Sunday, September 28, 2008

Surmontil Shortage

A weird thing happened to me recently. I was unable to refill my prescription for Surmontil. I have been taking this medication on and off for about eighteen years. It was first prescribed to me for sleep problems associated with depression and until a week and a half ago I took it for sleep problems asscociated with fibromyalgia. Sometimes I would get it as Surmontil and sometimes as the cheaper generic version Trimipramine (the same thing) but I have never had trouble refilling it before. Occasionally the pharmacy could only give me a limited number and would have to order the rest for me to pick up a few days later but that is the only difficulty I ever had obtaining it. It seems like the perfect drug for me because it definitely helps me sleep well but is free of side effects and does not produce an artificial feeling of sleepiness. Anyway, when I recently tried to buy a refill at my Walmart Pharmacy, they repeatedly told me over the period of a week that it was on order. At the end of the week, they told me that it was simply unavailable. I was stunned. Maybe I am naive but I didn't think we ran out of medicines in the United States. One of the people working in the pharmacy called about ten pharmacies in the area to see if they had it but no one did.
Actually, before this happened I had decided to wean myself from Surmontil. I don't have depression anymore and I'm learning how to cope with the symptoms of fibromyalgia. I have taken this medication for many years and I think it would be better for my long term health if I discontinued it. But I would like to do so gradually. Abrupt cessation of the drug can cause headaches, nausea and malaise. I omitted one dose per week in September, planned to omit two doses per week in October and so on until I was off of it.
If I had been aware of this shortage, I would have started the weaning process earlier. But with this recent development, I was forced to stop abruptly. I have gone through the headaches, nausea and malaise--it only lasted about five days so it wasn't too bad. I am feeling pretty good now and I have been sleeping fairly well too.
Yet I am curious what happened. Why would such a helpful drug go off the market? Is the reason too much competition from Prozac and other such meds? Is the pharmaceutical company creating the shortage artificially so they can raise the price? Is there something wrong with it so that doctors no longer are prescribing it? Does anybody out there know?
One friend suggested that there may be a connection between my long term use of Surmontil and my fibromyalgia symptoms. Could that be? It would be interesting if my fibromyalgia symptoms gradually disappear. If so, I could end up feeling grateful for the Surmontil shortage.

Sigur Ros at Red Rocks

Kim, Sean, James and I went to Red Rocks last night to hear the Icelandic Band, Sigur Ros. It was so much fun. Red Rocks is a gorgeous venue for a concert. As well as enjoying the creative genius of various musicians, you can also enjoy the creative genius of God's great creation. Huge red rocks fringed with evergreens embrace the amphitheatre. It is set high above the city of Denver and by the time you reach your seat from the parking lot you feel as though you have climbed a mountain. Stars twinkle above and city lights twinkle below. It is magical.

To me the music of Sigur Ros sounds primeval, mystical, northern and nature-y. It is unique with features like the lead singer playing his guitar with a bow. I have always assumed that they sing in Icelandic but last night I learned that they sing in a made up language of their own. So their music is weak on lyrics but they really know how to create a mood.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A 90th Birthday Celebration

The Carlson family gathered in Rockford, IL on Labor Day Weekend to celebrate Lois Carlson's 90th birthday (which actually took place on August 21). All of our family had the good fortune to be there; Sean and James took a road trip with Kim and I. Sarah, Andrew and Henry flew from Boston. Lance and Marti flew up from Atlanta. We missed Chris and Alison, Kevin and Katie and Clayton but we know they were with us in spirit. We were blessed with gorgeous weather. It was a great time of being with family. We celebrated multiple times at such settings as The Stockholm Inn (we got one of the Carl Larson rooms this time!), JMK Nippon (my favorite Japanese American restaurant) and the new restaurant at Anderson Gardens Kim's Mom was the special birthday person but I think all would admit that Henry was dangerously close to stealing the show with his cuteness and winning ways.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Empty Nesters?

