Saturday, December 31, 2016

Our 2016 Christmas Card and a Very Wordy Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas!! 

It's the time of year to fill you in on all of the Warburton family news and while I'm typically on the "once every 10 years Christmas card sending plan" and you might be thinking "didn't she just do this?" it's been a whole year and lots of things have happened so buckle your seat belts and get ready for an update.  2016 was a bit of a rough year with a sprinkling of happy times and good news here and there.

Gary started off 2016 with a diagnosis of an aggressive form of prostate cancer.  He was blessed to be led to one of the leading prostate cancer research doctors in the country who set up a treatment plan for him which consisted of 12 weeks of chemo followed by surgery.  The only drawback was that the doctor was in Houston which is about 3.5 hours from our house so he got very familiar with the trip from here to there.  He was the happiest chemo patient ever and his body held up quite well until the very end.  About a week after he finished chemo, he started to get sicker than he had been while doing chemo and he turned an awful shade of yellow.  So, back to the doctor we went and found out that his liver had finally gotten the memo that poisons were being pumped into his body and it rebelled.  Luckily, the liver can heal itself so after 2 months of taking no medicines, drinking lots of fluid, and getting as much rest as possible, he turned back to his normal skin color and was cleared to have his surgery. All in all, the surgery went well, Gary got to have a 6 week vacation from work, and he has recuperated quite nicely.  We spent those 6 weeks waiting for the pathology report to come back (which was a little nerve-wracking for this worry wart) but it was worth the wait because the doctor said that we got the best pathology report that we could have possibly gotten.  There was no indication that the cancer had spread and for the moment, Gary is cancer free.  He will have to go back every 3 months to make sure everything looks good but we are so very grateful for the good news.  We are also so very grateful for all of the friends and family who prayed for us, put our name on the prayer roll of temples all over the world, drove Gary to Houston when I couldn't, and who served us so faithfully and selflessly as we went through this hard time. 

Other than that, Gary's news is the same as last year....he works at the same place, he still teaches primary, he still takes wonderful care of his family, he still has the patience of Job, he is still the nicest guy you will ever meet, he still always has a smile on his face, he still never says an unkind word about anyone, and he's still just an all around great guy and we sure do love him.

Gary here...Shanon has been so great this past year.  You probably know that she is a worrier, but despite that "talent", she was a rock while I was going through my treatments.  She was right by my side during many of my chemo treatments even though most things medical make her squeamish.  We spent a lot of time laughing about the fact that I was the one going through treatment but she was the one who lost her appetite and was too queasy to eat.  While we were grateful to have a wonderful doctor in Houston, we were not so grateful for the many hours we spent in Houston's rush hour traffic and one of the things on Shanon's gratitude list this year is that she hardly ever has to drive during rush hour traffic...especially Houston's rush hour traffic.

She has spent most of the last three years serving as the Young Women's first counselor over the Mia Maids (the 14 and 15 year old girls at church).  She really loved that calling but I suppose all good things must come to an end and she was recently released and is now the secretary in the Stake Relief Society Presidency. During the 25 plus years that we have been married Shanon has spent about 23 of those years in the Primary and Young Women's programs.  She thinks that this new calling will be a stretch for her but I know that she will do great just like she has done in all of her previous service.  She is still a stay at home mom which she thinks is the best job a girl could have.  She likes to spend her free time with her nose in a good book or playing the piano.  Although this past year has had its share of challenges, she has been able to recognize the hand of the Lord in our life and knows that He is watching over us.

(Shanon again...Gary said I wasn't very nice to myself).  Chris is working on getting his degree in Computer Science at BYU.  He just started working at Sam's club there in Provo and also has an early morning janitorial job.  He's been waking up at 4am for as long as I can remember but I think the 4:30 am janitorial job might be too early even for him....especially in the winter time.  He still loves all things computers, Star Wars, and Doctor Who plus a few other things that are way beyond my comprehension.  He has always loved playing the piano and is trying to get back into that with his early Christmas present of a keyboard.  Who knows....maybe we'll get to see him in concert one day.

