Thursday, January 31, 2008

10 things about me

1. I'm a Christian and believe the only way to salvation is through acceptance of Jesus as your personal savior.

2. I'm passionate about my faith, my husband, kids, and grandkids.

3. I love to read.

4. I do scrapbooks for others.

5. My screen name came about because I made soaps and lotions for my family and friends.

6. I like to play Scrabulous on Facebook.

7. I hate to get dirty.

8. I love coffee and tea. I like most flavorings except Hazelnut.

9. My favorite TV shows include Survivor and Amazing Race.

10. I like shoes. I have lots - not high-heeled shoes but SHOES. I especially like short boots that zip or tie.

some thoughts

My SIL has had a lot of financial problems and health problems over the past few years. Her husband died several years ago and she's felt very alone in the world. While their mother was alive my SIL had something to keep her focused and someone she lived near (she lives in FL and we do not). There's a lot more background on this story that I could go into, but because I don't want to jeopardize her privacy so I'll just leave it at this.

She sent us an email the other day and her statements really got me to thinking, so I wrote her a really long email in return. I decided that maybe someone else might happen across this site and need to read some of these same words, so I'm taking out the names and posting it here for all to read.

First of all, DH and I want you to come for a visit. Daughter's bedroom and grandson's bedroom will be done this weekend so there’s a bedroom and a private bathroom that you can use, complete with shower, separate soaker tub, and toilet. Bring your dog. Maybe you’ll find a house in our development that you’d like to buy and leave your stresses in Florida. Come live somewhere that you have people around who are willing to help you out, take care of you, and spend time with. We’d have fun. You know I’m your favorite SIL anyway…

You commented that I was very intelligent and a strong person. I appreciate that. There are times when I certainly don’t feel I’m either. What I do have, and the main thing I keep falling back on, is a very strong faith in God. We’ve been through so much since 1999 that I can’t even begin to explain without it sounding like I’m whining. Without the grace of God I am not sure where we’d be, but it certainly would not be right here, right now. DH and I were both off work several months in 1999 and I never did get to go back to my job; he was off several months again in 2000. We nearly lost our house and had to rely on friends and church for food and to pay our utilities more than once. My car was repossessed. I’m not sure that we ever shared that with anyone in our families. Yes, we made some bad financial mistakes but overwhelmingly, it was medical problems that put us over the top. I worked at low-paying jobs until I got this one and although it’s not a high-paying job, it’s better than the fast food industry and I have benefits.

Then, in 2006 when DH lost his foot, he was off nearly 11 months. I had managed to save about $3,000 the previous year to do some work on our fence and yard. We ended up spending every dime of it on living expenses. It was $60 per month for the visiting nurses, $60 per month on the wound vac, $60 per month to rent the wheelchair and roll-about, $60 per month for the extra doctor visits. Extra time off for me so I could run him places. The list goes on and on. We were drowning in medical expenses but throughout it all I still managed to keep my faith in God and knew that He would pull us through. I knew that He hadn’t abandoned us before and I didn’t expect He would this time either (I still feel that way). I didn’t tithe 10% per se of our income, but I did give what God told me to give each week. Sometimes it was more than others. I was amazed at what I was able to give to others by being faithful to God, and He in turn blessed us beyond measure.

When I was in the doctor’s office with DH on Monday I was pretty depressed. We’ve been fighting this heel ulcer off and on for nearly a year. I’d get it healed up and a few weeks later it would be back. This time it’s the worst of all though. It keeps spreading. It was pretty upsetting to have the doctor say it’s not healing and that he wanted DH to see the wound care team. That could mean a long road ahead of us for it. Before we left I had to use the restroom. While I was in there I heard a song being played that made me feel much better and that things would really be OK – no matter what we’re dealing with right now, the outcome would be OK. When I came out of the restroom I asked DH if he’d heard the song, too. He said that he had not. I don’t know if he just didn’t hear it and it was playing all over, or if it was a “special” song just for me in the restroom. The song? Our God is an Awesome God! I heard a very spiritual song in a truly secular environment. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I think it was an audible reminder to keep focused on Him and He would (once again) see us through our trials and tribulations.

Yes, you are entirely correct that God only gives us the amount of burden that He thinks we can carry. Like you, I’ve often questioned just where is my breaking point and why do I continue to be tormented by troubles. On more than one occasion, I’ve cried out “Why me?” and the overwhelming answer I get back is “Why not?” Our troubles are great but our God is greater. We have so much negative going on around us and so much to be thankful for. People in Haiti are eating “dirt cakes” for nourishment. Thank God that we have real food on the table and I don’t have to go buy dirt – real dirt – because it’s the only thing I can afford to feed my family. Those people are so much stronger than I am because I am not sure I could do it and I thank God that I’m not there having to. That’s really having a burden to bear.

