My aunts and grandmother left this morning, but they will be back--probably with a tan (Kim is off to Mexico and Shannon to Galveston). Braden's girlfriend Maren arrived from Seattle last night. It has been nice to have her join us and support Braden. And she is a jogger, so Winnie is looking forward to a run!

We'd like to thank Ana for the delicious enchilada casserole, rice, and awesome bean dip last night. It was so nice to have a home-cooked meal. There were a few recipe requests, Ana, so let us know if you can share.

We'll give more of an update later when we are settled in the new room. In the meantime, I am going to attempt to load some of the photos that my dad took on Wednesday, including the finished puzzle.

Sara Kate

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Belated update

Sorry I haven't updated more frequently. The internet and cell phone service up here in the ICU has been spotty at best. Mom is still in ICU and will stay here again tonight--not because she needs to be here, but because there were no available "regular" rooms. Apparently, Friday is a big day for discharges, so they expect she will get a room tomorrow for sure. I am going to stay here tonight in this nifty chair that folds into a "bed" to keep Mom company and make sure the nurses take good care of her. Since Mom is out of commission, I am taking over her "Little General" duties and have no qualms about bossing anybody that needs to be bossed :) ...But that's not to say that she isn't in charge!

Mom is certainly not lacking in personality--she's acting very much herself. I just asked her if she'd like to say anything to the blog followers, and she responded in song, "I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony...!" So not to worry, the song-bank was left intact.

She is a little concerned about her headgear--it's apparently not up to her "cute" standard. But thanks to all of her wonderful friends at work, she will soon be replacing it with a GORGEOUS Hermes scarf. Thank you all so much.

We will keep you posted on tomorrow's progress, which I'm confident will be significant. Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and concern. You have no idea how much it means to all of us.

Sara Kate

The morning after

The Brainiac is awake and alert! She is still in ICU, but probably moving into a regular room later this afternoon. We have been telling her stories about all of her fans and your kind calls and notes. She's sorry she missed the party yesterday, but she had more important things to do. We'll have another party--at a better locale--soon.

We'll keep the updates coming.

Sara Kate

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gail is out of surgery

I just got back from the hospital, where Gail is resting peacefully in ICU. We got to speak with Dr. Weinberg around 8 p.m. He was able to resect about 85% of the tumor, which he felt was a success. He said they would address the remaining tumor areas with other therapies. Other than speculating, we won't know for certain the exact tumor type and grade until the pathology comes back on Friday or Monday.

Ok, so for the part you really want to know. Yes, Gail was able to see her family after surgery. She was in and out of consciousness due to the medication, but she was able to talk and move. She said her name, she knows her family, and she gave her love to everyone. They asked her what floor she was on and she said the 9th floor (which is where we work in Pediatrics a lot). They said, "No, you're on the 7th floor," which Gail answered, "close enough." Good to know she hasn't lost her sense of humor!

She will spend the night in ICU and hopefully move to a regular inpatient room tomorrow. Sarah Kate will be updating the blog for the rest of the weekend, so she'll be able to let you know how Gail progresses as the medications begin to wear off. For now, Gail seems to be comfortable and getting some rest.

Thanks for all of the thoughts, prayers, notes, visits, goodies to eat, etc. Time to call it a day!

Sara F.

P.S. The Goodwin bunch finished the puzzle today, exactly one minute before Dr. Weinberg came. They put it back in the box for Gail to work on time like the present to get her brain back in shape! We'll post a photo soon.

More news

We just heard from the nurse again. Mom is still in surgery, but they are winding down and after a post-op MRI, she will be on her way to the ICU where she will stay the night. They think she should be out in a couple of hours--we hope they are right--it's been a long day.

As for us, we're making some progress on the puzzle, and with the deadline on our time here looming, we'll do our best to finish it up. Thank you again to everyone for your continued thoughts, prayers, and support.


Latest post

Here's a report from the doctor who spoke to the nurse. They have taken more of the tumor out and are doing a second MRI in the BrainSUITE to see if there is anything remaining. So far, so good.