Kinsey returned home in August after serving 18 months in the Washington Tacoma (WaTac) Mission.  She absolutely loved her mission, the people she met and the places she served.  We got to spend 9 wonderful days with her before she returned to BYU in Provo to pursue a degree in Family Life Science.  She was asked out on a date by one of her zone leaders (who returned home about 9 months before her) a few days after she got back to BYU and spent election night getting engaged to said zone leader.  His name is Ryan Vorkink and they will be getting married on February 10 in the Provo City Center Temple.  We liked him until we found out that he wants to eventually settle in Alaska which is just a bit too far from Texas for my liking so we have been trying to think of ways to stop the wedding.  Not really...we are happy for them, think Ryan is wonderful, and are excited for this new adventure in their life.

Jared is 16 months into his mission in London, England.  He has also loved serving a mission and has met many wonderful people.  We love reading his letters each week and seeing the occasional pictures that he sends us.  He will be returning home in August (so far all of our children have returned home from their missions in August) and will do just like Kinsey and Chris, leave to go to school at BYU within days/weeks of returning home.  He was accepted to BYU-Idaho and has just applied to BYU Provo but we won't know until February which school he will be attending.  Unless his goals have changed on his mission, he is hoping to pursue a degree in Engineering. 

Emily is a senior in high school.  She has also just finished her application to BYU and is anxiously waiting to find out if she was accepted.  Her first choice is BYU-Idaho (which we just found out today she was accepted to) but has applied to both Idaho and Provo.  She is hoping to go to a semester of college and then would like to go on a mission.  She was a life saver this past year and kept our household running smoothly while Gary and I traveled to Houston each week.  She is so helpful and loving and boy do we appreciate all of the things she did while we were taking care of Gary.  She loves her friends, snap chat, not having to share a car with her brother, and her class that takes her to the elementary school across the street from the high school.  She loves working with children and is hoping to go into teaching....maybe.  The beauty (and challenge) of being 18 is all of the decisions you get to make about your life and the endless possibilities. 

Carson is in 8th grade and is 14 years old.  It's hard to believe that he will be going to high school next year.  I just don't know if we are ready for that.  He is a wonderful blessing to us.  He loves basketball, his friends, scouts, the bus, Power Rangers, pizza and ice cream.  He is usually pretty happy and easy going.  With all the talk about missions and college around here, he is anxiously waiting his turn to be able to do those things.  I don't know where his life will take him but we are excited to take the journey with him and are so grateful that he is in our family.  He shows us how to love unconditionally, forgive quickly, and go through life cheerfully.

We still have Gary's mom here with us.  We found a Senior Center program that she goes to Monday-Friday during the day.  She loves going and loves the friendships that she has made.  They always have activities going on, a garden to tend to, and walks to take.  She has dementia but is otherwise in very good health.  She just celebrated her 90th birthday and did a dance for everyone at the party we had for her.  She still holds true to her English heritage, has tea time every day and claims that a good cup of tea will cure what ails you.  She even convinced the senior center to have tea time every afternoon.

As we look back on this past year we feel so fortunate.  Although it has been filled with challenges, we have been loved, provided for, and carried when we thought we couldn't go any further. We have seen miracles happen and been blessed beyond measure.  We are grateful for the Atonement of our Savior's cleansing power and enabling power....and His infinite love for each of us.  We are blessed to know each one of you and are grateful for your love and friendship.

We hope you all are doing well and have wonderful Christmas season.


The Warburton Family

"Times change, years speed by, but Christmas continues sacred.
It is through giving, rather than getting, that the spirit of Christ enters our lives.
God still speaks. He prompts. He guides. He blesses. He gives."
Thomas S. Monson

Friday, May 27, 2016

Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water

That song came into my head this morning and it just seemed appropriate today.

My tale starts when I was in 5th grade and Wayne Whitaker and I were called out of our classroom to go see someone...I can't remember who...the nurse maybe?

Anyway...the two of us were called out of our classroom to go see someone who told us that we were being referred to an ophthalmologist because we failed our vision test.  Duh duh duh...

