Tuesday, May 5, 2015

IWSG: Reflections On A to Z

                                                             
   

My first A to Z Challenge was in 2011, shortly after I began blogging. I couldn't believe how friendly everyone was. Not only did they willingly read my stories, but non-family members actually began to follow me. I signed on again for the next two challenges, and decided to take a break in 2014, as we were leaving on vacation toward the end of April. During the first few weeks before we left, it felt strange not participating in the challenge. As difficult as the challenges had been in the past, I missed the camaraderie of moaning and groaning with all of my blogging friends.This year it had an opposite effect, as it proved to be therapeutic in an unexpected way.

During the last few months my mom has groan progressively weaker. Though she has been using a walker for years, her legs have become more wobbly, and she has been relying more and more on her wheelchair. I took her to the doctor in March who in turn, referred her to three other doctors: a cardiologist, a rheumatologist, and a hematologist. I told my mom she didn't need to waste time visiting all of these specialists, but she insisted on seeing them anyway.

In early April she was scheduled for a lying down stress test with her cardiologist. By this time, she was so weak, that it was very difficult for her caregiver and me to get her in  and out of the car. After the results came back fine, I asked the cardiologist to test her legs for blood clots, check her for a urinary tract infection, and to also see if she was dehydrated. Though these are normally jobs for an internist, I thought he could send some orders down to the lab, since we were already at the hospital anyway. After he declined, we wheeled her over to her internist's office, but as my mom expected, it was her day off. After I dropped my mom off at home, I paged her doctor who made arrangements to have these tests taken by a visiting nurse the following day. For reasons unknown, all of the tests came back negative.

Over the next few weeks we went to the other doctors on her list. One of the offices was so filthy, that I refused to take my mom in. This building was so rundown that it only had a one person elevator that looked like it was on the verge of collapse. It was getting to the point where every time I saw my mom, I wanted to check her in to the hospital. My brother, and her friends in the retirement community were also quite concerned.

On April 17th, I picked my mom up to take her to the beauty shop. She had grown considerably weaker, and her doctor had ordered some follow up tests to be administered by her visiting nurse. During the ride home, I told her that this would be a great time to check herself in to the hospital. She refused again. I knew my brother would be visiting shortly, and mentioned that she would  probably be going at some point that day. Several hours later, my brother phoned me at 9 PM, to tell me they were heading over to the ER.

My mom spent a few days in the hospital, before she was sent to a nursing home for rehab. It turns out that she was suffering from dehydration, a urinary tract infection, and blood clots in each of her legs. She still likes her doctor, and plans on continuing to use her. Fortunately, she hasn't lost her charm, and has deservedly so mouthed the words, "You are dumber than dirt," to both my brother and me while the nurses weren't looking.

                                                                         


Being called "dumber than dirt," has unleashed a whole bag of insecurities for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.  I can't tell you how helpful it was to read through the encouraging comments during A to Z. It really was such a welcome diversion. I'd like to blame these events on getting so far behind in following up on the comments, but truth be told I still would've fallen behind. In any event, I hope to get back to everyone this week. Not only did your comments cheer me up, but my mom got a kick out of reading them too.

Thanks to Arlee Bird for another successful A to Z Challenge. I'd also like to thank Alex,  Rhonda,  Hilary,  Delores,  Joanne,  Robyn,  Yvonne.  Lee,   Chrys,  Cherdo,  Dixie,   Birgit,  Sue,  Jo,  Julie, and Al  for all of your support.

I'm also thankful for having this wonderful group cheering from the sidelines: Arleen,  Stephen,  Robin,  Gorilla,  Debra, and  Shady.  I also appreciate everyone else who took the time to pop in and say hello. I'm sorry if I left anyone out. Thanks for making my fourth A to Z truly memorable, and for keeping me sane in the process.


68 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear about your Mom and hope she gains strength. I'm glad you had such a good experience with A to Z.

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  2. Glad to hear the A-Z helped. Your mom is lucky to have such a supportive, caring and loving family.

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  3. Glad that A-Z helped during your challenging time. It's so awesome how you can be such a support to your mom. Hope she feels better soon.

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  4. I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. I hope she recovers.

