Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who Do I Want To Impress? No One Really - But that's just me!

You Want to Impress People You Know

You want friends and family to think you're beautiful. You mostly focus on inner beauty and being a good person.

You want your friends and family members to think you're smart. You like been seen as insightful and wise.

You are at your most playful when you are around family and friends. You are more serious around people you don't know well.

You let strangers see parts of you right away, but you believe in keeping some things private.

You don't become close to many people. You only let people you've gotten to know very well in.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of School

The Tuesday after Labor Day.

This has always been a favorite day for me.

It was always the first day of school.

A new beginning.

An opportunity at starting over and taking chances.

Enjoy the day!

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Thirteen Things about Pammy

Since this is my first Thursday Thirteen ... and I have no idea how to do this ... I'm just going to wing it ... so please bear with me 8)


#1 - SHANGRI-LA - We love this local Chinese restaurant. We have been loyal customers since 1982. We have celebrated many special occasions there ... ie. birthdays, 1st communions, anniversaries, graduations.

#2 - OUTBACK - Love their grilled salmon and their creamy onion soup.

#3 - VICTOR'S ITALIAN RESTAURANT - Local Italian restaurant where we meet our friends Mary and Danny most Friday nights for drinks and dinner.

#4 - LAMOTT'S - Their crab cakes are fantastic. Customers travel hours to enjoy these HUGE all lump crab cakes.

#5 - SAM & TONY'S ITALIAN RESTAURANT - Great food. Jimmy took me to dinner there last week.

#6 - McCleary's Pub - Great Irish Pub in Marietta PA. They have a new outdoor bar and deck that is great for hanging out with friends.

#7 - Smokey Joe's - Wonderful pulled pork sandwitches. Awesome BBQ.

#8 - Vesta's Pizza & Italian Restaurant - Best pizza in Boonsboro MD.

#9 - TGIFriday - OMG - their fried green beans - to die for!

#10 - York Buffet - New restaurant located in the new York County Shopping Center (Best Buy). Main focus on Chinese, but the have a gazillion other items on their buffet. YUM!

#11 - Maggiano's Italian Restaurant - Fantastic food served family style. Their Peach Belinis are THE BEST!

#12 - Blue Moon Cafe - Expensive - but worth it. They have a new outside area that we'll be trying next weekend.

#13 - Culhane's Steakhouse - Best steak in PA. Their petite fillet is yum yum yum.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, April 21, 2008

When You Get Laid-Off - Go Shopping

Good Morning Everyone!!!


I have been MIA since January, only stopping in and making the effort to perform drive-by posting when I've had the chance to sign on. I have 939 emails waiting for me in my in box - and they're all JDRobb - as I've weeded out the spam and specific personal emails.

So what has been going on in the life of Pammy

In the category - Life Sucks and then you go Shopping ...

I have found myself unemployed. My 3-month paralegal position was axed on Thursday when my boss, the lawyer, decided to replace me with his girlfriend's best friend who just graduated from paralegal school.

Also, it didn't help that his ex-wife (who was my direct supervisor and worked whenever she wanted to - usually for approx. 4 hours a day 10 am to 2 pm) did not like me and never wanted him to hire me. Nothing like feeling the love!

The drama that surrounded this office was so exhausting, I literally worked 9-10 hours a day and then came home and collapsed on the couch, unable to summon the energy to watch TV, read or sign on to read my email.

Jan 14th was my first day at work. I arrived at 8:00 am, as instructed the previous Friday when I was hired. I sat in front of the building for 45 minutes waiting for SOMEONE to show up. This should have been my first clue - with a flashing neon sign - warning me to turn around and go home and look for employment elsewhere.

But no ... I was determined to assist this motley crew of 2 lawyers and 4 staff members by whipping the office into shape and helping with anything I could. I was paid a straight $15/hour with no benefits. NO BENEFITS - no vacation pay, sick pay, insurance, 401 K retirement, etc. This should have been my second clue.

The office is located in downtown York in a beautiful brownstone. Well, it could be beautiful if anyone - besides me - cared to clean the office, organize the filing system and put things away - if there was somewhere to put them. OMG - the dirt, dust bunnies and "crap" laying everywhere was absolutely horrific. Trust me - I'm not a neat freak - but this place was unbelievable. Client files were and still are - lying all around the office. You could NEVER find a file when you needed it. Talk about frustration!!! And they always made me feel like it was my specific fault that nothing could be found in a timely fashion. Believe me, this was an hourly event before I started working there and I can guarantee that this issue will never be resolved and will continue into the next decade.

In addition to Nickey (the ex-wife who has the sickest relationship with my boss), the other workers were right out of central casting for a psycho movie.

The receptionist (Betty) - when she came to work - spent more time talking on the phone with her numerous family members and resolving their hourly dramas. She had no office experience and her un-professionalism shown through like a beacon. OMG. No lie, she sounded exactly like Marge Simpson's smoking sisters (from the cartoon show THE SIMPSONS) when she answered the phone "Law Office". :::shudder::: I have never heard "ain't" or "youse" used so many times in the course on your typical day - in a "supposedly" professional environment, and the "F" word was used as an adjective, adverb, verb, preposition, pronoun, modifier, conjunction and noun.

I think I could have helped Betty learn office protocol, but she never had the desire to improve. She is bi-polar, schizophrenic and non-compliant with her meds and chooses to self-medicate herself with alcohol and coke (cocaine). I have worked with many people with mental health issues - HECK - I have them myself and my family has the market cornered on self-destructive personalities, but I have never come across someone like Betty. Her personality would change minute-to-minute, with either Elizabeth or George making a daily appearance just to make things fun at the office. (Elizabeth and George are her alter personalities and Betty is incapable of working when they take over). Her daughter just got out of Baltimore jail last week - for her 4th internment - and is awaiting sentencing on her credit-card stealing-spending charges that took place the beginning of March. This poor girl, Kayla, is only 19, a crack-whore with a criminal record longer than my arm and with no hope of a future that doesn't include running from drug, physical and mental abuse. And that's just from her family.

The daily drama in Betty's life was a roller coaster to equal the Kingda Ka at Six Flags in NJ, and a constant interruption to our office day that was jam-packed with appointments, court appearances, document filings and a phone that wouldn't stop ringing.

Now this was just 1 of the 7 employees in this firm. I'll post what the other 6 were like. Not a nomal one in the bunch!!!

I know that things happen for a reason ... and I think it's best that I'm out of that hell-hole, though my ego is very bruised and I'm feeling sorry for itself right now. I know I'm better off ... but gosh ... it still hurts. And this is the 5th time. OMG ... I feel like such a looser. Why can't I find a job where I can provide excellent secretarial service and not have to worry that I'll be back on the streets within a few months or years.

This past weekend I put myself out there on - and sending to my friends notice that if they hear of any secretarial jobs [within a 50 mile radius of York] ... could they keep me in mind and let me know where to send off a resume? I've applied for over 25 positions since Friday, all in the Executive-Administrative-Medical-Legal-Secretary field. As Zig Zigler (a motivational sales speaker) always says ... You have to get 50 NO's to get 1 YES. So I guess I have 25 more jobs to apply for before I find that 1 job that is just right for me. :)

So please keep me in your prayers and thoughts to find that perfect job. I have 20 more years that I must work, unless I win POWERBALL on Wednesday, and I really just want to find the right job working for a boss that appreciates the work I can provide, treat me with respect and whom I can provide the best secretarial-administrative service they'll ever receive.

Well ... As the saying goes ...

When life hands you lemons ...
Grab the Tequila and Salt and make MARGARITAS!!!

That's not a saying? Well ... it should be!!!

Just 3 days till I get to spend Karaoke Night with my TTP Girls!!!

OMG ... Do I NEED this TTP!!! It couldn't have come at a better time.

Life is too short for drama & petty things, so kiss slowly, laugh insanely, be a good friend, care deeply, speak kindly, love truly and forgive quickly.
Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Sleep Well America. My MARINE has your back!
OOORAH - It's a MARINE thing.
If you can read this, thank a teacher. Since it is in English, thank a soldier.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

2007 Christmas Newsletter

January 6, 2008

Happy New Year!!! Please forgive the lateness of our holiday greetings. I was struck with a stomach flu that lasted through Christmas to this week that I am still not over, but am now able to get to the computer. 2007 had been a very busy year in the Fortney household. As you may have noticed, we did not send out our annual Christmas newsletter last year as we were recovering from our respective surgeries. We were the walking wounded at Christmas, hobbling around like the geriatric couple we are becoming. If you did not receive our email anecdotes of Jimmy’s hip surgery or you just want to relive all the fun again, you can go to my blog on Blogspot at

While Jimmy was recouping, he had the Matt’s working their tails off around the house. As Jimmy was convalescing in his Lazy-Boy, he would come up with all kinds of chores that he wanted done and every morning he would enlist the Matts, giving them instructions for the day. Both of them were quite happy to see Jimmy go back to work in January.

Though we loved having the kids around, we were envisioning Autumn, Matt (son-in-law) and Matthew (son) living with us for … well … forever. You can imagine our surprise in March when Autumn and Matt bought a house in Marietta, PA and moved out that same month. Then the week before they moved, Matthew (son) announced that he was joining the Marines and leaving 2 weeks after the wedding in May. Wow … in a few short months we went from 5 adults and 2 dogs to 2 adults and 1 dog living in our house. It is completely different and definitely quieter. Though we are enjoying our “empty nest”, I have to admit that I do miss the kids and Riley (Autumn’s chocolate lab).

The wedding on Friday, May 25, 2007 was fabulous. The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was so much fun. For their wedding gift, the parents got together and sent Autumn and Matt on their honeymoon - a 7-day cruise to Bermuda out of Philadelphia. They had a wonderful time. We certainly did our best to send them off into their new life together in grand style.

The video of the ceremony and reception turned out fantastic! I am trying to figure out how to convert the video so I can post it on Webshots for everyone to access.