After being empty nesters for a year, our sons are returning home. James spent the past year at Emmaus Bible College, and the summer working at Camp Elim. He had a great summer at Camp and every so often brought some friends home on their day off...roughly noon Saturday until noon Sunday. They would do their laundry, enjoy some home cooking (I hope; although I heard the food at Camp Elim is very good), have one morning to sleep in and enjoy a little recreation. The would attend the 11:30 service with us at First Pres. before taking off to Camp. Above is a photo of him with two girls, Caitlin and Ana Lucia who we had the privilege of hosting. During that particular weekend they spent much of their time watching a "The Office" marathon. It was so much fun getting acquainted with them as well as Caleb and Becky. James has some great friends. He is planning to start classes at The University of Colorado in Colorado Springs this week and will live at home for the time being.

Sean had been living in a house in "the Springs" with good friend and roommate, Ben, until Ben got married to Melissa in June; a beautiful wedding to which we were invited. Sean shared being co-best man with the groom's brother.Then Sean was off to Hollywood for the summer, doing an internship for a film company producing A Dark and Stormy Night. Above he is shown in his cameo role as Ray Vestinhaus. Sean is going to live at home this fall and save up some money for...the next thing in his life.

We love having our sons home again. They are great people and it is fun to have them around. They also help me a lot with my computer and other technological issues.
Now if we could just persuade Sarah, Andrew and Henry to live with us too.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Church Dilemma

Finding the perfect church has been an important but elusive goal for Kim and I for most of our married life. (Of course anyone reading this may recall the adage that once you find the perfect church it will quickly become imperfect because you joined it.) Our faith is important to us and we long to be a part of a nurturing community that truly believes in God, will help us grow spiritually and where we can serve in a meaningful way. Yet we have been frustrated over and over. Finding the right fit has not been an easy process.

A few years ago we belonged to a church that while very much alive at one point ran into a series of difficulties and finally died. We were ready to move on but felt cautious. We decided to take a full year of visiting churches in our city before we made our decision where to settle. Sean and James were both living at home at the time and they were a part of this decision making process. Eventually the four of us felt unanimous about making First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs our church home. like the good Biblical teaching, both the traditional and the contemporary music, the leadership and the way the church reaches out to the members and the community with compassion. All aspects of the worship service are knit together through the teaching, music and right amount of liturgy to focus on a specific theme that is easy to carry away. Kim and I have gotten involved with the Stephen Ministy which is both fulfilling and challenging.

The only drawback is that the church is 25 miles from our home. Recently a land developer building a big residential community close to where we live, has donated some land to our church. The church wants to form a "northern campus" for the church and a group of church members are actively working toward this. We love the idea of going to a church nearer our home. It makes sense to be involved at a church in the community where you live. But we know it won't be the same. Would we still receive the same spritual nourishment that we receive from the big church downtown? We don't know.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another reunion with a Batstone!

Kim and I drove up to Keystone a couple weeks ago to meet my cousin Linda and her husband, Steve, who were vacationing in Aspen. They drove over from Aspen on Wednesday, July 23rd. To our surprise and delight they had their daughter, Emily, with them as well as Emily's boyfriend, Louis. We haven't seen Emily since the 1993 Batstone family reunion. She was only 2 years old at the time. We had dinner together in our Ski Tip condo and a great time of conversation and laughter.
On Thursday, we spent several delightful hours hiking around alpine lakes up on Loveland Pass. It was a gorgeous summer day up there with the trickling streams and bright little wildflowers. Buffie and Sadie were with us and they loved romping around. Sadie looked very much at home like she was in the Scottish Highlands.
We had a late lunch at the Tiki Bar on the shores of Dillon Lake. Steve and Linda enjoyed getting to know Summit County since their son, David, is planning to be work at Copper Mountain this year as a ski patrol. One thing that dismayed us all, though, were all those trees dying of Mountain Pine Beetle. The mountainsides are covered with "red trees."

Monday, July 7, 2008

Vacation in Chicago

Following the wedding, we spent a few days in the city enjoying my favorite 3 R’s: Relaxation, Rest and Freedom. It was a sweet little vacation in the fantasy world of downtown Chicago which offers excitement, stimulation, pleasure and amazement. The more flagrant beauty of the city is contained in a small area. As one moves further from the heart of it, one sees pockets of the other side of city life—dirt, urban decay, crowding, poverty (people unable to keep up with the high cost of living that the city demands). But along the lake and the river, there is beauty and wonder and the wealth to maintain it. The garden plots along Michigan Avenue were gorgeous. Huge pots of flowers and tiny plots of earth bursting forth with the colors and foliage of some of the nicest gardens you can imagine. We took an Architectural Boat Tour on the Chicago River where we learned about the many and varied buildings of Chicago—a cornucopia of architectural styles. We spent an evening on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building admiring the vast view of lake and city, ate at great restaurants like Frontera Grill, had a day at The Art Institute and did a little shopping.