    A couple of years ago my dad asked me if I was still being a "bump-on-the-log." He was referring to me writing. That phrase stuck with me for a long time and unleashed loads of insecurity. Everyone in the IWSG helped me get over that. I'm glad A to Z did the same for you.

    ((HUGS!))

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  5. Our folks do put us through our paces when they get older don't they?

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  6. Why didn't they realize she was dehydrated when you asked, and UTI is always at the top of the list for our seniors. The 2 go hand in hand. Moving is difficult so they don't drink cause they don't want to make their way to bathroom etc. Sorry you all had to go through that, hope things improve.

    Sandy at Bridge and Betyond

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  7. Aw... My sibs and I went through this last year with our grandparents. She's not mad you but herself. It sucks getting old and loosing control of your independence. It sucks to watch them go through it.

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    1. Shelly - Sorry that you had a similar experience with your grandparents. Though my mom was mad at the time, she's not mad anymore, and I thought it was a good sign that she was acting more like herself! Thanks Shelly!

      Julie

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  8. Cindy - It's a long process. Thank you so much, Cindy!

    Author - I really appreciate your kind words. Thank you!

    Natalie - As hectic as things were, it really helped get my mind off things. Thanks Natalie!

    Chrys - Sounds like your dad was just trying to help in his own way. I'm sure he's very proud of all you've accomplished. Thank you, Chrys! HUGS!

    Delores - There's never a dull moment!

    Sandy - Not only do they go hand in hand, but my mom has a history of all these things to the point where she's been hospitalized a few times before. Perhaps we could open up a practice together, Sandy! Thank you!

    Julie

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  9. God bless your mother and may her ailments be speedily cured! I think I know the cure for dehydration if that's any help. I would water your mother like a flower if she asked me to!

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  10. Julie,

    I know you're a very good daughter. I know you're a very good writer. I know you are coping the best that you can. Never having *met* you, I know these things. Your A-Z was one of the most fascinating, most awesome displays of talent. You indulged us. Please remember, and take the time, to celebrate the happiness and inspiration we received, from you. (Thank you for the kind mention.)

    Give my best regards to your Mom, (smile).

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    1. Dixie - I can't tell you much your kind words have meant to me. I read this earlier to my mom, and I'm still trying to compose myself enough to properly thank you. I've always wanted to be a writer, and your words of encouragement couldn't have come at a better time. I really enjoyed your clever poems, and going through the challenge with you. Thanks again for putting huge smiles on our faces, Dixie!

      Julie

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  11. You certainly kept your April rolling along despite so many issues for your mother. You are a good daughter and it sounds like she is quite a trooper. I hope they get her on a speedy recovery. I'm sending good thoughts your way. And thanks for the shout out - I enjoyed your A to Z and appreciate your visits to mine. You juggled a lot. Take care

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  12. UTI's seem to be a huge issue with older people. I have had them and they are painful so I wonder why the older people don't realize they have this. I wonder if their chemistry is different when they get older and they don;t feel the pain. We value our parent's opinion more than we realize so when they say something like this, it hurts and we start to fret. I visited my mom on Saturday at the long term care Home and she poked my side, did her little laugh and said i am a real roly-poly. I have gained weight even though i have not changed my diet. Do you know I have been touching my sides and sucking in constantly since then. You have had so much on your plate and I know since I cared for my mom until she went to Long Term care. It is most difficult especially when Doctors do not seem to give the same care to the elderly that they give to someone younger. If they are a woman it becomes even worse. I am glad you could do the A to Z and that our comments helped you. Even when you don't think you do, you have amazing strength!

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  13. I'm sorry, Julie! Crap, how did they miss ALL of that? Glad your brother got her to the ER. And that we could distract you here on your blog from all that mess.

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  14. I haven't the nerve to try A to Z, but I surely admire and enjoy reading all those of you who participate.
    I wonder how many people are caring for relatives? My brother was a tough go for my nephew, who, nevertheless, slogged on through. Our mother, who died almost twenty years ago, was a completely independent woman until she wasn't, and then became so amenable to help my sister and I wondered who she was channeling. No situation is the same.

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  15. GEM JULIE ~

    >>... It turns out that she was suffering from dehydration, a urinary tract infection, and blood clots in each of her legs.

