Reality–Aging Part II

November 10, 2010

As if my knee isn’t enough aging reality Bob is also dealing with a health issue. During his annual physical he mentioned the fact that he experiences times of breathlessness. These usually occur with some level of exertion such as mowing the lawn. He feels he needs to stop the activity and sit down for three to five minutes to regain stability.

Our physician ordered an echocardiogram and a stress test for comparison to previous tests. The echocardiogram was done a couple of weeks ago. The report Bob received was that he had a heart murmur but nothing had changed in the last two years.

The following week he went in for the scheduled stress test. The technician looked at his chart and said he couldn’t do the test because Bob had a “sluggish aortic valve”. A cardiologist was consulted resulting in a recommendation to reschedule for a chemical stress test.

A few days later Bob briskly walked a block to retrieve the card after an evening function. He reported needing to sit for several minutes before he felt it was safe to drive. Worrisome!

So, Tuesday afternoon we appeared at the South Denver Heart Center for the two-and-a-half hour test. I know Bob was worried about the possible results. The testing went well with no issues.

An Aside  – I was reminded of a few years ago when my mother’s doctor called and said he needed to order a chemical stress test for Mother and he felt like I should be there. Mother was 93 or 94 at the time. Judy and I flew to Florida. When the chemical to speed up the heart rate was administered Evelyn looked up at the doctor (she was totally blind but had an uncanny ability to look directly towards the person she was speaking to) and asked, “Have you every killed anyone giving this test?” She definitely felt it was a possibility.

The doctor’s office called this afternoon with a report that there was no problem with the heart. While that’s good news there remains the question of what is causing the breathless spells. I know we’re not comfortable letting the  question go unanswered.

Oh, the joys of aging.


November 9, 2010

Even with a positive attitude the affect of aging sometimes forces itself to the forefront of our consciousness. A follow-up appointment with my surgeon confirmed the reality of my knee situation. Comparing the x-rays from April and today shows that there is no longer any spacing in my right knee joint. I’m now working bone-on-bone.

After we completed the series of injections in September I really couldn’t tell if improvement could be contributed to the shots or the increased exercise routine, including intensive water therapy. I’ve faithfully continued with the exercise program and in the last week there has been a definite degree of joint grinding and pain with certain movements. The ability for weight bearing on the right leg has diminished significantly. Sudden weight shifts are impossible and the cane has become a more constant companion.

The doctor says the only solution is a knee replacement, the timing is up to me. He feels that I could wait up to a year; but, do I really want to live with the limitations and pain for that long. I won’t schedule the procedure before the first of the year because I’m out of physical therapy funds from Medicare for this year and PT is an essential component for successful joint replacement.

Meanwhile I’ll step up the exercise/fitness program and weight lost in order to be in better shape for post-op rehab. It’s all a reality of aging – as the doctor said, “You’ve reached the mileage limit, it’s time for a retread.”

Five Months – Oh Joy!

April 8, 2010

I had a meeting this morning with the bookkeeping firm the DWPC has recently hired. While looking at dates later this month I mentioned my surgery. Nanci, the owner, said she had meniscus surgery several years ago. Her report was not heartwarming. It was planned as arthroscopic but they ended up having to completely open. I’ve already recognized that this is always a possibility.

Her second comment was more disconcerting. She had to wear a brace from thigh to ankle for FIVE months. I think my eyes got real big. That’s the second person who’s mention a time period of five months. Not that one is out of circulation that long just that it’s a pain and inconvenience. I’m simply not going to plan on five months. I’ll give it the two the doctor made me commit to and then hit the road.

Nanci with an I said she tore hers playing indoor soccer. Nancy with a Y has got to come up with a better story than cleaning a closet.

Moving On – Mentally

April 7, 2010

Before taking Vicki to dialysis this morning I told her about my travel restrictions after surgery, that we wouldn’t be able to make the trip to Travis’ graduation. I finally broke down and had a few tears. After comforting hugs from the depths of valued friendship I was mentally ready to move forward.

