Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Morning

Yesterday I did manage to get a lot done. I woke up early. Several of our neighbors were having a yard sale. I really didn't have anythingto sell but Rob had some games so he set up a table outside. I drove about 45 minutes to the closest Costco and did a major shopping. It took me over an hour to shop but I came home with a trunk full. That will make it so much easier than our recent system of picking up a few things at a time. We were spending so much money buying extra things that way. I now have a freezer full of meat and other food and a fridge full of fresh veggies and items for snacks. It's amazing how good some of the buys there are. I got a box of 36 ice cream treats for about $14.00. These were not for me though. I bought them as a pick me up gift for my mother. She was thrilled. She was saying yesterday that she really needs to get rid of the food she has in the freezer. Yesterday she made appetizers of tiny pieces of filet mignon wrapped in bacon. My sister made a cream cheese covered in a pepper type relish from Harry & David's over crackers. We didn't even want dinner when we got home.
My neighbor and friend called me last night saying they missed seeing me so much. I am rarely home these days other than at bedtime. I promised her that I would find time to spend with her today. There just aren't enough hours in the day anymore. In addition to working full time and visiting my Dad, it is a job to keep the prescriptions filled and doctors appointments made and kept. At work I am required to ask for time off about a month in advance. They just changed our attendance policy and now we can only miss four unscheduled days in a YEAR. Since it used to be nearly one day per month this is a major change. I get sick several times a year and don't know how I will manage to deal with such a strict policy.
I hope I have a laid back day today. The weekends go so fast.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Another day where I have woken up at 4:30 and could not go back to sleep. I am exhausted and my day at work has not yet begun. ~~~~~~~~~
Some two weeks ago my mother went for a mammogram and some tests. When the doctors told her that they would contact her and didn't within a few days, I knew everything was fine. I have dealt with these doctors for years. My sister got upset at me for telling my mother not to worry that things were fine. My mother had crying spells and would not accept things were alright.(She used to get so frustrated at her mother for doing this same thing.) Yesterday she got a phone call confirming that everything was fine. Of course, this past weekend she was in a state and I spent much of my time going to the nursing home in her place. I realize that I cannot continue at this pace. I must work. We count on my benefits and my paycheck. While I want to help out I am getting entirely too stressed.
There are other things going on that are very stressful. A temp agency sent my husband for a job and then a few days later it seems the company has decided not to offer this position. In this country right now some companies are using temp agencies to fill what would have been permanent jobs. They can tell people it will lead to something permanent so the potential employee will work harder, perhaps travel further, and accept less pay in the beginning. Many people have told us that these are only positions where they are looking for someone to work a couple of days. How unfair. In this economy, I find this particularly cruel. The two days of travel expenses means that having worked two days which gets deducted from unemployment and counting in travel expenses it will have cost us money for him to work those days. The hours were not good, it was second shift and he didn't get home until nearly midnight. I do not think it was a coincidence that they needed him to start immediately and it was a holiday weekend.

Sometimes at my job they offer for people to leave early without pay. I have been very good about not taking more than a couple hours per paycheck. If it is offered today I think I will do this for myself. I need it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Today is a smorgasbord of emotion for me. As a teen I was too young to be a real hippie, and my parents kept stepping on my attempts at freedom. Like when an older girl I knew had tickets to Woodstock and got to go. Well, her parents named her Violet and they were really free spirits, unlike my Dad who declared that if I ever went to a hippie lovefest he would be waiting for me with weapons of mass destruction when I returned. Okay, keeping it real, there were no such terms as weapons of mass destruction back then, but you get the idea. There were honestly threats of bodily harm. REAL threats. My brother lucked out missing the Viet Nam draft because of a lottery and his birthday came in near the end of the list. I was so grateful. Many guys I did know went to Viet Nam and most of them were changed when they returned. My father was in the Navy (retired and then went on to a great career using his Navy training as a diver to become a hyperbaric chamber specialist) and very proud of his service. When my father was proud of something anyone around him knew it.
Today we will go see him. His eyes are becoming a bit more empty all the time. His words are limited to yes, no and okay. He tries to speak but cannot which frustrates him still. He is slipping away constantly and it is so damn hard to watch. We still go and hope that although he cannot really communicate, he can hear us and understand that we are doing all we can for him. He has had a good life. As an only child he wanted a large family and when he found he had five kids and mulitple teens at once I think he felt he had bitten off more than he could chew. He was a strict disciplinarian. We hated that about him. He always knew best and if you didn't agree then it showed you were lacking judgement. He was headstrong. Once in a great while he will stomp his foot to let you know he means NO. I know what is coming and I know I must get through it but I wish it weren't so damn hard.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Have I mentioned I live for weekends?

