Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Joseph's resume' made it to a few dealerships around here, and one called him yesterday, asking him to come in and fill out an application. After the call, he called the employment agency, like he was asked to and they have since stepped in and helped with communication with the dealership so not only is he filling out an application but Joseph has an interview tomorrow after teaching seminary! He will be accompanied by one of the agents working his case (the main agent we talk to is also legally blind, thus he cannot take Joseph to his interview)

Happy thoughts and prayers please, he is a little a lot nervous.

** update: the manager was a little too busy for an interview today but the application is filled out and turned in, an interview to be scheduled soon I hope! **

Random Recent Events

  • I sang second soprano in a trio for our wards Relief Society Birthday Dinner. It was awesome, if I do say so myself, I wish we had recorded it (audio only). Our voices blend really well, there may be an encore someday.. such plans are yet to be made.
  • I got a new calling.......wait for it........ ward choir accompanist. yup. Which caused the secretary in our presidency (Primary) to have a little panic attack, until she realized I can do both of my callings.
  • Joseph has his new glasses. He looks dashing as ever. And is seeing better with the new very strong prescription.
  • Joseph has been working with an  employment agency in conjunction with DSB. We hope he finds work soon, he's sooo ready! He has filled out 1 application since starting with them. It is just a hard time of year to try to get hired on in the automotive field. (you know, getting the 2010's off the lot and thinning out the staff that was hired through the holidays.) We would like for him to use his degree, which is automotive technology management. Joseph is starting to get a little stir crazy as the weather is getting warmer.
  • Joseph has been subbing for seminary, he is "on-call", and he does get paid when he teaches. In fact he is gone teaching right now, and will be every morning the rest of the week and one day again after spring break. I am so glad that he gets the opportunity to do that, and he really is a great teacher (nope not biased at all! ;) ).
  • Pack meeting this month was on compassion, Joseph and I were asked to come and speak. He spoke about his MS: what it is, how long he has had it, how it affects him, and how it caused his blindness. He then talked about all the many skills he (and we) have learned this past year. We had each of the scout's names written in braille for the boy's to have and take home. We opened the discussion to questions , I helped but mostly let  Joseph do the talking. It was an interesting discussion that took place, very positive and also educating for us and for our audience; we got to see from a different perspective, which was kind of the theme for the night. I'm sure if asked  we would gladly do it, but a little better prepared now having gotten the first "guest speaker(s)" experience out of the way.
  • I now have  37 38 students, so 6-8 students a night! Yeah I still can't believe it, but it is so wonderful. Enrollment closes for the "semester" at spring break. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

No news....

is good news, right? I wish that I had news, any real news. This week we are in survival mode. Tuesday might was the choral concert. Today was the large group choral festival @ chiawana high school. I was running from warmup to stage to critique all morning(7am- 12pm) Then home and off again to work. Tomorrow morning we will be heading to spokane for Joseph's neurology appointment. So basically I've made no commitments beyond work, it would be too much to think about. Thank goodness for my iPod with my schedule, it keeps me organized and sane! I'll take great notes at his appointment, the doctor will probably say it's time for an MRI (every other year as long as things stay stable). Which means paperwork with MSAA to help us pay for some or all of it. More updates coming. No real news... not yet anyway.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Shaylee (10 facts)

(me @ work, taken on my ipod)

1. I'm a dog person, but I love my cat.
2. I LOVE movies. Joseph and I own over 200 movies.
3. Teaching piano is the best job ever, I love my students.
4. I am a photographer, but I hate getting my picture taken. I know, it's a bit ridiculous.
5. I think thunderstorms are amazing, I wish we had more here.
6. Solicitors hang up on me because I have a small voice. It's pretty awesome.
7. Joseph calls me a mermaid, because I love water and swimming.
8. I have to have laughing gas when I have dental work down, or I hyperventilate. (I blame it on the traumatic experience of getting my wisdom teeth out, and having to impacted that they had to break..)
9. I want twins soo bad! Double our family in one shot, oh ya!
10. I love music and art, all kinds of both. (not country or rap)