    You may be "dumber than dirt", but you're still way smarter'n your mother's doctor! Methinks you should go into practice for yourself.

    Here I've been calling you "Gem Julie" and I've been calling Cherdo "Doctor Cherdo" on the strength of a single medicated milkshake. But maybe I should start calling you "Doctor Julie" and calling her "Gem Cherdo".

    But somehow it just doesn't seem to have the right ring that way, does it?

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  16. I am so sorry about everything going on with your mom and the apparent inefficiency of the doctors. I am glad they finally got to the bottom of her problems. I have been through all of those things and in fact my UTI in February ended in sepsis which can be pretty serious. As for blood clots in the legs, I have had stints put in them over the years. I now walk pretty well. Not suffered from dehydration I'm glad to say.

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  17. My mom died April 3, 2011, and it was a difficult month.
    Altho I had pre-posted, it was still a struggle.
    Your posts were wonderful, insightful, made me laugh. You were very successful.

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  18. That was a scary time with your mom. I'm glad she's on the mend. And returning to her normal sweet, I mean snarky, self :)

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  19. I am sorry to read all this. Very, very sorry.

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  20. I did not realize that dehydration and Urinary tract infection can do so much. I hope that she is better now.
    I have not been reading a lot of blogs. I changed my job and in order to do good with my new job, I have been working extra hard. I shall go back and read different blogs and catch up on A to Z challenge posts. There was a time when I participated too. It can be fun and sometimes a little stress full.
    Please take care of yourself.

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  21. Gorilla - Not only does she hate to drink water, but if you dared to get her hair wet, she would go ape on you! I know I need to work on some new material. Thanks Gorilla!

    Joanne - Thanks for all your good thoughts! Hopefully, the extra physical therapy will continue to help. My mom is a trooper, and your visits throughout the challenge always made me smile!

    Birgit - Aw, your mom was just having a little fun with you! I'm sure you look great, Birgit! My mom's UTI's are not painful. I think it's because she had a spinal fusion years ago, and has suffered from nerve damage. Her "doctor" is a gerontologist, so there's really no excuse for her poor treatment. I think when our moms stop abusing us, we'll really start to worry! Thanks Birgit!

    Alex - I still can't believe with all you had going on in April, that you found time to visit me every day! Just seeing you here really meant a lot to me! Thanks Alex!

    Joanne - How true that "no situation is the same." I'm sorry you lost your mom so long ago. Sounds like she was very brave until the end. Though my mom is slightly stubborn, I know I'm very lucky to have her. Thanks Joanne!

    Stephen - Let's keep "Gem Julie," for now! I like the idea of having a sparkling personality, although that's what guys usually say when the girls are lacking in other departments. Cherdo is very knowledgeable, and immensely entertaining, so Doctor Cherdo is a good fit. Maybe she could fly in and examine my mom, or you could take the case since you have experience from MASH. Thanks Stephen!

    Julie

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    1. Ha! I never wielded the scalpel. My only experience from MASH was UNDER the scalpel, and lying about in Post-Op AFTER it. Well, in the Mess Tent, too.

      Inside info for ya: Whenever you actually saw food being ladled out, it was usually canned Veg-All. Being a vegetarian and being accustomed to bad food, I was probably the ONLY person on the set who ever actually ate the Veg-All.

      ~ D-FensDogG

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    2. Stephen - Sounds like you were Mikey from the Life Cereal commercial, "Let's get Mikey, he won't eat it. He hates everything. He likes it! Hey Mikey!"

      Hahaha! I'll bet Hot Lips wanted you to go over some lines with her!

      Julie

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  22. Hi Julie,

    To echo the sentiments, I'm sorry to read about your mother's ailments. Here's hoping she recovers in a timely fashion. Seems she maintains here loving charm :)

    I know that the dreaded alphabet challenge thingy ma jiggy has been a positive distraction for you. That's a good thing. Then again, may the darned thing be consigned to the blogging history books, I state rather optimistically.

    Also, thank you for being part of "IWSG" aka "I Was Seeking Gary." Did I ever mention I was delusional?

    Be well and thank you for your kind support on my blog.

