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Friday, August 07, 2020

Food Talk

 I am battling (unsuccessfully) a sinus headache this morning. I thought my caffeine would squelch that thing, but no. It’s probably wise not to compose a blog while suffering an annoying pain, but here goes.

Almost a year ago, my primary physician told me that I was solidly in the Type 2 diabetic category, with an A1C of 7.4. Having lived with a Type 1 diabetic all my growing up years, and with a Type 2 diabetic for the last 20 or so (my husband), I desperately didn’t want to go on meds to control my rampant blood sugar.

Enter low carb eating … or keto. Actually, the two are a bit different. Keto is quite strict as to percentages of types of food one eats. Low carb is just being aware of carb values of foods and keeping consumption of carbs to a minimum. Some people track their carb intake.

I started battling what I thought was overweight early in my adult years. What I thought was “overweight” then is now my goal weight!!! And I have serious doubts that I’ll reach it.

When I decided to take weight loss seriously, I found a plan and cookbook that followed the “Exchange Program” suggested for diabetics. You got a certain number of colored dots, each representing a different food group, per day. You had to figure out what color dot your food was worth and go from there. It worked well.

And this is what I’ve discovered: ANYTHING WILL WORK WELL IF YOU FOLLOW IT, AND NOTHING WILL WORK IF YOU DON’T.

Having reached my goal, I slowly started putting the weight back on. And that began my long ride with Weight Watchers. Tracking, avoiding, worrying, you know the drill. It was a roller coaster ride of losing, failing at maintaining, gaining, and starting all over again.

I was a stickler for tracking when that’s what it took. But I got sick of food having that much hold over my waking moments. 

You know what? Our bodies have needs. And God has provided a way to meet those needs. However, we always seem to go overboard into the “want” category, or worse yet, find ways to meet the needs that are not in God’s plan.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, but that overdoing the food stuff brought me smack dab into Type 2 diabetic territory for many reasons. Eating too much. Eating too much sugar. My pancreas didn’t want to keep up.

So here I am, at the age of almost … oh well … 66, once again trying to get a handle on what my body needs versus what my appetite wants. I’m hoping I’ve hit a happy medium.

My goal is no longer a number on a scale. I do not track foods in any way. But I do make choices that I think my body can handle from a natural insulin perspective. 

I belong to several “keto” pages on Facebook. But truthfully, I don’t follow the keto diet. I’m removing the word “diet” from my vocabulary. But there are some excellent and creative recipes I can use to keep my carb count in a manageable range. 

My weight stalled several months ago. As I mentioned, I doubt that I will lose any more weight at all. However, my A1C is solidly in the normal range now. I think that qualifies as my happy medium.

So, back to the battle against this morning’s headache. It’s a small battle. The food battle will probably be top of mind until the day God calls me home!

Monday, March 16, 2020

From Both Sides Now

As with any event or life experience, there is more than one view to be had. Look at the Gospels and discover that four different perspectives of the same era have basic commonalities and yet personal slants.

Enter COVID-19. Oh my. What can be said that hasn’t already either raised a panic or an eyebrow of distrust?

If you are sitting in an apartment in Italy, you will have a very different view of this virus than if you are sipping coffee in an Idaho cabin.

Following are two very different (or maybe not) angles on the corona virus panic of 2020. One is from an avid political watchman. The other is from a medical professional in California. Both have drawn me up short. I need to be aware and possibly wary. But never weary in well-doing.

So … where do you land?

From an evangelical opinion writer:

March 15, 2020

  • Any real state of fear will bring panic, and once panic is the prevailing attitude of society at large, the herd seeks safety at all cost.  Seeking safety under these circumstances allows for tyranny by the ruling class, and when the restrictive consequences of that tyranny are in place, escape from mass servitude is almost impossible to achieve.  It must be understood that decisions made under stress due to fear end with a loss of freedom, and when freedom is compromised, what is left is slavery. 
  • We have been told that a pandemic is upon us, and that we must sacrifice for the good of all, and for the sake of the nation.  If the people at large accept this premise, individual sovereignty is not only compromised, but also permanently damaged.  When the masses as a group seek shelter from harm, and agree to temporarily relinquish some or all of their freedoms, oppression is the result. That is why panic is so perilous, and why hasty decisions should never be made during a real or supposed crisis. 
  • As I write this, it is obvious that none of these suggestions have been followed, and the herd has acquiesced to most all commands from on high in order to gain what will most likely turn out to be false hope at the expense of accepted domination. At this point, it is not too late to reverse part of the damage, but any continuation of mass subservience will only end in oppressive misery. 
  • There is no certainty that this new coronavirus called COVID-19 is any more dangerous than any other virus in the past, but the ruling class and their minions in the mainstream media and beyond, are screaming at the top of their lungs that this is the scourge of mankind, and that tens of millions of Americans will become infected, and that millions might die.  This is being promulgated by government at every level, by so-called national and world health organizations, and by a complicit media that seemingly does as it is told by those holding political power.  This is being done regardless of the fact that no one knows much about this so-called virus, knows little or nothing about its true origin, and knows little about its mutations.  Also, politicians, claimed authorities, and alleged experts are in the dark as to how particular cultures have been more susceptible than others, and are unwilling to discuss that the probable cause of this is due to a man-made strain created in a bio-weapons lab, even though a preponderance of evidence points in that direction.  All possibilities should be discussed. 
  • This government is now taking total control over our lives, and will take full advantage of this situation to bring draconian anti-liberty measures to all that live in this country.  This is an atrocity, and one that will change the face of this nation.  Current risk includes the implementing of medical martial law as well as the possibility of total martial law with any major resistance from those not willing to accept being in a captured society.  
  • Besides the sheer tyranny of these measures being planned and implemented as I write this, the certain economic devastation to come is unimaginable.  No one will be spared economic harm, and many will be completely destroyed by the government’s response to this manufactured panic.  In addition, when the virus scare is over, and it will be, the economic destruction will remain, and it could take years for any recovery to take place. 
  • Has all this panic been planned?  
  • What is next on the agenda due to this panic?  Will there be total lockdowns?  Will there be universal travel restrictions, even at the local level?  Will there be forced vaccinations?  Will there be mandatory testing and inspections?  Will there be food shortages?  Will this lead to concentration camps for dissenters?  Will the National Guard and military be patrolling the streets of your town? 
  • There are many unanswered questions, and much uncertainty about this virus, so what is the real danger?  
  • The real danger to America is the U.S. government and its dictatorial response to what appears to be an orchestrated hysteria. 
  • The solutions offered by this government, regardless of who is pulling the strings of these puppets, are far more dangerous than any manufactured pandemic.  Fear and panic allow for control, and those in power understand this truth, and use it to their advantage.  Panic is worthless, and can only lead to the acceptance of authoritative rule.  This is the real risk; this is the real danger.  If the people allow a takeover of their lives due to this panic, they will not only have lost their liberty and all they own, they will have also lost their sanity.
  • You have now been warned!


From a medical professional tasked with caring for the elderly in northern California:



  • I guess that is one paranoid way of looking at it and I admit I was one of these paranoid folks. I have changed my mind after reading what is occurring in other countries and is coming here. 
  • It is our elderly and chronically ill who are most at risk. My people. 
  • I am at risk because I take care of them and have them cough on me as I listen to their lungs. And I am in the “elderly” category with heart disease. 
  • Even with protective gear I am at risk because there is not enough protective gear everywhere . 
  • If those who are younger and healthier can keep this thing from spreading and stay home if possible to keep hospital beds available for those most in need it will possibly  make a world of difference. Because people panicked and hoarded hand sanitizer and masks now we don’t have enough. 
  • [The Chief In-House Physician] is truly worried and he is not by nature a worrier. He keeps in touch with colleagues overseas and knows people will die because we don’t have enough resources.
  • It is tragic that our representatives have so abused their power that in a genuine emergency our response is to rebel. That was my response. Not any more. 
  • If some can sacrifice their freedom so others might make it isn’t that our highest calling? 
  • Thanks for your prayers. I was making house calls today to a facility on lockdown. I have several patients awaiting test results. We need to get as many people as possible tested but the kits arent available yet. 
  • This is the most dangerous time in an epidemic because we don’t know who is infected.  
  • Do it for grandma. 
  • ❤️ 

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Looking Him in the Face(book)

If my memory serves me, lunches on every Friday of my school career consisted of a non-meat option…presumably in deference to Catholics who had been admonished by the Pope not to eat meat on those days.