Joseph (10 facts)

1. I love to work on cars.
2. I like to draw Disney characters, especially Goofy.
3. I like to teach Seminary.
4. I've always disliked computers, but I have come to  like them because of my visual impairment. (s:His computer talks!)
5. My wife made me get a pedicure once, then the 2nd time she dared me to and I had my toenails painted blue. I like pedicures, but not painted toenails.
6. T-bone is my buddy. (S: our dog, Dad says when we move out we can take him too) Before I met the Swanger dogs I was NOT a fan of dogs at all. 
7. Cats are of the devil, but our puppy cat is alright.
8. I often play the piano, Shaylee would like me to learn how to play guitar with her.
9. Braille has opened ,y eyes to new possibilities, man I need to practice more.
10. I find it humorous how people stop talking and move out of the way when I come through with my white cane. Like if they stop talking they become invisible to me.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A letter from Dr. Smith to Dr. Cooke

Dr. Smith (new ophthalmologist) Dr. Cooke (neurologist) 
(with explanations by Shaylee in italics)

Dear Dr. Cooke:

Joseph returned for a follow up. As you know he is a 28 year old young man with markedly decreased vision secondary to previous episodes of optic neuritis related to his Multiple Sclerosis. Optic neuritis is swelling in the optic nerve. It can also be one of the first symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.

On examination his best corrected vision is 20/300 OD and count finger at three feet OS. The exam is pertinent for rotary nystagmus in all positions of gaze. Nystagmus - involuntary eye movements from side to side, up & down or rotary. Joseph's nystagmus would be considered "acquired nystagmus" because it developed later in life and as a result of his Multiple Sclerosis. His visual field to confrontation show dense loss of his central field. Joseph has extreme blurriness in his central field of vision exclusively, while his peripheral vision remains less blurred. The optic nerve show severe bilateral optic nerve pallor. Pallor also means atrophy meaning the loss of some or most of the fibers of the optic nerve, or damage. The optic nerve is part of the brain and has no capability for regeneration. Hence, the term may refer to serious or mild but always irreversible visual loss due to damage to the optic nerve. Bilateral optic atrophy: Loss of vision in both eyes. Joseph would have the "acquired" type of optic atrophy, secondary to swelling within the optic nerve (optic neuritis). Optic neuritis a result of a Multiple Sclerosis exacerbation or "flare up". We will see him again in one year.

Dr. Quinn Smith

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Another Day, another Doctor visit...

On Wednesday, the 23rd of February, we went to Joseph's new ophthalmologist (his last one retired). Same office though, we  LOVE them! The great thing about seeing a new doctor is that they re-diagnose (just like his neurologist did). He performed the same tests they did on his 1st visit in December of 2009. His nerves look about the same- white, damaged and constantly moving. The doctor said the nerve atrophy is consistent with the vision loss that Joseph is experiencing. The nystagmus (or shaking) is a result of MS. But the doctor was confused as to why the nerve atrophy and nystagmus happened at the same time-and so quickly, it's very unusual. He says that the nystagmus and nerve atrophy are not related. This is where I interjected MS as the cause, he agreed but added MS will usually affect one or the other not both.

He apologized that he can't do anything to improve the situation. we thought that he was a very very kind man - who felt like he was breaking bad news to a young couple (he was but it was basically the same news we got a  year ago). He felt so bad, sweet guy. He did give Joseph a new prescription he should be able to see 20/300 (on a good day). An improvement! There really isn't a better time than tax return season to buy new glasses with no insurance.

I felt a little demanding toward the end of Joseph's appointment- we asked the ophthalmologist to give us a letter stating his findings about Joseph's vision etc. (like the one we had from Dr Deitz,that we've used on countless occasions. We felt like we needed an updated letter from his current doctor) And when we went to pay I asked for documentation for the appointment, specifically the cost to us, to prove "spend down" for government insurance (post about that soon is inevitable). But they were great & we showered them with thanks. Seriously an awesome office and staff to work with (Columbia River Eye Center in Richland, if you were wondering) What a blessing.