Family News

UPDATE July26, 2010 - So we’ve reached the halfway point in the summer. Past it actually. *shakes head sadly* Where do the days go?

The kids are having a great time. Caitlyn went to camp for a week with our church youth & teens. They were in northern Wisconsin at Northland Camp and Conference Center. She loved it! She talked non-stop about it when she got home.

Noah has discovered Pokemon cards and has been trading and playing with the some of the other kids in the neighborhood.

Kim continues to work at Lowe’s. She just applied for a Head Cashier position. It would be more money, but she thinks the schedule would be more demanding.

Not much has changed for me. I am still having pain related to my liver. I still have kidney stones. I am still struggling with losing more weight. I haven’t gained back more than 3 pounds of what I’ve lost, so that’s a good thing.

Still haven’t been able to resolve Kim’s settlement from the accident. It’s coming up on two years in just a few days! (August 1) Our lawyer is trying to get their insurance to go beyond $20,000 as we decided the rock bottom minimum we would accept is $25,000.

On a related note, we discovered the source of the moldy smell in the washing machine wasn’t actually *IN* the washing machine. It was coming from a leak in the water line going into the washing machine. We discovered this when a water spot showed up in the carpet of our bedroom floor, just inside the door, and it wouldn’t dry up. Sadly, our insurance policy does not cover water leaks. They cover burst pipes, but not leaks. So, the best estimate we could get said almost $3,000. Guess where a large chunk of the settlement is going. If we ever get it, that is.

Oh well. We have turned it over to God, we just have to stay faithful and trust He will take care of our needs.

Until next time.

UPDATE June 9, 2010 - Hmm, where to start? The bariatric surgery is a “no go”. The laughable insurance I have will not cover it and U of M does not take self pay. I still have not heard back from the U of M Pain clinic, either. They were waiting for something from my primary doc, (his office just underwent a massive turnover of staff and they’re notorious for “misplacing” paperwork to begin with). In the meantime, I have managed to lose nearly 20 pounds and hold steady for about 4 weeks.

Also on the positive side, my wrist seems to have completely, (well almost, just need to build up a bit more strength), recovered! I have only a small ache with the drenching weather we’ve been having. Arthritis. It’s to be expected. The doc said he’s releasing me to “return to work without restrictions” as of Tuesday the 14th of June!

This, of course, means I’ll have to find a job. I want to return to driving bus. But the problem with that is positions won’t become available till fall and, they will probably be as a sub *AND*, the insurance company won’t continue to pay lost wages in the interim. They want to be done with that expense tout suite! Which also means the meager health insurance they are paying for will also end.

In the meantime, the liver and/or kidney still continue to grow progressively worse. The meds were helping for a while. Now, not so much.

In other news, Noah is now officially a 2nd grader! We still ned to work on a bit of maturity over the summer, but academically he is right on track!

Caitlyn has probably been promoted to 5th grade. We don't have her report card yet. This was her first year experiencing challenging material, up to now she has breezed through with minimal effort. Her grades suffered a bit this year and there were a few periods of self doubt and self pity, but with the Lord's help, that seems to be a trial we've come through successfully.

Now the kids are focusing their complete attention on summer vacation and having fun! :-)

Kim is still a cashier at Lowes. She is getting full time hours since the summer is their busy season. She has also been putting a lot of time and energy into making and decorating cakes! Check out what she has done so far. She really enjoys this creative outlet. Caitlyn shows a strong interest in helping with this, too.

Until next time.

UPDATE May 17, 2010 - I've been to the informational meeting for the bariatric department, working on getting insurance to pay for it. Also waiting to hear from the chronic pain clinic at U of M.

In the meantime, the surgery on my wrist was a success! I have most of my range of motion back! The pain is greatly decreased! It's mostly just a little of soreness around the incision. Now I just have to work on getting some of the strength back and I'll be all set.

Oh yeah! Almost forgot to mention we renewed our membership to the YMCA. I've been going to the aquatic fitness classes!