The week after Matt and Autumn returned from their honeymoon, we had Matthew’s going-away party and the next thing we knew … we were driving him to the Recruiter’s office to send him off to Parris Island. Matthew flew through boot camp with flying colors. He loved it, which just goes to show you that this was definitely the right choice for him. Except for the obligatory 1 phone call announcing that he arrived – which we couldn’t say anything to him and he could not deviate from the script he was reading – our only contact was through letters. No phones, no email. Just hand-carried letters by the post office. I had to restrain myself from accosting the mail carrier every day hoping for a letter from Matthew. Surprisingly, he wrote 3-4 times a week. I wrote him every day and sent him printed pictures of what we were doing and old pics I scanned from our photo albums so he would have some pieces of home with him. It was such a comfort to hear that he was actually enjoying his experience at boot camp. The summer seemed to drag on forever, but soon it was Labor Day and we were driving down to South Carolina to see Matthew graduate and bring him home for 10 days. Graduation at Parris Island is simply amazing. The DIs (Drill Instructors) take these young boys and girls and turn them into Marines in 13 short weeks. We were fortunate to be able to meet 2 of Matthew’s DIs. I was expecting
screaming, growling, foaming at the mouth monsters. I was quite surprised to find they were polite, soft-spoken men who had great respect for Matthew. Of course, we are so proud of Matthew and everything he has accomplished. He had matured into a man over the course of the summer and walking taller than ever before.

The 10-day leave flew by in a flash and we were soon driving him to BWI for Matthew to fly to Camp Lejeune for his next session of training, MCT (Marine Combat Training). For three weeks, we did not hear from him. He was living and training in the woods and not able to receive mail. It was so great to hear his voice when he called after returning to camp. He loved MCT and shortly after began his training for his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), which is Basic Water Support Technician better known as WATER DOGS.

Over Thanksgiving, Matthew was allowed 4-day leave (Wednesday to Sunday) and we enjoyed him being with us to celebrate. Leave at Christmas was touch-n-go for a while and we were not sure if he was going to be allowed to come home. Finally, on the 16th, he was given the okay, but by then the airlines were booked solid. So on Thursday, Dec 20th, I drove down to Jacksonville, NC, stayed overnight at the Comfort Suites and picked Matthew up at Camp Lejeune when he was dismissed on Friday, Dec 21st and got on the road at 2:30 pm and we arrived home at 9 p.m. in record time – and no speeding tickets! Then on the 2nd of Jan I drove Matt back down and turned around and came home the same day – We left York at 10 am and I got home at 1:30 am. Again, no tickets! My guardian angels were riding shotgun!

In addition to Jimmy riding with his biking buddies, he set another goal for himself in 2007, he road across Iowa in the middle of July. In April, he was asked to be a member on TEAM LIVESTRONG. Team Livestrong, of course led by Lance, joined RAGBRAI and raised over $300,000 in the team’s efforts to raise cancer awareness and support of those living and surviving with cancer. Through the support of our friends and family, Jimmy raised over $2,500 for Livestrong. RAGBRAI, is the Des Moines, Iowa newspaper sponsored annual ride. RAGBRAI – Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa – originating in 1973. Since then, every year over 20,000 people ride across the great state of Iowa just for the fun of it. There are hundreds of teams, all with many different themes. (You really need to go TEAM LIVESTRONG 2007 to our Webshots page and check out the pictures!!!) It was Team Livestrong’s first year participating in RAGBRAI, but it will not be their last. Jimmy has already been asked to rejoin the team and he will once again be riding across Iowa in July. Over 500 miles in 7 days - in 100o+ heat and 100% humidity - camping out every night in his little pup tent on a blow up mattress - standing in line for port-a-showers set up in the middle of fields. It is Mardi Gras/Spring Break on bicycles. Jimmy made many good friends on Team Livestrong and is looking forward to riding with them again this summer.

On Easter Monday, my mom had several mini-strokes and ended up in the Lancaster Hospital. After several weeks, she was discharged to skilled care at Garden Spot in New Holland, Lancaster PA – her retirement community where she lives. After a few weeks in skilled care, she was able to move back to her apartment. We are so thankful that Mom is doing so great and her recuperation has been nothing short of a miracle.

The week before the wedding, 3 of the 5 staff members at PCA were permanently laid off due to a huge drop in membership. Through the summer, I have been taking a paralegal course online and will receive my paralegal certificate in January. Though I have been sending out my resume for any secretarial position I could find – there have not been many and I have not been contacted for an interview. Though it is hard not to get down, I have been trying to focus on the future. Hopefully after the holidays, I will find a job that suits me to a T! However, the time off of work has enabled me to spend more time with my mom and enjoy many weekly lunches with her and her girlfriends, which has been a wonderful time!

Since you are getting our card after Christmas, after the presents have been opened, after the food has been eaten, and after everyone is heading back to your busy lives, take a moment … Remember … that what is left is the most important thing … your family and friends. We think of you often and hope for peace, joy and love to be with you all through the year and we pray for you to have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2008.

Please send us your email address so we can stay in touch. Pammy is and Jimmy is Also, throughout the year, check out our picture albums at at

Monday, December 25, 2006


December 2006

Seasons Greetings, Happy Hanukkah,
Merry Christmas, &
Happy New Year
The Fortney's
Pammy & Jimmy, Matt Strock,
Autumn & Riley, Matthew & Reggie

As you can see, we have a new member to our family - REGGIE. Our beloved Nittany [
in this 1997 Christmas picture) passed away on New Years Eve day 2005. We were blessed to have had Nittany in our family from September 10, 1994 until December 31, 2005. It was a very hard day for us to say goodbye and we were all so sad, but we understood what was going on, unlike poor Riley. He was just lost without his best buddy and kept vigilance at the backdoor all day and night, waiting for Nittany to come home. It broke our hearts. I did some research on the internet and contacted the Potomac Lab Kennel Club - Rescue Adopt-A-Lab program. We adopted Reggie on January 8, 2006. Since then Reggie has had not 1, but 2 bowel obstruction surgeries due to his "cotton habit" from eating too many socks, wash cloths and rags. His first surgery was 2 weeks after we adopted him and his latest surgery was October 7th. However, The Boys are doing great and just love each other so much.

The week after Reggie's surgery, Jimmy and I headed down to Austin, TX, for The Ride For The Roses. Because of Jimmy's fund raising efforts for LAF, he and his partner, Jeff Lau, were invited to Austin for the weekend festivities and to ride with Lance. Jeff was unable to make it due to family obligations, so I volunteered to go along. We had a fantastic weekend and it was awesome to meet Lance and have our picture taken with him. He signed 3 items: a book, our fundraising poster and Jimmy's Discovery Team jersey, which Jimmy had other Discovery Team members sign at the 2005 Tour de Georgia. On Sunday was the special ride. I have pictures of Jimmy riding right to the left of Lance, but Jake Gyllenhall's big head is in the way. Most of you know what happened, if I have your email address, but a very, very long story short … Jimmy had an accident at Mile 60 rest stop and we ended up staying an extra week in Austin for Jimmy to have emergency hip replacement surgery. At least he had his ride with Lance before his accident. Our family picture, above, is entitled HIPSTRONG … a play on the LIVESTRONG bracelets. You'll notice Jimmy's walker. This was taken the Sunday after we got home from Austin. Well he got rid of the walker after 2 weeks and he's doing great. He goes back to work the beginning of January after his 1-5-07 doctor's appointment. Oh yeah, he also had a minor operation on his bum in early May.

Thank goodness Jimmy had finished the new bathroom, in the basement with a great big shower stall, before leaving for Austin. That was his summer project and he did a fantastic job! From installing the electrical & plumbing, to the tile work to putting in the shower, toilet and sink, simply a fantastic job … but the most amazing thing is he squeezed a nice size bathroom between the oil tank and the furnace. Who knew there was enough space?
After much research, rapidly declining health and a year-long process with the medical pathway at the York Hospital, I had gastric-bypass surgery on Wed. 12-13-06 and was discharged on Fri. 12-15. Jimmy has been my champion, my hero, and my angel taking such good care of me. I'm on the mend and doing great. My goal is to loose 150 lbs from my 300 lb frame. It will take about 18 months, but I do hope to have some of the weight off in time for the wedding.

THE WEDDING !!! We are in full wedding mode at the Fortney house. St. Patrick's Church and the Stone Mill Inn have been reserved, as well as the dress bought, since last June 05, but all the details are being nailed down and we are all so excited. Friday, May 25, 2007 is the big evening! The brothers of the bride and groom are the Best Man (Eric Strock) and Man of Honor (Matthew).

Matthew has been incredibly busy. Turning 21 in May was a big deal. In early December, he earned his green belt in karate. Today he had his last exam and finished his first term at Penn State York. And he's working part-time at Starbucks. We never see him. He just whizzes through the house, grabbing a shower, clothes change and out the door. He has decided to switch from a business degree to physical therapy, after Jimmy's accident. So he is now looking into switching from PSU to York College. It is less expensive for us if he would stay in York instead of transferring to main campus. Also York College has a great PT association with York Hospital.

Autumn is gearing up for her 3rd tax season. She is in her 2nd year as an accountant with Brown, Shultz, Sheridan & Fritz. On Tuesday before Thanksgiving, she took her 4th, and last, CPA exam. We are waiting on pins and needles for the results ... but I know she nailed it. She has been studying for the past 15 months for this while working 10 hour days during the regular season and 16 hour days during tax season with mandatory Saturday's. It is going to be so much easier for her to handle the 2007 tax season without having to study during every free second for the CPA exam. It'll give her plenty of time to fret over the wedding plans.
I turned 50 this year. Yes … I know … I'm getting old. But so is everyone else! My family surprised me with an awesome birthday party. I was in quite a pissy mood for a few days because they pretty much blew-off my birthday. What the Heck! How many times do you turn 50 for crying out-loud. Little did I know a huge party was in the works. It was held on August 12th at a Cobblestones [local sports restaurant/bar we enjoy]. I was totally surprised. They really pulled it off and we had so much fun.

