Thursday, February 28, 2008

hello, all! this is annie, posting for mother-dear. see below for pictures...

this a picture of mom's late left eye, and superimposed atop her iris, i've included the colors of her turquoise ring. this, friends, is what we're aiming for. plus a few gold flecks along the edge.

if you're wondering how the hell this works, visit these links. it's an incredibly interesting process:

yesterday, we visited waukazoo for the first time since my mom's car accident, and she was treated like a regular celebrity. she is so thankful to have such a supportive group of coworkers and such wonderful students (i am too. thanks, everyone). she was able to remove her eye patch and show the kids her "zombie eye," as i like to call it. they were very engaged, curious, and only slightly creeped out!
mrs. art gets mobbed, and welcomes it!

more hugs

a synchronized group hug in mrs. gundrum's classroom

mrs. art tells mr. lyon's classroom about her eye

last night, mark vandenbosch stopped by our house and offered mom some encouraging words and a shoulder to cry on. thank you, mark. and, you know. thanks to bella too.

and, finally, as i'm writing this, heidi and amy, fellow west ottawa art teachers, are paying us a visit.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CAT scan is ok

Hi, Guys,
I got a call from Dr. Lowry's office-the neurosurgeon who treated my concussion. He feels that there is nothing new going on in my noggin that might cause me trouble.  The vertigo was apparently just one of those things and I have only felt slight symptoms since, so it looks like I am on the mend there as well as everywhere else. I also met with Daniel as usual this week and we discussed my recovery and my feelings surrounding returning to work with different vision and after a month away.  I am really sort of nervous about being able to do my job well and just apprehensive about how it will be. Here at home, in my little cocoon, it is easy to feel secure, but getting back out there in the world sometimes sounds a little daunting! 
Good news about driving--I can! I called the Secretary of State's office about my re-eval, which has not been scheduled yet. I was under the impression from the good sheriff who visited me after the accident that I was not to be driving until that was done, but I learned that I can indeed drive in the meantime. So, I took Annie and I to my Dr. appt this morning and it really did feel fine. The new mirrors that Deborah installed in my Rav work beautifully!
I got an adorable Beanie Baby Pug delivered to my door today from our wonderful Waukazoo custodian Rhonda. Thank you, girl, and please know that I miss your smiling face very much. For those of you who don't know her, Rhonda is possibly the best custodian who ever lived.
Right up there with Sue Nykamp!:)
Also, recieved a basket of goodies from my Elementary Art Amigos (oh, do they ever know what I like!) and they are coming to visit after school tomorrow.  It will be good to be with them again.
My friends Lori and Mark will be getting me to and furrom a meeting tonight so that I can have someone in the car when I do my first night-driving.  My program friends are pretty amazing.
thanks as always for your support....I just realized I didn't even mention my eye in this post. That is because it is just getting so much better, and I also forget about it for long stretches the past few days. Wow, what a blessing that is!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday, Monday

Things are not the same without my darling Deborah here...her sunshine really is a tonic to all around her! 
Woke up from a very sound sleep this morning with only a little morning ache but feel the need to do nothing today other than read and watch movies. We are plowing through the OCEANS movies and are almost at the end of 13. (so far I like it the best. Oh, and what happened to Brad Pitt--didn't he used to be a hottie? I think Don Cheadle is cuter now....boy, am I getting old or what?)
If you are around Waukazoo this week, please stop in and give Ken Newton a hug and some chocolate. He is doing an outstanding job, and he has gone way beyond the call of duty of a guest teacher.
To my teacher buds, good luck with conferences tonight. Know that I am always thinking about you guys. I looked through my books and cards from you  all last night and it is quite a feeling to be this loved. I feel like I have a big beautiful Waukazoo blanket wrapped around me!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday Night update!

Hi, Everybody! 
Deborah left today and is on her way back to Port St. Lucie as I write this. Annie and I bid her a tearful farewell and will miss her so much. We have already made plans to be together in June and look forward to seeing her in North Carolina, along with Frank and Abigail.

Before Deborah left, I took the car out for some practice, and I am pleased to tell you that I did not crash into anything and managed to park a couple of times--of course, no other cars around, but still, it was easier than I thought and I am relieved already. I love the new car and the special mirrors we installed are awesome. Not a blind spot anywhere.
I'll be mostly home this week again and then start back to work the following week. My eye continues to improve daily-today even less of a color show and my eyelid is about half open now, revealing the interesting cyborg eye inside.... it's nice to have my eye opening up and to feel it blinking.

