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Back to the U.S. – The Hurricane!!!!

September 2, 2012 — Once again at the Airport – this time at Tocumen in Panama, now heading for a “visit” in the U. S. instead of heading “home.” A different feeling, knowing you are going back to where you lived for so many years, and yet now as a so-called tourist to visit! I was truly looking forward to being back in the U.S. after almost 5 months. How did it change? Did I miss it? What would my feelings be?. There was so much I was going to accomplish on this trip. I was going to be with my son and his family in Ohio and that was a big plus now that he was finally back in the states after 6 years in Bangkok! Spending time with my daughter Janet was going to be special- seeing friends again, and of course, Swanky Soiree, the fund-raising event for Brookwood, Florida that I had started years ago. Although not the Chairman this year, I certainly did my part to help and was not going to miss being part of another great event for a charity that means so very much to me.

All this being said – you all know that this IS Hurrican Season – especially in Florida!. Well, the Hurricane certainly did hit Phyllis!!!! … and now I will tell you about a month filled with laughs, joy, tears and pain – my “personal” hurricane (thank you Karen Hart)! Arriving back in St. Petersburg late on the 2nd and staying with my dear friend Marion, gave us very little time to chat and I went to bed exhausted. I had only the 3rd, 4th and 5th before leaving for Cincinnati early on the 6th and Sam’s fourth birthday. Janet and I crammed everything in that we possibly could on Labor Day including shopping for a new Computer as mine was dying. I had banking issues to take care of and I had also made ALL of my doctor’s appointments since I was in the states and since I normally do everything in December, just decided to move it all up and get it done with and be checked out from head to toe.

My Dermatologist (Dr. Melanie Haynes) obviously doesn’t like anyone to be in the sun, but she really hated what Panama sun was already doing to me!. Not only did she burn off a few spots – she jad to do a biopsy on my arm and told me SUNSCREEN plus I was going to have to wear a sunscreen shirt if I stayed in the sun or was going to walk the beaches in a bathing suit!. Well, you all know I LOVE walking the beaches, so I now knew I was literally finished “in the sun” and would really have to cover up. By the way- biopsy- negative! One down!!!!

Now on to the the next appointment – my Gynecologist. Certainly did not expect any problems there – BUT WAIT- she found a mass in my left groin and said she wanted to do an ultra-sound. OK- but I can’t make the appointment until the following week as I am getting ready to leave for my grandson’s birthday and was leaving to fly out the next day. I refused to worry about this as I am in excellent health and there certainly would not be any problem. Blood tests were ordered and done by my primary physician and so far, so good with all of that.

Early on Thursday, the 6th of September, I flew off to Cincinnati and truly had a fabulous 5 days with Jeff, Suzy, Max and Sam. Their home in Mason, Ohio (about 45 minutes from downtown Cincinnati) is beautiful and Nana Phyllis had her own bedroom with TV and it is mine for whenever I want to be there. My grandsons are growing up so quickly and I realized it had been 15 months since I saw them last. We celebrated Sam’s birthday as family in Sam’s favorite restaurant the night I had arrived and on Sunday- it was the BIG party with Adults and Kids anad Suzy cooking with her Thai friends all kinds of wonderful Thai food. Certainly not the kind of birthday party I ever had for my kids, but times do change and whatever goes, it just flows. We all had a fabulous afternoon. One of their friends, Opie, brought over a mint condition car (19?? Oldmobile 442) for me to take out and drive. Needless to say I was scared to death and agreed to just pose for pictures with it. This guy is a collector and has 14 different cars like this. Can’t wait to see them all on my next visit, and what is great is that he allows his friends to drive them!!! I hated to leave Ohio, but I knew I had a lot of things to accomplish and get done in my short amount of time, so I was off and moving on again……

A '66 Olds 442

A ’66 Olds 442

Mike, Phyllis,Opie and Suzy with the 442

Mike, Phyllis,Opie and Suzy with the 442

Sam’s 4th B-day party

Sam’s 4th B-day party

Jeff and Phyllis

Jeff and Phyllis

Anyone for sangria??

Anyone for sangria??