By evening I was in full gear of devising ways to compensate for the two month travel hiatus. The self pity party is over.

Torn Meniscus Reality

April 6, 2010

I’m indulging in a pity party at the moment. Depressed, mad as hell and pissed off. After my appointment with Dr. James Muffly, orthopaedic surgeon this afternoon full reality has set in.

Surgery is scheduled for April 21 – just two weeks away. But the really bad news is that if I want it to be a success the edict is no travel for TWO months. That is like a prison sentence to me. From my reaction he very seriously asked me, “Can you do this?” Certainly not happily. There goes Arizona, Santa Fe, the Midwest for Travis’ graduation and Spokane for Jasmine’s birthday – plenty of reason for the emotions.

I’d like to sit down and cry but surely a 66-year-old woman should be able to cope with reality when she knows things could be must worse.

The other piece of that reality is that there is also age related deterioration, arthritis and a bone spur involved. The realities of a 66-year-old woman. He emphasized that surgery will not eliminate all of the pain, just the torn meniscus issue.

He gave me two other options, cortisone shots in the knee that would not solve the problem but have a 20% chance of reducing the discomfort – temporarily. Or, do nothing and limit my lifestyle. He said that if I ever wanted to stand two hours in a museum again surgery is the only option.

April 21st is on the calendar.

In great need of an attitude adjustment and break from my recent routine we escaped for the Thanksgiving weekend. Although there was enough work to fill every day, all responsibilities were discarded as we headed to Colorado Springs Friday morning.

My Priority Club rewards program with InterContinental Hotels provided three free nights that needed used before Christmas. We selected Staybridge Suites for our lodging accommodations, enjoying the extra space of a one bedroom suite over a typical hotel room. 

Each day we included a couple of activities and a good restaurant choice, staying busy without being on a tight schedule or trying to fill every moment. I worked hard at putting aside all the concerns and to-do lists for the next couple of weeks, giving body and mind a reprieve for a few days.

While much of America was home eating turkey sandwiches we indulged in our favorite Springs dining experiences. Friday night we loved every bite at the Caspian Cafe, a Mediterranean Bistro presenting an amazing range and blend of flavors, great service and warm hospitality – a totally delightful experience. German food, drink, ambiance and music was the feature Saturday night at the Edelweiss Restaurant. We came away stuffed, and with pounds of Christmas stollen for home and gifts. Made to order Bananas Foster atop cinnamon ice cream topped off our Sunday Champagne Brunch at the Sunbird Restaurant.

In need of a salad and a bite we tried Zio’s Italian Kitchen late Sunday evening. This extremely reasonably priced restaurant proved to be a positive choice. Our waitress was excellent, creating such a positive feeling we’ll return. We especially liked the herb blend served with the infused olive oil and a warm loaf of crusty bread. When we asked about purchasing the herbs she told us they didn’t sell it but would send us home with some. Sure enough she soon returned with two containers  – and, a loaf of bread. The attitude exhibited at Zio’s made all the difference in our evaluation.

Bob wanted to take pictures of the Cadet Chapel at the United States Air Force Academy and we were fortunate to have a glorious sunny day on Friday. Old Colorado City was much too busy for us to want to join the crowds so we drove on through. We did make a stop at the Garden of the Gods Trading Post for an ice cream cone and pokied around among the tee-shirts, hats and souvenirs. I even purchased Bob a Christmas present.

Saturday morning we headed over to the United States Olympic Training Center for more Christmas shopping and pictures. We didn’t take the tour since it was abbreviated with the buildings closed for the holiday weekend. It had been several years since we visited the Money Museum of the American Numismatic Association. Bob didn’t think the exhibits were as interesting as we’d seen previously but again there was some shopping to be done. What fun to purchase off the beaten track while the hoards were at the mall.

We spent the afternoon at the Broadmoor, resting over an Irish Coffee and snack in The Hotel Bar, taking pictures of holiday decorations, browsing the shops and watching families enjoying their holiday weekend. The tree lighting ceremony on Saturday evening is a nice transition from Thanksgiving to the Christmas season.