So my parents being the good and responsible parents that they were took me to the eye doctor who confirmed that yes, I needed glasses.  Sad day....except when the doctor gave me my new rocking pair of stylish glasses, I noticed that the trees had individual leaves instead of just great big blobs of green blobs!!  It was amazing....until I looked in the mirror and realized I was already not a very pretty girl so my nice new pair of big, brown, plastic frames that took up a good portion of my face only enhanced the ugliness. I would show you a picture but that would require me to climb out of my bed and I just don't feel like it at the moment plus I think I might have burned all those pictures a few years back when my Florida friends were helping us move and my nice neighbor (Jonathan Parker, I'm talking to you) said "Wow...that picture of you..." and then had no other words for the ugliness of it.

Here...I'll give you a mental picture...I had really long and really straight red hair that was parted in the middle, giant buck teeth that protruded out of my mouth about 5 feet, I was skinny and short, not athletic at all...I was always the last one chosen on a team which was fine with me because I would have rather been reading than breaking a sweat, and my face was covered in freckles.  I obviously needed another nickname to add to the carrot top, squirt, and Shanon the black cannon that I already had so 4 eyes it was!! It's okay...I'm mostly over the trauma.

Eventually, I got braces that fixed the teeth for the most part, contacts that fixed the 4 eyes, makeup to cover the freckles, and I kind of sort of learned how to fix my hair in a kind of sort of stylish way plus red hair is so in right now and I'm one of the lucky ones that got it naturally.  I'm still not very athletic but they found a dead man on the trail by our house yesterday and I'm convinced that exercise was the cause and is deadly so I'm okay with the fact that I'm not athletic.  At least they won't find my cold, dead body alone on a deserted trail...

Well...that was a tangent wasn't it?!   So, Shanon....what does this have to do with a bridge over troubled water?  I'm getting there!!

So contacts saved me from the giant brown, plastic frames and my vision has been perfectly manageable until a few years ago when I started to not see very well up close plus my far away vision was getting a little blurry.  I went to the eye doctor which was very brave of me because she keeps telling me that she is watching my optic nerves and I just keep expecting them to explode any day now...

The doctor told me that she was upping my far away prescription but that would really make it hard for me to see up close so she recommended I get reading glasses.  I got my new contacts and sure enough, I couldn't see anything up close.  It was terrible and I decided that getting old is for the birds and maybe I should just go ahead and drive myself off a bridge but Gary begged me to stick around a little longer and I voted on my favorite pair of readers on a website and they sent me a free pair so I could see up close again (when I could find them...they like to play hide and seek with me).  Funny favorite pair was a smaller version of my 5th grade glasses...brown plastic frames. I guess they came back in style...sort of.

Life has been manageable again except I ran out of contacts and my doctor insists that I come once a year for an exam so she can freak me out about my optic nerves and then caution me about my high blood pressure that if elevated too much could cause my optic nerves to explode.  I think she does that on purpose.

Anyway....she wanted me to try multi focus contacts and she gave me a pair to try.  Miracle of miracles, I could see up close again!!  Then, as I was leaving and commenting on the miracle of multi focus lenses, she said "I just hope it doesn't mess up your far away vision too much!"  Duh duh duh.

The next morning I went to take my mother in law to her senior center program and noticed that all the road signs were a little blurry and I thought "Well...I guess my optic nerve finally exploded..." but really it was because the multi focus lenses are multi focusing I guess so road signs are little blurry now.

Which brings me to the point of this already long story.  Yesterday, Gary had his 8th chemo treatment (only 4 more to go!!) in Houston which is a 3+ hour drive from our house.  Plus, the weather was not very nice.  Plus, his appointment was scheduled for 2:00 which is the latest it's ever been scheduled. My computing mind figured that we would not get home until midnight because the thing I've most noticed about chemo is that you spend a lot of time waiting and Gary's Pollyanna mind said we would surely by home by 8 at the latest because he is an eternal optimist.

My computing mind won that round though because as usual, he was hooked up 2 1/2 hours after his scheduled appointment.  While we were waiting, I kept hearing murmurs of lots of adverse reactions to the medicine that Gary was about to be hooked up to so my anxiety started to kick in a bit.

