Author Sue Andrews

Your Home Is Your Castle

Month: June 2016

May Trippin’

The last two weeks in May, Ken and I had the most beautiful U.S. vacation that we had had in a very long time. Since Ken had always reminded me that he “rescued me” from the South, (disliking the bugs, the humidity, the flatlands, etc.) I decided it was time to show him the South that I had fallen in love with many years ago. I had lived in Atlanta and Jacksonville half of my adult life. Although my relationships there were not good ones, they were memorable enough to write a book about them.
Now it’s been thirty years since my past life in the South and Ken and I had a good reason to visit. Ken’s brother and his family retired and moved to a little town just south of Atlanta, and my brother retired and moved to a little town just south of Jacksonville. How convenient!
I planned the trip as I do all the travel arrangements. We flew to Atlanta and then rented a car. We went sightseeing in the city first, visited two of my closest friends that I had kept in contact with since I had lived there and then drove to a little town called Madison. It’s the only town in Georgia that Sherman didn’t totally burn to the ground since he had a friend who lived there. It was a quaint little town and we took our first tour of plantation homes there. Next we went to the town where Ken’s brother lives. We got the royal treatment. The first sightseeing trip was to Stone Mountain. I had not been there in over 40 years! Instead of just the mountain to observe, it was now a huge entertainment park with tram and train rides, a park for picnicking, and at night, the laser light show which was very patriotic and moving.
The last day in Atlanta was just as touching – Andersonville. For that experience, I will be writing a separate blog.
The next three days we spent in Charleston where we took another tour of plantation homes, a bus and walking tour and on our last day, a tour out in the countryside to a place called Drayton Hall. It was one of the best and scenic places. This plantation was different than all the rest as it did not have any furniture or paintings with period pieces that did not belong to the owner. The guide told us they would preserve it bare, as is, and you could use your imagination as to how it once looked and thrived. (Think Tara in Gone with the Wind.)
Our last week on the road was spent in Florida where we went to the Kennedy Space Center. It’s a must see for any tourist visiting Florida who is interested in our space exploration endeavors both past and present. The rest of our time there was spent enjoying the beach, our friends, and with my brother and his family in his beautiful home.
I even had an opportunity to give a book “presentation and signing” at the hotel and sold two of my books, “To Live and Love Again” which are still selling on Amazon. Please check it out if you haven’t already at http://ow.ly/TNPhD. Or if you have read it, and still haven’t written a review, I would appreciate it if you would take the time to do so. It would mean so much to me!

April Showers Bring May Flowers

After recuperating from the ulcers (to this date, I still have to watch what I eat) and the bandage on my face for the month of April, Ken and I took a few long weekend type trips to visit relatives. I knew they would be the only people who I could stand see me without make-up and wouldn’t feel self-conscious with half of my face bandaged up.
First, we took a trip to Arizona see our 93 year-old uncle and his wife, and then went to San Francisco to see our daughter and her husband. The highlight of our Phoenix vacation was having lots of laughs while playing many different card games at our aunt and uncle’s lovely home. When we went to S.F., we had fun at the Conservatory of Flowers with our daughter, and then later that weekend the four of us saw the play, Beach Blanket Babylon. If you have ever been to San Francisco and never seen that play, you must definitely go. It’s a side-splitting, knee- slapping comedy that pokes fun at everyone in the media. We couldn’t stop laughing. The talent in the show was tremendous. I highly recommend it.
Those trips did as they were supposed to. They took my mind off of all my crazy my health issues, and the experiences made me laugh. My cardiologist had asked me in the hospital, “What in the world are you doing? Collecting more material for your book sequel?”
“No!” I replied emphatically. “There will be no sequel!”

In Like a Lion and Out Like a Lamb

The following essay was a short story about my last March’s health issues. I’m trying to play catch up with my blog, and as you can see I’m several months behind! Here’s what I had published in the Inland Empire Califonria Writers Club monthly journal.

IN LIKE A LION AND OUT LIKE A LAMB

People refer to this saying when describing the weather in March. But I had to use it to describe my health last month.
The first day in March started out with a roar. I learned yet again another basal cell carcinoma appeared with an indentation on my face. To my surprise it would require a MOHS surgical procedure. Although no stranger to MOHS, nor to the doctor who had done it four times before on my face, I became scared. The location this time was not a place that I could hide with hair, unless I wanted to grow a beard. The fact that it was mid-cheek would require many stitches. I tried to forget about the whole thing and not worry. In the process I forgot about other things as well, such as drinking enough water and eating enough iron-enriched foods.
The next week I felt a hot a flash in church. My hot-flash days had flown by long ago so something felt amiss. The last two times weird feelings came over me happened immediately before my last two heart attacks. Since this new feeling flittered away as fast as it came, I ignored it, drove home, had something to eat and drink, and felt better. That must be it, I surmised.
Later, feeling tired and weak, it was time to walk the dog, so I ate a snack again and ignored what my body was telling me. When will I ever learn? On my way home from our walk, I feared I’d pass out. Luckily, I didn’t, and immediately called 9-1-1.
The trip to the hospital was uneventful. The paramedics ruled out another heart attack, but encouraged me to go to the hospital anyway. After six hours in the ER, with chest x-rays, blood tests, and so on, there wasn’t enough serious information to keep me there. They said I was dehydrated, anemic and low in iron. I knew that something was wrong. Why couldn’t they see it? My blood pressure never got over 90/55. I didn’t understand. Why were they letting me go?
We arrived home, and I could barely make it up our thirteen steps to our master bedroom. I huffed and puffed like one of the Three Little Pigs. I couldn’t catch my breath.
“What’s wrong?” asked my husband, alarmed.
“Well, it’s not my heart, so we can just go to sleep,” I said. “I’ll be alright in the morning.”
The next morning proved to be worse than the day before. I was even weaker.
“Please make me a good breakfast,” I said to my husband. “We were there until almost 10 last night, and they didn’t give me anything to eat.”
“Ok,” he said. “Let’s see if that will help.”
While Ken cooked breakfast for us, I looked over the discharge sheet with a long list of symptoms the doctor warned me about.
“Come back to the hospital if any of those show up,” he said.
Ken brought the eggs, sausage and hash browns to the table. It smelled and looked delicious, but I could only take a few bites. I know I’m sick when I can’t eat.
After I went to the restroom, I saw more of the symptoms on that paper. The sheet didn’t explain what the symptoms meant, only to call 9-1-1 if I saw them. So on day two, I called the paramedics again. One of the same men came back to my house.
“What can we help you with today, Mrs. Andrews?” he said, with a smile.
I showed him the paper with the new symptoms circled.
“They told me to call you guys if I had any of these. As you can see, several items are circled.”
Again their readings didn’t show anything abnormal with my heart, but they took me to the hospital where I was properly diagnosed. Bleeding ulcers were the culprit. Overnight my hemoglobin had dropped below 8.0. I needed some electrolytes intravenously fed plus two pints of blood. The doctor cauterized five ulcers on my stomach and duodenum.
Weeks later I had my MOHS procedure the end of March. The doctor removed thin layers of cancer-containing skin progressively and examined the cells each time until only cancer-free tissues remained. That’s all behind me now and my twenty facial stitches have been removed. The surgeon did such a beautiful job people no longer notice it and can’t believe it until they see the “before” photos.
The month of March took a memorable turn, but it went out like a lamb with a cancer-free face and no more ulcers.
“I look forward to the ‘April showers that bring May flowers,'” I told my husband.
“You don’t have to wait living here in Southern California, ” he said. “See our roses in bloom in our front yard? They’re just for you.”

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