Jimmy surprised me with a new car in November. Our Volvo is still running, which we gave to Autumn and Matt S. But it has over 225,000 miles and with commuting 60 miles every day, Jimmy wanted me in a new car. Terry Williams, our car aficionado, found us an awesome 2002 Acura TL-S, black with black leather interior & fully loaded. It rides like a bullet and everyone's putting down their bets as to when I get my first speeding ticket. So far, so good.
Well that's it for now. 2006: 5 surgeries and we're still all together! 2007: THE WEDDING!

Please send me your email address so we can stay in touch. Pammy is and Jimmy is Also, throughout the year, check out our picture albums at at
As another year comes to a close, we think of our family and friends wishing you peace, joy and love be with you all through the year and we pray for you to have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2007.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

WLS 12-13-06

Tomorrow is my Weight Loss Surgery. Today I start the "cleansing" regimen and antibiotics.

I weigh 299. OMG! I'm the size of a baby elephant!

This is the heaviest I have ever been. I can't believe I've become this huge person who can't control her own weight. {hang head in shame}

My goal is 150 lbs. That's 149 pounds to shed. My journey has begun.

I know we weren't suppose to have "last meals", but I did and I enjoyed every single one of them.

In the last 2 weeks I have eaten out more times than I can remember.

Yesterday I went to Suspenders, a pharmacy in Hershey, that specializes in selling WLS protein supplements. I stocked up on all the liquid protein I could get.

Today I'm on clear liquids. YUM!

I'll get a call later today telling me what time to show up at York Hopspital for my surgery.

I am so excited and I can't wait.

150 ... Here I Come!

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 1

Sorry I'm late with this travelogue ... but trust me ... it's been crazy .

Before we get into the trip to Austin ... I need to mention that I didn't get to stay for the book signing with Nora Roberts and meet Dennis Lehane on 10-7 because Reggie got very sick. Autumn and I went down on Friday after work and stayed at Jeannie's ... had a late dinner at Asaro's (Nora's son's pizza place) ... then watched CLICK the movie. Hit the sack and then got up very early to hit the porch to wait in line for the book signing.

Even though we were only a block away from TTP (Turn The Page bookstore)
the line was very long when we go there ... Got to see everyone standing ... waiting ... greetings & hugs ... then the tickets were handed out. Jeannie, Autumn and I headed for breakfast at Crawford’s ... Hooked up with some friends and chowed down.

My phone rang and Jimmy was desperately distraught. Reggie was sick as ... well ... a dog ... and not getting better. Our vet was out of town and the vet covering for him does not do surgery. From the description of his symptoms ... I knew he had another bowel obstruction and needed surgery. Autumn and I packed up the car and headed home right away ... Got home just as Jimmy was getting the x-ray results from a vet he found in Dover PA that could see him right away. Yup ... He needed surgery.

Reggie still hadn't gained a lot of weight from his months on the streets before we adopted him 1-8-06 and his subsequent 1st surgery 2 weeks later. The vet was very cautious that Reggie might not pull through. Well ... he did ... YEAH!!! The vet had to cut him open in 6 places in his intestines to get all the string and sock that was wrapped around inside his intestines. OMG! We picked him up on Tuesday and he started his road to recovery ... On Friday we were in Austin ... so the kids (Autumn - Matt Strock (ffsil favorite future son-in-law) and Matt (ds) were at home taking care of him for us.

Now on to Austin ... As you may know, Jimmy and his BFF Jeff Lau, have been riding their bicycles and raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation
for the past 3 years. They have ridden their cycles from Niagara Falls to York twice, as well as holding luncheons at our local Outback Restaurant. Together Jimmy and Jeff have raised over $20,000.

Participants who raised more than $15,000 were invited to participate in the Ride for the Roses, Oct. 13-15, 2006, in Austin, Texas where only 130 of the top fund raisers were invited to spend the weekend with Lance. Jeff was unable to go due to family obligations, so I tagged along to keep Jimmy company.

So join me while I tell you a tale of our 3-day tour, which lasted 8 days --- if you click on the links you can follow along on our trip ... also ... if you double-click on the smaller pictures, you'll see a larger, clearer picture.

It all began when we flew down to Austin on the 13th of October for this special weekend. Of course we had to get a special bike case for Jimmy's bike, which was checked with our luggage. We flew out of BWI into FW/Dallas, changed planes and flew into the Austin airport. After collecting our luggage and Jimmy's bike, we followed the yellow balloons to the check-in desk at the airport. We were escorted to the shuttle bus and taken to the Hyatt in downtown Austin.
LAF put us up at the Hyatt, which was an absolutely beautiful hotel.

After checking into the hotel, we went to our room, dropped off the luggage and went down to the bar and relaxed, enjoying a couple of Corona's and salsa & chips. After mingling with other fund raisers, we boarded the bus taking us to dinner at the Salt Lick for a special BBQ with Lance. There was a silent auction with lots of great stuff autographed by Lance, but I didn't win anything After the cocktail hour & silent auction, we were herded to the buffet and got our BBQ -- AWESOME food ... they sure know how to do BBQ in Texas!

After dinner, Bob Roll (commentator for the Tour de France & long-time friend of Lance) was emcee of the evening. He had humorous stories of his friendship with Lance over the years and then he introduced Lance. Lance got up and gave his story of 10-2-96 (the day he learned of his cancer), his battle to beat cancer, his recovery and his unbelievable comeback to win 7 Tours. Very Inspiring ... you just want to hop on a bike and start riding.

Bob then introduced John "College" Korioth, Lance's long-time friend. If you ever saw the OVERHAULIN show where Lance had his GTO "stolen" and overhauled, College was the instigator College explained how LAF was formed over tacos and beer one night shortly after Lance was diagnosed. Since College didn't have anything to do, he volunteered to organize the first Ride for the Roses for LAF, and thus became the first employee at LAF. College has been there from the get-go and not only working tirelessly for LAF, but also keeping everything positive and fun. He's a great guy, you can just tell by hearing him speak, and I know from what Lance has said about College, Lance counts on him not just for working on LAF, but also for his friendship. Lance's story about the fist time College was asked for an autograph is a hoot. It's a shame this program wasn't videotaped, it was quite entertaining.

Bob then introduced Lance's mother, Linda Armstrong Kelly She also was very inspiring. Ya gotta hand it to a lady who when she was only 17 and on her own, raised the boy who would become Lance Armstrong.

Around 10:30 pm we were herded back on the buses and headed back to the hotel. Jimmy had an early wake-up call for 6:00 am to go ride with the guys from the Discovery Team, and I got to sleep in.

Next up -- Saturday 10-14-06

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 2

Saturday 10-14-06

Jimmy gets up at some god-awful hour ... I sleep in ... a luxurious bed that I want to pack in my suitcase and take home!

Jimmy gets back around 11 am and I have been sitting in our room ... enjoying the view of downtown Austin from our 6th floor corner window reading my book and enjoying a cup of coffee. Ain't life grand!

Jimmy hops in the shower, changes and we head up to the 17th floor where the autograph/photography session is being held. Depending on the amount of your donation, depending on what "jersey" you were ... Green Jersey was $15,000 and entitled you to 1 item autographed. Polka-Dot Jersey (us) was $20,000 and entitled you to 3 items to be autographed, plus you could bring a guest for the photographs. I got to go along with Jimmy and meet Lance ... OMG ... He is the nicest, greatest and gorgeous man I have ever met ... well besides Jimmy .. Jimmy got our book signed that Lance wrote in conjunction with photographer Graham Watson ...

Pssst --- Doesn't Jimmy look like he could be Lance's older brother ??? ..

along with Jimmy's Discovery jersey that Jimmy had other Discovery riders sign last year at the 2005 Tour de Georgia ... and the banner that Katelyn Lau painted(Jeff's daughter) painted that we have at all of our functions for people to sign. One side is LIVING STRONG with survivor's names and the other side is IN MEMORY where we have the names of our friends & loved ones who have lost the fight against cancer. Even though it was only a couple minutes, it was so nice to meet Lance and get to talk to him. He really liked the banner and if we had more time, it would have been cool to open it up for him to see the entire thing ... it's 5 feet tall by 16 feet wide (and took up most of our 1 suitcase).

When our time was up ... we headed downstairs to our room, dropped off the autographed items and headed across the street to Bennegan's for a late lunch. We sat and enjoyed watching Wisconsin kick the hell out of Minnesota (48-12) ... of course later that night, Michigan beat us (PSU) for the 8th straight time in a row 17-10 ... but that is another story.

After lunch we headed back to the room and took a snooze while Purdue beat Northwestern on the TV.

At 6 pm we got up, showered, changed and headed down for the banquet. Now Jimmy told me it was casual ... but there were some very fancy dressed women and I looked like a real schlub. Guys don't get how important it is to know the dress attire for a function. Next year ... I'll be ready and decked out in all my new finery ...

We mingled and met some great people and shared fund raising ideas. The buffet was set up and we were asked to go in and get our seats. We were 2 tables away from Lance's and in direct line with the stage, so I got some great pics. Dinner was delicious and soon the program was underway. So many moving stories and the 10 fund raisers were recognized and able to speak for a few minutes. The most touching story/speech is about John O'Toole who Jimmy met at the Philly ride. John has had 3 brain operations with the last operation leaving him paralyzed on the left side. He rode in the Philly ride with his 2 sisters running along side him holding him up. He rode 8 miles that way. His wife is due with their 3rd child. His oldest child is 5 years old and John talked about how his son was so excited for Halloween and wanting to be Spiderman or Batman. John said he hoped when his son got older, he would think that his dad was a hero. John also said he hoped he would be here for Christmas. Lance got very choked up and said that John will be here for many Christmas's and for his son's college graduation and his daughter's wedding. Let me tell ya .. NOT A DRY EYE IN THE PLACE after that story. Whew ... Let me get a puff's ... PS -- Jake Gyllenhall was there too ...