UPDATE April 7, 2010 - I went to U of M for an Ultra Sound Guided Liver Biopsy on Thursday, April 1st, 2010. Today, the U of M Dr. called, the results are back. The biopsy confirmed cirrhosis. They are now forwarding my info to the bariatric department so we can set up the next available appointment for a consult.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I will keep you all posted.

UPDATE March 4, 2010 - The results are … I never know how to say this right, positive, or is it negative. In either case, there were NO cancerous cells in the biopsy. But that doesn't mean cancer won’t show up at some point. The chances are slim, but I have other contributing factors. What it does mean, is more frequent EGD, or Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, screenings.

The GI dr. agrees with my primary doctor that it's a good idea to see a hepatologist at U of M. I have a number to call and get that rolling. He also prescribed an antispasmodic for the liver. He believes that to be the cause of the pain. However that’s on hold because of a possible interaction with another med.

UPDATE February 18, 2010 - I saw two doctors on Monday February 15, 2010. In the morning I saw the orthopaedic hand specialist about my wrist. We decided to try the cortisone one more time and if it doesn't work then we'll do surgery. I see him again in mid March. In the afternoon I saw the surgeon about my gallbladder. She wanted me to see a GI doctor first because reports showed my liver and spleen are enlarged.

Today I saw the GI doctor.

I’ve known about the Fatty Liver for about a month, since my last kidney stone. It was a bit disconcerting until the doctor told me it was pretty common in those who are overweight and diabetic. That was a very small comfort, at least until today when I learned it can lead to cirrhosis. The GI doctor asked why we were going to take out the gallbladder since the problem is my liver. In fact, it’s cirrhosis. Huh. He has ordered a scope of my stomach. I’m not sure what he can tell by doing so, I was still reeling from the mention of cirrhosis.

My thoughts as sort of a process of elimination; I’m not a heavy drinker. I think the last time I had alcohol was about 5 months ago and I shared it with my wife. Before that I couldn’t say when it was I last had a drink. Now, when I was younger, I did indulge in a few drinks on the weekends for a few years, but I was by no means considered to be a heavy drinker.

The next possible cause is hepatitis. Hepatitis A symptoms include jaundice - nope, nausea - it comes and goes, diarrhea - not really, and fatigue - this one I have in abundance. Okay, 1 ½ out of 4 symptoms for strain A. Hepatitis B is viral and least severe with flu like symptoms - no flu here, so strain B is a negative. Hepatitis C, like B, is spread primarily through contaminated blood. I have not had a blood transfusion; at least I don’t think so. It is possible I had one after the accident but, no one mentioned it. I don’t share needles nor do I have multiple sexual partners. D & E - are exceedingly rare in the USA. Plus, the blood work has not returned with indicators for any type of hepatitis.

Next is cancer. Most cases of liver cancer start somewhere else and metastasize, spread, to the liver. Again, the blood panels are all negative for any cancer indicators.

So that brings me to obstruction, which can include the gallbladder. This is the opinion of my primary doctor and the surgeon pending the report from the GI doctor. The surgeon did confirm the report showed the gallbladder was not functioning so it should come out. She also said that when we remove it, if there are still symptoms, then the gallbladder wasn’t the problem.

I just wish there was a test that could say definitively “This is what’s wrong. Here’s how we fix it.” Yeah, and the health care would be so affordable, no one would go without treatment. Just a glimpse of my Utopia.

UPDATE February 6, 2010 - Health update for Ray - I had a follow up with my primary doctor after the hospital stay on January 24, he put me on insulin twice a day and ordered a Hida scan for my gallbladder. I saw him again yesterday, Feb. 5th., to get the results of the scan and follow up with how the insulin was working. My sugars are still pretty high so he increased the amount of insulin. The scan showed that my gallbladder is not functioning. My doctor said this could very well be the cause of the pain and discomfort, as well as the high sugar levels. So now I have an appointment with a surgeon to get the gallbladder removed.

