There’s no place like home!

What an exciting couple of weeks this has been for me and Patty.  Exciting, but a lot of work.  I had forgotten just how draining a move can be!

I have to say, coordinating the sale and closing of the condo with the purchase and closing of the new house went as smooth as anyone could ask for.  The condo closed one day and the house closed two days later.  Not one hitch!

Patty did a lot of the packing of the condo while I was at work.  She did a great job other than packing a few of the boxes with more than one human could lift.  I had a ton of help from my son Steven and my son-in-law, Joey.  We rented a 26 foot truck.  One would think a 26 footer would be more than enough truck to handle all our things, but between the condo and what we had in storage, it took two trips.  We started moving around 11:00 a.m. and ended at straight up 7:00 p.m.  Needless to say, I was one tired puppy by the end of the day!

From the moment we were told that our mortgage recorded at the County Recorders office and we unlocked the front door to our new home, we knew buying this house was the right decision.  It just felt right!  It felt like home!  Our home!  Now, over the past week, we’ve put a dent in unpacking boxes and little by little it’s taking shape.  Quite honestly, it’s looking pretty awesome!  I wish I knew where the camera was so I could post some pictures of what we’ve done.  I’m sure the camera is packed in some box in the garage.  The question is… Which box?

This house just screams: “Let’s entertain!”  Well, tomorrow is Easter Sunday.  Patty’s so excited to show off the house, she’s invited the whole family for Easter dinner… 15 people total.  It’ll be great to have our first party which I’m sure will be the first of many to parties to come!

Patty is doing really well in her recovery.  She’s been training for the Komen walk in November and has been attending training walks with a group a couple times a week.

Patty took a big step forward in her recovery this week.  She’s decided to no longer wear a wig.  This is a big step for her!  She does’t need the wig anymore.  Her hair is coming in as thick as you could imagine.  It’s at least a quarter of an inch now and it looks really really good!  I’ve been pushing her for a few weeks now to go au-natural.  But, she needed to do it on her time.  So, this week she finally said: “That’s it!  I’m done.”   She said she feels a little self-conscious at times, but I don’t know why.  She’s looks gorgeous as usual!

Patty got an email the other day from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure in San Diego.  Major League Baseball is honoring breast cancer survivors on Mother’s Day, Mary 8th.  They’re asking for as many breast cancer survivors as possible to go to the Padre vs. Diamondback’s game that afternoon.  All the survivors will be honored on the field before the game!   Patty is so excited to be on the field with her “Sisters” that afternoon!  I’ll be so proud to watch her!  I’ll do all I can to find the darned camera before then so I can post pictures after the event!

Sorry for no pictures for this post.  I’ll have some new ones on her soon!

Until then… life is good!

Moving represents so much more to us!

What a hectic week this has been and it’s only Tuesday.  We had the walk-through on the new place this past Sunday afternoon and signed our loan doc’s in blood that evening.  The buyer of our condo had their walk-through yesterday afternoon.  This morning I wired the balance of our closing costs to escrow.  Phew… that pretty much tapped our savings!    The exciting thing is we’re scheduled to close escrow and move on Thursday!!!

Moving into our new house is a big milestone for Patty and me.  I thank God we had the condo to live in the past 15 months.  The condo served its purpose.  But, moving into a single family residence represents so much more than the inconveniences of living in a 708 square foot, 1 bedroom, 1 bath condo.  It represents so much more than not having a back yard or a garage. So much more than frequently hearing the disturbing sounds from the neighbor above us and his girlfriend!    Moving represents me and Patty going forward with our lives!  It means putting breast cancer behind us and taking the next step to many years before us.

Patty and I have found we’re finally at a place in our lives that we’re able to plan the future.  Plans for today, tomorrow, the day after that and months and years ahead!  The house is just part of our master plan.

I posted a blog last year about making plans to go to Kauai this June.  It’s a trip we have tried to do yearly, but last year was out of the question since Patty was in the middle of her fight.   I have to admit, I was somewhat uneasy going through escrow and looking at the numbers thinking I wasn’t sure how we were going to afford Kauai.  I talked to Patty about the trip a couple of weeks ago, telling her that we may have to postpone the trip a few months just to be safe.  Patty had the perfect response… “I’m not postponing this trip.  Thinking about going to Kauai gave me something to look forward to during my battle.  I just can’t give it up.  We’ve gone through too much.  We deserve this!”  She was right.  How ironic, but she assured me that we could afford the trip which eased my mind.  Normally it’s the other way around.  Ok… I over reacted!  We’re going and we can’t wait!