Sunday afternoon found us at the Simpich Showcase Theatre in awe of the creativity and artistry of David Simpich and his fantastic marionettes. I always go away from his shows stunned by his talent, feeling like I’ve been in the presences of genius. Wish he could pull some strings and share some of that genius.

When Monday dawned with cloudless skies we decided to spend a couple of hours taking pictures at the Garden of the Gods before heading home and getting back to reality. The weekend worked wonders for my spirit . What fun it was to play tourist just an hour away from home. I think this could be an ongoing theme.

Evelyn Musetta Coleman

October 22, 2009


Evelyn Musetta Coleman was born July 3, 1911 to Allen and Martha Cutright. She grew up on a farm in Cumberland County, Illinois with two older sisters, Ellen and Birdie, and younger brother Bemont. Evelyn often talked about her happy childhood and the parents she so loved and admired. The family attended a small country Church of Christ a short distance down the road from their farmhouse. Without a regular preacher, her father frequently taught the lesson as the congregation gathered around a potbellied stove. When they had a visiting preacher he was always invited to the Cutright home for Sunday dinner.

Evelyn graduated from Casey High School in 1929 and earned a teaching certificate from Eastern Illinois State Teachers College in Charleston. Before her marriage she taught first through eighth grades in a one-room rural school. In 1932 she met William W. Coleman; they married three weeks later on September 6th. During the Great Depression and war years they lived in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. Son William E. was born in 1933 followed ten years later by daughter, Nancy. Judy completed the Coleman family five-and-a-half years later. Evelyn loved all the homemaking skills, especially sewing and dressing the girls in organdy and taffeta, ruffles and bows.

When young Bill was ready for college in 1951 the family moved to Champaign/Urbana where he attended the University of Illinois. Evelyn worked in the Binding and Mending Department of the university library. Students from around the world were employed in the library; Evelyn greatly enjoyed opening her home and heart to these young men and women. Bill and Evelyn were active members of the Lincoln Avenue Church of Christ in Urbana where Bill served as an elder and Evelyn as a Sunday school and vacation bible school teacher.

After health issues forced both Bill and Evelyn into early retirement they wintered for two seasons in Juno Beach, Florida. They moved permanently to Palm Springs, Florida in 1972 and placed membership with the Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ. From their first Sunday visit they knew they had found their spiritual home. They especially enjoyed the Pioneers group and witnessing the growth of the church’s youth.

From early childhood retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary eye disease, gradually stole Evelyn’s vision. With incredible coping skills and indomitable spirit she successfully and happily functioned in a sighted world – never with self pity. Many people have told of knowing her for months, or even years, before realizing that she was blind. Evelyn could identify hundreds of friends and family by their voices. Her memory held dozens of telephone numbers and recipes. Bill frequently commented, “The only thing wrong with Evelyn is that she doesn’t know she’s blind.” Even after decades of total darkness, within the last year she said, “Sometimes I forget I’m blind.”

After Bill’s death in 1991 Evelyn’s deepest desire was to remain in her condo and with her church family at PBLCC even though all of her family members lived in other states. That wish was fulfilled with the support, assistance and love of many in the ensuing years. As her body and mind weakened Evelyn never wavered in her faith and devotion. At times when she needed comfort or freedom from pain she would sit in her wheelchair and sing, “God will take care of me.”


Coleman Family Thanks

Mere words cannot express the gratitude and heartfelt thanks the Coleman family feels towards all of Evelyn’s friends and Christian family who were a part of her years in Florida. When Bill died we couldn’t imagine how we could fulfill her wish to stay in her home and live independently. Many people extended helping hands and loving hearts over the years to make that desire possible. To all those who assisted with her needs, visited, sent cards, shared hugs and offered prayers we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. May all of you be blessed and loved as much as Evelyn was.