After the program is over, we make our way over to talk some more to John and get to meet his lovely wife ...

Okay ... so after dinner ... it was about 10:30 pm ... we headed up to our room and got a great night sleep ... little did we know that was going to be the last great night of sleep we would have for many, many days...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 3

Part 3
Sunday October 15, 2006

Once again, Jimmy gets up before the sun and dons his spiffy LIVESTRONG outfit (jersey, shorts & socks) ... kisses me goodbye and heads out to conquer the road. Me -- I'm tucked away in this fabulous bed (king size) all to myself ... no snoring husband or 2 dogs to hog the bed and blankets.

A few hours later, I roll out of bed, grab a shower and enjoy reading in my chair by the window waiting for Connie (my friend from Fort Worth) to drive down and pick me up at the Hyatt. She arrives around 10 am and we head down to the Riverbend Park, in Smithville TX (about 40 miles south of Austin) where the Ride for the Roses starts and finishes. Our plans were to be at the park when he crossed the finish line. There was a party afterwards for all the riders and volunteers.

PS -- Smithville TX was featured in the Sandra Bullock-Harry Connick, Jr. movie HOPE FLOATS.

As Connie and I are cruising down Highway 71 in her brand new, Kickass, Livestrong YELLOW with black interior 2006 Mustang ... awesome machine ... Jimmy calls on my cell phone ...

Jimmy: Hey Pammy.
Pammy: Hey Jimmy.
Jimmy: Where are you?
Pammy: In Connie's car ... almost at Smithville. Why? Where are you?
Jimmy: In an ambulance.
Pammy: WHAT?????
Jimmy: I had an accident.
Pammy: What happened?
Jimmy: I was pulling into the rest stop at mile 60 and my front tire slid on some wet gravel and I went down.
Pammy: Oh no ... how bad?

(me thinking road rash and ruining his brand new Livestrong cycle shorts) -- In my defense, he's had several accidents over the years and they usually resulted in bad road rash and having to buy new cycle shorts. No biggie before.

Jimmy: They're taking me to the Smithville Hospital to check me out. They think I may need x-rays.
Pammy: X-rays ???

(me thinking -- Oh shit. Jimmy has United Healthcare insurance -- which is pretty crappy. Also I'm thinking did he break his arm, his leg, his head?)

Jimmy: How far away are you?
Pammy: We're about 10 minutes away.
Jimmy: Can you go to the park and get my book bag with my clothes so I can change at the hospital?

(me - now thinking -- oh - okay - this might not be so bad)

Pammy: Okay. What about your bike?
Jimmy: My helmet and sunglasses (his spiffy Lance Armstrong sunglasses that you don't want to know how much I paid on Ebay for) are with me. See if someone there can get the bike back to the hotel and we'll take care of it there.
Pammy: Okay.
Jimmy: Then get directions to the hospital and meet me there.
Pammy: Okay. Don't worry, I'll take care of your stuff and we'll meet you at the hospital.
Pammy: Yeah -- Jimmy had an accident and they are taking him there to check him out.
Connie: Is he okay?
Pammy: I'm not sure, but he's had accidents before, so I can't imagine it would be too bad.

What the hell do I know ??? Obviously not much!

Connie sees the LIVESTRONG banner at the park and we pull into the muddy parking lot -- getting her beautiful car all dirty. I still owe her a car wash.

We get out and I run into one of the volunteers I met the night before. I ask her where do we go to get Jimmy's book bag and take care of his bike. She had already heard about his accident and asks how he's doing. Me -- Oh fine ... I'm sure he'll be okay. -- again ... what do I know?

We head over to the Medic tent and the EMTs there had also heard about Jimmy's accident and ask "how he's doing. Me -- Oh fine ... I'm sure he'll be okay. -- again ... what do I know?

They direct us over to the Volunteer tent .. and yes ... they also heard about Jimmy's accident and ask "how he's doing. Me -- Oh fine ... I'm sure he'll be okay. -- again ... what do I know? (I really should stop saying this.)

One of the volunteers brings over his book bag and another volunteer wheels over his bike.

His bike is all dirty and messed up -- the front wheel is cockeyed and there is a big gouge out of the (boys) bar that goes from the seat to the handlebars.

oooooh ... that's not good.

The volunteers assure me that they'll get the bike back to the hotel, hand me Jimmy's stuff, give us directions to the hospital (literally one exit down the road) and Connie and I head off back to the car.

Back out on the road ... one exit ... there it is ... The Smithville Hospital.

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 4

Part 4
Sunday - October 15, 2006

As I mentioned previously ...

Jimmy left early Sunday morning to go ride with Lance and the other 330 riders at the Ride for the Roses in Smithville TX (40 miles south of Austin).

After getting their bikes from the bus, pinning their numbers on their jerseys and lining up to take off for the ride, (Jimmy in the yellow-black jersey)

Lance and Jake Gyllenhall show up. Lance gets up on the stage and gives a few quick words ... then everyone saddles up (Texas talk for climbing on their bikes) and off they go.

Jimmy was about 7 riders back from Lance and if Jake didn't have such a big head, you would see him back and to the immediate right (in the pic) of Lance (you can just see Jimmy's foot in his dark bike shoe) to the right of Jake's calf.

Oh well ... hopefully next year we'll get a better pic of Jimmy riding beside Lance. Jimmy said he probably could have gotten closer, but with the crowded pack and the wet roads from the rain, he didn't want to be known as the jerk that took Lance out in a pile-up.

Here comes Lance ... and Here comes Jimmy ...

After a few miles, Lance and Jake veer off to the left and the rest of the riders, go on down the road. Jimmy is riding 70 miles. The 100 mile ride -- which he signed up for -- was canceled due to the horrible rain storms.

Jimmy hung with the younger guys and road 60 miles with them ... and was in great form to finish in the top 5 ... even though this wasn't a race. But you know guys ... they turn EVERYTHING into a competition.

As Jimmy was pulling into mile 60 rest stop to get more water, his front tire slipped on some wet gravel and he went down on his right side.

BOOM! 10 Feet in front of the ambulance.

The EMTs started to walk over to see if he was okay, and stopped and turned around to get the liter when they realized he couldn't get up on his own. Jimmy said he couldn't put any weight on his right leg. OUCH!

Jimmy - being a guy - later told me he was just so grateful he didn't do this in front of Lance ... Men ... Like Lance hasn't wiped out on his bike a few times.

The volunteers at the rest stop assure Jimmy they'll take care of his bike ... The EMTs load Jimmy up into the ambulance and

There goes Jimmy ...

So ... Now Jimmy is on the way to the hospital and calling me on the cell. After he hangs up with me, the EMT sitting with him in the back looks down at Jimmy's legs and asks ...

EMT: What is your pain number? From 1 to 10 - 10 being the worst pain you have ever been in.
Jimmy: 2
EMT: That's all?
Jimmy: Yeah.
EMT: Are you sure?
Jimmy: Uh, Yeah.
EMT: Does your right leg always lay like that?
Jimmy: No. Why?
EMT: Oh, just wondering.
Jimmy: Is that bad?
EMT: Well, it's not good.
Jimmy thinks to himself ... Nope ... that's not good.

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 5

Part 5
Sunday - October 15, 2006

One exit down the road ... The ambulance pulls into the hospital and Jimmy's litter is wheeled into the ER. It is literally an ER (Emergency Room) -- one room, but it does have 4 beds with curtains on ceiling tracks separating them. No one else is there except for a lady with a spider bite, so the entire ER staff descend on Jimmy taking his vitals, hooking him up to an IV, ordering x-rays, all kinds of exciting ER stuff.

The ER doctor (Dr. Passmann) comes over to talk to Jimmy ...

Dr P: Does your leg lay to the right like that all the time?
Jimmy: No. Is that bad?
Dr P: Well, it's not good.
Jimmy: What does that mean?
Dr P: Are you in pain? What is your pain number?
Jimmy: 2
Dr P: Are you on something?
Jimmy: The litter.
Dr P: No, did you take something for the pain?
Jimmy: No.

This question ... What is your pain number? ... will be repeatedly asked 100 times a day for the next 6 days.

The Dr P now asks the Rad Tech to take Jimmy for hip x-rays. They wheel him down the hall to take the pics ...

Rad Tech: The first set of x-rays came out blurry. I'll have to take another set.
Jimmy: Okay.
Rad Tech: What is your pain number?
Jimmy: 2
Rad Tech: That's all?
Jimmy: Yeah.
Rad Tech: Are you sure?
Jimmy: Uh, Yeah.

So the Rad Tech takes another set of x-rays ... while she is looking at them, Jimmy is watching her. She holds the one set of x-rays up to the light and makes a horrible cringing face.

Jimmy thinks to himself ... oooooh ... that's not good.

The Rad Tech comes to wheel him back to the ER ...

Jimmy: I saw you make a cringing face. What does that mean?
Rad Tech: I really can't say. The Dr. P will read the x-rays and tell you.
Jimmy: Well, it didn't look like it was good.
Rad Tech: What did you say your pain number is?
Jimmy: 2
Rad Tech: That's all?
Jimmy: Yeah.
Rad Tech: Are you sure?
Jimmy: Uh, Yeah.
Rad Tech: No, it doesn't look good, but Dr P will talk to you.

Jimmy thinks -- Oh Great -- I busted my leg.

The ER Nurse comes to re-hook up Jimmy to all the stuff hanging on the walls and asks him ...
ER Nurse: What is your pain #?
Jimmy: 2
ER Nurse: Really? That's all?
Jimmy: Yeah
ER Nurse: Can we give you something for it?
Jimmy: No. I want to wait until my wife gets here.
ER Nurse: When is that?
Jimmy: She's on her way. She should be here soon.
ER Nurse: Okay. As soon as she gets here, we'll give you something.
Jimmy: Okay.

Just then ... TA DA !!! Pammy to the rescue ...

