Coming Home

After a month in paradise, coming home was not terribly appealing. For one thing, leaving summer to return to a few more weeks of winter was expected but not pleasant. It has helped that the sun has been shining a lot so I am still absorbing Vitamin D and whatever else there is about direct sunlight that feeds my soul. Now I am looking forward to when I can go outdoors to enjoy the sun instead of being drawn to sunny indoor spaces.

Returning to the weight of mental and emotional stresses at home was also unappealing. Several of us are feeling depressed, anxious, and more than a bit overwhelmed while we navigate normal life but also the added stress of a post-fire life. (More about that below.)

I also knew I was coming home to face new cancer concerns. Weight loss, fatigue, and a dry cough made me suspicious. I talked to both my PCP and oncologist before I left and we agreed to do additional testing after I got home. Last week I had a CT scan and a bone scan. The CT scan showed no new cancers and the bone scan suggested some spread in the bones. Since previous scans were PET scans and not bone scans, it’s a little like comparing apples and oranges. The apparent changes could turn out to be arthritis or old age (“degenerative disease.”) We won’t know until a follow up bone scan can be compared to this one.

We did decide to go ahead and make a change in my medications. I have been very lucky to have this first regimen last for four years, with very few side effects. We’ve been watching the numbers for a few months wondering when it would be time to make a change. Cancers seem to find a way to work around treatment so what we are doing is changing my estrogen blocker to one that uses a different pathway, but still accomplishes the same goal. Unfortunately, the delivery is by injection rather than a pill and we don’t know yet if it will work or if it comes with side effects. Today I got three shots–one in the belly (subQ Xgeva) and two simultaneous IM injections of a thick fluid (think old penicillin shots) of Faslodex. I am also going to follow up with some genetic testing that will help fine tune treatment in the future.

Lastly, the Birkeys are now almost two months out from the fire. They are doing well, but are somewhat overwhelmed with all the processes of going forward. They have been living in a spacious house (but not their own), getting back into school routines, and following up on all kinds of insurance issues. Coming up with an inventory of the contents of the house has required long phone meetings and prep sessions as they try to account for most of their worldly goods, as well, I assume, more than a bit of grieving throughout as they remember.

At the end of February, after shoring up the parlor floor, a meeting took place to determine the cause of the fire. The good news is that the chimney was NOT the cause of the fire, as evidenced by a perfectly intact flue liner that was removed. It was determined that the fire began outside the house, most likely in the corner of the screened in porch. It was likely electrical, possibly from wiring that had been exposed to the outdoor elements and possibly small animals. The porch caught fire and burned pretty quickly as well as the port-cochere, both burned completely to the ground. It burned inside the parlor and up the outside wall, reaching the roof and then burning out of control, as old wood houses are wont to do.

This frees them to go ahead with the demolition, but before doing that the want to make decisions about whether (and/or) what to rebuild, having an architect guide them through the demolition and rebuilding process. At this point, they just aren’t ready to make those decisions, which I think is wise. They are still processing their new reality. They’re current plan is to find a home to rent for at least the next year and settle into that. They can stay where they are as late as May 1, but would like to find something sooner so the settling process can begin.

I also returned to work at the quilt shop on the busiest sale day of the year, National Quilting Day. I’m still a bit jet lagged so the work days are exhausting.

I’m happy to be back with my American grandkids but I miss the Kiwi ones.

Coming home.

6 thoughts on “Coming Home

  1. Welcome home! I’m happy you had a nice month in New Zealand. I’m lifting up prayers for your health and for the rebuilding of your daughter’s home. Blessings from Michigan.

  2. I enjoy reading about your adventures. Very sorry to hear that your dealing with the cancer issue again. It sounds like you are on top of it with good doctors. Prayers for you and your family.

    • Carolyn: You are sweet to be still reading my blogs and commenting! It’s been a long time since we’ve crossed paths. I enjoy seeing you with your grandchildren on FB.

  3. I’m glad you had such a good time over seas with your daughter and family. And so sorry that you are having health issues. My love to you and hubby and kids. “Grandma B” or Timmie

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