I got home from work today and learned that we’re renters again!  Escrow on the condo closed today and we’re renting it back for a few days!  Thursday can’t come soon enough for us!  You figure 708 square feet of living space with 350 square feet of boxes!  If things go as planned, we fund tomorrow and record Thursday morning… then it’s ours!  Bring on our future!!!

El Dorado County is at it again!

The support for Patty over the past year has been amazing.  From the initial cancer diagnosis, through the mastectomy, through chemotherapy and even today!

 Two weeks ago we traveled to our old stomping grounds in the Lake Tahoe and Placerville areas of Northern California.  Our first stop was the office Patty retired from a year ago… the El Dorado County Department of Child Support Services.  As I said in an earlier post…

 We walked through the security door.  People heard Patty’s voice and immediately came to the front of the office and showered her with love, hugs and tears!  It was so obvious to me how much these people truly care about her!”

 If you’ve followed this blog from early on, you’ll remember these women (and a few men) from that office raising over $600 in Patty’s name for cancer research through the Susan Komen “Pink for the Cure.”  I remember both of us being so touched and humbled by their effort!  It was amazing!

 We have a very close friend named Becky.  Patty first met Becky when she went to work for the El Dorado County Dept. of Child Support Services as Becky was her immediate supervisor.  Over the years their relationship grew from a boss/subordinate relationship into a very close friendship and beyond!

 As you know by now, Patty is in the process of raising money to walk in the Susan Komen 3-day Race for the Cure in November of this year.  The entry fee/goal is to raise $2,300.00.  Patty just passed 50% of that goal and is sitting somewhere around $1,180.00 raised.  

 Well, Becky is up to her tricks… she has put together a fundraiser at the office to support Patty in her efforts to participate in the 3-day Race for the Cure.  Take a look at the display in the office…

Becky is holding a raffle of a Harry and David gift box of “munchies.” 

The drawing will be held on April 20th! 

It’s ironic.  The Susan Komen website is the first one Patty research when she was diagnosed with cancer.  The website was so helpful to her, as well as I.  She feels so good to be involved in raising money for this organization and even more so with help from all her friends!  Becky told Patty this will be the first of many fund raisers to come!

Becky… Thank you!  You’re the best!

Cancer has taken a back seat to life!

Patty and I have so much going on!  Our biggest focus right now is getting the condo packed up and prepare for the move next Thursday into out new house.  We had a pretty big concern thrown at us with the possibility of a Governmental shut down.  There was news about FHA loans being put on hold until the Government decides what they’re going to do with the federal budget.  (by the way, we have a FHA loan which is supposed to fund next Wednesday!!!)  I spoke to our mortgage broker this morning and she assured me that this will not affect our loan and it will be funded on Wednesday as scheduled!  Phew!

As Patty and I talked last night I realized that our life is really  moving forward after the past year.  There were times last year when both of us felt there was really no end in sight.  But you know what, there was and there is!

In this “new normal” phase were going through we notice is that cancer is NO LONGER the main topic of discussion.  Do you realize how good that feels?  Going through Patty’s treatment, cancer was all we could talk about.  It totally consumed all phases of our lives!    Cancer is still a topic of our discussions, and it comes up in our discussions at least once a day, but it’s just not the main topic anymore.

Patty told me last night that she still gets frightened.  If you know Patty, she’s a very strong woman.  Very strong.  She relayed to me that just the other night after we went to bed, she lay there in the dark and found her mind wandering.  She started worrying about the “what if’s?”  “What if the cancer comes back?”  “What if the ache in my back is cancer?”  She said this was not the first time she has been frightened over the past couple of months.  She said it happens often.  Ironic, but when Patty was first diagnosed and receiving her initial treatments, her worst time was at night… in the dark.

I’ve read that it’s not uncommon for women who have gone through the battle of a life threatening disease, such as cancer, to have reoccurring fears, thoughts and even dreams/nightmares about the disease coming back.  The whole experience is still relatively new for Patty.  It’s something that will take time.  Quiet honestly, I don’t think the fear factor will ever go away, for either of us.  This is the reality of dealing with cancer.  It never goes away.  Sure, some days are easier than others.  Patty is going forward with her life.  As great as she’s doing, those darned thoughts are still able to creep into the back of her mind.  I’m very proud of how strong she is.    Cancer is very scary!!!

Overall, Patty is doing great!  Her hair is getting thicker and thicker by the day.  It’s actually grown to the point where it’s touching her ears!  She said she thinks that she’ll stop wearing the wig next week and start going out in public “au natural!”  I’m excited for her!  She’s on the prowl for a “sassy” hairstyle for really short hair.