I come whirling into the ER like the Tasmanian Devil with Connie on my heels.

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 6

Part 6
Sunday 10-15-06

Jimmy is laying on a litter in the corner of the ER when I come in. Everything in the room drops away from view except him. I just zero in on him and walked as fast as I could to get to him.

His leg on the right side is shredded and bloody. Damn ... those new Livestrong bike shorts are history. His right elbow is a bloody mess too. His face has a grayish tone to it. I can tell by looking at him he is in pain and since he's from damn stoic German blood, he's not telling anyone he's in pain or asking for anything for the pain.

I bend over and give him a kiss on his forehead ...

Pammy: Awww Jimmy, what happened?
Jimmy: Well, I was pulling into the rest stop at mile 60 and my front tire slid out and I fell over.
Pammy: Like you did in Gettysburg when you got your new bike shoes?

LOL ... the first time Jimmy rode in his brand new clip-in bike shoes (about 6 years ago) , he was on a ride to Gettysburg with his BFF Jeff and their other cycle buddy, Jess. Jimmy came to a stop in downtown Gettysburg, but he didn't get his shoes out of the clip fast enough and he went over like that funny guy on Laugh-In riding the tricycle. Needless to say, Jeff and Jess laughed their butts off and road away, leaving Jimmy on the sidewalk with his legs in the air and his bike over him, his feet still clipped into the peddles, with the wheels spinning around. I sure wish I had a picture of that!!!

Jimmy: No I didn't have time to even think about taking my shoe out of the clip, I went down ... BOOM ... right on my hip.
Pammy: Did they take you for x-rays yet?
Jimmy: Yeah. I'm waiting for the doctor to come over and tell me what's what.

Just like that ... Dr. P pops his head around the curtain and introduces himself.

Dr. P: Hi, Mrs. Fortney? I'm Dr. Passmann.
Pammy: Hi. So what's the story?
Dr. P: Well, your husband broke his hip.

Me thinking -- OH SHIT!!!

Side Note: I have a part-time job in the evenings and weekends transcribing for Dr. Butera (one of York's leading Orthopedist) and I know from typing those notes, a broken hip and Jimmy only 48 years old is not good! He's too young for hip replacement and I don't even want to think about how many screws they would use to put him back together again.

Pammy: Are you doing the surgery here?

(me thinking -- Oh great -- I don't know anyone here and if we were at home I'd be calling Dr. B right this second. What the hell are we going to do?)

Jimmy: SURGERY? What surgery?
Dr. P: No, we're not set up to do that here.
Jimmy: SURGERY? What surgery?
Dr. P: (to me) Who do you want me to call?
Jimmy: SURGERY? What surgery?
Pammy: I don't know any doctors in Austin; I have no idea who we want to see.
Jimmy: Surgery? What surgery?
Dr. P: (to Jimmy) you broke your hip and you need a hip replacement.
Jimmy: WHAT???
Dr. P: The head of your femur (upper leg bone) was snapped off and is no longer connected to your femur, which is why you can't stand on it.
Jimmy: [he groans and looks like he's going to pass out.] Can't we just go home and have it done there?
Dr. P: Where do you live?
Jimmy: Pennsylvania.
Dr. P: Uh ..... NO!
Pammy: Dr. Passmann, who would you recommend?
Dr. P: I think I'm going to call Dr. Albrecht.
Pammy: Okay.

Who the heck is Dr. Albrecht? I have no clue! He could have said, I'm going to call Dr. Doolittle, Dr. Killdare, Doogie Howser, M.D., Dr. Drake Ramoray, Ben Casey, M.D., Dr. Hawkeye Pierce, Dr. McDreamy ... Those doctors I know!

I don't know if Dr. Albrecht is a good doctor or someone I wouldn't let operate on Reggie ... again ... if he needed it a 3rd time ... which he better not!!!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 7

Part 7
Sunday - October 15, 2006

Now the nurse comes over and gives Jimmy some good stuff to kill the pain.

Nurse: Wow, his whole demeanor changed the second you got here. He was so tense and nervous, now he's relaxed. He wouldn't let us give him anything for the pain until you got here.
Pammy: Really, Oh ... poor baby. I can tell he's in a lot of pain, but he won't say anything. When he has a killer headache, he won't even take an Advil.
Nurse: Well ... he'll feel better now.

A few minutes later a nursing assistant comes over and starts to clean off his leg and elbow and wrap him up. Every once in a while he grimaces, and she apologizes and I know she feels bad because she knows it hurts to get all those little stones and dirt out of road rash.

Connie and I are sitting in uncomfortable vinyl chairs beside Jimmy lying on his litter. Jimmy is starting to get goofy, looks over at us with a silly look on his face and says ...

Jimmy: I'm on a board.
Pammy: You're board? (I didn't hear him right -- that's what happens when you turn 50!)
Jimmy: No ... I'm on a board. Why did they leave a board there?
Pammy: I guess so it's easier to move you back and forth from liter to litter.
Jimmy: Oh. Can you take it away?
Pammy: I don't think so; I think they want you to stay on it.
Jimmy: Oh. Hi Connie! (Jimmy just noticing Connie is with me)
Connie: [laughing] Hi Jimmy. How are you feeling now?
Jimmy: Oh ... much better.
Connie: [laughing] That's good.
Pammy: Hey Connie, tell Jimmy about your med mix-up this morning and why you feel so good.

Only Connie ... She is a regular Grandma Mazur (reference to a humorous character in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich) ... Connie calls me on the cell phone about 1 hour out of Austin early that morning ...

Connie: Pammy, You won't believe what I did.
Pammy: Oh God ... What ???

With Connie it's really scary cuz you never know what she's about to tell you, but you know it'll be a doozy.

Connie: Remember I had that dental work done recently?
Pammy: Uh,huh.
Connie: Well the doctor gave me some Valium for the pain. Since I didn't use all of it because of the pain, I kept them for emergency use.
Pammy: Connie, are you having an emergency?
Connie: NO! ... I thought I was taking my allergy medicine, but I think I took one of those Valium. That really pisses me off ... they were my emergency Valium. You know every high school teacher needs emergency Valium So I have to pull over and get some coffee so I won't fall asleep.
Pammy: Okay ... call me when you get to Austin City Limits and I'll meet you in the lobby.

ROTFLMAO ... That Connie ... She cracks me up every time ...

Okay ... So we're sitting there listening to Connie tell us a story about some of her students ... and 5 minutes later -- no kidding -- it was that fast -- Dr. P pops his head around the curtain.

Dr. P: Okay. Dr. Albrecht said he would take you.
Pammy: Okay.
Jimmy: [Just rolling his eyes around]
Dr. P: [to me] We're calling for an ambulance to transfer your husband to Austin Surgical Hospital.
Pammy: Okay. How long will that be?
Dr. P: I'm not sure; I'll let you know as soon as we find out.

Poor Connie ... she came down to Austin to have fun at the Livestrong party and she ends up carting me around sitting in a hospital for who knows how long ... Is that a friend, or what?

Literally 5 minutes later ... Again, Dr. Passmann pops his head around the curtain. He's like a freakin ground hog with all his popping.

Dr. P: Okay, the ambulance is here. They're going to come in and transfer your husband?
Pammy: Now, wow ... that was fast.

After working at a hospital for 15 years, I can speak from experience ... this does not happen ... you don't wait only 5 minutes to get an ambulance transfer. You can end up waiting for hours and hours ... not 5 minutes. This is amazing!!!

Okay ... So the EMTs come in and disconnect Jimmy and place all the fluid and drug bags on top of him transfer him (on the board) from the hospital litter to the ambulance litter ... and off they go. That's why they had him on the board!

Connie and I hot foot it to her Mustang, hop into the car and take off after the ambulance. Connie is a great driver ... She'd be my driver if she was in the Bush or Nextel series!

Zooming down the road ... 1 mile ... we go past Riverbend Park and I see all the Livestrong balloons and banners and the party taking place ... that was where we were suppose to be ... Partying & having fun!

SIGH ... What a day! It certainly wasn't supposed to end like this.

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 8

Part 8
Sunday - October 15, 2006 - around 5:30 pm

Okay ... so where were we ... Oh yeah ... Riding down the highway heading to Austin Surgical Hospital. Connie keeping pace with the ambulance glances over at me and asks:

Connie: Aren't you freaked out?
Pammy: No. I'm not. I can't believe I'm not ... but what else can I do? Everything is out of my control. I just have to pray everything is going to work out okay. If we were in Pennsylvania, I'd have him at York Hospital, and I'd know the anesthesiologist I want, Dr. Butera would be doing the surgery and he'd be taken care of. Here ... I have no idea where is the best place to go.

Work out okay it did! Little did we know that not only were we blessed with being referred to the best "hip" orthopedic doctor in Austin, but the Austin Surgical Hospital is a very specialized hospital. They do not generally take emergency cases. And they are only a 20-bed hospital. 20 Beds !!! All of their surgeries are scheduled, so us showing up late Sunday evening could have thrown everyone into a tizzy, but the staff was wonderful and very efficient getting Jimmy settled. We didn't wait one second.

After pulling into the parking lot, Connie and I followed Jimmy and the EMTs through a maze of corridors ending at Room 111. This was a huge room, as big as our room at the Hyatt, and just as nice (for a hospital). After the staff and EMTs got Jimmy transferred to his bed and settled down, I thanked the EMTs for their help and kindness and headed into Jimmy's room. This room turned out to be our "home" for the next 6 days.