Then to add to the anxiety was the patient next to us who was just starting out on the same treatment as Gary and was asking the nurse about chemo and the precautions he needed to take with his family. The conversation went something like this:

"Tell me how to keep my family safe."  Meanwhile the wife starts hyperventilating a bit and they send her to the window that is 29 stories up so she can imagine she is outside in the fresh air instead of inside surrounded by all of the toxic chemicals that are poisoning her.  The nurse's parting comment to her "Just don't look down."  I'm sorry, I shouldn't laugh but the thought of that comment just cracks me up for some reason.  The wife walked over to the window but I don't think it helped her much.  Then the nurse told them they just needed to be careful of bodily fluids.

Just to make sure he understood, he starts naming off things that he would do with his wife. Hugging? Yes...hugging is okay.  Drinking from the same cup (by-the-way, this was RIGHT AFTER I drank some water out of the same water bottle that Gary had just drank out of)?  You probably shouldn't do that for at least 48 hours after treatment (why didn't anyone tell me that before now?!)  Kissing? Kissing is okay unless it's french kissing (in hindsight that's probably when I should have put my fingers in my ears and started singing "la la la....I can't hear you...." but unfortunately I didn't).  What about a little rumble in the hay?  Well...if it includes bodily fluids you should probably be careful. And on and on it went for about 10 minutes....every bodily fluid you can think of was mentioned. Next week I'm bring noise cancelling head phones.

Then they came over to Gary who was snoozing away and the nurse said "He looks really red to me." Gary is a little pink skinned anyway plus he gets sunburned easily so I couldn't tell if he was redder than he was earlier but another nurse walked by and freaked out a bit and said "Yes....he's red!! We need to stop his treatment!"  That woke up sleeping beauty just enough for him to get this lazy smile on his face and say "I'm fiiinnnne....nothing to worrrryyyyyyy abouuuutttttt."

They gave him more Benedryl which knocked him even further into la la land and they stopped his treatment for about 30 minutes so his face could come back to a normal skin tone.  Meanwhile, the guy next to us had even more questions about bodily fluids...

30 minutes later (at 5:30 pm....remember we still had a 3 hour drive home and it's starting to storm outside plus the traffic in Houston is terrible) they started his treatment again.  He still had about 45 minutes left of the chemo but they decided to slow it down so it took about an hour and a half.

We finally got finished and they let us leave.  On the bright side....we missed the worst of rush hour traffic so it wasn't bumper to bumper like it usually is and it was still a little light outside so I could still kind of see.  On the not so bright side, it was rainy and people seem to like to drive really fast and aggressively in the rain.

Gary was able to stay awake long enough to find us a restaurant for dinner, eat his food and navigate me out of Houston.  Then he went back to sleep.  After he fell asleep, the light rain got heavier and it got darker. Remember how signs are blurry to me now? the dark and rain, they were really blurry to me.

So...I'm driving down the interstate at Grandma Moses speed (that's slow for those not in the know), on the edge of my seat so I can see the road better, with my shoulders up to my ears and nothing but the sound of rain in the car.  Then Gary coughs and I jump because I'm a little stressed.  Then a few minutes later....after I've calmed down from the last cough....he coughs again and I glare at him and tell myself "he can't help it...he's not trying to give me a heart attack."

Then the bottom drops out of the clouds and scary lightening bolts start target practice and Gary let out this really loud snort and I'm pretty sure my head hit the roof (or would it be ceiling) of the car. Plus, I could just feel these big giant knots forming at the base of my skull but I kept plugging along all the while wishing that we had gotten a hotel room for the night.

The road that we were driving on was really dark, except for the lightening popping, and cars were starting to pull over with their hazard lights on because the rain was coming down so hard but I could still see so I kept going.  Then....all of a sudden...a warning alarm started ringing from Gary's phone!! Which did not help my nerves at all!!  And he slept through it!!  Darn Benedryl!!  I glanced down at the phone to see what was up and all I saw was flash flood alert.  Great!!  I'm driving on unfamiliar roads, in the dark, lightening popping everywhere, rain pouring down like crazy and now there are flash floods?!  I kept imagining us floating away never to be seen again...