Next update will be around 6 p.m.

--Sara F.


Hello concerned followers of the Brainiac... it's Sara Kate on the only computer we can get to work here in the waiting room.  We just met with the nurse for our Noon update, and the surgery is under way.  The doctors are busy working their magic.  Everything is going fine so far as we know.  

We are keeping busy with books, computers, and a jigsaw puzzle (we'll take a picture if we're able to finish it without Mom's skill).  We have lots of snacks thanks to Linda, Maggie, Nancy Beck, and Mom's crew of "nurses" (Kelley, Eli, Jen, Maria, and Erin).  We just met James, who claims to be Mom's favorite security guard, so now he is wearing a "brainiac" bracelet too!  

Thank you to everyone for all of your thoughts, prayers, support, and friendship.  We are so thankful for all of you.  We'll keep you posted.

Just a short update

Gail and Clif checked in at 6 a.m. this morning. They wheeled her back around 8:00 to prep her for surgery. This should be an all-day surgery, so I'll give little updates as I have them. Keep the prayers coming!


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'm DONE ... but just for today!

It's 10 p.m. - night before "BS" Day - and I have hit my self-imposed bedtime. Today is not a blog entry - it is a book! - and I have decided to wait to bore you with all the many details in some of the days to come when I am home alone and bored. Fact is that I am surrounded by all things good right now, I am pretty exhausted and I have to get up really early tomorrow for one of the biggest days of my life.

I am handing over these musings to others - they will keep you informed (I hope). I plan to be giving news myself very soon.

Your concern, love and prayers that have been sent to me are overwhelming and appreciated more than you can ever know. I feel supported and confident. I have put luck in perspective - and I am so very lucky. It's going to be just fine.

I will see you all very SOON:

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake, from the skies.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.

Much love from Gail

Monday, April 20, 2009

I Forgot ....

Want to post a public thank you to my amazing son-in-law Ryan for all the yard work he did today. Now I won't be quite so embarrassed if anyone comes by. Braden helped out some, too, and Sara Kate continued her floral ambitions by planting two huge pots of begonias for the front porch. Thanks all - this was a nice surprise and I will enjoy it in the days to come!


The Longest Day - but a pretty dang good one!

Woke up this a.m. early as usual, but feeling so good because I got a great night's sleep - which means that I need to shut down soon to even make an attempt to match.

Anyway, dealt with the first insurance issue/denial - understand, but not so great - we will attempt to push them on it. I told Clif that a new car and roof would have been cheaper than this all the way around. Oh, well, too late for that.

My third day through the doors of the M. D. Anderson Clark Clinic in my new identity as a patient - and was greeted with a huge hug by a most special volunteer - great way to start the days events. Got my insurance waiver signed and took advantage of the patient status to take the golf cart across the sky bridge to Mays Clinic clinic for the MRIs - I didn't feel guilty at all.

MRIs - yes plural there - and in the tube for about 3 hours - this was a working kind of thing - had to do stuff mentally while I was in there. They say that whatever they asked me to do would light of different areas of the brain while doing it. They mapped all this - I'm like MapQuest - and it will be like I am virtually on that MRI table from Mays when I start out over there in the BrainSUITE. The surgeon will also use all of this to plan the surgery. Funny, I never thought about actually planning this, but suddenly I'm really happy he does! They told me that I made an A+ on my MRIs - I am proud!

Braden picked me up and we went for lunch (well, I had lunch) and then to Clif's office where I signed my name more than I have, well, ever. We are no longer the shoemaker's children. We are so official - been needing to do this for so long - obviously no time like the present! I also signed about a billion HIPAA forms for, perhaps, everyone I know. Not really, but at least those who might need to to get the info. If you know me, you know that I deal with HIPAA for my work all the time - funny to be the one signing this on the other side.

