Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We've Arrived in North Carolina


I'm sorry we haven't written in a long time. We didn't have Internet until yesterday and we were both so tired last night that we went to bed around 8:30!

We arrived in Durham on Saturday afternoon and signed our lease and moved into our apartment. Lee, Missy and I slept on one queen sized air mattress on Saturday night because the movers were arriving Sunday morning with our stuff.

Sure enough, Bekins showed up at 8:00 a.m. with their very big truck. The guys unloaded everything and I realized that it was well worth labeling each box because they are at least in the correct room!

Lee and I really cut down on the stuff we were bringing to NC...1/2 our kitchen; no guest room furniture; no dining room furniture; only part of the living room; and not all of our clothes. Having done that I was totally confident that we would be overflowing with space in our new digs...WRONG!

The apartment is really very nice with good sized rooms but the kitchen space and the closet space is not what I was remembering! We went on a mad search for some kind of cabinet/pantry to hold the other half of the food we brought. I was beginning to think the canned goods were just going to stay in packing boxes :(

Today we prevailed...we went to JC Pennys to purchase a small microwave and then to the Target next to this Pennys store (not "our" Target but 20 miles away). The Target store had just what we were looking for -- white, storage and cheap!!! Yea! We will have a cleaned up house some day soon.

We also had to buy a LOT of clothes hangers because we packed one big box and then decided they were cheap and we'd get more when we arrived in NC. Now we'll have a clean kitchen and our clothes will be hung up. I'm not sure it gets much better than that.

Lee is a happy camper now that we have digital cable for the Internet and TV. He went three days with no TV and I'm impressed he didn't start shaking or something ;-). Missy is starting to acclimate to the apartment. For the first couple of days we were worried that we'd get kicked out of the apt complex because she started barking really loud if we went out the door without her. I think she finally realizes that this is her new home and even though "mom and dad" leave her, we will come back. Thank heavens for less barking!

I go in tomorrow morning to Duke Medical for my pulmonary rehab orientation and start the program on Monday. I'm really looking forward to it because I haven't exercised for almost a month and I can really feel the weakness. I need to buff up!!! ;-)

As soon as the apartment is sort of organized I will post some pictures.

Love to everyone,

Lee, Wendy and Missy

Friday, September 25, 2009

On the road to Duke - day 6

Here we are again...another day of driving and we've reached Dandridge, TN. Lee and I really think Tennessee is a really pretty state. It's so green and lush and makes a beautiful change from Oklahoma and the desert.

We left Memphis this morning without ever seeing Elvis. We were crushed! We'll just have to come back when we have more time so we can hunt him down....he is still alive right? :-)

Tennessee is one wide state - we drove all day and are still in the state. We went from the western edge of the state to the eastern edge and the roads were great again. Poor Oklahoma - they must be ashamed of their roads (at least they should be!).

We drove about 425 miles today and had to stop in Nashville to pick up more oxygen again. It's a really nice looking town and I can't wait to come back as a tourist. It will be fun to live so close to all the stuff that I've always wanted to see but it was too far away. Anyone who wants to be a tourist can come out to NC and you could stay with us in our two bedroom apartment. We brought our air mattress with us...

Lee was really distressed today because he had to pay $2.48 for a gallon of gas today. He's been really spoiled by the great prices. How quickly he's forgotten the CA prices.

We take off in the morning to arrive at our new home tomorrow afternoon. We a little nervous and excited at the same time. I don't know how long it will take to get Internet so it may be a few days before I post again. The movers arrive Sunday and Lee, Missy and I are going to spend several days unpacking and getting used to our new surroundings.

We'll write soon.

Love to all,
Lee, Wendy and Missy

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pics from Day 4 and 5

Poor Missy is crammed in the back with the laptop case, the oxygen concentrator and the lucky bamboo plant.

Lee and Wendy share the driving while Missy hangs out in the back.

Notice the lane closure and there is NO ONE around to work on the roads. That is Oklahoma for you!

Lee's birthplace - Henryetta, Oklahoma. Oh, I'm sure you'll notice I spelled the town wrong in the blog - sorry!

Oh my gosh! No wonder we like the Dallas Cowboys. Henryetta is Troy Aikman's home!

Look at the price of gas! $2.25 per gallon for regular. Lee likes this a lot!

The Mississippi River.

It's a really big river!!!!!

I'm really nervous driving over the erector set bridge that spans the Mississippi.

After this we are almost to the hotel.

On the road to Duke - day 4 and 5.

Hi all.