Additionally, the only time I ever heard of Lent was from either Catholic friends or friends of friends. Giving up something for 40 days, from Ash Wednesday until Easter. Usually, it was meat or chocolate that made the top of the denial list.

I did not grow up in the tradition that included meatless Fridays, Ash Wednesday, or observance of Lent. Oddly enough, I have some Protestant friends who just recently decided that this practice might be meaningful to them.

“Religion” is a practice. Generally speaking, it is a practice that wants to attain something. Theologians have discussed the difference between “religion” and “Christianity” for quite some time. Law versus grace, and all the nuances of personal accountability.

This year, the definition of “Lent” became something I needed to ponder. Not in an effort to attain something, but in order to more fully appreciate the sins for which Jesus already died and resurrected … giving me eternal life as a believer. I knew I needed to repent of behaviors that took away the time and attention rightly belonging to my Savior.

Ouch! This hurts. The biggest addiction stealing my time is none other than Facebook.

Every day … multiple times most days … I access social media in fear of missing out (the dreaded FOMO disease). I get my news there. I share news there. I like to think that sometimes I even share soul-searching and encouraging messages. But how ironic is it that the very medium I say I’ll use to spread the Gospel is the medium that steals my time away from the same.

Since Ash Wednesday (an arbitrary date for me) I’ve had more time to read Scripture. More time to pray. More time to stir my mind. More time to rest. It may take the entire 40 days before I can genuinely say that my fingers don’t automatically head for the FB app icon.

I still struggle with the FOMO disease. But because I am so grateful for what Jesus did for me (as remembered particularly on Resurrection Sunday), it is time to look more fully in His face than into Facebook.

And that’s the truth.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

One Year…and Counting

I don’t know how I feel about the term “cancer survivor.” I feel like I dodged a bullet somehow.

Yes, I HAD breast cancer. It was removed during mastectomy surgery one year ago this morning. Clear margins. No lymph involvement (that they could discern). I did not need chemotherapy, nor did I require radiation. I am so grateful. Those women (and a few men) who have had the entire package of treatment … now, I might call them survivors. That is tough stuff.

The entire process did teach me something about prayer and faith and my relationship with God. When taking a spiritual gifts assessment, my “faith” score is abysmal. But I dare say it went up a few notches since my breast cancer diagnosis.

I counted on the prayers of believers—especially those who have been through this before me. They know the emotional roller coaster. They know the potential risks and outcomes. And they “lowered me through the roof” or “dragged me to the Throne Room.” When going in to surgery, I had an uncanny peace that wasn’t the result of drugs but of the prayers of His warriors.

I thank my daughter for being with me through it all, always giving me a good laugh, and making me a fight song list … it alternately had me dancing and crying.

I thank my sister, who took time and expense to be here from California. She encouraged me and did the things for me I wasn’t allowed to do after surgery.

I thank those “Pink Sisters” who paved the rocky road before I got to it: Wendy Carmichael and Janine Schaap. And all those other women who seemed to come out of the woodwork, who’d gone through the same. It is truly a sisterhood.

I thank my husband, who was stronger than I could be, and who loved me (loves me) through the process and disfigurement.

I thank my medical team. They’ve seen it all and yet made me feel like I was the only person they had to care for!

I thank my God and Savior, the Healer. Songs like “Wave Walker” and “Overcomer” and those too numerous to mention, reminded me of His steadfast love for me no matter what the outcome.

So, this is the first anniversary out of cancer.


Father, what do You want me to do with the next year?