Saw some friends this morning at a meeting, several of whom are cancer survivors. They are all happy and healthy and their energy and attitudes are a tonic for me.
hope all are well....

This is Ken Lentz, my friend and hair guru for the past 23 or so years, who helps me to still feel beautiful no matter what! This is my "pre-op" haircut. Ken also cut my kids' and sister-in-law's hair post-op!

my first painting!

This painting is of the flowers that the gang at Dr Stout's dentist office sent me. No shortage of inspiration around here, thanks to you guys....thanks again, Jan, for getting me back to my art.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

saturday feb 23-feelin' groovy

so happy to tell you that the vertigo wound up being a one day thing--friday morning I had my sea legs again. still am having a CT scan next week just to make sure that the little bleeder from the accident isn't making trouble somehow, but I feel really good today.  Hard to believe that it hasn't even been two weeks yet. this morning I did some simple yoga stretches and it felt great.  Still need to be careful to keep my head above my heart (and y'all know how hard that is for a hippie girl like me :)) but overall starting to feel some energy and stamina and trying to be careful to remember that the reason this is the case is that I have been taking it easy. Deborah is good at gently reminding me to back off and sit down and take care of myself. She is leaving tomorrow, on the jet plane out of GR, and back to Port St Lucie, Fla, where her fab hubsie Frank is waiting, as well as her awesome daughter, my neice Abigail, who is kicking some serious butt in horse shows over the past few days. Thanks, you guys, and thanks to Holy Family Catholic Church for living without Deborah for the past two weeks.  I know I keep saying this but she really has been a gift. We have enjoyed being together so much. We have known each other for 30 years and friendships like this do not grow on trees. don't know how I got so lucky.
Deborah and I had lunch with my ex Mark and he gave me Lance Armstrong's book, ITS NOT ABOUT THE BIKE, about his battle with cancer. I also recieved an inscribed copy of a book about the Detroit Tigers from his son Ben, who is seven and also a Pudge Rodriguez fan. Thank you Hagar men for the thoughtful gifts.
Deborah and I continued our eating and socializing spree by going to a meeting at the Grand Haven Alano Club and I was able to see my friend Lori, an awesome and beautiful woman who has always been an inspiration to me and a bunch of other old timer buddies who I have had the privilege of staying sober with over a number of years.  It was great to have that fellowship again. As many of you know I am a proud member of AA and am eternally grateful for the new life the fellowship has given me.
We also went to Carolyn's for dinner, and Bobbi and Kathy were there, too, as well as the Cutest Couple Ever, Stephanie and Brian.

Today we went to Barb and Joe's and played Wii bowling, which was so much fun.  I will tell you that if you have one eye, playing the tennis or baseball is a BAD IDEA. Anyway, it was so much fun.

Jan stopped by this afternoon with a gift-a set of watercolors and a pad of paper. It is one of those tiny little sets that you can take anywhere. She has given me an assignment to paint and to put the colors I am seeing on paper. As any of you who ever had Jan for an art teacher knows, you do what you are told or else! :) thank you, friend, for helping me to remember what is important....
love you guys....sleep well. thanks for caring.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


All -

Good news!  The pathology report came back and it seems that all is well and the cancer has not spread!  Dr. Aaberg's team has sent the information along to Emory for a second opinion, just to be sure.

We are all greatly relieved.

a quote

See how the fearful chandelier
trembles above you
Each time you open your mouth
to sing. Sing.

-Donald Justice

ok, can you stand this?
This is my friend Carolyn aka Jade, aka Eric, aka Mrs. Cunundrom...champion friend and the funniest person I know who isn't on tv yet. note how hot she is.

Seyth and Jon

Seythie has been an adopted child since middle school and as you can see he is an adorable man. He is a freelance writer who lives in Ann Arbor. You may remember him from WOHS about a decade ago...he had a bike named Frankenbike. Anyone who ever saw it, remembers it! Thanks for your advice on cars, Seyth...very enlightening!