Evelyn Musetta Coleman

October 21, 2009


Family-Placed Obituary – Palm Beach Post, Oct. 21, 2009

EVELYN MUSETTA COLEMAN – Evelyn Musetta Coleman passed away October 19, 2009 at the age of 98. She was born to Allen and Martha Cutright July 3, 1911 in Cumberland County, IL. Evelyn graduated from Casey High School in 1929 and earned a teaching certificate from Eastern Illinois State Teachers College in Charleston, IL. Before her marriage she taught first through eighth grades in a one-room, rural school. Evelyn married William W. Coleman, September 6, 1932. They lived in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri before moving to Champaign/Urbana, IL in 1951. Evelyn worked at the University of Illinois Library. Bill and Evelyn moved to Florida in 1970 where they were active members of the Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ.

Evelyn was preceded in death by her husband of more than 58 years; her parents; sisters, Ellen Decker and Birdie Bensley; brother, Bemont Cutright and loving daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Coleman. Left with cherished memories are son, Dr. William E. Coleman and wife, Judy of Boulder, CO; daughter, Nancy and husband, Robert Yackel of Centennial, CO; daughter, Judy Coleman and husband, Michael McPheron of Louisville, CO. Evelyn leaves six grandchildren, William A. (Irene) Coleman, Jerry Coleman, Janis (Michael) Tennery, Steven (Tamara) Yackel, Michael Yackel, Eric Yackel and five great-grandchildren. She is also survived by sister-in-law, Eleanor Cutright; numerous nieces and nephews and many devoted friends.

Funeral services will be held Friday, October 23, 2009 at 4 PM at the Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ. A viewing and family visitation will precede the service at 3 PM. Graveside services and burial will be held at Harmony Cemetery, Greenup, IL. In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial donations to the Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ Missionary Program, 4067 Leo Lane, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410 or the National Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation, 11350 McCormick Rd., #800, Hunt Valley, MD 21031-1002.

The family extends heartfelt gratitude and thanks to Dr. Vijay Harpalani and the many skilled caregivers who have been an important part of EvelynÌs final years.

Arrangements entrusted to Aycock Funeral Home, Jupiter.

After a long journey of 98+ years my mother, Evelyn Coleman, passed away around 5:15pm this afternoon. For 13 days my sister Judy and I have stood bedside – patted, kissed, comforted and prayed – as her doctor and an amazing staff at Jupiter (Florida) Medical Center offered tender and professional palliative care. As difficult as the days were to witness the end came without pain or drama. Our prayers were answered with a peaceful passing. May she rest in peace.

One word describes the day, unbelievable. Mother is unresponsive but resting peacefully when we arrive at 7:40am. Charla will be our nurse again today. She wants to speak with the doctor when he comes in about inserting a butterfly needle in Mother’s arm to use for administering medications so that she doesn’t have to stick Evelyn each time something is needed.

Dr. Harpalani comes in just after noon. He agrees to the butterfly needle, notes the signs of kidney shutdown and the way she’s holding her mouth in an “O”. He tells us, “It won’t be long now.”

We pray that this death odyssey soon comes to an end without any further pain or discomfort. Or, before we can no longer hold up to the stress.

At 4:30pm we simultaneously observe a dramatic change in breathing – short, shallow, irregular breaths. Each weak intake appears like it could be the last. The jaw drops open, seconds of silence suspend our reactions and emotions. Her left shoulder twitches, arms frail, mouth opens and closes. Have you any idea how many thoughts can go through your mind in three or four seconds?

For 20 minutes we stand on either side of the bed, holding her hands, telling her it’s okay to let go and that we love her. We softly sing, “When we all get to heaven.” However, Mother’s going nowhere at this moment.

Jerry Hopkins (an elder from Mother’s church) makes a well-timed arrival. I reach for his hand and ask him to lead us in prayer. His  beautifully worded supplication brings tears to our eyes.

Within the hour the CNA comes in to get Mother’s vitals. Oxygen lever – 91, blood pressure – 113/67. Ours isn’t nearly that good! A couple of hours later we can hear her breathing from 20 feet down the hall. Amazing!