I checked in on Mother and the sisters, who were heading this way. Though I had urged them to get a later start than they were earlier  planning, it seems that they really did. So, they were much later getting here than anticipated and, unfortunately, had a most eventful trip in. Traveling in two vehicles - long story, but basically one was rear-ended and a golf ball landed (and shattered) in the middle of the other's window shield. Although slightly shaken, fortunately everyone is fine - just not the cars.

We ALL (10) went to dinner where we are having the rehearsal dinner for Brian & Tiffany. It was fun for them to see the site - and I think they liked it. We sat outside - beautiful, beautiful evening - food good, company better, lots of fun.

Home to bed - not doing so well here, but I am going to make myself shut it down - need my beauty rest. You will be able to enjoy (?) one more shout-out from the brainiac herself tomorrow and then I'll turn it over to others for a while. Don't worry - I'll be BACK!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Going Down and Out!

That means that I am going to bed!

Such a nice day - gorgeous weather, lunch with dear friends at a darling new place I've been wanting to go to, wandering through the gorgeous nursery attached to the restaurant and then home to a little bit of quiet time (kids at the Astro's game). Got up to find that Clif had moved most everything back into place after the carpet installation. Braden, Brian and Tiffany helped finish things up with Tiffany doing the big job of washing lots of dusty stuff. Looking better around here! Then, even though two hours prior I was certain I would never eat again, off we went for some Thai. We are making a world tour of menus - see you in Italy tomorrow night!

The Jancaitis clan (SK, et al) are on their way - I'll see them in the morning - and, there's a very big day in store for me tomorrow. Mother plus sisters two arrive, too. What a crazy thing this is. What if I decide I don't want to do it after all? Hmmmmm, not an option, I'm afraid.

Now, I said bed so that's where I'm going. More later - hugs and kisses from the Brainiac

Laying it on the line .....

It is Sunday morning at 9:52 and the carpet installers have been at my house for almost an hour. The project was planned for yesterday, but the monsoons messed up those plans - bless these guys, they understood my situation and agreed to come today - early, even, so that we will be able to make lunch with friends.

Now, this is a project that was actually instigated prior to my "situation," but how nice to be getting it done. If it hadn't happened today, I had vowed to let it go for a while - don't sweat the small stuff - right? Still, it's also nice to have new clean carpet in, which requires moving all the stuff (I love stuff) - at the very least, that will have to be dusted and cleaned off before I put it back. I might even get rid of some of it - and the decorator sister arrives tomorrow - she is certain to have something to say about it.

So, a bit more organized, a bit more together - pantries, thanks to my daughter and mother's guidance, are cleaner than they have been in 30 years. Sara Kate tells me - and I have seen this to be true - that she has no qualms about throwing other people's stuff away. I am fully expecting to come out of this in much better shape - all the way around! SK, Ryan and Winnie, the distraction dog, arrive later tonight - looking forward to it - and they have promised to keep those paws clean on the new carpet.

Braden, as I have posted, has been here since Thursday night. We have been enjoying visits with him - he is usually here for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other assorted family occasions - but those are holidays with lots of folks around. This time, we are having actual conversations - it's been great. He's also been very helpful and kind about carting me around doing errands - I'm getting things crossed off the list.

Brian and Tiffany have been a constant - so good to see them for lunch yesterday and today they are taking Braden to the Astro's game. They were somewhat reluctant, but I think that it's great they have an opportunity to do something fun - we don't have to sit around and talk about this all of the time. Just hope the Astro's can pull something off so that it isn't a downer!

My mother and sister will come in sometime on Monday - and, we hear that niece Megan is making an appearance on Tuesday - she is so kind to think that her cousins need some support, too. You, know, there is really nothing that anyone can or needs to do - but it is so good to have them here.

My pre-surgery appts. begin Monday a.m. and continue through Tuesday - already some insurance issues and I'm sure this won't be the last of them. I am looking forward to meeting with my "golden hands" surgeon and getting some questions answered - poor Jeff - they told me that it was okay for family to come to the appt. - hope he knows what that might mean :)

Clif, my personal legal eagle, and I woke up on Saturday a.m. and realized that we are shoemaker's children and that there are a few things we need to take care of before this all begins on Wednesday. Good thing is that he knows what to do, how to do it and it will get done.