    Gary :)

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  23. Sorry your mom (and by extension, you) had such a rough go of things lately. I have a whole pile of dumber than dirt doctors. I question Western Medicine every time I spend more than 3 days in a row with those fools. All those extra years at school don't seem to make certain people smarter.
    But hey, you know what they say...
    "What do they call the person who graduates with the lowest grade at medical school?"
    "Doctor."

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  24. Sorry about your mother, hope she gets better soon.
    An excellent Reflection post pointing our many things,
    Congrats on completing the challenge.
    Yvonne.

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  25. Sorry about your mom, dear. How's she doing now?
    Congrats on the challenge, by the way. Good job there.

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  26. Jo - Sorry you had sepsis. That must have been pretty scary. I'm glad that your stints have helped . My mom actually had a filter placement years ago when she had her back surgery. Good for you for staying hydrated. I believe that's where her problems always began. Thank you, and stay healthy, Jo!

    Susan - I'm so sorry you lost your mom a few years ago, and how brave of you to soldier on through A to Z. I don't think we had met at that point. I applaud you for honoring your commitment, and hope that it comforted you in some way. I also enjoyed your posts this year, and I'm sorry I couldn't visit more often. Thank you, Susan.

    Carol - My mom has the ability to be both "sweet and snarky!" Thanks Carol!

    Ivy - My mom is a tough cookie, so I'm confident she'll still be bossing me around for a long time! Thanks Ivy!

    Munir - I hope that things are going well at your new job. Blogging does take up a lot of time, so it's understandable that you've been too busy to keep up. I do remember you visited me during the challenge, and I hope I returned the favor. Thank you, Munir!

    Gary - Yes, my mom has "maintained her loving charm!" A to Z probably will be noted in "the blogging history books," and your anti-A to Z Campaigns will be listed right next to it. You should ask for the big bucks now, Gary! Nah, Penny should do it. Who could say no to her? Thank you, Gary!

    J Lenni - Fortunately, we've gone to some very bright doctors too, but this one has been completely off. She also tried to scare the heck out of us, by coming up with a more severe diagnosis. My grandma was the same way. If she liked a doctor, she liked him or her no matter what. This joke definitely applies to my mom's doctor! Thanks J Lenni!

    Yvonne - I hope she's able to get more strength back before she goes home. Thanks Yvonne!

    Lux - There's some slight improvement, but they're still working with her in therapy. Thank you so much, Lux!

    Julie

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    1. Tough cookie, I say that one a lot too. It's a great phase and sounds like it fits your mom, perfectly.

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  27. It is so difficult to watch our parent's health deteriorate. When we are blessed to have them around for a long time it is heart wrenching to deal with what age does to their body and mind. Because of frustration, they often lash out on the ones who give them the most care. You know you are a good daughter, and are doing everything possible to bring comfort to her, but words still hurt.

    I am happy that you found some diversion from this stressful situation by doing the challenge. I always enjoy your posts and glad am that you had some "Julie time" to write on a daily basis.

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  28. So sorry about your mom. I enjoyed your posts in the Challenge and hope things go well with your mom. I find blogging a very welcome diversion when things get stressful.

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  29. You are so right about the challenge! What a pleasure it is to "meet" so many people from all over the world (the added bonus? They are all the picture of mental health. Unlike a dude who sits on a curbside toilet).
    Sorry to hear about Mom. It's what in the cards for all of us, but still it makes me sad. She sounds like a hoot!

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  30. Arleen - My mom's "lashing out" was actually a good sign,because we knew she hadn't lost her fighting spirit. It is sad to watch our loved ones suffer needlessly. Thanks again for cheering me on from the sidelines. Arleen!

    Karen - It really was a welcome diversion. I enjoyed reading your posts too. Thank you, Karen!

    Al - I remember when you tried to remove your "curbside toilet" photo, your fans wouldn't hear of it, and I was one of them. Maybe some of your new friends are the "picture of mental health," but you've dragged the rest of us down to the curb with you. My mom is a "hoot," and she never gives up! Thanks Al!

    Julie

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  31. I'm sorry to hear that your mom isn't feeling well, Julie. And that's too bad she said those things to you. It sounds like she's in a lot of discomfort.

    I didn't do A to Z this year, but I'm glad that participating in the challenge helped take your mind off things.

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  32. So sorry about your mum. And do not take to heart what a person says to you while they are so sick. Hugs.