Good morning, dear friends and gentle people,
I have woken up with the most Godawful case of vertigo. When I move, it is a toss-up between falling over and barfing. Sitting still is a very good thing, so that is what I am doing, with  Bella on my lap.  We have a call in to Dr. Aaberg, to get his take on this new revoltin' development,  and also maybe to get the results of the path report from the surgery.  In the meantime, we have watched American Idol--the Girls--and are consuming chocolate provided by my dear thoughtful
Markamenta.  I hope that we will get caught up on posting today-getting those photos downloaded and on to the blogsite.
Continued healing very evident as I look at my new/old eye. It is astounding how this manufactured sphere-thingie has become, at least to my senses, and integral part of my body. It moves in concert with my right eye. It basically feels like my eye has an owie. When I look in the mirror, I see that my eyelid is beginning to open a little--maybe about 25% open. My "clear conformer", as my shape-holding contact thingawhatzus is called, is shiny, and the tissue/orb behind it is a soft pink color, giving me a kind of 28 Days Later, I-got-the-virus look on one side. The colors continue to flourish down my cheek--predominantly cranberry and chartreuse today. 
Let me tell you about tears! The ones that come out of my left eye sort of shoot out of my tear duct rather than pooling around first.  My eye waters quite a bit when I get tired. However, the pain is all but gone and I don't need even Tylenol anymore.
Thank you Judith for the Cream of Asparagus soup and the lovely card and thoughts. I walked into the Holland Area Arts Council yesterday to see my students' artwork displayed upstairs--and may I say how proud I am of my students- and immediately saw our Lorma, then Tinina and Andrew (could you be more adorable, Andrew?) and it felt so good to be out in the world feeling like myself again, not diminshed, not handicapped, not a victim of anything--oh, not at all. May I know how that feels every day.
Some of you know that in November, I went to an AA meditation retreat with Buddhist Kevin Griffin, who is a recovering alcoholic himself and has written a book called, ONE BREATH AT A TIME: BUDDHISM AND THE TWELVE STEPS ( see earlier posts for more about that...) Anyway, I am in touch with several of the recovering people from that magical weekend, including Steve Colf from his Come to Believe Ranch in California. While I was there, we had a meeting, and he shared his experience with beating cancer through his spiritual practice and visualization. He inspired me so much, and now, I am able to ask him for his help.  This is how life works, folks, and the only thing that stops it is our own fear. If you are in recovery and are interested in broadening your understanding of the steps, I recommend Kevin's book. He is a holy man.
Send your positive energy to my substitute teacher, Ken Newton, who is a delightful, funny person. I know that my students at Waukazoo are getting the love and care they deserve from him and are being inspired to make more great art.
Also, please give Carolyn Gundrum a large hug for me. She has been working tirelessly to educate my kids about this experience and help them walk through it with me without misconceptions and fear.  This is a very scary thing for children to contemplate. I remember my Annie having nightmares about amputation after seeing a little girl who lost a leg.  I believe that the answer is in education. Kids can handle the truth if it is presented kindly and age-appropriately, and that is what my friend Carolyn--as well as Bobbi in the music room-are doing for them.  I have a huge shopping bag that is literally full of books, cards, drawings and letters from my kids, and it is absolutely my favorite thing to do to look through them. They warm my heart and help me heal.  
more later--love to you all....

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Check out my new car!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday night Feb 19th

