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Hi Friends!

It’s been a little over a year since I retired Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog.  I can’t tell you how many times a day, over that year, you’ve all crossed my mind.  Many of you followed me over to Facebook, so I feel like we’ve all pretty much stayed connected through social media.  This summer, while we were on Mackinac for three months, I wrote for the Mackinac Island News and Views Facebook Page, and that gave me a chance to continue talking about the island we all love – without all the deadlines I was always imposing on myself with the blog.  It worked for me in a large way, and I hope those of you who followed along were pleased with that format.  But.  For a few of you, we’ve lost touch, and I thought today was a good day to try and catch up with everyone.

So here goes.

We had a pretty chilly winter last year (which suited me just fine).  Ted and I continued to volunteer – Ted, working two days a week at the Visitor’s Center at Fort Matanzas, and me, working two days a week in Same Day Surgery.

Our granddaughter Jordan graduated from high school and started college at the University of Alabama.  Grandson Matthew got his driver’s license.  I can’t believe he will be off and gone himself in a couple of years.  That happened way too fast.  Ted surprised me with a week in the mountains in June for my birthday, and oh my gosh it was nice.  He booked a cabin right next to a flowing stream, and Jason, Jen and Alex joined us for a few days.  By the time we got home it was almost time to pack up and head to Mackinac.  We once again visited with Ted’s newly found family in Michigan for a few days and so enjoyed strengthening those bonds before we traveled on to Mackinac.  Our son Blake, who lives in Turkey, visited us for ten days right after we arrived on the island, and throughout the summer we had visitors from near and far, including three of my girl cousins from south Georgia!  We spent Thanksgiving with Jason, Jen and Alex at Palmetto Bluff SC, and they joined Julie, Matt, Jordan and Matthew here at the house with us for Christmas.  We had a very quiet New Year’s Eve.

I guess the big news (in my mind anyway) for the summer was my health.  I developed a cough in June, and by the time we left for the island it had been going on for a month and was driving me nuts.  It was  almost constant.  I couldn’t talk without coughing, and once I started coughing I’d start sneezing (which seemed to last for 15 minutes at a time), and my eyes would water until I looked like I’d been crying over a really sad movie.  By the beginning of September I was fed up, and on the advice of a Mackinac friend I took myself down the hill to the Mackinac Island Medical Center.  Just to rule out pneumonia, they took a chest x-ray and sent me back to the condo on antibiotics and a short dose of steroids.  You can imagine my shock when I got a call two days later from the med center that the x-ray had shown a nodule in my left lung, and several cloudy areas in both lungs. They wanted me in St. Ignace THAT AFTERNOON for a CT scan.

The next four weeks are a blur.  After the scan was inconclusive, I was referred to Petoskey to a pulmonologist, who ultimately scheduled me for a needle biopsy of the lung nodule.  The day I had the biopsy I will admit to riding the ferry back to Mackinac with Ted, believing I had lung cancer.

Almost a week later, I met with my pulmonologist for my biopsy results.  He opened the door, and the first words out of his mouth were, “You don’t have cancer.”  Tears of joy came then.

Long story short.  I’ve been diagnosed with histoplasmosis, which usually occurs when you live somewhere with lots of birds.  They don’t think it’s active – they don’t even think my cough (which has gotten so much better) is even related to the histo.  I had a follow-up CT scan last month that showed basically the same thing as the first one.  My primary doctor here in Florida wasn’t comfortable with what he was seeing though (his exact words were, “you just have a lot of weird stuff in your lungs”), so he referred me to a pulmonologist at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.  After meeting with her, and after she reviewed all my scans and the pathologist report, she has said, “Go live your life.  We’ll scan you again before you leave for Mackinac.  As long as there’s no change, you’re good to go.”  She did request further blood tests (all of which are negative for anything) and asked that I have the hospital in Petoskey send the slides of my biopsy to Mayo for their pathologist to review.  I took care of that last week.

After ruling out cancer, all the doctors I’ve seen think the cough, sneezing and runny eyes are due to something in the environment I’m inhaling.  Since the allergy season in Florida never really ends, I see a lot of Zyrtec in my future.  And that’s ok.

I’m feeling great, and my cough is almost non-existent. I’m out with Bodie walking everyday and have even started to do a little biking again.  Life is good, and I know that the many prayers that were lifted up for me this summer were answered by a very gracious and loving God.  Thank you to all of you who lifted those prayers.

Now for fun stuff!  Ted and I leave March 26 to travel to the Holy Land with a group of friends from Little Stone Church.  This trip has been almost a year in the planning, and we are so excited!  Our goal is to NOT have checked baggage for this trip and we’ve ordered new luggage that incorporates packing cubes.  I know you’re all laughing out loud – at least those of you who’ve seen on the old blog posts everything I pack up for a Mackinac trip.  But we are determined not to have to worry about lost luggage!

At the end of the trip, Ted will fly home with most of the group, while another small group goes on an extended tour.  I’m doing something entirely different.  The day Ted leaves for home I will fly from Tel Aviv to Istanbul and then on to Ankara – to visit Blake for a few days.  Then I will fly back into Tel Aviv, meet up with the second Little Stone Church group, and fly home with them.  Am I nervous?  You bet your life I am.  But I’m also so excited I can hardly sleep at night!

Even with all that going on, I’m still thinking ahead to being back on Mackinac for three months again this summer.  If all goes as planned, we’ll be there again the middle of July through the middle of October.  I’ve been asked to write for “News and Views” again, and I’m so looking forward to that!

So.  That’s what been happening with the Horton clan over the last year and what’s coming up in the months ahead.  I’d love to hear what’s been happening in your lives, so please feel free to comment!

Sending love and hugs to all of you.  I miss y’all.

Brenda (Bree)

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