Sorry for no blog last night but the hotel we were staying at had really flaky Internet and I couldn't get online. I think the hotel was called The Bates Motel before they renamed it to the place we were staying! It was a little different and I was really worried when the rate was $52.99 -- not even Motel 6 is that price!!!

Anyway, we need to go backwards to talk about our adventures from Tumcumcari, NM all the way to Memphis, TN.

First off, we were carrying my oxygen concentrator in the bed of the pick up and apparently a good gust of wind broke off the oxygen line and the little attachment that the line goes on. Because of that, when we slept in Tucumcari, we had to use packing tape (thank you Bekins!) and tape a 6 foot cord to the remainder of the attachment so I could get continuous air through the night. We then had to make an unscheduled stop in Amarillo, TX to go to Apria. They were so nice -- they didn't have any problems with exchanging the whole concentrator and they even complimented us on our ingenuity in using the packing tape!

Then we continued from Amarillo into Oklahoma. Oh my gosh!!!! Lee and I both think that OK must win the award for the WORST ROADS IN AMERICA! They were so bumping and so bad that at one point Lee said he was glad he hadn't had milk for breakfast because he'd have a milkshake in his stomach! I was much more worried that the whole car was going to bounce right off of the tow dolly. That would have been such a bummer after all our work earlier to secure it down :-)

We drove - and we drove - and we drove on bumpy roads but then the other fun in OK was that they would close down one - of two - lanes for road construction. The problem though was that no one was actually working on the roads. They would be closed for up to 10 miles and we would never see a person or a vehicle or anything that indicated anyone was even considering working on the road. This was a really weird state.

Originally we were going to stop in Okmulgee, OK because that was the nearest city to Henrietta, OK where Lee was born. Lee only lived there a few months and had never seen it so we thought it was worth it to go 15 miles out of our way to stay in Okmulgee. By the time we were half way through OK, Lee decided - and I totally agreed - that we didn't want to detour even one mile on an OK road. We called Amy and she looked up hotels that were on I-40 east and close to Henrietta. Thank you Amy for finding us The Bates Motel (above)! It really wasn't that bad but it just wasn't a major chain like we had been staying in.

The best thing about the hotel is that we were 20 miles farther along I-40 so we didn't have as far to drive to Memphis today.

Have I mentioned that as soon as we have driven about five miles in the morning I have to go to the bathroom. Every morning - no matter what - I need us to find a rest area of fast food. That is not easy when you are in the middle of nowhere! Poor Lee. He just keeps pulling over and never complains and for that I am very grateful!!!!

We left Oklahoma and headed into Arkansas. We weren't going to stay in AR because we were going on to Memphis, Tennessee which is on the AR - TN border. The roads in AR were super compared to OK and really very good overall. We really like the fact that none of the other states we have driven in so far has that 55 mile per hour law for trucks and towing. It makes the trip go a little faster.

The highlight of AR was finding a Starbucks -- haven't seen one since the first night and I was really going through withdrawals. I have to say that I am getting quite good at towing the car through the drive-thru at Starbucks!

We finally got to Memphis about 3:00 p.m. (Central Time) and went to Apria to stock up on fresh portable oxygen tanks. I use those while we are driving and when we go anywhere to eat etc. The electric one is just for the house - or apt. now! When we got to Apria we wanted to turn in 11 tanks and pick up 16 so we would have enough to last us until Monday. Unfortunately, Memphis only had 10 tanks so now we'll make another unscheduled stop in Nashville. That's OK because we'd rather do that than run out of oxygen!

We are at our hotel now and it's really pretty nice (especially compared to last night). Another highlight is that we are out of the altitude and I'll be able to walk with Lee two blocks to the Mexican restaurant down the street. We are both looking forward to something that isn't fast food or a continental breakfast.

I've got pics to post from the last two days so that will come next.

Love to everyone,

Wendy, Lee and Missy

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On the road to Duke - day 3.

Well this is getting a little repetitious...dirt, desert, dust and altitude. I don't do well with any of these but the altitude is really kicking my butt!

We drove from Holbrook, AZ to Tucumcari, NM today. That is not a road trip that is worth repeating...we hardly saw any cars and not to many trucks. At least we didn't have to pass that big over sized thing we kept running into a day ago!

On the way to Tucumcari we stopped in Albuquerque at the Apria place for an Oxygen resupply. They were really nice but just our luck that the on ramp back on to I-40 East was closed and we had to drive around 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get back on! I finally turned off our GPS because it just kept saying over and over and over "re-calculating". I was ready to recalculate it!!!!!