UPDATE January 25, 2010 -

It just keeps getting better

You all know I’ve been having trouble with my blood sugars. Well, Saturday morning I woke to some nausea and abdominal cramping. It wasn’t typical kidney stone symptoms, but I collected and strained the urine just in case. Sure enough, there was a stone, #15 and, just as big as the last one, which was the largest so far. The pain in the kidney didn’t start till after the stone had passed. So we packed up and went to the ER. The ER doc actually took the time to read the history in my chart and instead of ordering the usual ct scan and x-ray, he went with a complete abdominal ultrasound. He dismissed the pain in the kidney area as “aftershocks” and was more concerned with the abdominal cramping so he admitted me. I agreed with him.

Because I was staying, Kim brought my bi-pap machine so I would be able to sleep. At least, that was the plan. We set up my machine to discover a very high pitched whine that was not present before. We called in help from respiratory but the girl was not familiar with my type of machine, she was by herself and it was, of course, the weekend. She said give it a try anyway. I did for about 20 minutes. I couldn’t stand the noise anymore and I didn’t want to possibly cause a fire by burning up the motor. The next respiratory nurse on Sunday was a bit more helpful. She called the home respiratory office and paged the on call therapist to come in and take a look at my machine on Monday morning. In the meantime, she arranged for me to use one of the hospitals machines. Yay! I would be able to sleep Sunday night!

That is, until my doctor shows up at 4 Sunday afternoon and says I can go home and manage the pain. So no sleep Sunday night either. But, I made it through the night and took my machine in to the home respiratory office. Thankfully they gave me a loner while mine gets sent out for servicing! I was so looking forward to getting home and getting some sleep!

That is, until I got home and discovered the sewer had backed up! UGH! Kim called my dad to see if he could help. He’s out there working on it right now. Thanks Dad!

In the meantime, I did manage to get a solid three hours sleep. Now I need more.

UPDATE January 21, 2010 -


True story …

We were running errands this morning before heading to Wyandotte to visit a friend in the hospital. One of the errands was putting gas in the van. Kim went to pay at the pump and the screen said, "See cashier", so she went inside. The cashier tries to run the card then says, "Just a minute", and goes to get the manager. The manager comes out and says, “We’re sorry. The card issuer says we have to keep the card, cut it up and send it to them.”, and proceeds to do so. So we head over to the credit union to find out what is going on. I called the credit union’s automated customer line on the way and discovered our account was about $500 off of where it should have been. We were able to walk right up to the clerk’s desk and get started. She informed us that, at some point yesterday, there was a charge for over $500 in London. Yeah, London, England! Based on our reaction, the clerk realized the charge was not made, or authorized, by us and quickly set the wheels in motion to recover our funds. It should take only a few days they say.

UPDATE January 20, 2010 - Not much to report, but I was thinking about the site so here are a coule of points.

Kim has had two follow up appointments after her surgery. Her doctor is very pleased with the healing so far. She doesn't have to keep the incision covered and dry anymore. She can resume normal day to day activities, with the exception of heavy lifting, of course. However, she remains off work for another six weeks.

Caitlyn is growing up so fast! She has become more and more interested in cooking! Today, she made pancakes for breakfast before she went to school! She has also been helping prepare some dinners.

Noah continues to show improvement in his school work. Socially, he still needs a bit more time to mature, but he's doing just fine overall. And he *LOVES* his video games! Just like his father.

As for me, well, I'm having some health issues. I know, "Tell us something we don't know", right? The past few days have been rough. The injection in my wrist helped a little, not much, in fact, I think it's starting to wear off already. That, or, there's more to the issue than we know. Either way, the pain is returning. On top of that, or maybe because of, I have been having trouble getting my blood glucose levels to come down. I haven't been skipping any meds and I haven't been over indulging in chocolate or sweets. So I see my doctor on Tuesday to try and figure it out.