Patty is still suffering the side effects of chemo… neuropathy.  In a nutshell, neuropathy is nerve damage that can be caused by the chemo that causes numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.  It’s like your feet and hands going to sleep 24/7!  Patty says it’s painful at times.  I can only imagine!  The neuropathy started sometime after her 3rd infusion.  Patty’s oncologist said the neuropathy goes away with time, but Patty’s not seeing any improvement.  She has an appointment with a neurologist next Wednesday.   We’re hoping he can help.

We like the “new normal” of cancer not being the focus of our conversations or lives.  It never completely disappears.  It’s always there as the footnote to each and every day.  Some days the topic is more in the forefront than others.  Patty still has many future appointments with her oncologist and future tests to take.  She still has the reconstruction to go through.  I’m sure when we experience those days or weeks, cancer will temporarily take charge of our lives again.  But only temporarily.

Right now, we’ll take cancer being in 2nd place in our life!

Dog days of life!

I thought I’d share a little thought I had this morning when I was walking Molly.  Sometimes it’s the little things in life that to one person, may not seem like much.  To others, it’s huge.

Living in a pretty small condo with an 85 pound Akita does have it’s challenges.  Challenges when it comes to “the poor dog needs to go to the bathroom!”  We figure we need to take Molly out for a “walk” at least 4 times a day.  We’ve been living in the condo for somewhere around 14 months.  Do the math… 14 months times 4 walks a day comes somewhere in the neighborhood of 1696 walks… which equals to at least 1200 poos!  Poor thing… she needs a yard!  We’ve got 10 days to go until we move.  That means at least 40 more walks!  I can see then end of the tunnel is not far away.  10 days!  That’s all we’ve got until we move.  We can do anything for 10 days.  Sure, we’ll still take her for walks after we move, but probably one a day instead of 4!  She’s going to LOVE having a yard again!

Life is good!

A visit with the reconstruction surgeon…

Well, as I’ve said before, Patty is really doing well.  She’s got her energy back, her strength back and pretty much all her hair back… well… sorta.

She had an appointment with the reconstruction surgeon this past Wednesday.  If you recall, that darned incision hadn’t completely healed since July!!!  We were hoping she’d meet with the reconstruction surgeon this time and he’d say that she’s all healed and now they can start with the reconstruction.  Well, that didn’t quiet happen.  This time the surgeon said that she is “over healed!”  Go figure.  We don’t really know what that means other than we have to wait another month and see how things are doing.  Pretty disappointing since it’s warming up down here and I know Patty would really like to get in the pool!  I guess she has to be satisfied with cold showers to cool off for the time being!

I can say that this news isn’t getting her down in the least!  We have too much going on to, as she says:  “Sweat the small stuff!”

As Patty gets stronger… we travel!

We had the best time this past weekend!  We made a trip up to our old “stomping grounds” between Placerville and Lake Tahoe where we had spent the past 10 years of our lives.  We were both really excited to make this trip as it would be the first time out of town in nearly a year since Patty was diagnosed!  We were not only excited to get out of “Dodge” for a few days, but we were also excited to have the chance to visit with friends that we’ve really missed.

Patty had purchased our tickets about six weeks ago with Southwest.  She felt pretty good about getting the “internet deal” for a relatively good price.  The only issue with the internet deal was that the best price tickets were for flights people don’t want to take as our departure was scheduled for 6:30 a.m.  Thank God I’m an early person… Patty is quite the opposite.

