2019 Christmas Letter

This has been a very challenging year, in many ways.  I almost hate to rehash what has happened the past 12 months, but for those of you who haven’t followed our saga, I guess I need to fill you in.  Before I begin, I want to say that through all the trials of the past year, we still have thankful hearts.  Things could always be much worse.  God is so good.

Early this year I went to the dermatologist.  He diagnosed me with Psoriasis.  My hands were also hurting, and my fingers kept locking up, so he suspected that I also had Psoriatic Arthritis.  He sent me to the Oklahoma Arthritis Center, where that diagnosis was confirmed with x-rays and blood tests.  I also have Ankylosing Spondylitis.  So basically, my skin cells develop too rapidly, and I have an autoimmune that makes my body attack my joints.  My instability in my back is compounded by my body trying to grow extra bone to fuse my spine together.  I’ve known for years my joints hurt, but I guess I thought everyone my age just had aches and pains.  While that may be true, I got an extra dose.  There is no cure, but I’m now on medication to slow the progress.  The dermatologist also found a Basal Cell Carcinoma on my head that needed to be removed.  I had to have Mohs surgery in April.  My surgeon was great, but the wound was about the size of a silver dollar…. too big to sew shut on my head.  I had to go back the next day for huge flaps to be cut in my head by a plastic surgeon to close it.  I ended up with something like 21 staples in my head.  I’m now cancer free and all healed up.  I’m also active in a Bible study group of women from different congregations in my area.  They are precious friends that I treasure.  My roommate from college moved back to Norman, so I’m thrilled to have another close friend here in town.  I still scrapbook when I can find a spare minute.  I don’t have a lot of free time right now.  I’m in PT for my back and caring for Amy.  I also have been taking care of my mom, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

After we found the skin cancer on my head, my mom announced that she’d had a spot on her head for a long time.  She’d shown it to her hairdresser, but never to a doctor.  I pressed her to go to the dermatologist, who did a biopsy.  Hers was not as simple as mine.  It ended up being invasive Melanoma.  That was in late June or early July.  We’ve been making trips to Houston to MD Anderson.  She is now cancer free, but it’s been quite a journey with many bumps along the way.  The story involves four trips to the ER, four hospitalizations, two surgeries (so far) and a possible stroke.   She’s doing much better now.  If you want, you can read more about everything she’s been through.  She is also trying to sell her house and downsize, so we’re house hunting and packing boxes.

Allen finished up his work with a group in Dayton.  He really enjoyed his time working with the people there.  He has since taken an assignment working with people in Texas on a weekly basis.  When he’s not in Texas, he is traveling to other locations throughout the U.S.  It isn’t every week, but he’s been gone a lot.  Hopefully, this coming year will see him spending more time working here in Oklahoma.  He is also working on a new certification, so he’s taking online classes through the Air Force Institute of Technology. One more class and a capstone and it will be completed.  I think we’re all looking forward to his classes ending.  He still loves playing golf, when he has time.

Amy’s Lyme doctor retired.  She has a new doctor in a Houston suburb.  (I’m beginning to wonder if we just need to move to Texas!) We have just started seeing him, but we think we like him.  After almost fainting in May, Amy’s cardiologist ran a few more tests and decided that she has adrenal POTS as well as her previous POTS diagnosis.  He adjusted her medications and she’s doing much better.  She now sees him once a year, unless she has additional issues.  She spoke at the state capital this fall at an interim study.  We are trying to get a bill passed that says insurance must pay for IVIG treatment for PANS/PANDAS patients, if a doctor orders it.  This treatment is very expensive and insurance companies often deny the treatment.  Other states have passed similar bills.  I was very proud of Amy standing up to speak to state senators on behalf of her fellow PANS/PANDAS patients.  She has so many challenges in her life, but she faces them with a positive attitude and such grace.

Our dogs Minnie and Lucy are doing well.  They started going to day care when Amy and I travel out of town to doctor’s appointments.  They love their “school”.  Minnie is learning to use a “talking button” to tell us she needs to go outside.  Minnie is only up to one word compared to the dog in the video. Lucy is busy bossing everyone around in a true Pug fashion.  Both love chasing squirrels in our yard.  Our cats Figaro, Bagheera and Thomas think they rule the roost.  Ro and Baghee still are getting used to the “baby” Thomas who has boundless energy. We still have Mary and Bert the parakeets, but we lost our cockatiel Tinkerbell last winter.  Our hearts were broken when she passed.

David earned his PhD from Southern Methodist University and has a publishing house looking at possibly publishing his dissertation.  He taught this past semester at Paul Quinn College. He’ll be teaching a class there again in the spring, as well as teaching again at Austin College in Sherman.  He’s looking for a permanent teaching position at a university that’s a good fit.  I feel sure that will happen soon.  He’s also presented papers he’s written at several conferences.  He’s the Youth Minister at Trinity Episcopal Church in Ft. Worth.  Courtney is a Senior Manager at Oak Hills Advisors in Ft. Worth.  She will be traveling to London frequently this coming year for her job.  It’s all very exciting.  We are so proud of both of them and their accomplishments.  Hannah is five and in Kindergarten.  Her teacher says she’s a real leader.  She’s reading now and loving it.  She loves Captain Marvel, Disney princesses and My Little Ponies.  Joseph is two. He is starting to talk a lot.  He loves Mickey Mouse and Spiderman. Both kids take gymnastics classes.  Their family has added a new addition of a kitten named Boots.

Allen’s mom still lives at Concordia in Oklahoma City.  She volunteers in their little store and is active in the philanthropic group at Concordia.  She goes to weekly Bible study and attends Concordia’s church services.  She also stays busy baking for her friends and the employees of Concordia.

Allen’s birth mom, Lorraine, has also been dealing with health issues.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer this year.  She is currently undergoing treatment and doing well.  All our mothers remain in our prayers, and we hope they are in yours as well.

We were thrilled when OU won the Big 12 Championship.  We are looking forward to the upcoming playoffs.  We didn’t get to attend all the games this year, but hopefully next year will find our family in better health.

I feel so blessed.  This year could have been so much worse.  I must admit that there were times that I wondered how it was all going to turn out.  It’s been a real trial for us all.  But I trust God and have faith that it will all turn out okay in the end.  Thank you to all the wonderful friends and family who kept us in their prayers.  We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.

Love, Missy, Allen and Amy