Monday, July 15, 2019

Epilogue

From Take Care of My Child…for a While by Joyce Sawyer

Later we learned the autopsy showed the cancer had involved the breathing control center. It was a quiet, peaceful way to die. I was so afraid he would choke to death or feel strangled as he had felt so many times before, and had been so frightened.

Ricky’s vital organs and cancerous parts were given for research, in hopes some other child would be helped by what was found. We learned another child was in the hospital with that same kind of cancer and was indeed benefiting from the added knowledge.

[Rhonda here. If you have been touched by my mother’s story, perhaps you’d like to consider giving a donation to the American Cancer Society or make sure you are listed among those who are Organ Donors. But the most important consideration is … do you know for certain where you will be after you draw your last breath? How about those in your family? Do you know you will see them in heaven? Jesus is the ONLY Way, Truth, and Life. Trust Him alone to secure your eternity.]

Chapter 21: Never Die in July

From Take Care of My Child…for a While by Joyce Sawyer

…Then on July 11, at about four Sunday afternoon, Dale came in to the living room and said Ricky’s eyes were rolling back and he was having convulsions.

Dale was really shaken; it was terrible to watch and we knew death was close now. We planned to have Ricky die at home, but we realized we couldn’t handle this. He needed relief from pain and he couldn’t keep the pills down. He no longer had control of his bodily functions. He needed the help of a doctor and the hospital.

Our doctor at McClellan [Air Force Base in northern Sacramento] had moved on Friday, so I called the doctors at Stanford Children’s. Dr. Wilbur was away at a convention and Dr. Long was on vacation. I felt like all our medical supports were gone. Dr. Serota was in Philadelphia and his replacement had not yet arrived at Travis [Air Force Base in Fairfield, California].

I called Mather Emergency, an Air Force hospital east of Sacramento. They said they would try to reach a doctor there to admit Ricky, but to bring him over as soon as possible.

Next, I tried to get an ambulance. Our emergency room said they only had one ambulance available and it couldn’t leave the base. I said, “What do you mean? My child is dying and you can’t send an ambulance?”

“No.” They had no authority to leave, just in case there was an accident on the base. They had three ambulances, but only one was operable.

I called the head of the McClellan clinic. He was out of town. I called his assistant. He would be back after six o’clock.

Now Ricky was screaming with pain in between convulsions every few minutes. We just couldn’t keep the pain pills down him. I was becoming frantic. I called our emergency room again and said I would call the base commander. He had said that if there was ever anything he could do, just call. The sergeant said there was no need to do that. There would be an ambulance at our house in fifteen minutes.

Dale rode in the ambulance with Ricky this time and the girls and I followed in the car. Ricky had several convulsions on the way. Dale was wringing wet when they got to the hospital—a twenty minute ride.

Ricky was taken immediately to intensive care. An IV was started and the doctor arrived to prescribe Phenobarbital to control the convulsions. The doctors hadn’t warned me about those. They came as a surprise. The cancer was in the brain stem. I should have known it would travel up, as well as down, the cord.

I said I would spend the night next to Ricky’s bed. The corpsman brought a noisy plastic recliner that only had one position. The nurse brought a blanket. Ricky was restless and cried “Mama” off and on. I would jump up and rub his head or hold his hand or massage his legs and feet. It was a long night.

By morning he was stabilized. He was moved to a private room just outside ICU. Dale came over and I went home to rest and pick up a futon to stay the night in his room. We were told this was not allowed in the hospital, but under the circumstances it would be alright.

We took turns sitting by his bed for the next four days, watching the pain return and more medication needed. Now he was paralyzed from the neck down. We had to move his arms and legs. Sometimes it was impossible to make him comfortable.

He would say, “Move my legs like an Indian. Put them on the ceiling; put them in a circle.” Just when I would crawl into bed, he would cry to have his legs rearranged.

He was barely sipping juices and chocolate milk. I wondered how long he could last this way. His mind seemed to be clear. He asked what time it was and which day it was. He asked me to hold his hand or rub his head, and would call me to make sure I was close by.

When the tray came up on Thursday noon, I asked him what he would like: juice, jello, or chocolate milk. He said, “One at a time,” and he took some chocolate milk and went to sleep. Those were the last words he said.