Patty and I were at the American Cancer Society event the night before.  We were pretty wired when we got home.  We finished laundry, packed our bags, cleaned the house and hit the bed around 11:00 p.m.  I set the alarm for 4:00 a.m. which would give us time to shower etc and be out the door by 4:45 a.m.   Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents told you they were taking you to Disneyland the next day and  how you woke up every hour to see if it was time to leave yet?  That was me and Patty that night.  We woke up pretty much every hour on the hour!  In fact I was laying wide awake in the dark at 2:00 a.m. and realized Patty was awake also!  We laughed about it eventually fell back asleep.  I got up about 10 minutes before the alarm went off.  I showered, make coffee and rustled Patty out of bed.  We were on the road right on time… about 4:45 a.m.  Leaving at this time would allow us time to drive to the parking lot a few miles from the airport, shuttle to the airport, check our bags, stand in the security lines etc…  As I’m sure you’re aware, timing is everything when it comes to the “airport!”  We finished checking our bags and went to the security area.  My God!  I’m not exaggerating; the security line must have had 100+ people.  I asked Patty: “What the heck are all these people doing up so early?”  The line seemed to stretch forever!  We got in the back of the line and surprisingly it moved somewhat quick.  Not real quick, but somewhat quick.  It took maybe 15 minutes to get to the security area… remove your shoes, belt, watch, empty your pockets etc…  Thank God they weren’t using the Body Scanner as that would have taken more time.  We got through the security area and walked over to the electronic board that shows the arrivals and departures.  I scrolled my eyes down to the Southwest departures to Sacramento.  Ah, there it was, flight 522 to Sacramento, departing at 6:30 a.m. at Gate 1.  Perfect!  Wait a minute… Gate 1??????  That’s in another part of the airport!!!  I looked at my watch and it was now 6:10 a.m.  We had 20 minutes to run to another part of the airport, go through another security line and get on our flight!  Not a chance!  But, we had to give it a shot!  We made it to the other security area within minutes, but now we found ourselves in yet, another line.  Not as long as the first security check line, but this one was utilizing the Body Scanner which is a slow process!  We were both on edge hoping to make this flight. Suddenly a woman who worked for Southwest walked over and yelled our names… “Is there a Mr. and Mrs. Sousek here?”  I called to the woman who looked at me and with somewhat of a snotty attitude asked: “Why are you late?  Did you get lost?”  Whatever!  I told he that we had gone to the wrong area, hoping she would move us to the front of the line, but not a chance.  She just walked off.  We were now about the 5th and 6th people in line and they stopped using the Body Scanner so thing now moved quicker, other than still removing our shoes, belt, watch, empty our pockets etc… We got through the other scanner, grabbed out things and ran to the gate.  There stood the Southwest Airlines woman (with the snotty attitude) who informed us that we missed our flight.  The next flight to Sacramento departed at 8:30 a.m.  Patty looked at me with a frustrated expression and said: “Oh man… we could have slept in another two hours!”

We made the 8:30 a.m. flight and landed in Sacramento a little before 10:00 a.m.  I joked with Patty that I learned if you send your bags on the flight before your scheduled flight, there’s no wait when you arrive at your destination.  You just walk over to the baggage claim area, pick up your bags and leave!  Too easy!   Sacramento was cold, cloudy and appeared ready to rain.  We rented a 4 wheel drive Chevy Tahoe since we were going to snow country and were on the road by 10:30.

Our first stop was in Placerville at the El Dorado County Department of Child Support Services.  This is the office that Patty retired from in February 2010.  She hasn’t seen these people since she left.  We arrived around 11:30.  Patty was so excited to see everyone!  We walked through the security door.  People heard Patty’s voice and immediately came to the front of the office and showered her with love, hugs and tears!  It was so obvious to me how much these people truly care about her!  I know a lot of women in this office and also got my share of hugs.  I had a number of thank you’s for keeping them informed on Patty’s progress through this blog.  (That made me feel good!)  Patty and I stayed about an hour.  We got into the car for our drive up to Lake Tahoe.  Patty looked at me and said: “I’ve really missed those people!  I just love each one of them!”

We arrived in Tahoe about an hour later.  It had been really stormy and snowy up there for the week earlier and we had hoped the roads would be drivable.  We lucked out and had clear roads all the way.  We stopped by the Tahoe Child Support Branch Office.  Some of the staff had changed since Patty left and others whom she wanted to see were off that afternoon, but we had a really nice visit with Donna who was holding down the fort that afternoon.  We visited about a half hour.  Next stop was by my previous employer, Heavenly Mountain Resort.  It was funny, driving up the road to Heavenly made me feel like I had never left.  It was all too familiar and natural for me.  We dropped in on my old boss, Casey, and his office manager, Audrey.  Casey was on the phone when we barged in and the look on Audrey’s face was priceless when she saw the two of us.  I said: “Damn, if you don’t keep this door locked anyone can just walk in!”  Casey heard my voice, and I could hear him stumble his words on the phone.  We visited with the two of them for about a half hour.  We then went to another area of the resort where I found a close friend of mine, Curtis.  We visited for about half hour with him.  Unfortunately my other close friend from Heavenly, Mark, was off that day so I didn’t get to see him.

After visiting with our previous co-workers, Patty and I realized that we really miss a lot of those people.  You know, you spend 8 hours a day with them, 5 days a week!  That’s a lot of time, especially when you’ve done that for 8 to 10 years.  These people are very special to you.  Speaking with Curtis was like I had just spoken with him the day before.  Nothing had changed.

We’ve made an open invitation to any of these people to look us up if they ever make it to San Diego.  (Remember, we’re moving out of our 708 square foot condo in two weeks!  We’ll have the room for guests!)