While I have been so anxious to begin this event, all of a sudden I see that there are some things to take care of before it does. So, we're going to make the most of our time the next few days and be able to go in prepared for it all on Wednesday. I have requested an enforced bedtime tonight. I pushed myself too hard and stayed up entirely too late last night. It's not good to start out tired so I will try to get some rest. The medicine, which they told me would make me really hungry and want to eat, didn't for about 10 days, but it has kicked in - gotta watch that. They also said that I would crave sweets, but that hasn't happened yet - except I'm enjoying those sea salt caramels from Seattle :)

Perhaps you will hear more from me today - seems this is a good way to get it all out. I like telling you all about it - never planned to, never wanted to, but now I may as well!

The sun's out already - and that's good news! 

Hugs from Miss B

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Password Hell

Three days to go before I am going to need to let it all go and turn things over to those who love me - and then they are going to be telling you what's going on with me. In the meantime, I am in password hell. 

Oh, good grief, there are so many of them and it seems that I keep adding them. I've got to have the access to myMDAnderson and then there is this blogspot - because you want to read all about it - right. Of course, the lotsa caring hands site - I need to know what we're going to be having for dinner :) Then, not to mention my credit cards and bank account that I need to turn over to my husband. I am frantically paying bills so that he won't have that to deal with over the next few week in addition to everything else that's going on around here.

But, okay, I keep forgetting all of these PWs - there are just too many - and then in order to get onto the accounts, I have to change everything so I really am getting mixed up. They say that all accounts should all be different for safety's sake - and that you don't want people to be able to figure out how to get into your information. That makes perfect sense to me except that even I can't remember how to get into my information. So, I'll be stupid and write it all down and not even keep it private - I'm giving it all to Clif (kinda scary thought - he forgets things, too, and has also been known to misplace them - making me feel a little better about this). Only, I had to go to him tonight to get the access name and PW in order to log onto this and post. Am I the only one out there with these issues or maybe do I just have too many credit cards?

Now, one more thing - because this is not going to be as long a post as they have been. How bored are you guys with me? I think I'm getting bored with myself, frankly. What an incredibly self-indulgent process this blogging is. I'm a writer and look what I'm doing - I'm writing all about me - because it IS all about me, isn't it? Maybe you will all be glad to hear about me (see, it's still all about me) in someone else's voice. My sister Shannon might do some writing and she's pretty good at this, too. Sara - hero Sara - she can write - that's her job. Sister Kim, even though she excels at making homes look nice, can also take pen to paper (pinkies to computer) when pressed. Oh, Sara Kate, #1 daughter, has some natural talent, too. I don't think that they've given anyone else access to do this - those who might have been considered are probably glad they won't have to.

Final note for the night - I went to the office this afternoon for several hours. Bliss - no one there and I was able to cross off the three things I've had on my list to complete for the past few weeks. Of course, I then added a couple of other loose ends that I need to take care of before it all goes down - but I think I can do that on Monday. 

I looked at myself in the mirror (usually try not to do that) - I look tired and I need to go to sleep - so, I'm going to. I hope you can, too - and I also hope that the sun's coming out tomorrow!

Sleep tight - the Brainiac

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Long Goodbye!

Gee - kind of a hard day today. In the office for the last day - and I even went to a meeting. It was an easy one, but it was a meeting. I spent the rest of the time on the phone and hugging friends and then showing Braden off and introducing him around to all my PA buddies while I said my goodbyes (goodbyes for a while - just a while). It took almost an hour to make the loop around - and he was pushing me. When I finally did head out the door, my hallmates lined up like a parade to give hugs and best wishes.