Jimmy was still enjoying his pain meds while I was attempting to have a conversation with him trying to figure out whether I should stay at the Hyatt for the week, or check out and move to a hotel closer to the hospital. Should rent a car or depend on taxis, etc. Jimmy kept saying "what every you want to do" ... Thanks Jimmy -- Big Help! The nurse hooking up Jimmy's tubes, and such, looked over and said,

Mary Ellen: You can stay here.
Pammy: In the room?
Mary Ellen: Yes. That chair (point to a floral print chair) folds out and you can sleep on it.
Pammy: Oh that would be great. Is there a charge to stay in the room.
Mary Ellen: Oh no. There's no charge. Family members stay here all the time.
Pammy: Wow -- that's a relief, huh Jimmy?
Jimmy: [sound asleep, ... those drugs were really kicking in ... He just looked so sweet there ... snoring away ... ]

SIDE NOTE: One of Jimmy's and my favorite movies is Forest Gump. So many great lines we quote all the time. One of Jimmy's favorites to quote is :
Forrest Gump: Lieutenant Dan got me invested in some kind of fruit company. So then I got a call from him, saying we don't have to worry about money no more. And I said, that's good! One less thing.

Pammy: Jimmy ... Sweetie ...
Jimmy: hmmmmmm? [still in la la land]
Pammy: I can stay here so I'm going to check out of the Hyatt tomorrow morning as planned. We won't have to worry about me getting a hotel close by.
Jimmy: Oh good, one less thing. [then gives me a goofy smile and goes back to la la land]

LOL ... That Jimmy ... he cracks me up.

So I give him a kiss on the forehead and Connie and I head out to her car. We got lost heading back to the hotel, but Connie finally figured her way and found the Hyatt. I have to say Texas has the most screwed up highway roads. We were on Loop 1 leaving the hospital ... Now if a road is called Loop 1, you would think it was a loop ... kinda like 695 around Baltimore ... but noooo ... It's a straight road that heads south .. away from downtown ... out into the vastness that is Texas.

Connie pulls into the Hyatt, jumps out, gets Jimmy's stuff from the trunk and gives me a big hug. I know she hates to leave ... but she does have a life and family and work ... so she heads home and I head into the hotel. Damn ... forgot to get some of her emergency Valium

I forgot to mention in the previous emails ... that when I called Autumn from the Smithville Hospital, she (as you can imagine) freaked out. Autumn and Jimmy are very close and I could tell she was just on the edge of losing it. Autumn is a very controlled person when she has goals, so I asked her to contact my boss, Gene, let him know that I'd be off work this week and we'd let him know more when I knew more. I also asked her to get in touch with George, Jimmy's boss, since I could only get his voice mail and tell him what happened. I also asked her to contact the Hyatt to see if our room was available for the week and could I stay if I needed to.

When I walked up to the front desk at the Hyatt, I introduced myself, explained the situation, and the person I was speaking with was the actual person that Autumn spoke to, so she understood everything. So nice not having to explain everything again. I told her that I was going to stay at ASH and I would be checking out tomorrow morning as our reservations were originally arranged. She said it was no problem. They had room to extend my stay if I wished or they would assist me in checking out and getting to the hospital tomorrow. So nice to deal with friendly, helpful people. I ask her if she knew where the bikes were being disassembled from the LAF and they directed me to a banquet room behind the bar area. I head back and the room is empty. Oh geeze .. now what. Just then a very nice young lady comes around the corner and I ask her if she is working with the bikes from the Ride for the Roses. She says yes and asked:

LAF Volunteer: Are you Mrs. Fortney?
Pammy: Yeah ... How'd you know.
LAF Volunteer: We have one bike left, your husband's, and I thought it might be you. How's he doing?
Pammy: Well ... he broke his hip and he has to have emergency hip replacement surgery tomorrow.
LAF Volunteer: Oh no. I hope he'll recover okay.
Pammy: Yeah -- I'm sure he'll be fine. Do you know where his bike is?
LAF Volunteer: Yeah -- It's right over there [pointing to Jimmy's bike case]. We packed it up and it's ready for you.
Pammy: That's great. Can I have it shipped home?
LAF Volunteer: Oh sure .. fill this form out and we'll take care of everything else.
Pammy: Fantastic.

That was so easy ... and I have to say that everyone at LAF staff and volunteers were FANTASTIC all weekend. Everyone Jimmy and I came into contact with were the best. I don't know what type of customer service training they receive, but it is top notch!

After I fill out the shipping form and they take the bike off to ship home I head up to the room, pack up everything and crash. I can't sleep, just tossing and turning ... so I end up watching Chronicles of Narnia ... 3 times. I finally drift off around 4 am ...

The alarm goes off at the next morning at 6 am (early for me) and I drag myself out of bed, get dressed and call for a bellman. He shows up in 3 minutes ... takes my luggage downstairs and already has a taxi waiting for me. I check out and head out to the taxi. I tell the taxi where we're going and he doesn't know, nor has heard of Austin Surgical Hospital. I get out and we head back inside (no the meter isn't running yet -- thank goodness) and ask the Front Desk for directions to ASH. They haven't heard of it either, so they go on the computer and Google ASH and print mapquest directions. Thank God for Google!!!

As we get back in the tax, it begins to rain harder ... torrential downpour ... Great ...

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 9

Part 9
Monday – October 16th

The taxi gets on the main highway and we arrive at ASH (Austin Surgical Hospital) in just under 10 minutes. It turns out it was only 10 miles away from the Hyatt. Why did it take Connie and me 45 minutes last night to find it?

The driver pulls up to the front of the hospital and unloads my luggage. He helps me get it inside to the lobby, I pay him and he leaves. I load up the luggage cart – this is like a freakin hotel – and I head back to Jimmy’s room. Since this is only a 20-bed hospital, it is easy to find your way around.

I get to Jimmy’s room, open the door and push the cart in with all the luggage. Surprise! Jimmy is propped up in bed watching the Today show. I go over, give him a kiss and unload the cart. One of the NAs come in, introduces themselves as Lupe, and takes the cart away.

I shove the luggage into the corner by the door leading to our balcony – we have a freakin balcony – go over to Jimmy’s bed and sit in the chair beside him. We watch the Today show and then Kelly & Regis, all the while nurses are coming and going checking Jimmy’s vitals and switching bags on his IV poles. Around 11 a.m. Becky and Judy – the Pre-op nurses – come in and start to dismantle Jimmy’s bed from everything he’s hooked up to. They are a regular comedy team and crack us up all the way to Pre-op. Pre-op looks just like the Pre-op at York Hospital, and I begin to feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings.

The anesthesiologist comes in and introduces himself, but I can’t remember his name, and reviews the various types of anesthesia that can be used for this procedure. Jimmy doesn’t do well with surgery, needles, IV’s, any kind of hospital stuff so I tell the doctor to just knock him out, Jimmy agrees. The nurses have me tattoo Jimmy’s leg with a pen so the doctor knows which leg he is to operate on. I don't know about you, but should a person have more medical training to make those kinds of decisions … Becky gives him a cute little shower cap to wear, I give him a kiss and off he goes through the swinging doors. Bye Jimmy!

I head back to Jimmy’s room and read for a while. My stomach keeps grumbling … I haven’t eaten since the banquet on Saturday … and I’m starved !!! I go out to the nurse’s station and ask them if they have a cafeteria or snack bar. Nope. Again, this is a very small hospital – 20 beds – so they only have patient food service. I ask them if there is something within walking distance to go to and they said there’s a McDonalds up the street. Great!

So I cut through the lobby, head down the drive way and get out to the main road. This road is like I-83 during rush hour. OMG … there is no burm to walk on, with a guardrail and a 5-ft drop into a drainage ditch. I am walking against traffic and I can practically feel the paint on the cars brush my arms as they go whizzing by.

All of a sudden a huge tractor-trailer goes flying by, blasts his horn, startling me … I loose my footing, fall over the guardrail down into the ditch! OMG …

I struggle to get up, Oh Great! When I fell my purse dumped everything into the YUCK! I shove everything back into my purse and after several attempts – which would have had Jimmy laughing his ass off – climb out of the ditch. I am wearing a white T-shirt, white caprice pants, white socks and white sneakers. I look down and I am filthy from the ditch and from my knee down it is solid RED. My knee has a huge gash and blood is gushing out and running down my leg. OMG … what a bloody mess.

Okay … Now I lose it!

I hobble back to the hospital, planning on getting to Jimmy’s room and cleaning myself up. By the time I get to the entrance, I have myself in such a state, bawling my eyes out. I’m limping down the hallway and run into Becky.

Beck: OMG Girl … What did you do?
Pammy: I was hungry so I decided to walk up to McDonalds and I was walking along the road and a big tractor-trailer almost hit me and blew his horn and I fell over the guardrail into the ditch and cut my leg and dumped my purse and Jimmy’s in surgery getting a new hip and I just want to go home.

But it came out like this …

I hungry … walk … McDs … road … tractor …hit … horn … fell … ditch … cut … dumped … Jimmy … surgery … hip … home.

Becky took me back to Pre-Op and she and Judy helped me onto a liter. Soon Elizabeth, the Day Supervisor, was there with a wet, cold washcloth wiping my face (it felt so good) and talking to me in a soothing, calm, southern voice. I started to feel a little better. They wheel me down to their ER and start to clean me up. The give me some forms to fill out (of course), they give me a tetanus shot and the ER doctor comes in to check out my knee. He said the cut is pretty deep, but since I scraped all the skin off my knee there isn’t anything to stitch together, so they’re going to wrap it up real good and I’ll be fine.

Just then another doctor in OR scrubs comes in …

Dr. A: Mrs. Fortney?
Pammy: Yeah.
Dr. A: I’m Dr. Albrecht, your husbands surgeon. What the hell did you do?
Pammy: I fell in a ditch.
Dr. A: Boy. You and your husband must think Austin really sucks!
Pammy: [I give a little laugh, but I’m still having the hiccups from crying].
Dr. A: Well good news … your husband has a brand new hip and he's going to be fine. He’s in recovery and will be back in his room soon. I’ll come talk to you both tomorrow and explain how everything went.
Pammy: Oh good. Thank you so much for everything.
Dr. A: My pleasure … now go change clothes … you don’t want to scare your husband.