Luckily, we made it to Buccees.  That's Texas' version of a convenience store (it's the size of a grocery store with the nicest bathrooms you'll ever see...)  I pulled in beside the gas pump and Gary finally woke up, looked around for a bit and then just sat there with a dazed look on his face for a few minutes.  I finally started to get out to pump gas and he lazily said "I'll do that." and just sat there. Then I pulled out my credit card and opened the door and he said "no...I'll do that...." and ever so slowly got out of the car.  I went in to find the restroom while Gary pumped the gas.  When I came out, I was hoping that I would have a few minutes to just sit and breathe while Gary went to the restroom but his bladder wasn't affected by the birth of our 5 children the way mine was so he was ready for us to get on our way.

I pulled over to a quiet spot in the parking lot and just sat for a minute.  He asked what I was doing and I told him that the knots on the back of my neck were cutting off the oxygen to my brain so I just needed to rest for a minute.  By that time, he had gotten his second wind and was ready to drive home so he forced (in a loving way) me out of the driver's seat and decided he was awake enough to drive the last 45 minutes.

Something you may not know about Gary...he's mild mannered and as patient as they come but you put him behind the wheel of a car and he becomes Mr. Aggressive.  The weather had calmed down a bit by then so he didn't understand why I was so stressed.  Then the bottom fell out of the clouds again and he commented on how hard it was raining.  Yep...I know that already.  Then the lightening started popping again and he commented on the lightening.'s been doing that the whole trip.  Then the alarm sounded again and he said "I slept through that?!"  Yep....3 times.  Then the car in front of us was driving like Grandma Moses and he sped up so he could squeeze into the next lane and then sped up to within an inch of the car in front of him and quickly swerved in front of Grandma Moses and I told him that he was not helping the knots in my neck and he laughed and said something about how helpful his driving partner was...

Luckily we made it home and we didn't float away in one of those flash floods. Unfortunately for Gary, that 8 hour nap he had thanks to the Benedryl made it difficult for him to go to sleep.  I did not have that problem.

We all woke up a tiny bit cranky...except for Carson who was blissfully unaware of the storm because he sought refuge in our closet at the first hint of thunder.  He woke me up at 6am all excited about his field trip that he was going on today.  Thanks Carson.  I didn't need that extra hour of sleep.  One good thing....the knots on the back of my neck had gone down a bit.

We got everyone ready to go where they needed to go and I was once again in the car taking my mother in law to her senior care center.  I was thinking about our drive the night before and about the bridge that we had driven over the week before and how high the water was last week before the storm that we drove through last night and was thinking about how grateful I was that we weren't washed away. That's where the bridge over troubled water song comes in in case you were wondering.

Then, as I am pulling out of the senior care center parking lot, I noticed a car with very dark tinted windows sitting in an odd place. Just after I drove past it, it pulled out behind me.  Then it turned left after I turned left.  Then it put it's blinker on just after I put my blinker on.  Then it turned left again, just after I turned left again.  I was just starting to make a plan for how I was going to keep this car from following me all the way home (because I'm not in the mood to be raped and pillaged today) when it turned off onto the freeway.


Oh darn...the knots are back.

Good news, though, the knots reminded me that I needed to pick up my blood pressure medicine. Hopefully that will keep my optic nerves from exploding.

PS...just in case you were wondering...the chemo is doing it's thing.  Gary's PSA numbers are down from 6.25 to .1.  His liver numbers (which have not been normal as long as I've known Gary) are down to a normal level (that's kind of a miracle because they had gotten so high that they were afraid they were going to have to do his chemo slower than normal then he got a priesthood blessing and they've been fine ever since).  He's doing great mostly.  Everything tastes funny to him which is sad because he loves food but now he's kind of lost his appetite.  He's mostly tired, a little nauseous, and did I mention tired?  He has 4 more treatments then a 3ish week break and surgery the end of July. Then we just play the waiting game and hope it never comes back.

That won't be stressful at all. ;)