Hello, Dear Ones,
It is snowing again and today was yet another snow day! While driving up Riley street today, Deborah asked Annie and I if the snow we were witnessing would appropriately be called a "blizzard"--I said, no, I think, Flurries. She looked at me like I was nuts! 
First the eye update--I continue to feel more comfortable with this new orb of mine. It still feels like I have an eyeball in there, and the bruising and swelling continue to lessen.  Tylenol is doing the trick for pain management. Every day is a little easier.  Please know that I really do believe with all of my heart that it is your positive, healing prayers and vibes that are responsible for this. In the middle of this catastrophe, I feel a sense of peace and love that I never could have predicted. It is because of all of you. The feeling of being surrounded by your caring is indescribable.
Lots of good news todaY!! First, Deborah made me an appointment with an ophthalmologist
 in Holland who was recommended by my dear Dr. Aaberg.  His name is Dr. Ed Leuschner. He
gave me a full vision exam, the results of which I must present to the Sec of State office when I have my re-eval to determine my ability to drive.  He told me that I have a wide enough field of vision to drive without restrictions--in other words, wider than 110 degrees from left to right. My peripheral vision is of course pretty minimal on the left side but it is crazy just how far over I can detect stuff.  I am told it's a good thing I have a little nose! :)  
We also had phone conversations with Meemic Insurance over the totalled Echo and the medical expenses incurred in the accident-- ( a couple of thousand for the ambulance and ER visit.) Again I must throw in here how ridiculously fortunate I am to be sitting here writing this, and to have insurance. Let's please work for health coverage for all.  Let's please vote smart this fall (if I can be forgiven for using this blog to spout political beliefs!!--actually I know that I am singing to the choir...)
The other big news is that I BOUGHT A CAR TODAY!! A Toyota Rav4, 2003, a perfect auto for me for several reasons....first, it is little and has great visibility, second, the all wheel drive is so nice, and third, I used to have one and loved it. Deborah is going to take me out driving tomorrow for some practice. I am assured that it's just a matter of getting used to it.  We are going to get those cool mirrors for the car tomorrow so I can see better, too.
I got the car from Andrew Middleton at Lighthouse Used Cars, and he was great, giving me a great deal and just so nice to do business with. We got some great pics and will post them tomorrow.
I also finally got to talk to Brother Tom tonight and we will be getting together soon. It was so great to hear his voice.
Time to quit for tonight....oh--Jon's architecture firm in Austin sent a beautiful flower arrangement today-thank you so much...there are flowers all over the place and it is food for the eyes and the soul...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

sunday night

Hearing from people I haven't talked to in awhile is one of the gifts of this experience-family members and friends from far away..thanks, guys. I feel very loved. 
I talked to Barbie today and she told me that the UCC Cycle Challenge raised over 35,000!!
CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU TO THIS WONDERFUL GROUP OF PEOPLE, led by a person named Tony Charameda, whose dream this was. If you don't know him, he is an inspirational person, as are his wife and kids.
Continuing to feel better. My eye gets so tired and I look forward to being able to read again.
I miss the old me these days--or do I? Maybe "miss" isn't the right word. I am having to slow down so much and I needed to do that a long time ago but never got the word quite so clearly as I have now..
Jon and Vanessa heading back home to Austin tonight after breakfast at the Windmill this morning...they got to hang out in Chicago this afternoon but Vanessa's flight got cancelled so she has one more night in Chicago. It was wonderful having them here but also nice for Deborah and I to have a very peaceful day today relaxing. It was nice to actually see Deborah sitting in a chair for an extended period and this is the first night we haven't run the dishwasher twice! 
more tomorrow! good night all....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

tonight, mark and ben paid us a visit, and jon and annie drew claudia, shiner and all.

jon's "mom"

annie's "mom"

picture post!

hello, friends -

annie here, with some pictures.

yesterday, mark amenta stopped by with reggie the dog. bella was hugely entertained by reggie, and gnawed on his face as much as possible. mark came bearing several tons of soup and chocolate, disregarding our "no more food, please" rule (but we forgave him; the soup was awesome!). he also cheered mom up with his energy and sense of humor.

reggie tolerates the abuse

earlier today, mom was feeling much better, so we got her dolled up and jon, vanessa, deb and mom and i went downtown to 84 east. the swelling in her eye has gone down significantly, along with the pain. she is feeling, as she says, "like a real person!" doesn't she look good??

after lunch, we stopped at the Ultimate Cycle Challenge at Ultimate Fitness, where mom got to see and speak with plenty of old friends, and jon and vanessa were able to hop on a ride for a while as well.
ms. barb malis

jon and vanessa

after the bike challenge, jan propst stopped by to drop off some more soup and a light-up tiara (!). shortly after she left, nathan came by to repair our busted door handle. she delighted in showing off the clear contact lens in her eye to nathan, racing toward him, wide-eyed, like a monster from 28 days later.
jan and bella

my beautiful mom and mr. kukla

finally, while mom was napping, jon and deb spent a good, long time today, going through insurance papers and all varieties of "official documentation" to relieve the burden from mom. we've got quite a team, here.

yesterday, we confirmed her consult with the ocularist (the eye artist) for march 14. in the meantime, we plan to come up with some drawings for her regular eye as well as for an abstract one (ideas, anyone?). i also did a drawing of her in profile, and later today will do one straight-on, without a patch over her eye, and will post it sometime soon.

enjoy your weekend, folks!