Just then, Josee (kitchen manager) comes in with a sandwich and chips for me. Elizabeth called her and she wanted to be sure I got something to eat. She was my angel. Josee took care of me the rest of the week sending meals along with Jimmy so I wouldn’t venture out on my own again. God knows what might happen to me next!

After warnings from everyone that I don’t leave the hospital until Jimmy is discharged, and me promising them I won’t go anywhere … I limp on back to Jimmy’s room and enjoy the most delicious sandwich I have ever eaten.

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 10

Part 10
Monday Evening – October 16th

Jimmy wakes up from surgery and the nurses wheel his bed back into his room. He is wide awake and looks like he just woke up from a nap … not major surgery. Is he tough or what?

Dinner is served shortly after Jimmy gets settled. This is Jimmy’s first meal since Sunday night. Poor thing wasn’t allowed anything to eat Monday morning because of pending surgery. He’s hungry, but with all the IV tubes he’s hooked up to, I cut up his chicken and feed him his dinner. Nothing like being waited on hand & foot!

Jimmy’s hooked up to the pulsing booties, to keep his blood flowing in his lower extremities to prevent blood clots, so he can’t get out of bed. So he’s reduced to using the plastic jug urinal. They are running IV fluids through him like crazy, plus he’s thirsty, so he’s filling this thing up every hour. Lucky me, I get to play nurse.

The kids call and Jimmy gets to catch them up on his exciting adventure.

Jimmy is dozing on and off through the evening, when he’s not filling up the urinal or blowing his spirometer.

Tuesday is the day to get Jimmy out of bed. He’s been laying around long enough, lazy bum!

Lupe, our nursing assistant, and Dee Ann, our nurse, for the day stop by … checking vitals, dropping off breakfast.

Roland, Jimmy’s PT, and Danielle, Jimmy’s PT assistant, show up and explain that the goal for today is to get Jimmy out of bed and have him take some steps around the room and sit in the chair. Sounds good.

Roland shows Jimmy how to move his right leg and schooch to the side of the bed. I’m standing back in the corner of the room watching this, and I notice Jimmy get that weird gray-skin, glassy-eyed look he gets when he’s going to go down for the count. Uh, oh. “Roland!” I yell, the warning not coming fast enough. Just as Jimmy is about to stand up, he slumps down and falls back on the mattress. Roland tells Danielle to go get the nursing staff while I rush over and start slapping Jimmy in the face, talking to him, trying to bring him back around.

SIDE NOTE --- Jimmy has done this to me many times … it usually is due to infliction of sudden pain … like the first time he did this … he stuck his hand with a bbq meat fork prying Tupperware frozen hamburger containers apart. This was the day we brought Autumn home from the hospital when she was just 2 days old. The long sharp bbq meat fork slipped off the plastic container and it punctured his hand several times. He looked up at me, said something in gibberish and fell (like a tree) back into the kitchen. OMG … I thought he had a stroke. Talk about scaring the crap outta someone … I hobbled over (remember I just delivered Autumn 2 days previously) and found him sprawled out on the floor … I thought he was dead. So what do I do? Start slapping him in the face until he comes around. He has since done this many times over the years, most recently when he had some outpatient surgery this past spring when the nursing staff was trying to start his IV. Oh my, did that turn into a bloody battle, or what?

The staff responds quickly and we get Jimmy coming back around. It’s really weird when he comes back around … he has this sickly grey tone to his skin, and his breathing is all garbled, his eyes are rolling around and you think he’s a goner … then his face and neck turn beat red and his eyes flicker, he gives a big snort and TADA … he’s back! He gets the cold sweats and starts shaking. Whew! Close call.

Roland instructs him how to schooch back onto the bed, we get him covered up with some nice warm blankets toasty from the dryer, and Lupe is taking his vitals. The staff begins to calm down and Jimmy is exhausted. Roland and Danielle will be back later this afternoon and we will try this again. Oh goody!

Jimmy takes a nap and wakes up when lunch is delivered. He is feeling a little bit better, but he is all sweaty and feels gross. After lunch, I give him a sponge bath. He has not had a shower since Sunday morning before he left for the ride and he is one stinky boy! We get his sheets changed and a nice clean hospital gown and he is a happy camper.

Roland and Danielle come back … Round 2! We get Jimmy to the edge of the bed …

So far … so good …

We get him to stand up … Uh, oh … here comes that grey color again and his eyes start rolling … “ROLAND” … Roland is anticipating this, so he has a pt belt around Jimmy’s waist and slowly lowers him to the bed. The staff responds faster than the morning round and using some ammonia sticks bring Jimmy around faster. We get him back in bed and more toasty blankets; Lupe is back checking his vitals.

How the heck am I going to get him home if he pulls this blacking-out crap when I am the only one around, carting luggage, wheeling him in a wheelchair, navigating the airport terminal? Okay, this has not been fun so far … and I am now starting to “FREAK OUT” … on the inside!

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 11

Part 11
Tuesday – October 17th

Tuesday night we have our usual dinner followed with vital checks and urinal dumping. Fun, huh? I know … you are so jealous we are living such an exciting life. Well, you know, not everyone can handle this pace.

Tuesday we watch DANCING WITH THE STARS, our latest addiction, and I'm having major fits because I can't vote!!! I always vote via email with our many family email addresses … and I've been stranded without access to a computer for … OMG … 5 DAYS !!! I think this is the absolute longest I have gone without being on a computer … and the week isn't over!!! Oh the agony, Oh the cruelty, Oh the inhumanity!!!

After BOSTON LEGAL we go through our new nightly routine: urinal dumping, fresh ice water, brush teeth (with a plastic tub on Jimmy's chest), wash face, neck and back, pat dry. The chair I am sleeping on is kinda like a pull-out, in that the seat cushion slides out on a stand and the cushion that your back leans against lies flat. By no means is this thing at all comfortable, and I'll be visiting my chiropractor for many adjustments when we get back home, but it's free and I can stay with Jimmy so he's not alone. So … no complaints from me … just a few grumbles and a few loud creeks from my old bones.

Wednesday morning … Breakfast and vitals. Lupe and Hulu are our nurses today. Dr. Albrecht stops by and wants to know why Jimmy is passing out? And to please stop it immediately! Dr. A has a great sense of humor. Dr. A says he's going to send his internal medicine doctor over to check Jimmy out. Dr. A also reviews hip precautions and then he's off to perform more surgeries.

Roland and Danielle stop by after Regis & Kelly and we make a plan. We want to get Jimmy up and really moving today.


Same routine as yesterday … Jimmy has a pt belt around his waist, he schooches to the side of the bed, swinging both legs to the floor. Okay. Now Roland helps him stand up. Okay. Now with the walker and Roland beside him, Jimmy takes a few steps. Okay. Now Roland turns him around and he shows Jimmy how to sit down on the chair. Okay.

Uh, oh!

Jimmy's turning grey again … Damn. There he goes … Roland has him from behind the chair and I'm holding up his head and chest trying to keep him from slumping over. Jimmy's gurgling really bad now, and I'm slapping him silly. The nursing staff comes rushing in … ammonia sticks awaving. Jimmy's face turns red and he's back among the living.

OMG … I'm having heart palpations just reliving this through typing this travelogue.

Now we're seriously concerned. How are we going to get this guy out of bed and on a plane to go home in 2 days? Even the grandma's who had surgery on Monday have been walking up and down the halls since yesterday, but this healthy, athletic, robust male of 48 years can't make it to a chair without keeling over.

Roland and Danielle get Jimmy back in bed and out come the toasty blankets, again. Roland said he'll come back this afternoon. Just then the phone rings … It's Stephanie from the Lance Armstrong Foundation. She is our contact for re-arranging our flight plans. Stephanie wants to come out to visit and see Jimmy, I explain to her that he just passed out, could she come out in an hour or so. Sure … no problem.

Okay … so Jimmy takes a cat nap for about an hour and wakes up just as lunch is served. Stephanie stops by and introduces herself just as Jimmy's cell phone rings. I grab the cell phone and it's Pat from Heritage Hills (a good friend of Jimmy and one of his top accounts) so I spend time explaining to Pat what's been happening. About 10 minutes later Stephanie steps out of the room and I look over and see Jimmy crying. I quickly hang up with Pat and rush over to Jimmy. WHAT HAPPENED??? I have seen Jimmy cry 5 times in 27 years:

When he hugged his Dad when we left for Texas January 1981.
When Autumn was born, June 8, 1982.
When Matthew was born May 11, 1985.
When Harold, my step-daddy, passed away in September 1994.
When Pap, Jimmy's Dad, passed away in December 2001.

I can't imagine what happened that made him loose it. Jimmy tells me that Stephanie was asking him how he liked the weekend – aside from breaking his hip – and Jimmy was explaining how wonderful the whole weekend was and how inspirational the various speakers were, especially John O'Toole's speech on Saturday. John is facing chemo/radiation treatments after his 3rd brain surgery, which the last surgery left him paralyzed on his left side, as I previously mentioned. Jimmy is crying because he was feeling sorry for himself and what has happened to him, but then he's reminded of John. Then Jimmy gets mad at himself for feeling sorry for himself when John has so many more hurdles to overcome, and all Jimmy has to worry about is walking without passing out. I get a nice cold wash cloth and start wiping his head and neck and he begins to calm down. After 10 minutes he starts to laugh and says that he thinks he scared Stephanie away. I glance over and see her purse and jacket by the door. I told him I thought she was still here. I went to the hall and sure enough, Stephanie was there. She said she left because she wanted to give Jimmy some privacy.

Susan, our social worker, Roland, Stephanie and I begin to brainstorm how to get Jimmy home. I had to laugh when Stephanie said that when I told her Jimmy had passed out and to come visit later, she thought I meant that he fell asleep. She didn't realize that he was actually passing out … unconscious. Susan mentioned that she thought Southwest had direct flights from Austin to BWI. Our flight, on American, had a plane transfer in Dallas. It was going to be hard enough to get Jimmy home, without transferring planes. Stephanie said she'd check out the flight situation and work things out. What an angel! Susan, and her partner – I'm blanking on her name right now – worked the rest of the week to get us home. You've heard of the book "It Takes A Village to Raise A Child"? Well, it took a village to get Jimmy home.