The chaplain had been in the day before and asked if I was ready to let Ricky go. He said maybe Ricky was holding on because I couldn’t release him. I thought about that and I prayed, “I love little Ricky, but he is in so much pain and so uncomfortable. I know he will be better off with You. I’ll let him go; You can take him.”

After lunch, I sat next to the bed reading a book. The aide came in and said it was time to turn Ricky again. She felt him and said, “I think he has stopped breathing.” She went for the nurse and I held his fingers in mine. They were still warm but his face was white and his lips were turning blue.

I said, “Goodbye, Ricky. I love you. You can live with God now and run and play baseball and football. We will see you pretty soon.”

The nurse came in and listened to his chest and said she would notify the doctor. She filled plastic gloves with ice and put them on his eyes. We had arranged to donate his eyes to the eye bank. They came within the hour and thanked us for his eyes. There had been an emergency and a little child was waiting for them. Sometime I would like to meet the child who is seeing because of Ricky’s eyes.


Dale came over and I told him Ricky was alright now, and he said, “I know, but I’m not.” We called Dan and my parents and the other relatives.

The memorial service would be Sunday evening. We decided to show three slides of Ricky; one when he was little, one when he was three, and one of his last Christmas. We also put a table in front of the chapel with his favorite toys and his baseball trophies on it. Ricky’s whole team came to the service in their Cardinal uniforms. We found a tape to play “It’s a Small World,” since Ricky enjoyed that so much at Disneyland.

I had told the airman at the chapel to pick out a bulletin cover to use. When I saw the picture on the cover at the service, I was amazed—it was my dream! A boy running through a field of tall grass. I had dreamed that while we were visiting Disneyland. One night I saw Ricky running away from me, through a field of tall grass, and his dog was running toward him. He stopped to pick him up and, laughing, ran on.

I didn’t know what it meant. He was to have had the operation to fuse the vertebrae in his neck. Maybe it meant he would be running without the brace and be well and healthy. Only I had the feeling that God was telling me something, getting me ready. When I saw that bulletin cover—I knew this was the meaning of my dream.

The poem on the following page was read at the memorial service, and expresses some of our feelings:


Understanding

“I’ll lend you for a little time a child of Mine,” He said,
“For you to love while he lives, and mourn for when he’s dead.
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,

But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for Me?
He’ll bring you his charms to gladden you, and should his stay be brief,
You’ll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught them there I want this child to learn.
I’ve looked this wide world over in my search for teachers true,
And from the throngs that crowd life’s land, I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love, nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to give him back again?”

I fancied that I heard them say, “Dear Lord, Thy will be done,
For all the joy the child shall bring, the risk of grief we’ll run.
We’ll shelter him with tenderness, we’ll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known, forever grateful stay;
But should the Lord call for him much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.”

~[although Mom attributed this to “author unknown,” I just discovered that it was written by Edgar Albert Guest in 1930, the year Mom was born.]

Epilogue to follow

Chapter 20: The Last Days at Home

From Take Care of My Child…for a While by Joyce Sawyer

More and more it hurt for Ricky to be moved, so he spent more and more time in bed and less in the living room.

I called Dan to see if he would like to spend some time with Ricky. He came and slept on the floor in Ricky’s room. He played games and talked and rubbed Ricky’s head, which seems to ease some pain.

One afternoon Ricky was on the futon in the living room and he started to scream that he was being choked and he couldn’t get his breath. The doctor just lived one block over and was home at the time. He came right over. He increased the pain medication.

After that, Ricky got quiet. But in a little while he was crying again. I asked him what was the matter. “I’m not going to make it, am I?” I told him we had done everything we could; the doctors had done everything they could, and there just wasn’t any way to kill the cancer. But he would go and live with God and be strong and healthy again, and be able to play baseball and football.

He said, “I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave you.”

We both cried.

As the pain increased and the paralysis progressed, Ricky came to the place where he was ready to die. I told him I would hold his hand and then Jesus would hold his hand. It would be that easy.