Well, you know me - it called for a performance. Never one to be shy (you do know me, right?), I burst into spontaneous song. Of course, it was a rousing rendition of "Turn out the lights, the party's over..." that quickly sounded sort of ominous so I had to make up some new happy words fast to bring smiles back to all the faces. Still, it was a fitting way to exit - and, brought a few tears to my eyes as we sailed down the elevator. Weird, weird, weird - I don't like this AT ALL!!!

Lunch in the Village - sweet Braden's treat! Then he was so kind and toted me around to all kinds of random places to get all kinds of random stuff I "needed" before next week. We ended at Walgreen's where it turned black as night and started poring. Curbservice for me - and we headed home. There, I had to confirm a Monday a.m. MRI appt. and then began to focus on my FMLA situtation. I learned a lot - more than I wanted to know and found a few surprises along the way. Good thing that I haven't been sick much - seems I just might need some of those days in the next few weeks if I want to continue to receive a pay check - REALITY BITES!!!

While I am really getting ready to get this show on the road, I suddenly find myself wishing for more days because there are some things - sort of business-kind-of-stuff - that I need to take care of. I have decided to make an office appearance on Sunday (please don't tell - I just need a few hours of quiet concentration and then I'll be done and over and, I promise, out) for a final desk wrap-up. I will finish the three relatively small things that need doing and make a list of things to take care of personally in the next few days. I will ease my mind - and that will be a good thing!

Okay, back to today - or, rather, tonight. After numerous conversations, it was determined that dinner would go on at the same time in the same place with all the same people. I'm so glad it happened. We talked and hugged and we talked and hugged and took a few pictures, too - oh, and we laughed - so good to laugh with friends and family. Plus, in spite of the fact that I must stick with aqua, the dinner was delish (thanks for the treat, Miz Gene and whoever else - loved it so much) - I'm tasting things again and I am hungry. Too bad - I was kinda on a skinny roll for a while there. Maybe Wednesday will nip this in the bud - ya think?

After dinner, my friend Cathy (well, Catherine, but she'll always be Cathy to me) pulled a magic hospital "fun bag" out of her car for me. Take lessons, people - it was amazing! There were gingersnaps (cute little heart-shaped ones - not those big grocery store klunkers) for upset tummies; chocolate for anything; face balm, lip balm, lotions, potions and creams for dry skin; a slick new and fancy notebook and pen for taking notes when you meet with the docs; a supremely soft mudgy set so I don't have to be naked; and - OHMYGOSH - a Kindle fully loaded with 30 (count 'em) books plus a night light, two room chargers and a car charger plus complete written instructions on how to use it. Oh, and the tote bag that all of this came in was wonderful, too, and pulled it altogether. 

I don't know how to accept stuff like this - or how to thank someone for this kind of thoughtfulness. I was forced to swear that I would not write a thank you note. Well, that's okay, because it wouldn't ever be enough anyway. Here's my latest thought for much that has been coming my way lately: pay it forward, Gail - pay it forward. You can thank those helping you by helping those you meet up with later. This is my promise (getting late, getting kinda mushy - but I mean it - really) so help me stick to it - I'm paying it forward.

This was the end of a long, but special day - but I forgot to tell you what I found on my office chair when I arrived this a.m. There was a gift card to Soma to purchase something comfy to live in at home left there for me from my good CAP buddy Angela. That in itself was so wonderful and thoughtful because I LOVE Soma - but it was accompanied by the best idea I have ever seen. There was a fully addressed, stamped envelope (to Angela) with my return address on it. Inside the envelope was a handwritten thank you with all the appropriate sentiments. All that was left for me to do was sign my name and then put it in the mailbox. She had a post-it on the note that told me to do just that and to mark it off my list - must have known how long that list is getting!!! Have you ever heard of such an idea - Angela, how wonderful and cute and funny at the same time. Loved it all - got the message - will do!

Now, that I am calling out people by name, I am feeling some guilt because there are so many I haven't mentioned - my special drivers this week: Diane, Sunny and Jo Ann who added in great lunch stops along the way home - and, yes, you, too, Braden; the gazillions of cards I've gotten at home and work (you know your names); the beautiful flowers from special colleagues, friends and family; the little gifts, the visits, the hugs, the calls, the e-mails, the FB messages - I am uplifted (and I see that I stopped mentioning names - can we say that there are just too many to mention?). 

