December 18, 2008 6:45pm

Dear friends and family,

First let me wish all of you and "yours" a very Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year. I pray all of you have as something as wonderful to celebrate, this year, as we all will. I know, too, that there a few island friends who have loved ones who are ill. Please know you are all in our thoughts and prayers, just as you have gotten us through with all of your love and support. God Bless you.

The last few days have been a flurry of activity for one and all. Mom had her first series of doctor's appts this Tuesday and Wednesday and just the process of getting her down our front steps presented a slew of "plans", some quite resourceful and others, down-right ridiculous (like the toboggan idea!) Thankfully, Pat and Dad were able to use the wheeling chair method and lifted her down the steps to the safety of the warm, waiting car. However, Pat's back didn't take kindly to the lifting and he has been in bed with a heating pad and pain relievers ever since. We did, however, get Mom successfully to her cardiologist's appt Tuesday at 2:45PM. First came the echo cardiogram which shows all the inner workings of the heart and it's new valve and pace maker, etc. and then we waited until for the doctor to see us at 4:30PM. He was very surprised and pleased by her progress and overall good appearance. He did say he was concerned about the amount of
diaretics that she is on and it's potential for kidney problems if that amount was needed for a long period of time but feels that with her now, increased activity level and mobility, she should easily shed the little bit of extra water weight she has in her legs and feet. She is losing around 1-2 lbs of water daily and is eating very healthy, frequent meals. He feels that with the help of the physical therapist and her new lifestyle changes, along with her sucessful surgeries, she should be fit as a fiddle in due time. Mom was able to enjoy a little Christmas light ride on the way home and both Mom and Dad seemed pleased to be out and about.

Then next day was a snowy, sleety mess. Pat was, by this time, a hurting unit in bed, so after getting him comfy, Dad and I got ready to try and get Mom into the car with just two extra arms for support. We shovels, scraped and swept the "walking area" to make it as safe as possible and to our great surprise and delight, Mom walked down the 5 steps to the waiting car! She just needed our support at each arm to make her feel secure. Her surgeon, Dr. Weldner, had an emergency to attend to, so we were seen by Dr. Braxton, who had seen Mom in the hospital. He was thrilled by her appearance and overall condition. She is getting a bit dried out and scaly and she has since had blood work done (today!)so, the diaretic may be reduced. Anyhow, the pacemaker site was checked, her bloodpressure good, her heart rate excellent and George, Dr. Weldner's nurse said he had been told to watch out carefully for Mrs. Ross. All were concerned about her when she left the
hospital and so they were all thrilled with her obvious improvement and strength.

At around 1:30, after only being home from her appt. a little while, the visiting nurse, Kathy came to check her blood for the Cumaden (sp) affects and to draw blood for the kidney function test. After 12 tries and no results, she gave up and put in a call to Dr. Rivas for a "what next" order. At 3PM, the P.T., Cindy, arrived and was "blown away" by the improvement she saw in Mom since her last visit a week prior. She said she would never have recognized her as the same patient and then proceded to work her around a bit. She danced with Mom...(no, not jitter-bug) but wanted to test her stability on her feet. She was awesome! Then she said, "we are going to climb some stairs" and off they went. She was able to show Mom the proper procedure to more easily climb and come down three stairs and she did beautifully! Cindy spoke with me alone after the session and said she was told by her boss to let them know when Mom (and all of us) had failed, as they were
sure we would and then they would arrange the best rehab facility for her to be transferred to! I guess Team Ross showed them!!! Cindy said she should come along very well and very quickly, as Mom obviously has good strength and the desire to self-motivate. This was obvious when Mom went down the stairs quite effortlessly with Dad and Me when we took her out to get blood drawn at Nordx this afternoon. She trotted down the stairs and into the car like a trooper and I am thrilled to say, the phlebotenist got the blood on the first try!! Hooray all the way around! At 9:30AM, Mom also had a visit from the Occupational Therapist, Mellisa. She is mainly doing Tai Chi movements with Mom to improve her muscle relaxation abilities and further improve her breathing. She doesn't really enjoy Tai Chi. Her muscles are very tired after these sessions but I do think the breathing techniques have helped as both doctors told her her lungs sounded clear...just some left
over brochial noise which she easily gets cleared out.

Tomorrow, Cindy the PT returns in the early AM and I can hardly wait to see what's in store. She said her goal is to help Mom to a flight of stairs because after this is accomplished, Mom can go anywhere she wants, even if she has to stop a few times to rest, right now. She also recommends that in this transition period between walker and nothing, Mom should have a cane for added support and strength, so I plan to hit Wally-world tomorrow in search of the perfect one.

Well, that's about it around Murray Rehab. Between Mom and Pat, I felt as thought I WAS running a rehab facility the past couple of days!! I'm thinking about naming it "Almost Heaven" but am fearful of the misconstrued meaning!!!

Our love goes out to everyone who has called, sent cards and notes, prayed with and for us, and kept us in your thoughts. We are forever grateful to you all.