Now he needed pain pills every two hours day and night. I set the alarm. I barely went to sleep and it was time to get up again. He would call “Mama!” and sometimes it would only be an hour.

It is terrible to watch your child die.

Chapter 21 to follow

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Chapter 19: The Miracle Dog

From Take Care of My Child…for a While by Joyce Sawyer

Ever since Brandon had been killed, Ricky had been asking for a dog. Since he was back and forth in the hospital, we didn’t see how we could manage it, but we finally promised that when he came home after the operation he could have his dog.

As soon as we came home this time, he began asking again, so we started the search in earnest. I didn’t see how I could take care of a puppy and Ricky, too, so the dog had to be housebroken already.

Ricky thought he wanted a beagle like Snoopy. One of the teachers at school had some beagle pups, but they weren’t indoor dogs. I said I would call her back. Several other people offered dogs and we said we would check them out.

Then Dale walked in at suppertime with the cutest, softest six-month-old Terrier-poo in his arms. Ricky cried, “Benji!” And that’s just who he looked like. I asked Dale where he had found the dog. He said he walked in to the Highlands Pet shop and explained our situation and what we needed. The owner said he had a dog that had just been returned. He was housebroken, well trained, gentle and loving—just what we needed. He gave the dog to Dale free of charge for Ricky.

Diane with “miracle dog” Benji
Ricky just loved his new dog, and it was everything he wanted or needed. It slept on his bed and lay where Ricky could pet him. He seemed to sense when Ricky was in pain or his skin was sensitive and he would move down on the bed a ways. He came when Ricky called him and he lay quietly all night. He was one of those miracles we all needed so badly.

Chapter 20 to follow

Chapter 18: Back to the Hospital


From Take Care of My Child…for a While by Joyce Sawyer

Too soon it was time to go home and get ready for the next trip to the hospital. I had to pack the trailer again. This was to be a longer trip because of the operation and recovery.

Ricky began complaining of his neck hurting. I thought it might be because of the long trip and being tired, but it seemed I could see a lump developing.

Ricky continued to complain of the pain. I gave him Tylenol, but it didn’t seem to help. Then on Tuesday, he asked to go back to the hospital. I knew he must really feel desperate if he was asking to go back. He was supposed to go on Thursday anyway, so I called to see if we could come a couple of days early. They said yes, to bring him right in.

Of course, there is no “right in.” It takes three or four hours. Anyway, we put Ricky in the back seat and fixed him as well as we could and went to Stanford Children’s.

They started an IV and started medication to ease the pain. The lump had doubled by now and was evident at a glance.

The doctor examined, X-rays were taken, and soon it was determined that the cancer was back and more of the vertebrae were missing or crumbling. The surgeon said he could not chance an operation through the cancer and there was no bone to fuse.

Ricky was relieved at not having to go through another surgery, but he didn’t grasp at the time what that meant.

In the meantime, Dale had gone home and pulled the trailer down, thinking we would be staying for a long time.

Now Dr. Wilbur called us in to his office. “There is nothing more we can do. We have used everything available to us. Any further radiation would be fatal. All we can do from now on is make Ricky as comfortable as possible and his life as full as it can be. You are welcome to stay here or you may take Ricky home. It is yours and Ricky’s decision. Of course, he will have to stay here until we can control the pain and the lack of bladder function.”

We talked about staying or going home. Ricky wanted to go home. I said I would manage at home as long as I could. The doctor said the disease was unpredictable, but at the rate of growth, he figured Ricky had a week or ten days.

I was stunned. That short? I knew he felt he was being strangled and he was frightened and panicky at times. He also was in pain—but a week?

We packed our things for another long ambulance ride. We said goodbye to everybody. I knew Ricky would not be back.

When we arrived at home, we put the futon on the living room floor so Ricky could watch color TV and be where the family was.

Dale had also gotten him his own black and white TV to be near his bed. He could still work it with his good hand. Already he was losing control of his bladder and, at times, he couldn’t move his legs. The lump was half the size of his neck now and, when the medicine wore off, he felt choked.