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  33. Congrats on your A-Z challenge. It is funny how much words can affect us, even if we KNOW they are untrue, especially from people we care about. I wish I did not allow others to affect me as much, but there are times it can really mess with your psyche whether you think you believe or not. Wishing you much success. Juneta @Writer's Gambit

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  34. Cynthia - I didn't take it personally, as she said it to both of us on separate occasions. I only mentioned it to show how she held onto her sense of humor throughout the ordeal. Thank you, Cynthia!

    RR - It's true how you shouldn't take what a sick person says "to heart," because it's usually the pain talking. In this case, it was my mom's way of telling us that she's the boss no matter what. This made my brother and me very happy, as we knew that our mom hadn't lost her spunk! Thank you, and hugs!

    Juneta - Words can "really mess with your psyche," that's why we all have to try to be more careful with them. Since my mom called my brother out first, I wasn't the least bit offended. The whole episode was much funnier in person. Thank you, Juneta!

    Julie

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  35. Howdy...still visiting, trying to keep the momentum going.

    Sandy at Bridge and Beyond Announcing a Contest

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  36. I'm sorry about your mom. We went through the same medical run around with my dear mum-in-law, so I know how frustrating it can be. Hope things turn for the better soon.

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  37. So sorry to hear about your mom. I hope she gets well soon.

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  38. Yipes. I'm really sorry to hear about your mom. And even sorrier that YOU seemed to know more about what might be ailing her than the darned doctor did. Boyohboy, do I ever know how frustrating that can be. I hope your mother is feeling good as new and driving you half nuts again in no time.

    Happy Mother's Day, kiddo.

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    1. Susan - I just realized I forgot to wish you Happy Mother's Day! Hope you celebrate all weekend!

      Julie

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  39. Julie, I am so sorry to hear of your mom's health problems. I hope she will feel better soon.

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    1. Daisy - Somehow your comment snuck past me. My mom is starting to feel better, but she's still working on getting stronger. Thank you, Daisy!

      Julie

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  40. Sandy - It's always great to see you!

    LD - Sorry you went through a similar ordeal with your MIL. Hope you were eventually able to straighten everything out. Thanks LD

    Vanessa - I really appreciate your good wishes! I'll pass them on to my mom! Thanks Vanessa!

    Susan - Well, the "driving me half nuts" part hasn't changed! My mom wasn't too difficult to diagnose, because this has happened a few times over the years. Her doctor was more worried about her heart, because she mentioned having pains in her arms. This needlessly slowed the process down by a few more weeks. I probably need to re-read "Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade," to find out what Pearl would do! Thanks Susan!

    Julie

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  41. Hi Julie - I'm so sorry I hadn't realised your mother was causing you so many worries - you both always seem to be so full of sherry and spring - that it hadn't occurred to me to check in.

    Sounds like one of those challenges of later life - and she certainly knows how to use those 'cute phrases' of hers ... my mother had great repartee ... but it rarely cut to the bone - and I was able to laugh our challenges off ... I so admire you.

    I just hope for your sake your mother will realise which side of her bread is buttered - she's jolly lucky to have you both around and taking an interest. UTIs are something that we seem to have to deal with in our lives ... but blood clots are somewhat different ...

    I'll be thinking of you ... you're great and such fun to be around ... so keep that pecker up - or whatever us ladies have?! Big hugs - Hilary

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  42. Big hugs Julie. {{{hugs}}}.
    I am so sorry to read about your mom and the difficulties. I would be pretty sure she only had good thoughts about you, just a bit clouded from the illness. Painful remarks sting, but then it fade. I hope the writing and sharing has helped. Maybe it's time for a holiday down under? (not really, we are going into winter, you will be much happier visiting in spring or summer, but you are always welcome).

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  43. Hilary - You always know how to brighten my day! My mom and I also have "great repartee," and I was able to laugh off her "cute phrase!" Not only did I think it was funny, but I wanted to tie it in with the IWSG! Hilary, you are also lots of fun to have around! Since I don't have a "pecker," I'll try to keep my chin(s) up instead! Hahaha! Glad you're back, and I hope everything is okay, Hilary. Hugs back atcha! Thanks Hilary!