UPDATE January 12, 2010 - I had the injection in my wrist today. :-(

UPDATE January 8, 2010 - Okay, so it's been 10 months since the last update. I hope you will accept my appologies. There were a few things worthy of updating, but honestly, not a whole lot happened. So how about a bullet list of events? (Not nescessarily in chronological order)

  • We found out that we would be getting two seperate settlements from the accident, one for me and one for Kim.
  • We recieved my settlement, which is the larger of the two. Still waiting on Kim's. :-(
  • We paid off the house.
  • We bought a new van. (It's actually a 2007, but it's new to us.)
  • Noah is having a much better year in school. Due to his lack of maturity and struggling to keep up, we made the decision to have him repeat 1st grade this year.
  • Caitlyn had her tonsils and adenoids out on December 21, 2009. Yes, right before Christmas. We planned it that way so she wouldn't miss any school.
  • Kim just had surgery today to remove bone spurs from her right hand. This is a result of the auto accident on August 1, 2008.
  • Ray continued physical therapy for tendonitis in his right hand, wrist and elbow all the way up to the 4th of January, 2010. This also is auto accident related. The doctor feels we have done everything we can with therapy. Next is Cortizone injections on Tuesday, January 12, 2010. If that doesn't help, it's time for surgery.

And there you have it, the past ten months in a nut shell. I'm not one that usually makes "New Year Resolutions". But I do resolve to be better at updating this site. I think a goal of at least once a month is reasonable.

Untill next time.

UPDATE March 9, 2009 - The bathroom construction is officially underway! We are going to try to get photos every day. Here is the first installment.

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UPDATE March 7, 2009 - Ray's surgery went very well, even though they had to remove some of the new bone because it was growing over the pin and wire. Much to everyone's surprise, Ray was able to stand and walk the same day! Physical therapy resumed on Thursday, March 5 and the therapist was very pleased with the post surgery results. Both, doctor and therapist, feel this should be the last round of therapy!

UPDATE February 26, 2009 - I am not happy with the surgeon's office. They overbooked the appointments for Friday. So My surgery is now rescheduled for 9 A.M. on Saturday the 28th.

UPDATE February 23, 2009 - I am officially unemployed and waiting to see about long term disability. I am scheduled for surgery on Friday, February 27. This time around they will be removing the last of the hardware which consists of at least one pin and some wire. Plus while they are at it, they plan to do some manipulation as well. Basically, manipulation is bending & flexing the joint to tear up the scar tissue that has formed. Sounds like lots of fun. And the physical therapist says I will probably have to have daily therapy for a while after the procedure. Yay. I'm thrilled, can't you tell? :-)

UPDATE January 10, 2009 - We had a very nice Christmas and New Year's. I think the best gift we got this Christmas was the membership to the YMCA! Thanks Grandma and Grandpa Fretwell!

UPDATE October 7, 2008 - Check out the updates to Caitlyn's page!

UPDATE September 12, 2008 - On August 1, 2008, our family was involved in a very serious auto accident. I have endeavored to write out the events of that day and following. But due to length, I have decided to give it a page all it's own. You can find it by clicking The Accident.

UPDATE June 21, 2008 - We've been soooo busy with the house! I had to take a break from the house today to get some of the prep work done for Vacation Bible School that starts tomorrow night!

Let's see, some of the progress that's been made; Caitlyn's room is completely finished! The kitchen is done! The living room is almost finished. And the master bath is done, too! Still needs work; Noah's room and the kid's bathroom share a wall, that wall has to be replaced and the leak in the plumbing has to be found and fixed. The living room just needs to have things put where they are going to go. The master bedroom has to be cleaned out, this is where all the tools and extra stuff was put out of the way, so we can move our bedroom stuff in.

UPDATE May 30, 2008 - [[size 18px]]We signed everything there was to sign on Wednesday, the 28th and on Thursday May 29th, we had the keys and started right to work!

[[size 20px]]UPDATEMay 19, 2008 - [[size 18px]]We bought a house!! A trailer, actually. It's a 1985 Springbrook single wide. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. The appliances, all within a year old, stay. As well as the kitchen table and chairs, a lawnmower and two window air conditioners! We expect to close by Thursday, May 29.

32 John

Check back often for pictures of the progress!

*NOTE - The newer pictures show up at the bottom*

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