Chapter 19 to follow


Chapter 17: On to Disneyland

From Take Care of My Child…for a While by Joyce Sawyer

The counts were starting to drop, but nothing drastic. Ricky showed no signs of infection, so we prepared for the big trip south.

The first night we stayed with relatives in Fresno. It was an easy four hour run. The next day we arrived at our trailer park in Orange. The next morning I called Stanford Children’s Hospital to see about the results of the latest blood work. The news was not good. He had no white cells at all; the hemoglobin was low, and the platelet count was less than 12,000 (50,000 is normal). Just a bump and he could bleed.

Now Ricky’s temperature was 102. What to do? Here we were. Ricky was so eager to go to Disneyland. All the arrangements were made. OK, I’ll give him some aspirin. We will be careful and WE WILL GO.

No one knows with what fear and trembling we made that decision. A wheelchair was provided at the gate and one of the guides gave Ricky a stuffed Mickey Mouse with a Mouseketeer hat. We went everywhere a wheelchair could go.

Ricky laughed at the bears in Country Bear Jamboree, especially the old hound bear singing, “Blood on the Saddle.”

But the best of all was “It’s a Small World.” We went down the exit ramp and they held the boat while Dale carefully lifted Ricky in. It was a beautiful, delightful ride we will always remember.

Ricky was beginning to get tired so we went back to the trailer to rest. Ricky’s temperature was back to normal.

That night I dreamed I saw Ricky running through a field of tall grass.

The next day we went to African Safari. Ricky could see all the animals from the car window by sitting in the tilted front seat.

Then we had to go to March Air Force Base for more blood work. The cells were building back.

After looking at a lot of brochures, we decided that the Hollywood Wax Museum would be the best place for a wheelchair. Universal Studios would be fun, but there was too much “on and off” traveling there, and the tour was too long. The wax museum was interesting. Ricky liked the Star Trek best of all.

On to Edwards Air Force Base and more blood work. The cell counts were looking good now.

Ricky loved seeing Dan again and Jason, our two-year-old grandson. Dan was stationed at Edwards AFB. Jason didn’t know what to make of Ricky in that cast and brace. We went on a picnic and Ricky lay on a blanket on the grass.

Life was fine.



Chapter 18 to follow

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Chapter 16: A Trial Run


From Take Care of My Child…for a While by Joyce Sawyer

First we had to see if this was really feasible, so we decided to take the trailer out on Memorial Day for a trial run. 

Ricky’s blood counts hadn’t started to drop yet from the chemotherapy, so he was healthy and feeling fine. He was even using his crutches some.

We loaded up the trailer, only this time we included a wheelchair, urinal, bedpan, thermometer, Tylenol, and the medicine (Beta-dine) for cleaning around the pins in his head.

Dale carefully lifted Ricky into the front seat of the car, with the seat tilted way back. Ricky was comfortable that way for a while, and then he needed to change and lie on his side on a sheepskin in the back seat. Of course, that way someone had to sit clear to the side and hold his feet. He thought that was a good joke.

Well, we traveled half a day in the mountains looking for a place to camp, but, of course, everything was filled up that weekend. We finally found a trailer park in Grass Valley. There was a little stream among some trees and an outdoor shuffleboard court. We set up camp and then played some shuffleboard.

Ricky did amazingly well, and we considered the whole trip a success.


Chapter 15: No Evidence of Disease

From Take Care of My Child…for a While by Joyce Sawyer

After the April chemotherapy, Dr. Long called us into his office and told us that Ricky’s X-rays and tests had all been gone over carefully and, as far as they could tell, there was no evidence of disease.

Now it was possible to think about a fusion of the vertebrae in the neck and eventually, maybe at Christmas, Ricky could be out of the brace and walking around like a normal ten-year-old boy.

We were all overjoyed. Ricky began talking about his bionic neck and how he would be playing football.

He had one more course of chemotherapy, just to make sure, and then he could go home and get ready for his marvelous operation. The first seven vertebrae would be fused, using good bone from the upper thigh, and then he would be in a striker frame. It would be worth the long, hard recovery.