    Rhonda - I think you last saw my mom in grammar school, so you wouldn't know that it was a good sign when she called me out in the hospital. I would love to visit you in New Zealand! Thanks for your generous offer, and maybe someday, I'll be able to take you up on it. You are always welcome here too, Rhonda. Thanks for being so thoughtful! Sending big hugs your way, and Happy Mother's Day!

    Julie

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    1. Hi Julie - I am back vaguely ... more in my next post - nothing wrong ... just behind the blogging times! I can believe you and your Mum have great repartee - and I'm delighted I made you laugh and able to have a cheery thought at us - the ladies' expense ... no peckers ... not your side of the pond, and definitely not this side of the pond!!!! Cheers H

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  44. I'm sorry to hear about your mom. At least she still has her humor. That's where the true strength comes from. And as everyone else has said, she's lucky to have you and your brother! I hope someone cares about me even half that much when I'm her age.

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  45. Why is it that kids are never smarter than their parents? Hate to hear about your mom's issues, but great to hear her spunk is still with her.

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  46. B & B - Of course friends and family will care about you when you're eighty! Although they may have to get in line with your generations of fans! Thanks B & B!

    Lee - It's true how some things never change. You are a wise woman, Lee! Thank you!

    Julie

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  47. Poor mum! I hope it's only a temporary problem and she'll get better soon

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  48. Just now getting around to visiting the blogs in the challenge. April was a busy month for me. Congrats on completing the A to Z Challenge! Looking forward to next year! See you on the Road Trip!

    Mary www.JingleJangleJungle.net

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  49. Sarah - She has been feeling better. Thank you, Sarah!

    Mary - Congrats on completing the challenge too! Thanks Mary!

    Julie

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  50. Me again, sorry to be duplicating comments on the same blogpost, but keep checking back to see if you've posted. Let me know your status.

    Sandy at Bridge and Beyond

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    1. Hi Sandy - I appreciate you checking in on me! Sorry, I don't have anything new to report, but hopefully I'll come up with something by next Wednesday. I'll come see you over the weekend. Thanks Sandy!

      Julie

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  51. I am sorry to hear of the situation. These things bother me a great deal as well. I do wish you my best.

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    1. JJ - It's been very frustrating for all of us. Fortunately, she'll be returning home later in the week, and it will cheer her up to be around her friends again. Thank you, JJ!

      Julie

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  52. I'm making my way on the A to Z road trip. I'm sorry to hear about your mother. I hope she's feeling better soon. Even though I've just stumbled upon your blog, I don't think you are dumber than dirt! Hang in there!

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    1. Kristi - It's nice to meet you, Kristi! Thanks for sending good thoughts to my mom. I'm glad you also got a kick out of her "dumber than dirt" comment!

      Julie

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  53. I don't know how I missed this post. I'm so glad you posted a follow-up and reminded all who missed it (ding ding ding) to go back and read it.

    I'm so sorry you went through this nightmare with your mother. It's horrible when you're sick and no one has any answers. Okay, you had the answers, but no one was listening. I can see how the constant appointments, the getting nowhere, and your mom deteriorating before your eyes would have led to ENORMOUS STRESS.

    I read the more recent post, though I've yet to comment, so I know she's over the worst and heading home soon. I'm glad for you, but I'm also so glad for you. YOU ARE A WONDERFUL DAUGHTER. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

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  54. Blogging can be a fantastic way to switch off and forget your worries for a while. I'm so sorry to hear about your mum, but pleased to see she is getting better :)
    Popping by on the A to Z Road Trip
    Debbie
    www.myrandommusings.blogspot.com

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  55. Hello there.
    Congratulations on completing the challenge! It's always distressing to see a loved one go through such things. Hope she's feeling better. Don't know if you're a Bible reader or not, but I'm sharing a couple of scriptures with you anyway. These are promises and guarantees from God that will be fulfilled:
    Isaiah 33:24 - "And no resident will say 'I am sick.'"
    Revelation 21:4 - "And He [God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away." [All the atrocities, sicknesses, illnesses we suffer today, even death, will all be done away with] So keep courage and know better times are ahead.
    I didn't get to visit your blog during the crazy month of April so I'm popping over today from the Road Trip/Reflections linky.

    Entrepreneurial Goddess

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