Thank you all so very much - it gives me a warm feeling inside to have such friends - love you all - and, finally, over and out for me! - xxxgbg

Thursday, April 16, 2009

He's No Longer Sleepless in Seattle - He's in HOUSTON!!!

Well, the Seattle Boy has arrived at long last! We were running late, but the connection time was actually just about perfect - big surprise.  We made a quick trip from IAH to Pei Wei, had a good dinner and then came home to some delicious, fabbo Fran's sea salt caramels that Braden brought me - my favs! His GF Maren will come after the surgery - her parents are in Seattle (and we're supposed to be there, too) so she is not able to be here at the beginning - I think it's nice that she's coming at all - not necessary, but so sweet!

Today, I got a tiny bit more info - hospital time will be 4-5 days or possibly even less and then home with Tylenol (amazing!). Then, I'm supposed to be pretty much down and resting for about 7-10 days at home. I thought that I would be coming back to work after that, but apparently not - they tell me that I would be expected to concentrate there (imagine that) and that probably wouldn't be happening for about 6 weeks. Then, I'll be easing back into the office - so, not sure about the schedule, but still kinda sad that it will be longer than I thought. Guess this is something to be expected - after all, we're talking brain surgery here - but I really don't like being not up to par.

Another piece of news - big in my life, you know - is that I can take the 11 p.m. pill at 9 p.m. and therefore go to bed earlier than I have been and get a little more sleep. Of course, it's almost 10 p.m. already, but we have a visitor so I'm visiting - and writing this.

Tomorrow is my last morning in the office - seems so weird to be wrapping things up. At the first of the week, I had three things I needed to accomplish - I am almost finished with one of them, but haven't made any progress on the other two: tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll do it tomorrow - it's only a day away!

Braden will pick me up and get a bonus tour of our new offices and then we have some errands to do. I'm planning on a force-clean of his room, too. Then there's dinner with friends at Yia Yia Mary's. New carpet comes Saturday a.m. and maybe a quiet dinner that night somewhere with just us. We have Sunday lunch with more friends and Sara Kate, Ryan and our grand dog Winnie arrive that night.  I have a functional MRI on Monday a.m. and my mother and sisters will be in that afternoon - maybe a few more family members on Tuesday. We have a Tuesday a.m. appointment with the surgeon - everyone's invited - then with the anesthesiologist after than. Fun days, huh!

I was relieved to learn that the 11p.m. Wednesday time that was the scheduled time shown for my surgery was actually a default for all surgeries just to block the room. I am certain that my surgeon's golden hands are shinier in the morning than at 11 p.m. at night!

So, now you know about me and who's here and who's coming and the schedule of events. Are you bored yet? I think I may have written some of this before - I'm writing so many e-mails that I can't remember what I've told to whom. But, it's going to be a big time, uh huh, uh huh!

Now, I really am going to bed - pretty tired here. Sleep tight, everyone! (and congratulate me tomorrow if I actually manage to post this) - Love from the Brainiac/gbg

HELP - I Need Somebody - Not Just Anybody - SARAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Okay - I am so stupid about all of this stuff. Sara says that she fixed it so that I can post on the blogspot, but of course I can't figure out how to do that. I can't IM on Facebook and - this is the worst - I forget my password every time I try to login and then I have to change it. I don't think it's my current issue, I think I'm reasonable smart - it's just that I am old and there are so many more important things running around in my mind these days. Of course, I have always had to write these passwords down in order to remember them - but there are so many more these days. Shoulda just stuck to one!