Wedding in Chicago

Last week Kim and I took a trip to Chicago. We traveled there to attend a wedding of a friend of ours who is “schlick to schlick” (sp?) to Kim. I became acquainted with her when she happened to visit Sweden the same summer we did and gathered with the same group of relatives who showed us around Dalarna and gave us such a good time partying at midsummer. She is a wonderful person who was widowed by her first husband when he died of cancer. We wish and pray the very best for her and her new husband. The wedding was held at the beautiful Fourth Presbyterian Church which was used in the film My Best Friend's Wedding. And the reception was a bountiful celebration at the old Opera House, now City Tower. We drove Kim’s parents and aunt to the wedding and spent some time with them along with Kim’s brother, Lance. We visited Stockholm Inn in Rockford as usual. We love the new Carl Larson rooms.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cousin Dave

It was great fun when my cousin Dave Batstone came to visit us last week. He and his managing director (and co-founder) of Not For Sale, Mark Wexler, were here to evaluate a donor development firm that is headquartered in Colorado Springs. We had a great evening of conversation and laughter as we caught up on one another’s lives.
I have intended to read his book Not For Sale for a while now. Now I have no excuse because Dave gave me an autographed copy. It exposes the tragedy of modern-day slavery and how we can help. I think it is one of the most worthwhile social causes for which one could fight.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Our New England Trip

It has been over a week since I returned from my trip out east, but that remains for me, one of the most significant things in my life of late. Kim and I had a great couple days in Bass Harbor with Sarah, Andrew and Henry. As Andrew was leaving to go home to work, Kim’s brother and sister-in-law arrived with their daughter. The two brothers and their wives and daughters had a good time enjoying the delights of Mr. Dessert Island. We climbed Cadillac Mountain (by car) and pondered where it was exactly that Henry Hager proposed to Jenna Bush, delighted in the sights of Acadia National Park as we drove Park Loop Road, ate popovers at the Jordan Pond House, had some good ice cream at Mt. Dessert Ice Cream Co. and a gourmet meal at Havana’s in Bar Harbor, did a bit of shopping in Bar Harbor and took a little outing to view the famous Bass Harbor Light.

Lance, Marti and Katie left for Atlanta and Kim, Sarah, Henry and I drove down to Boston. I planned to stay with my parents as Mom recuperated from hip replacement surgery. Kim and I visited her in the Mount Auburn Hospital. (I observed the hospital with interest because in the novel I was reading, Run by Ann Patchett, the hospital figures prominently.) Mom did very well with this major operation, heroically refusing pain medication and progressing well with her walking and her exercises. I hope I was able to be a good support to them during Mom’s first week of recovery. Although Dad did very well at handling everything—managing the household as well as being a staunch medical support to Mom. I helped prepare meals for them with the help of Margi’s Dinner’s Done pre-prepared meals. I enjoyed being with them and I trust that next time I visit, Mom will be pain-free with her new left hip. Meanwhile, Kim left after a couple days in Boston in order to accompany Sean as he moved to Los Angeles to do his UCCS internship with a film production company. I am grateful for the opportunity to visit with Margi, Don and Belinda (and meet their cute little dog Muffin). Unfortunately I did not see Doug and Patty, David and all my nieces and nephews out there.

While with my parents, I spent one more beautiful day with Sarah and Henry. We went to Lynch Park, a seaside park in Beverly, and let Henry have the run of the place while we followed him around. He had a great time on the playground equipment with a short visit to the beach to dig a bit of sand. Sarah prepared a nice picnic lunch which we ate on the run as we tried to keep up with busy little Henry. When he was finally exhausted, we got into the car and before we had driven very far, he was fast asleep. We used that opportunity for Sarah to do some shopping. We found a shady parking spot and I “babysat” Henry while Sarah shopped. After Sarah was finished and Henry woke up, we went to a great ice cream place nearby—Richardsons. My lovely day was complete with a meal at Julian House with the Carlson-Liers and the Wassells. Christina made a delicious summer meal of BLTs and steak fries. I had a lot of fun connecting with the Wassell boys again.