Sam and Max

Sam and Max

Upon returning once again to St. Pete, I had an appointment with a plastic surgeon – no- not what you are thinking!! I had developed a little pocket under my left eye and wanted it removed, so we set up an appointment so it could be done as quickly as possible so I could be checked and healed before returning to Panama. This is done in the surgical suite in his office, however, it is still IV Sedation, and you are still recovering afterwards and lose a day from just resting and sleeping it off. Janet, did of course, spend the night with me at my friend’s to make sure I was OK. This was done on September 12th.

On Friday- September 14, I threw a Party at the Palm in Tampa for anyone that could be there. I knew there was no way I could get to see everyone I wanted to see, so Panama Phyllis did the next best thing – a party for those who could attend! Now- with stiches under my eye, but no bruising (you are truly wonderful, Dr. Rob Rehnke), I just put a lot of good make-up on and sort of looked like nothing happened at all. The partying started at 5 pm and I thought it would be over by 7 or 8 at the latest, however, friends came and went and a few decided to stay and have fun and before we knew it- the Palm at 11 PM was closing and we were asked to leave!!!! Can you imagine? Chef Gabe, thank you for the wonderful food and to my favorite bartenders, Wayne and Kevin, who I have known since the beginning there (13 years) – thank you for being there and making everyone so happy! To those of you who made it, is was absolutely wonderful seeing you, even tho a very short visit. Very few people noticed the “eye” and if they asked, I told them I walked into a glass door in Panama at my condo and had to have it fixed here. TRUE- I did walk into a glass door on my balcony 2 weeks before coming to the US. However, it was glued back together in the Emergency Room here and it was a job very well done and almost all healed when I got to the US. But it made a terrific story! By the way- an emergency room visit here in Panama was $50.00 Yes, that is all – with all of the frills, etc- Maybe that was a “sign” of things to come? If I wanted to be supersticious, I would say so, but why even give it a thought.

Diane and Greg Grambor, Me and Joanne Roach

Diane and Greg Grambor, Me and Joanne Roach

Pat Lamphear and John Taylor

Pat Lamphear and John Taylor

Pam Mesmer, Joe Froelick, Gale Wiesemann,Susan and Gary Osher

Pam Mesmer, Joe Froelick, Gale Wiesemann,Susan and Gary Osher

Wayne, Phyllis and Kevin

Wayne, Phyllis and Kevin

Brian and Nancy Battaglia with Ernest Hooper

Brian and Nancy Battaglia with Ernest Hooper

Randy and Cheryl LOVEBIRDS

Randy and Cheryl LOVEBIRDS

Jim Stewart, Phyllis Eig and Peter Tillmann

Jim Stewart, Phyllis Eig and Peter Tillmann

Now you realize the frantic pace I was going, and now comes the Ultra Sound that I need. The technician knew me and the Radiologist is an old friemd as well (Dr. Nat Hameroff). I now felt very comfortable as I knew I was in good hands and did not have to worry. These friends would go above and beyond the call of duty for me. What the ultra sound showed were a string of nodes down in the groin araea and altho they thought it might just be an infection – I had barely two weeks left in the U.S. but my Primary doctor who I love and respect and have 100 % confidence in because he is without a doubt one of the most brilliant physicians around (Dr. David Silverstein), and my wonderful and thorough gynecologist (Dr. Maria Gregory) decided I needed to go further and have a node biopsied – “let’s leave no stone unturned.” Fortunately I got an appointment with the very best surgeon around (Dr. John Clarke) and got in immediately and he made sure I was scheduled for surgery immediately so I would have time to recuperate before returning to Panama. He told me he wasn’t concerned BUT he, too, agreed that we needed to be certain. I told Dr. Clarke that I knew about his reputation for years and years and was always grateful that I never had to meet up with him!. So now I finally did meet him and a nicer man and more caring doctor you could not find!. Surgery was scheduled for 2 days later but now this was in a hospital, and hospital procedures are now in effect The whole nine yards, with all of the testing, etc and enough crap to drive anyone crazy. Guess I was having EVERYTHING imaginable done for any kind of physical or insurance I would want- ! How much fun are we having?????