Lee drove most of the time today and I slept in the a.m. We tried to keep Missy up all day because she kept us up last night because she wasn't tired. It was like having a baby all over again.

When we got to the hotel Lee brought our bag in and went back out to the truck. When he didn't reappear for a while I went out to look for him. It turns out that my car was very close to coming off the tow dolly! That just wouldn't have been fun when we were driving along I-40. Lee backed it off the dolly and I was supposed to guide him up these ramps so that the car was on the dolly one has ever suspected that I have those kind of talents because I don't!!!! It took four tries...Lee wasn't really impressed but I don't think he was willing to chance my driving up the ramps! But we persevered and it's now back on the tow dolly. I think we're both going to check the car at every stop from now on.

Neither Lee nor I even know exactly what time it is. We think it's 8:30 here but maybe not. My cell phone doesn't automatically change anymore (blackberry) and that was always my cheat sheet. Lee and I do know that no matter what time it is, we are both tired and we're going to bed.

On to Oklahoma tomorrow!!!

Love to all,

Wendy, Lee and Missy

Monday, September 21, 2009

On the road to Duke - day 2

We left Barstow at 8:00 this morning. We have already given up on the "let's get out of town before dawn"...we are both so tired that we haven't even set an alarm!

For the first 150 miles, the drive from Barstow to Holbrook, AZ doesn't have a very different landscape - lots of dirt and sage brush. After that we headed into mountains and some really high elevation.

Because of my illness I'm not supposed to be in altitude without a whole bunch of oxygen pumping into my system. That said, I dozed while Lee drove and neither one of us noticed that the oxygen tank had run out. My oxygen saturation number was 75! Normal should be between 95 and 100. Lee pulled right to the side of the road for that one...he's so nice. He climbed into the back of the pickup with the big rigs whizzing by and set up my new oxygen tank. After that episode Lee asks me every two hours if I still have oxygen.

We are still at altitude and I really notice it when I get out of the truck and walk around. It really zaps me.

We arrived at our hotel at 4:00 this afternoon and it's now 6:20 p.m. We've already eaten and I'm ready for bed! Maybe we will actually make that early start tomorrow.

We'll send pics in the next post...

Lee and Wendy

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pics from Day 1 -- Sacramento to Barstow

It's Wendy's turn to drive!

Lee is bored with the scenery.

The scenery is the Mohave desert - below - no wonder Lee is bored!

It was a first for us...we drove through Starbucks while towing my car! I was definitely anxious for a Latte

More pics tomorrow from Arizona and New Mexico...
Love from Lee, Wendy and Missy

On the road to Duke - day 1.

Well, we survived a long week of packing and now we are on the road. It's almost 3,000 miles to Durham, NC where Duke is located and we haven't left the state of CA after driving for 8 hours!

We had every intention of leaving around 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. but sheer exhaustion resulted in a departure time of 8:30 a.m. That just meant we got to Barstow a little later and since Barstow is pretty ughhh we aren't going to miss anything.

Lee and I split the driving while Missy was squished in the back in her doggie bed. We were towing my car with a U-haul tow was really, really loud!

The most interesting thing about this drive down the center of CA and across the desert was that we found out that there are NO Starbucks for 139 miles east of Bakersfield until you get to Barstow.

We think tomorrow will be more interesting...AZ and NM. We'll post pics in the next blog.

Love to everyone,

Wendy and Lee

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The journey's beginning

This journey started about one year ago when my doctors told me I had a choice between quitting work or breathing. Somehow breathing won out!

Since last October my respiratory capabilities have been steadily declining. That's obviously not the way it's supposed to work...go figure.

To summarize the last year:
  • I quit work;

  • participated in pulmonary rehab (education and exercise);

  • saw more doctors than I knew I'd ever need;

  • underwent about 50 different tests to make sure if I got a lung transplant I wasn't going to die from something else (waste of good lungs)

  • Review my choices for Transplant hospitals and decided on Duke as my 1st choice

  • Flew to North Carolina with Lee for an evaluation by Duke's transplant team

  • Told by Duke to relocate to NC as soon as possible to get into their rehab program and undergo a few more tests and then be listed.

whew!!!...Lee and I are both a little overwhelmed. We are packing up our entire house and moving half of it to Durham, NC and storing the other half in our back garage.

We are almost done packing and we are so fortunate to be able to hire Bekins Moving and Storage to load their truck and unload it when they get to our new home! Boy does that work for us!!!!

Bekins comes Saturday to pick up our stuff (if it's not packed then it's not going to NC!). We will leave Sunday morning for NC. I'll blog more about our travels.


Lee and Wendy