Kudos and cheers to my friends at Ultimate Fitness-Tony and Michelle Charameda, Barbie, Gary, Missy and the whole gang, riding for the Lance Armstrong Foundation TODAY!!! For those of you who don't know about it, this event is in its 3rd year now, and they raise big bucks for cancer research. If you feel like it, head on down to Ultimate Fitness in Holland today and donate some money to this cause. If you time it right, you may be able to catch smokin' hot MO'HOTTA, Jeff's band, playing live!!!
ON the home front--Deborah (who is a saint--someone please give this woman a massage), Jon and my new daughter Vanessa have gone to see Kenny for haircuts, and Annie, Bella and I are hanging out in our jammies. The sun is out and it is a beautiful day.
I have an appointment with Mike BAin to start work on my new eye on March 14th!
Hope all of you who are reading this are enjoying this beautiful day and please know how thankful I am to be in the world with you....

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ram Dass

We watched the Ram Dass documentary, FIERCE GRACE, today-some of you may know him from the 60's, when he befriended Timothy Leary and turned on, tuned in and dropped out. He wrote a book called BE HERE NOW in the 60's.
I learned about Krishna Dass on Ram Dass's website on New Year's Day. I have been able to listen to his chants often today. If you would like to hear music that is calming and joyful, try his!

My uncle John is recovering much of his speech already. I talked to my dad tonight and he sounded tired. Please keep him in your heart today, and also my step mom Geneva. Sounds like her plate is full, as well.

Candie, Jadea and Merlot all here for afternoon tea. So wonderful. Also cards from dear people including my roomie from Shambhala, Sue. A wonderful surprise. It is because of her that I bought a magnet that is on my fridge that says, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? She is a happy vagabond.

Pain is subsiding and my eye is starting to feel normal.

time for bed.
love to you all.

friday night

Vanessa, Jon, Annie, Deborah and I are watching an awesome movie called The Flying Gulliotine. If you ever get a chance, check it out.

Everyone is too generous!

No, really.

It's really amazing that we find ourselves in this position, but I must request that we receive no more gifts of food for the time being. It's a testament to just how well-liked a woman Mom is, but we are absolutely at capacity. It's going to take real discipline and determination to ensure that we don't allow the amazing lasagnas, soups, brownies, trail mix, fruit arrangements, etc., to go to waste.

The cards and posts on this website really lift her spirits, though, so be as liberal with those as you can.


Thursday, February 14, 2008


dear friends,

this is annie again. happy valentines day to you all! it's important that i write today of all days, because i want to convey just how much my mom has felt loved these past few days. we can hardly keep up with all of the cards, flowers, food, presents, e-mails and phone calls my mom is receiving from friends and family. it is really indescribable.

this morning, my mom was feeling down, and just as she climbed into bed for a nap, my brother ran downstairs with another bundle of cards. i sat with her and read them aloud, and by the time she was ready to sleep, she was feeling infinitely better. and just a moment ago (while she was still asleep), she received two more deliveries of flowers.

i am saving all of these things (and documenting the perishables) so that we can put together a scrapbook for this experience. said scrapbook will probably be about the size of several encyclopedias and weigh approximately seventy three pounds.

thank you, very sincerely, everyone. you are an inspiring group.


Wrapped in Kathy's stitches

As I prepare to go to sleep tonight I wrap myself in the beautiful prayer shawl knitted for me by my beautiful Kathy. It is so soft and warm. Never cold with friends around.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hump Day