Onto surgery….Dr.Olita Layton, a young woman who was my anesthesiologist was positively terrific. Don’t know what she gave me, but coming out of surgery, I was up and telling jokes and had everyone around me laughing so hard that they were wishing all patients were like me instead of groggy old whiners!! Seems I was trying to recruit everyone to Panama!! Will have to find out what meds I had so I will know IF I should ever need them again. Sorry I don’t have pictures of all of these wonderful people, but after the party on the 14th – things really went downhill and I sort of left the camera out of my reach. After all, did you really want to see surgical suites, hospitals, and doctors?????

The “preliminary” report on this biopsy is benign and the final results are still not in. Altho I truly suspect all will be well, I still want the results, and am told that sometimes these frozen sections could take weeks (guess someone is not worried).

By now I am sure you all do indeed feel the HURRICANE? After all, a day here and there to rest up and I certainly never planned on all of these detours! Did this make me any stronger? How much stronger do any of you want me to become? No- it just made me realize that life has its twists and turns and we truly do need to live each day as if it were our last. Enjoy what you have, cherish those that you love, but most of all, do what you want to do with your life and live it!!!!

I still had a lot to get done and really did not know how I was going to do it. But determination got me through. I managed to get to my storage shed to get some clothes that I felt I needed to have here. And I did find the time to drive to the East Coast of Florida to see cousins Leslie and Sandy and spend a few extremely relaxing days with them. It was a wonderful trip and they saw to it that I got my fill of Lobster, clams crabs – food I cannot get here (not of that quality) and I almost felt like I was in Maine!

Now back to St. Pete and on September 25 (Erev Yom Kippur) Janet and I were together for holiday dinner and afterwards, we wanted to go for a Cappuccino. We walked into the restaurant, and as she headed for the ladies room, I walked on in to get a table. BAM- HURRICAANE FORCES HIT. They had started to clean up early as no one was there, and had the mats out on the floor from behind a counter! I never looked down. Why would I? I tripped and felt myself going down but could not break the fall and fell right on my lower back onto the TILE floor. OUCH! is not the word. I thought I would die from the pain and of course had to go to the hospital – AGAIN -! Now it was an emergency room visit with x-rays and the whole nine yards. Until they gave me enough pain medication, thought I would die and this time there was no humor coming from me at all. I finally got back to my friend’s house in excruciating pain, but I was lucky. The doctor on call found nothing, but the x-rays would be read by the radiologist in the AM. Fortunately- I had a bad fall with no broken anything and it would just take time to heal. Everyone wanted me to stay in st. Pete for another week. STAY???? I don’t think so. I wanted to come “home” – my home in Panama to rest and recuperate for howeer long it took. I only felt sorry for Janet- nurse on 24 hour call and also my friend Marion, who I was staying with and the inconveniences I was putting her through!. What a mess!

Now- it is only 2 days to Swanky Soiree – the main purpose of my visit. How in the world was I going to get to go? But determined Phyllis, and most of you do know that – I made up my mind I was going- no matter what. I knew I could stand without too much pain and I could lie down. I could not sit- no matter what. And I could not take the medication prescribed as it made me sick. I do have a bad tolerance for meds since I never do take them, so it is not easy to prescribe for me. Fortunately I always travel with my own “stash” of a medication that you can no longer get, but works wonders, and started on that. It did work and most of the pain was alleviated. I did attend Swanky Soiree for about 1 1/2 hours, mostly to say hello and thank the vendors for their dedication and to see the few friends I got to see. That was on Thursday the 27th!.

Friday and Saturday found me packing and getting ready for my trip back to Panama. I felt the Hurricane had to end and I needed to get out of the path that seemed to be after me. Karen Hart, I cannot say thank you enough for your help in packing me up and getting it all together for me and to you Blair (Marions’ grandson who lives with her and was truly my errand boy) for just being there and always willing to let me call out your name and you would do anything for me! I just relaxed on cold compresses and taking medication to ease the pain. I wanted to come HOME to unwind, relax , destress and get back to my new life-style. I never realized how much I loved the new way of life!

And on sunday morning, September 30, I left the U.S. to return to the wonderful country of Panama and my new “home.”

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