So, another blog in the wrong spot that Sara (the social media genius only second only next to my friend Jennifer Texada, who is really, really up on all this stuff) will have to transfer to the right place tomorrow. She (Sara) has promised me lessons and maybe if I take notes, I'll be able to do it on my own - only, unfortunately, that time is soon coming to an end. It will be Sara and sisters and daughter and any others who wish who will be doing the updates soon - so bug them if they fall down on the job!Now, having taken that final tiny turquoise pill of the day, it is time to turn in. I have starved myself off of naps the last few days because, after sacking out hard for three-four hours every afternoon (bliss!), I wasn't able to sleep at night. In fact, I think - although I'm pretty positive that I aced those cognitive tests on Tuesday - this lack of sleep might have had an effect on my reasoning in that process.

However, I have been "studying" for these for more than two years now. Clif gave me a very unexpected gift for Christmas in 2007 - a Nintendo DS Lite (never had heard of such a thing!) - and I got very serious about it. Using my additive personality, I began to play with these Brain Age (how appropriate!) games constantly - love it, love it, love it and have almost given up reading for this pursuit. So, this training stood me in good stead on Tuesday - except for the blocks I was supposed to use to match patterns - there's a reason why my dad is an architect and I am not. Hummmm, can't remember (uh oh) if I said this yesterday or not, but anyway, I felt stupidly silly to have been so tired when it was all over, but I do think I did okay! My clinical neurologist told me that I was inspirational and I grabbed onto that!

Brian and Tiffany were here for dinner - easy pasta - tonight. It is so nice to have them staying close. Sara Kate calls - very special, so good to hear from her. And,big excitement, Braden comes tomorrow - can't wait for that very big hug!

Today I got all of my upcoming appointments - I'll be busy for the next few weeks, to say the least. I've got to type it all out for Clif - he forgets all of this all the time (glad it isn't just me!) and these are things I need him to know. I also have a schedule of all the special family folks who are pouring into my house to be there with me next week - lots going on there, too, but I'm really grateful to them all.

I'm also continually grateful to all of you for the help - Clif really appreciates the driving and being able to get a little work done without having to come fetch me every day. I've loved the lunches and especially the visits - and appreciate the rides home.Time to turn this off - hope I can turn my brain off - in a good way - you know what I mean - so that I can sleep. Love to all - the Brainiac

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Couldn't Sleep at All Last Night (a post from Gail)

Here's another post from Gail. Now that she is a "contributor" on this site, she'll be able to post them herself.

Gail writes (on the LotsaHelpingHands site):

Here's another post that my techno buddy, Sara, is going to have to transfer to the other site (which I didn't even know was different from this one) - it's a good thing, for more reasons than one, that she's in charge of me!

Now, to the daily news. My schedule has been "working" at the office in the mornings until about 12:30 p.m. and then home for lunch and a nice long nap. I think this must be cutting into my sleep because the last few nights I have been waking up and then taking a very long time to go back down. If you haven't gotten a thank you from me - and there are many of you that I owe one to - please know that I have been writing them in my head (scary thought!) in the middle of the night. I will try to get pen to paper very soon because I want you all to know how much I appreciate EVERYTHING - too much, soooo much - thank you, thank you!

So, back to the day. After not much sleep, I was up and at-em and ready for the cognitive testing scheduled for this morning (April 14) at 9 a.m. I did some good "studying" on my Nintendo DS Lite during the night - pretty funny that Clif gave me that so long ago and that I like it and that the "games" were actually a great deal similar to what was placed in front of me today. The appointment got off to a late start - said they didn't get the page that I was there, but I gave them a pass this one time. The testing lasted about two hours and I felt silly to be so tired when it was all over. I just hope I made an "A."I came home and have stayed awake all afternoon in an attempt to be able to get some sleep tonight. Wish me luck.

Mainly, I have been answering e-mails - what in the world did we ever do without e-mail - oh, and cell phones - gotta have those, too.Tonight, Brian is coming for family time and pizza - always a distraction and always great to see him. We enjoyed him with Tiffany last night - what a daughter-in-law she is going to be. We are so happy to be getting to know her - just didn't plan for it to be this way. Braden, the Seattle son, arrives on Thursday night - can't wait to hug his neck and have him here. I'm not sure that he will be excited about my plans to clean out his room, but, hey, there's no time like the present, right! Maren, his cutie-pie GF, will be here the day after the surgery and we're happy about that, too. Yesterday, I received a goodie package with yummy treats from her from Harry and David - so sweet. We are sad because the plans were for us to leave in the morning to go visit in Seattle - and meet Maren's folks for the first time. At least we will have them here with us during this important time.