Hello, all,
I woke up at five am with my eye hurting and stumbled in to the den where Jon was crashed out on the aerobed. He got me meds and rubbed my temples til I went back to sleep. I realized that my two eyes are moving in tandem, and of course, it is hard to even be conscious of your eyes moving, but wow, my new eye is just getting the hang of it.
Dr. Aaberg implanted a new orb where my eyeball used to be. It is made of a porous material that allows the muscles of my eye to grow right into it. This part of the prosthesis, Dr. Aaberg said, will become " a part of my body". Imagine that! It makes me think of a rattan matt that I put at the bottom of the deck steps a few years ago. I have watched it turn into the ground. It is now hard to see where the matt stops and the grass roots begin. I like to think of the inside of my eye as a beautiful organic thing that is busily healing itself and creatively putting itself back together.
The trouble this morning seemed to be that, without the big sturdy pressure patch, it felt very fragile, like someone forgot to put the packing material in the box and things were rattling around a little. So, I remembered the patches that Carolyn and Stephanie made me. I put on the on with rhinestone shooting stars on it. It pushed gently against my new orb and made it feel safe and snug. I have been wearing it all day and it feels so great.
My eye looks like I got in a big fight and I have quite a shiner continuing to evolve under my eye-the blood is pooling, but not much swelling. My eyelid is mostly shut, and I have to use a cotton ball and this nice eyewash that Debbie found to clean it off during the day because it is still kind of weepy. There is a shiny contact lens thingie in my eye that is protecting the shape of my eyelid, so it looks like my old eye is still in there a little. It isn't creepy like I was afraid it would be. It is just, as Carolyn would say, " the new normal."
I have been able to back off on the pain meds today, which is good, and I am a little less sleepy and stoned as a result...also getting my appetite back, which is also aaided by the fact that there is a ton of yummy food in this house thanks to my loved ones....tonight, Jane Lowe made me delicious vegetarian bean soup-so colorful and spicy with delicious whole whear rolls. The Sheldon Woods staff sent us an edible fruit bouquet with pineapple flowers that was just fabulous (and how artistic can you get?) Thank you, wonderful and kind people. I also got notes and pictures from student artists that are delightful and make me anxious to get back to work.

I found out today that my Uncle John had a stroke that affected Broca's area- the part that controls speech. He is expected to improve, but he and his wife Marilyn and kids must be worried for him and scared to death. For those of you who don't know, My Uncle John is an amzaing man, a brilliant orthopedic surgeon who was a hero in World War II. He still had a full surgical schedule at 82 and only recently retired. I hope that some of that Hayes resilience will stay with me and I am proud to be his neice.

My vision is sometimes so clear and full that it makes me laugh. How can this be, I wonder? I can just see. What an adventure.
I love you guys. Thanks and sleep tight tonight.

Delivery From Diana & Al

mom just received a package from diana and al esquivel filled with one of diana's evil mixes - peanut m&ms with peanuts and pretzels. when i opened the box, mom said (and i quote), "OOHhh YEAHH!!"

with it was the most wonderful card:

Deep inside us,
there is a place
where faith flows freely
and hope runs deep.
a place where we can go
to be refreshed
and to remember
who we really are...
And who we are
is not illness
or weakness
or any kind of problem.
We are eternal.
We are loved.
We are children of God.

thanks so much, you two.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008



Deb has logged more miles than a trucker these days, mostly in bad weather. She took Dad and Geneva back to Holland this morning so that they could head back to Indiana, then back to GR to get us checked out and to Dr. Aaberg's office for my first checkup. I could almost hear the drum roll as Laurie, the technician, took my huge dressing off. I was plenty nervous imagining what was underneath it. I was facing Deb, Jon and Annie, and I watched their faces-all of them simultaneously breathinga sigh of relief and giving me a warm smile, saying, "OH!! it isn't so bad, Mom! You just sort of look llike you've been in a fight!" And it was true-some bruising and swelling for sure, but still me, still my eye-I'm still pretty symmetrical, which is amazing considering. We have to put ointment in my eye three times a day-which by the way costs 100 bucks for a tiny tiny tube!! (for the umpteenth time wondering what people do without health insurance) stave off infection and got some patches, one of which is a sort of metal screeny thing to protect my eye.
I will be meeting with the Ocularist, Michael Bain, in the next few weeks, and will have my prosthesis in a month or so.
I am sort of wiped out tonight and thankful for pain meds. I am also so very grateful for my incredible kids, my Super Woman Sister Deb, and Kathy (Candie) and Carolyn (Jade) for bringing delicious dinner. Carolyn also brought letters from SW kids to read (they are priceless of course)--and thank you to Kathy Keegin for the beautiful prayer shawl which I am wearing right now. Carolyn and stephanie, thank you for the gorgeous eye patches-my favorite is the turquoise feathered one! I feel beautiful in it-especially with the matching turquoise shawl.

Goodnight, goodnight....
Oh! Sometimes I can see soo well. It is weird. My brain is already compensating. Amazing amazing!

This is Annie... see below for pictures!

a pre-surgery hug

Annie drew an eye over the "X"

Jon makes some edits

Grampy entertains Annie, pre-op

"Does it look better like this, or this?"

still waiting...