I am so happy that I will have three days off work. My dear friend, Susan, did an article asking what are you grateful for? and it really got me thinking. Sometimes I get frustrated with people because I have met and known many very ungrateful people. From the time I was a young child I was very appreciative.
Right now I am so grateful that my husband began a new job last night. In all honesty, the hours were not what he hoped for and it's a little further to commute to then we had hoped for but that does not diminish our joy that he got a job after four months of looking. This was the first job that offered what he made previously. He really likes the place too and the other employees. I am grateful that while he was out of work and I was adjusting to the diagnosis of diabetes he was here to chaffeur me to doctor visits and help me plan meals and get adjusted to the all the medicine and changes it brought. Rob is a NICE GUY. I am grateful for that.
I am grateful that I am still employed while so many have lost their jobs. My company is much quicker to terminate employess that are not living up to what is expected of them these days. I am working harder but things are going well.
I am grateful that through the past month with my Dad's sudden and devastating physical problems that I have come a little closer to my sister. For the first time in my life the other night my mother said she loved me. My mother is very guarded with her emotions and it nearly floored me. Seeing your parents who were strong in their hours of need and weakness is rough. I am glad for all the moments I had with my father after the first stroke when he could still communicate with me. I felt a lot of forgiveness towards things that I had carried for years. I am so grateful for that.
I am grateful for each day that I have to live. People take that for granted but anyone who has ever been a cancer patient knows the value of another day. I love life. Even on the dreary days and the days that I feel my heart will break.
Please take a few moments and ask yourself what you are grateful for.
If you are someone who takes their time to read my posts, please know that I think of you as a friend and I am grateful for you also.
THREE DAY WEEKENDS: you make my heart sing!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Beautiful and Sunny Today

Today the weather was glorious. There was a chill in the breeze. I sat on my patio and watched the blooms of my clematis vine and another vine whose name escapes me. The purple iris my grandmother gave me are blooming after my wait of nearly two years. I had some beautiful moments soaking in the sunshine and the beauty of the yard. Today I didn't go to the rehab/nursing home. I gave myself a day off. Yesterday was really difficult. My father didn't want to be bothered by anyone and he slipped down in the wheelchair trying to sleep. We took him out to the gazebo and in the courtyard to enjoy the fresh air but nothing could interest him. Tomorrow I will try to observe something interesting at work that will amuse him. He loves my tales, the more I embellish the more he enjoys it. I do get an occassional smile from him. They are golden. My sister came for another weekend. I feel so badly for her driving four hours each way and then to see him like this. She is not sleeping well. She has a very close friend she spends time with when here and he seems to be helping her. My mother said yesterday that we are all hurting and it's so hard when we are all hurting not to tread on anyone else. Certain people in the family want to tell my mother what to do and my sister and I are telling her that she must do what is right for HER and not anyone else. She is sticking to her guns and I am proud of her for that.
I went clothes shopping today. The first time in a very long time, honestly. Don't look at me like that.......I mean it. I bought a white cardigan, stylish with 3/4 sleeves perfect to wear over the black and white top that ties at the shoulder because my workplace is always FREEZING in the summer. That and black pants will be perfect and I even have some wonderful shoes that are black leather with white stitching on them. I also got some nice slacks that are capri length with cuffs and buttons. I have to have clothes for work. I am down 18 lbs. and my old pants were really too big. I am not buying a lot because I hope to lose more weight by July 1st. I heart TJ Maxx because I can get Jones NY or Liz Clairborne but pay prices that are half or less. Most of the young ladies that I work with wear things that are very stylish but I would not be comfortable wearing. They are all wearing plaid right now. I hated plaid the first time it was stylish. It's just not me.
Well time to go to bed. The weekend draws to an end and work again tomorrow. My job is going so much better for me than it was a few months ago. The situation hasn't changed much, but my attitude has. I am trying hard not to sweat the small stuff. Learning daily that it's basically all small stuff in the grand scheme of life. Sometimes we have to swallow the bitter pill and move on.
Wishing you all a good week. Take time to stop and smell the flowers.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Shadow of a Man