My poor Sara Kate worked so hard cooking and cleaning while she was here that she was sick by the time they left on Sunday. I feel terrible that she feels so terrible, but I'm counting on her getting well soon. I think she and Ryan - and, by the way, bless Ryan for tearing down the eyesore that was Fort Goodwin - wonderful, wonderful! - anyway, I think they will be back in Houston either late Sunday or Monday a.m. Winnie is coming, too, and that, for sure, will be something to take our minds off of things. My mother and sisters will arrive either Monday or Tuesday - not sure yet, but certainly so happy that they will be here for virtual hand-holding during all of this. My dad will probably come back after the deed is done - he's not a hospital kind of guy and, unfortunately, has spent his share of time in one this fall (doing well now!). I will be back in the office tomorrow with a few things on my list that must be accomplished this week before I'm out of here for a while. I love the calls, the contacts, the cards - I love it all - I love you all - you're the very best.


Monday, April 13, 2009

An Easter Update from Gail

Gail posted this update on the LotsaHelpingHands site, so I wanted to make sure everyone got to see it on her blog, too. Guess I need to make sure she has admin access on this site, too!


From Gail:

I thought that everyone would like to know that I had a wonderful Easter weekend with so, so many special people around me. I am learning many lessons about what one should do in situations like this - I've not been great about this in the past, but I am going to be paying it forward in the future!

My sister Shannon drove my parents down and my daughter, son-in-law and Winnie, a very loving Labradoodle, made the scene, too. Sara Kate and Mother spent lots of time cooking and cleaning - do you know that there are no spices that sell for $.49 anymore? I don't have any either - but I did :) My pantry has not been this clean since I moved in that house 30 years ago!

Easter Sunday was a spectacular day - the sun even came out. Tiffany, the fiance of my son Brian, has earned many points with all of us. She offered her home for our Easter lunch and she even had party favors. The food was delicious and I could even taste it. Brian blew us all away with his special and thoughtful gifts and cards - kinda made me teary. We had a wonderful family day. It wasn't exactly how I planned to introduce the two families, but, hey, I was a great icebreaker!I hope that you, too, had an uplifting Easter Sunday - and that maybe you found the Golden Egg!

P.S. Braden arrives from Seattle on Thursday p.m. (we originally had departure plans to visit him this Wednesday - oh, well, another time) and we're looking forward to having him here. He doesn't know it yet, but we're going to clean his room out :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gail Goodwin - Lady in Waiting

As many of you know by now, Gail has been diagnosed with a frontal lobe brain tumor. She was diagnosed on Wednesday, April 1, when co-workers discovered she couldn't talk (a big red flag if you know Gail!). After a few hours in the ER at Memorial Hermann and several tests, they found the culprit to be a large tumor that had apparently been there a long time.

With some medication to reduce swelling, she is talking again, feeling good given the circumstances, and is back at work. Unfortunately, she can't drive for six months! Her surgery to remove the tumor is scheduled for April 22 at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Until then, we're all just waiting.

Various family and friends will continue to update this blog throughout Gail's progress. You'll probably even get some posts from Gail herself. In the meantime, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. She is very hopeful about the treatment that lies ahead.

Many of you have generously offered to help out with rides, meals, etc. during this time. We have set up an online calendar where you can sign up to help the Goodwins in a variety of ways. Please visit: and sign up to be a member if you'd like to.

That's all for now. Thanks for all of the support and concern. Feel free to leave comments, etc. on this blog. If Gail doesn't check them herself, we'll make sure she gets all of your messages.

Sara Farris (co-worker/friend)