Mark and Deb (brother and sister) reunite!

Amy makes an appearance to cheer Claudia up, post-op

Dr. Aaberg & Claudia

a clean bill of health!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The beginings of recovery

Jon (aka "The Boy") here.

We've decided to stay in Grand Rapids again tonight since Mom's follow-up appointment is here tomorrow afternoon. It's been about 6 hours since we left the hospital and she is in very good spirits. The Darvocet is keeping her pretty groggy, but we're keeping her well fed and well rested (Doctor's orders, you know). As Annie said before, we have to keep her visitors to a bare minimum for the time being, but you'll all get to see her soon enough.

We are all obviously quite relieved with the outcome of the surgery. Even though she had a very promising prognosis from Dr. Aaberg, there was that element of squeamishness and anxiety to the waiting process. To make things even better, Mom is handling this with incredible grace. It's really awesome to watch someone with this much strength cope with a situation like this. Personally, I feel like I would have decked any doctor who told me he wanted to take my eye, but maybe I inherited a little of whatever Mom has.

Anyway, keep posting your comments and soon Mom will be able to post for herself.

Love to you all,

Jon & Mom (and Bella, too)


everyone -

this is annie; i am thrilled to report that the surgery was a complete success! the doctor is confident that they removed all of the cancerous tissue, and all muscle tissue is still intact.

mom is doing very well. she was feeling a great deal of pain immediately after the surgery, so is on a pretty high dosage of pain killers, and has been instructed to rest - and rest a lot - for the next few days. because of this, she mustn't see many visitors. we've been told we have to be her "gatekeepers." that said, we welcome cards, flowers, e-mails, etc.

when she awoke from surgery and we were ushered in to see her, one of the first things she said was how loved she felt, and that she could feel your prayers. this will come as no surprise to anyone who knows her, but she also won over the entire staff at Spectrum (which was a wonderful group).

she'll probably have her eye patch for the next month or so, after which they'll make a prosthetic for her. she needs to heal as much as possible before they fit her.

please e-mail or call me if you have any questions or want to relay a message to her. & 616.403.7937. we'll be updating again soon, with pictures.

annie et al

Sunday, February 10, 2008

latest on surgery and stuff

Hi, all,
Here is the poop on the surgery:
Monday January 11
pre-op stuff 8-9
surgery 9-10:30
recovery room 10:30-12:00 --then discharged

We are staying at the Residence Inn in Grand Rapids--room 722, phone 616-957-8111.
Because of the horrendous weather we thought it best to get to GR tonight. Deb drove us all in the Trailblazer-what a gal. The gal from Florida drove all of us Michiganders. She was and is awesome!! It took two hours.....yikes.

Deb, Annie, Jon, Bella and I are in a 2 br suite and my dad and stepmom are next door. It is a very nice place.
We will also be staying here tomorrow night, because I have to be seen by the doctor again
on Tuesday morning-easier to just hang here.

I wish I had the words to tell you how much I appreciate and love you guys who have been holding me in your arms through all of this. I feel your prayers.
Next time I see you, I will have one less eye but I have a feeling that I will see you all even better than I ever did before. funny.
as Carolyn said-see you on the flip side!
it just hit me.
I cried with my children. I cried with my dad.
I got his shoulder all wet. I am here to tell you that you always need your dad, even when you are 56 and think you are very mature.
We are going to GR tonight to stay at a hotel, since the weather is so bad. this way we will be a block from the hospital. Deb made the arrangements and is driving all of us in her Trailblazer.
I am relieved.
Deb also went to Our Lady of the Lake this morning for mass and arranged for Father Phil to come and annoint me and give us communion. Thank you Deb for giving this sortof Buddhist a chance to be Catholic again for awhile.

greetings! this is annie writing for my mom, who is laying in bed beside me. she is feeling really overwhelmed today, and is sleep-deprived thanks to her late-night talks with sister-in-law deborah, so i am reporting for her. the past few days have been busy, busy! my grandpa and grandma (tom and geneva) are here, and our very good family friend, mr. seyth miersma, stayed the night as well. deborah is attending church at the moment, but (my mom wants me to note), she has been an absolute godsend (she is pictured right, having a grand old time with mom).