I am still here. Going to work each day. Leaving a few hours early some days to be with my mother at the nursing home. Knowing that I am losing my father and my grandmother at the same time. Trying to show them both all the love and support I can. My Dad is slipping more and more away each day. It is sad to see the strong person he was unable to shift his weight or sit upright at times.
I cannot dwell on that. It's about what can be done to make his life a little better right now. We had hoped to bring him home with hospice but right now he is not strong enough to be home without 24/7 medical care. At times like this I cling to my faith. I had bad times. I cry easily but life goes on. Each day I try to find something positive to cling to.
This situation has brought my sister and I much closer. I have been able to spend several weekends with her as we both watch my father and comfort my mother. There is always a silver lining.
For two nights in a row my neighbor Stacey has brought dinner over for us.
I can't tell you how much that meant. It was feeding my spirit as much as my body, although the lasagna was delicious.
Words fail me. It is the best of times (when I am feeling the love). It is the worst of times (feeling the sorrow that is to come).
I am reminded of a scripture from the book of Job in the Bible.
The Lord giveth
The Lord taketh away
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
I am trusting that God hears our prayers and will get us through this.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


my sister Dottie and I on Mother's Day!

I want to wish all the mothers a Happy Mothers Day. I think of all the moms, like one of my cousins, who are estranged from their children. Today is a bittersweet reminder of that. As I told her, it is my hope that as these children become more mature, perhaps they will reenter her life. I also think of the mothers that have lost a child today. So devastating for them and I know so many from when my son was ill. For those mothers I offer up prayers today.

Dad was moved yesterday back to the nursing home/rehab center. There will be nothing further done for him other than to keep him comfortable and he will continue to receive the rehab he was before. This is to give him the best quality of life possible. He is much quieter than he was. His speech is more impaired and his voice is weak. His heart rate fluctuates and yesterday was stronger but he slept much of the day. I am only going to put general updates here. To be honest, we don't know how long he has. We were told he was very unlikely to survive another stroke and since he has had two in a two week period already, they expect he will have another. All we can do is visit him and show support. At times it isn't easy because it seems we are watching slip slowly away. I keep reminding myself this is the circle of life and he has had 85 years, a good life.

My husband, sister and I are taking my mother out for brunch. She is a Sunday School Superintendent at her church. I think she will be giving that up in the near future. After that is over we will pick her up and go try to celebrate Mother's Day. I keep trying to let her know that no matter what, life goes on. Until recently, my mother didn't even write checks to pay bills. Now she has been dealing with choices that mean life or death. She is leaning a lot on us and that's okay. She has her own health issues. For years my parents ate a terrible diet which was fat laden. My father's carotid artery is almost completely blocked. I think this is a wake up call for all of the family. I know, although I have watched my diet in the past, I will be more diligent now.

It is a beautiful sunny day, 70 degrees will be the high. After the many rainy days and the humidity of yesterday, it makes my heart sing. Although I feel moments of despair, I have learned that life is to be treasured. Even the bad times are moments in which we can learn. I choose to focus on what good can be found in this and the moments that we are spending with him, knowing they are limited.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Waiting Game

Yesterday I got a phone call at work to ask my opinion (all five of us kids were polled) about putting a pacemaker in my father. My cardiologist who he used as well told us that while it would prolong his heart he has suffered two strokes and now has considerable weakness in his right side, a part of his brain with no activity and his speech is very imparied. Hope of recovery is slim to none. He probably wouldn't survive the surgery. We made the decision not for him to have it and I was relieved that we all felt this way. We made some other decisions that I know were right, but still were painful to make. At this point he is in heart failure. All we can do is keep him comfortable. He wants to come home and has since the first stroke. IF we can do it, we are going to bring him home. My mother fell apart last night. My sister and I and my youngest brother were there to put her back together.
There is not much more to say. I am on an emotional roller coaster. There are people who all want to control the ride. My father has no idea what is going on. He perhaps is the lucky one right now. I have a vacation day today. The sun is out after several days of rain.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Weary Wednesday