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 12

Part 12
Wednesday – October 18th

After lunch, Jimmy is feeling much better. We get him psyched for the next PT session and Roland and Danielle come back around 2 pm. OKAY! Here we go!

Jimmy has the routine down now and he schooches to the edge of the bed by himself. He stands. He walks. HE DOESN'T PASS OUT! YEAH!!!

He walks around the room. He's feeling pretty good about himself now... We don't want him to over do it, so Roland guides him over to the chair by the bed and he sits down. He stays there for about 20 minutes. Roland and Danielle go on to other patients. After a while, Jimmy says he's getting tired and wants to get back in bed. I wanted to go get Roland, but Jimmy says he feels good and he can do it himself. So I get the walker. He stands. He walks over to the bed. He sits down. I help him lift his right leg onto the bed and swing both his legs together. We schooch him back on the bed. VOILA! He did some great PT and didn't go down.

Later that afternoon, Dietra, Jimmy's OT, stops by and shows Jimmy all his new tools. No – not drills or saws – the kind Jimmy likes. These are tools to help him reach things he wants to pick up, put on his socks, scrub his back. Jimmy is a star pupil and is soon handling these tools like his drill back home. ..

Dr. A's internal medicine doctor swings by to chat just before dinner. He is concerned about Jimmy passing out and wants to be sure that this is followed up when we get home. Turns out that Jimmy has vasovagal syncope:

People with vasovagal syncope typically have recurrent episodes, usually when exposed to a specific trigger. The initial episode often occurs when the person is a teenager, then recurs in clusters throughout his or her life. Prior to losing consciousness, the individual frequently experiences a
prodrome of symptoms such as lightheadedness, nausea, sweating, ringing in the ears, and visual disturbances. These last for at least a few seconds before consciousness is lost, which typically happens when the person is sitting up or standing. When they pass out, they fall down; and when in this position, effective blood flow to the brain is immediately restored, allowing the person to wake up.

It doesn't say anything about slapping the person silly to revive them ... but it works for me! ..

Wednesday night we watch the result show of DANCING WITH THE STARS and then Criminal Minds. Jimmy's tired, so we go to bed early.

Thursday morning … our new routine … Good Morning Lupe! Breakfast, vitals and Jimmy wants a shower. Roland stops by and says that we can do that … We get Jimmy up out of bed … so good … so far … we get him walking to the bathroom, which is as big as our dining room – no lie! Roland and I get him in position to sit on the bench in the shower. Lupe had the water running nice and hot, just as Jimmy likes it. Now you have to understand. Jimmy takes 30 minute showers every day … usually falling asleep while standing up in the shower.

Jimmy hasn't had a shower since Sunday, so he is really enjoying this. I scrub him down, rinse him off and he's done … 8 minutes. He really wants to sit in the shower longer, but he realizes he's getting pretty tired, so I get him standing and dry him off. Lupe has a new hospital gown for him, we wrap it around him, and he walks back to the bed. Lupe has already changed the sheets, so he is feeling pretty good once we get him settled back in bed. Toasty blankets on top … and Jimmy's ready for a nap.

Lunch comes and Josee sends me a delicious chicken cesar salad. Yum. Jimmy has meatloaf, mashed potatoes and carrots.

Thursday afternoon Jimmy is raring to go. He wants to do stairs, because we have several steps he needs to navigate to get inside the house. Roland, Danielle and I walk with Jimmy out of the bedroom, down the hall and to the stairwell, where Roland shows Jimmy how to go up and down stairs. He walks back to his room and we get him settled back in bed.

I'm bored. .. I brought 4 books with me for the weekend, never anticipating that I would actually read all 4 books. What am I going to do for the rest of the week? I am whining to Jimmy when Hulu comes in to check on Jimmy. Jimmy asks if there is a bookstore or a drug store close by that I could walk to so I could get a couple books to read. Well … we all know my history with walking around here, and Hulu does not want me ending up in the ditch again. She is so sweet, she loans me her car … walks me out to her car … hands me her car keys and points me in the right direction. I zip up 2 blocks (past my ditch) to the shopping center. There is a CVS there, and I park and go in and get Nora Roberts (of course, duh) 2 new books – that were left in Maryland at Jeannie's when I had to rush home for Reggie. I'll just use these as my reading and sharing copies and save the signed ones at Jeannie's for my collection. While paying for my books, I notice that they sell wine at CVS … I'm so tempted to grab a couple bottles of Pinot Grigio and have myself a party, but I pay for my books and head back to the hospital. Hulu's same parking place is still available, I park and head back inside. Isn't Hulu the nicest? So kind.

Dietra stops by again in the late afternoon to run through the use of the OT tools … and Jimmy has mastered them. She is quite impressed and assures Jimmy that he'll do fine. She reviews the hip precautions and how to "not get into trouble" with his new hip.

Dinner is served. Josee sends me salmon with wild rise and grilled veggies. YUM!!! It is the best salmon I have had and enjoy it very much. Jimmy has pasta with meatballs. I give him a bit of my salmon and he wants to switch. Na-uh … the salmon is all mine!

We watch Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, 6 Degrees and get ready for bed. Going to bed at 10 pm is weird. I'm not use the time difference, but I do like watching the primetime shows earlier. That way I have a good 2 hours to read before going to sleep. We get Jimmy all tucked into bed, I get in my jammies and stretch out on my pullout.

Ahhhhhhh … A new Nora book …. I feel peace and some semblance of normalcy returning to my present chaotic world. Jimmy is snoring softly as I being reading my book. All is right with the world. ..

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 13

Friday – October 20th

Today we are going home! Come hell or high water, we're outta here!

Dr. A stops by … still concerned about Jimmy's vasovagal syncope, but he's glad to hear that he has not passed out since Wednesday morning. Dr. A reviews hip precautions and he's off to perform more surgery.

Roland and Danielle stop by … We get a picture of them with Jimmy. Roland reviews hip precautions and assures Jimmy he'll do just fine.

I give Jimmy a quick sponge bath, brush teeth and then up and dressed. He's moving around so much better. We all think that it wasn't until Wednesday afternoon, when he turned the corner in his PT, that all the drugs from surgery and his IV morphine pump were out of his system. He's only taking Darvocet for pain so he's doing pretty well with that.

Susan, our social worker, comes in and we get to chat for a bit while waiting for the wheel chair van. We had a minor concern when it was thought that I would have to have separate transportation from Jimmy, but Susan got it all worked out and I was allowed to ride in the wheel chair van up front with the driver.

Our flight was at 3:55 pm – arriving at BWI at 7:55 pm. The kids were picking us up in ds Matt's Grande Jeep Cherokee, which had the best height & length for Jimmy to sit in of all the vehicles we have. We started to get anxious when the wheel chair van didn't show up at 12:30 p.m. as previously scheduled. Then it was 12:45 pm … then 1:00 p.m. … then 1:15 pm. Then Susan got on the phone and started kicking some major butt! Voila! A wheel chair van appeared at 1:25 pm. We loaded Jimmy up in the wheel chair … rolled him out to the van and loaded him in the back. I loaded the luggage, his walker and climbed up front with the driver. Jimmy is a little uncomfortable because the wheelchair was not tall enough for him. He has those damned long bird legs and he doesn't fit into normal size things, one being the wheelchair. Margie, our wheel chair van driver, locks everything down on Jimmy's wheel chair and off we go!

We're driving down the highway towards the airport and every so often the van goes over a bump and I hear a groan from the back. I can't look – I'm chicken … I just know Jimmy's turning gray. If he passes out … we'll never get home. We hit one big bump and Jimmy yelps! Margie is doing the best she can, but there is so much construction on the highways, you can't avoid some of those irregularities in the road.

Margie zips up to DEPARTING at the Southwest curb check in. I jump out and grab my purse and wait in line. There are 2 families of 5-6 people in each and a couple of young women traveling together. Oy Vey! 20 minutes later, I finally get my turn … given the ticket agent our tickets, our licenses and point to Jimmy by the wheel chair van. Margie has gotten him out of the back and now he needs to transfer to an airport wheelchair. I ask the ticket agent if there is someone who can help us and he calls a nice young lady, Karen, over.

Karen helps Jimmy get in the wheel chair and tells me to grab the luggage and check it in. I slip Karen a big tip and thank her for her help. The ticket agent takes the luggage, I grab my purse and off we go … Karen is pushing Jimmy through the terminal so fast, I can hardly keep up. He's flying … and if he had hair, it'd be blowing in the wind! I know he's so afraid she's going to ram him into something, but she gets him to the security check safe and sound. He has to be hand checked, and Karen hustles me over to the metal detectors. It really pisses off all the people waiting in line while she takes me to the head of the line, grabs a plastic basket for me to put my purse and shoes in … and we jump up next in line. I'm through lickety-split and over by Jimmy before I know it. Whew … My head is spinning. I can hardly keep up with this girl! Karen runs over and grabs the wheel chair and off we go again … zooming down the corridor to Southwest gate. We get to a set of benches near a terminal door. There are about 50 people standing in a que, but we get to sit on nice chairs, trying to catch our breath. We say goodbye to Karen and off she goes …

While we take a breath … I realize that the people standing in the que are waiting for the same plane we're waiting for. But we get to sit. A few minute later, a gentleman from Southwest comes over and says that they will board Jimmy first so he had have the first row. Wow! This is great! We should travel with a wheel chair more often!! (just kidding)

A few minutes later we get the okay and the gentleman waves us over. Jimmy holds my purse and I push Jimmy down the ramp to the airplane. We get him out and they take his walker, storing it in the back of the plane. We get him comfy – sitting on 2 pillows on his chair so he has the proper angle of his hip/leg. The plane boards quickly and soon we're taxing down the runway … and TAKEOFF!

Jimmy has left Austin!