seyth and jon

yesterday, i drove my grandpa's giant boat of a car (a lincoln, actually) to pick jon up at the amtrak station. we took bella along for the ride, but, upon realizing that we had arrived half an hour early thanks to the time change, decided to smuggle bella into a restaurant to wait for the train. it was a beautiful day; jon managed to make the right calls to bring out the sunshine for his arrival.

grampy and i smuggle bella with a big yellow bag

despite the blizzard outside, we are having a "farewell to my eye" party for mom later today. she was feeling anxious earlier because this is the last sunday morning that she will wake up in bed and see what she sees. so, i reminded her that today is only the last day that she will have two brown eyes!

bella is sitting here with us. do you remember the old warner brothers cartoons wherein characters would fight? there would be clouds of dust, some stars and exclamation points and the occasional foot or fist? well, that is bella at any given moment. that is to say, unless she is sleepy. if she is sleepy, she is the most darling thing. deborah and geneva went out yesterday to cause trouble at meijer and petco and came back with two outfits and an embellished carrier for bella. we will post pictures when she is next sporting any of these things. grampy is entirely smitten with the little girl and whispers about her supposed move to evansville.

bella "sits"

yesterday, after they returned from their adventures in holland (during which time geneva kept getting lost in the aisles of meijer), they made the most fantastic dinner! there was soup, salad, brie and crackers and french bread - 2 kinds! we are also eating cookies by the pound. it's disgusting, folks.

barb showed up to shovel our driveway and share dinner with us. it had been a long time since she'd seen deb, neva or grampy, so they had the opportunity to catch up after a number of years. joe also stopped in later, for a moment (the weather was not agreeable), and also got to say hello to everyone.

finally, mom wants me to note, how very happy she is that grampy (or "dad") is back in her life. enough said.

thanks to everyone, once more, for your thoughts, prayers, phone calls, e-mails, cards, comments and all kinds of expressions of love and concern. such things are getting us all through this time.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Our life's work is to see what we have been given to wake up.

-pema chodron

This book was a gift from sister girl Ami Desai in Denver.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I don't know how I could forget to report that I kicked booty on Carolyn's Phantom of the Opera Pinball Machine today...we had another Snowday Movie with Candi, Merlot, Jade and I, as well as junior Twisted Sisters (twisted daughters?) Stefanie and Anna.

Also you will see a tiny snowman outside of Reader's World handcrafted by Annie and me, if no one has smashed him already!
Finally, I wish to thank and send my love to Ann McKnight for her loving care and giving me an amazing massage and teaching me to tap my blues away.
Thank you Tasha for the beautiful purse and the motherload of candy within it:) sweet of you. Your friend does lovely work. I can't wait to use it.....of course half of the candy is already gone (this should surprise no one!) Also thank you Art Amigos for hanging up the Cityscapes downtown at the Arts Council! Coincidentally I ran into my dear Marilu Andree at the Windmill where I was having omelets with Annie after my appointment downtown. Marilu is Exhibits Coordinator and the latest addition to the very wonderful staff there. Here is a picture that Annie took of the two of us:
Speaking of Annie it is so nice to have her home and I want to report that she is a Godsend and I finally feel like I can rest. She is taking care of things like food, puppy, dishes and phone calls. She also gives me hugs, makes me laugh, watches Meerkat Mansion (Annie's edit: it is actually Meerkat 'Manor'... how cute is my mom??).with me and is my blog manager. How lucky am I! We will be getting ready for the company dad Dr Tom and step mom Geneva get in tomorrow afternoon, followed by sister Deborah tomorrow night and Jon on Saturday.
Talked to my ex and still dear friend Mark tonight--please, all, keep him in your thoughts now, too, as he is going through rough times and this is hard for him as well. He is such a great dad and could use some support right now, too....
I know for sure that love is the answer to all of the suffering in this world.

Today I thought about dying and how it would be to lose my life from this cancer, as so many other people have done, some of them so dear to me. I tell you all of this because I need to tell the truth. I am scared. I am afraid that I will not be able to see the lake like I do now. I am afraid, in my hopeless vanity, that I will look ugly. I am afraid that the cancer will spread. I am afraid that the people I love so much, my family and friends and kids at school, will suffer.

i also, in the midst of all of this, feel a sense that life is so wonderful. Keep those prayers circulating through the universe, for all of us.