We talked it all over with Ricky. He wanted to go to Disneyland before his operation. We knew that after the fusion there would be months in bed and very little movement, so we went ahead with plans for a trip to Disneyland.

The hospital wrote letters and made arrangements with the special tour people at Disneyland. We would be able to drive right up to the gate and would be given a wheel chair there.



Chapter 16 to follow

Chapter 14: Games and Such

From Take Care of My Child…for a While by Joyce Sawyer

Ricky loved to play games when he was feeling well. In fact, that was a good indication of his health. He would say, “Let’s play a game.” Usually it was Aggravation. He won almost every game.

He kept a little blue notebook with scores in it, such as “Mother- 0, Ricky-50,” indicating the number of games lost and won. If a game was set up, the nurse would say, “I see Ricky is feeling better; he’s going to beat his mother again.”

Sometimes we played Rummy or Crazy Eights. I learned to carry a deck of cards in my purse so we could play when he was waiting his turn for a treatment or to see a doctor.

When the movie Jaws came out, Ricky had to have a Jaws game. I looked everywhere for that game. It took weeks, but I finally found it. Any member of the hospital staff that happened by was roped into playing Jaws…even the doctors on rounds took a turn.

Ricky was also a good artist. His favorite subjects were football and Snoopy. He drew or painted the Steelers and the Cowboys in various plays. They were very realistic. Sometimes he had trouble getting the feet just right. Once he did a mural for his hospital room of Lynn Swann and Terry Bradshaw. He had use of only one hand at the time, but he used large bold strokes.

Drawing Snoopy was good therapy for him. He had Snoopy in an ambulance, Snoopy getting IVs, and Snoopy in surgery. Every so often, Woodstock appeared in a picture, too.

Somehow Ricky accumulated a stuffed dog collection. It really didn’t start out that way.

In April, when we were home from the hospital, Dale took Ricky for a walk in his wheel chair and Brandon, his dog, was running along beside him. Suddenly Brandon dashed across the street and at that moment a car hit him. Ricky saw the whole thing, and it was a terrible emotional experience for him.

It was after that that he wanted a stuffed dog that looked like Brandon to take to the hospital and to sit on his bed, or to cuddle up under his chin. I was able to find just the right one for him with big floppy ears and a soft body.

Of course, he wanted a Snoopy dog and a dog like the one across the street that was licorice colored. Anyway, all these animals turned into quite a collection.

Ricky also had a whole bedroom full of plastic people or dolls. Dale didn’t like the idea of a boy having dolls, but Ricky enjoyed using his imagination and moving these characters around.

He had the Six Million Dollar Man and the Atomic Man, plus all the people from Batman. Then he had the Johnny West set, adding an Indian or a horse at every birthday or holiday. He finally got the covered wagon for the set the last time he was at Stanford Children’s Hospital. We had said he could have it when he came out of surgery the last time. When he learned he wasn’t going to have the operation, he said, “Can I still have my covered wagon?” Dale bought it for him and set it up on the stand next to his bed with tape on the wheels so it wouldn’t keep rolling off. The wagon was the envy of everyone around.

Because Ricky loved football so much, Dale mentioned him to Bill Reid of the San Francisco 49ers at a banquet for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Bill said he would be glad to visit Ricky at the hospital. I hadn’t been told anything about this, so when he and his wife arrived at the hospital, I asked everyone, “Who’s Bill Reid?”

He was very nice about my not knowing him. He said he had a football to present to Ricky signed by all the players of the 49ers. It turned out that Bill and his wife had been exposed to the measles so they could not come in to the hospital. They had to give Ricky the football through the window. Ricky thought that was funny, but he treasured the football. He would take it out of the plastic covering to show it to the doctors and nurses and the other children. They weren’t allowed to touch it though. Then it had to go back into the plastic bag and into its box.

Every time Ricky was home from the hospital, he insisted on going to the Little League games in his wheel chair. This year he had been put on the Cardinals team. He had a red baseball cap and red uniform pants. He couldn’t get the T-shirt on over his cast. He wore the hat and pants to the games.

Even though he didn’t play in one game, he was given a trophy at the end of the season.

Chapter 15 to follow