When I got up this morning I was tired and was reluctant to go to work but I did. When I arrived my computer was not working and I had to borrow a coworkers to log in for the day. I then used another coworker's computer all day. It didn't have my links in it and there were several snags, including the tiny font when I have mine the largest it can be. They offered for some of us to leave early without pay and I put in to leave two hours early thinking I could get to the hospital and have my monthly blood test. I arrived and it was quickly done. As I left the hospital I called my mother and invited her to dinner telling her I would go to the rehab with her afterwards. A few short minutes later she called back saying they had taken my father to the ER of the hospital I had just left. His heartbeat was weak and he was unresponsive. I turned my car around and in about seven minutes I was running into the ER. They sent me back to the acute care part and told me he was in room 3. When I arrived I saw a bag with his clothes in it and he was not in the room. My heart began to pound when I found a nurse and she told me that HIS nurse accompanied him for a CT scan. I have never heard of a nurse staying with a patient for a radiology test. After about half an hour, his wonderful nurse, Charlotte and he came back. One glance told me he had suffered another stroke, seemingly worse than the first. He cannot say more than yes or no now. His voice is incredibly weak and for the first three hours his heart rate was about 35. I was very concerned. They did determine he had another stroke and slowly his heart rate went up to about 60 by the time we left. It is nearly 11 and I am exhausted, mentally and physically. Unless there is a dramatic improvement I don't see that he will able to return home. Tonight I prayed that he would get a lot better or that he would go to sleep and not wake up again. I don't want him to suffer and I know that he would never want a life without quality. I am hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. This kind of thought pattern has gotten me through some bad times before. I don't know how I will make it through two more work days this week but I must.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sunday...or Serenity Now

James and Lucy.....
I am a big Seinfeld fan. I have seen each episode dozens of times and I can still relate so many life experiences to the episodes. My Dad talks about himself in the third person now. He has no pronouns other than he. Everything is male. When he is asked a question about himself his answer is in the third person.
What is your name? "His name is James." At times the humor of this really hits me because of an episode where George meets Jimmy who has invented these special shoes that can jump so high. Jimmy ONLY speaks in the third person and George finds this annoying and then begins to immitate it. "George doesn't like this." I find by seeing the humor, it makes things a lot easier. Yesterday my mother and I took their Boston Terrier, Lucy to see Dad. It was comical and I did take some pics which are in my phone. Dad insists Lucy is a foal (doesn't seem to have the word dog) , she is a HE (as is everything else) and the day before he had renamed her Kelly. Today he called her my name, but then later changed to Lucy. She knew him right away which thrilled him but then she didn't want to sit on his lap in the wheelchair for very long. It was a busy day and Rob took Lucy to PetSmart to get her a harness to make the visits easier. The collar seemed to be choking her. Rob then came home and prepared his sausage and pepper pasta which is so good. My sister insisted she couldn't eat anything that was not light so my mother and sister didn't stay although my mother wanted to. They went back to the nursing home but I vegged in front of the tv. I have a problem sleeping and have been waking up at four or five a.m. on weekends when I could be sleeping in. It's frustrating. The upside is I get a few hours of quiet to myself. (I am being followed around by a panting Sheltie which does sometimes interfere with the zen experience.)
Yesterday morning I had to go to the doctor. I noticed a rash like band around the bottom of my left leg. Between parts it looked a bit like cellulitis. The doctor thought it was a contact dermatitis but because of my other issues, she was concerned and had another doctor check it out as well. They gave me steroid cream and sent me home with strict instructions that if it starts moving up my leg to go to the ER. Luckily, this has not happened. Cause Nelle is sick of being at hospitals, as a patient and a visitor. He really is. He may need professional help. LOL George would say "Serenity now!"
I am hoping to have a VERY leisurely day today. That does mean popping over to see Dad. Taking him the soft peppermint candies he loves. Seeing if I can get the photos into the computer and perhaps print one to take him for his room there. He has a long way to go but I think he has made remarkable progress in just one week. Patience IS a virtue. I am still learning to be patient but when faced with these situations it has to be one day at a time.