I used to have the same feelings of being lost on the beach and not being able to find God in things. He’s still there. Sometimes we can’t find him because we’re too busy looking in the wrong places. Sometimes we have to just shut up and listen. Sometimes we realize He was there all along and just waiting for us to slow down long enough to get a word in edgewise. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. None of us can compare with Mother Teresa. It’s not a matter of being a “good” person vs. a “bad” person. God is no respecter of persons and He doesn’t play favorites. It’s hard to look at others and not wonder why they got something better or had what appears to be an easier life. Again – “Why not me?” and the answer is “Why should it be you?” On the outside things might be very rosy for them but life on the inside could be unimaginable. My sister had what appeared to be the best life of all of us girls and she was a good person, too. Great husband, talented kids, great job, impressive house, impeccable hostess skills, etc. That was the outside. On the inside, she was married to a monster – a bisexual pervert who brought men and women prostitutes home – and her children were a mess. Her house was mortgaged to the hilt, she was over $100,000 in debt from credit cards, and she had an alcohol and gambling problem. Was it any surprise to us that her life was really like that? Yes, it certainly was. And before she would let any of us help her she took her own life. My sister’s life was surely not the plan that God had intended for her. She knew that she couldn’t tell her pastor what her real life was like any more than she could tell her family what it was like. It devastated my family when the truth (and not even the whole of it) came out and nearly killed my parents. If my mother hadn’t had her faith in God through all of this I don’t know what would have become of her. Through this, my father accepted Christ as his personal savior and now he’s at rest with Jesus, too.

Another point I want to bring up is the feeling of loneliness that overwhelms you. Please forgive me if I tread too close but I’ve tossed this around for quite a while. While I think you should cherish the memories of your DH and your life together, I think you should move past. I know you probably think this is easy for me to say because I have DH and your sister has her DH. And, you’d be right – we do have each other – and it’s not even about sex because we haven’t had that since May or June of 1999. But, we also have all the responsibilities that go along with having each other, too. I know that he has health problems, they have their handicapped son to deal with, and it’s great that they have each other to talk to at the end of the day. DH has health problems and I’ve had my share of problems, too. It’s a lot of work to be in a relationship and when it’s gone you miss it. My daughter misses being in a relationship (she’s been single three years) and my sister misses it (she’s been single 14 years). I guess what I’m saying is try to not dwell on the past and what you’re missing but look forward to the future and what lies ahead. You’re still young (65, right? {just kidding]) You have a lot to look forward to. Yes, you’re in pain and yes, you’re lonely. Go volunteer at a hospital (get an electric scooter and go visit patients or take them books to read), volunteer down at the Red Cross, go to a soup kitchen and visit with the homeless as they come in to eat. Your life will take on a whole new fullness and a whole new meaning. You’ll find you have new direction. Maybe someone needs to have you as their friend and only you can provide the comfort they need. God has a plan for your life right now and you just have to find it.

If you would be willing to give it a shot, we’ll help you find if it’s supposed to be in our town.

Bible verses for encouragement:

John 3:16 (I know you know this one, but it’s always nice to hear) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that none should perish but have everlasting life.” But, have you ever heard anyone talk about John 3:17? “For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him.” This is saying directly that you need to accept Jesus as your own personal Savior so that you may also be saved. My question to you has to be this – have you asked for forgiveness for where you have failed God (I hate to say “sins” as we’ve all sinned and come short but we have to ask forgiveness for them) and asked that Jesus come into your heart.

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not; for I am with you. Be not dismayed; for I am your God. I will strengthen you; yea, I will help you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you", says the LORD, "thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall you call upon Me, and you shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And you shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart."

John 15:16-19 “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hate you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Romans 5:3b-5 “...we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulations works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope make not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

I got most of these scriptures from this link:

I think you have a strong witness and someday, somewhere, God will call upon you to share your heartache and triumph with someone else.

We love you and pray only the best for you. Be sure to let us know what you find out about your back and the house. Here’s a big hug for you {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{hug}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}! But, remember when there are no earthly people around to give you a physical hug, climb on up in the arms of Jesus and let Him grant you rest and peace. No matter how much earthly people can love on you, it doesn’t compare with the love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Good news for a change

Medical test #2 for the week and this one brought good news. DH does not have stomach cancer. He's got some irritations in the stomach which the doctor biopsied but nothing looks life-threatening.

We had a bit of a confusion on the tests though. I thought DH had one yesterday at the hospital, one this morning at the hospital, and another one two hours later at the out-patient surgical center. There was only one test at the hospital - yesterday - but we had to be at the surgical center at 10:00 this morning. We got home about 1:30 and he slept most of the way home. Of course, he's asked the same questions over and over because the medication they gave him makes him not remember the question or the answer.

Since he's not supposed to walk around I came home with him and didn't go to work.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Medical tests

Today was an interesting medical test. I never did hear what it was called so can’t even look it up to see what they were looking for.

My husband and I arrived at the hospital for a 7:45 AM check-in. He had to be fasting, including water, for the test. By 8:00 they had him in Radiology and had given him a full breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast – and maybe something to drink. The eggs had radioactive material and he had only six minutes to eat the whole meal. He said it was gross. The eggs were cold and the bacon was greasy. The only good part was the toast, which was pretty soggy with butter/margarine. I’m sure that was to help mask the taste of the stuff although the technician said it was a tasteless additive to the food. (On a side note, he said they used to feed the material to the chickens and then would grind up the chicken liver for the patient to eat. That sounds even grosser.)

Once they took the first x-ray, we had to sit and wait. They came back and got him every 30 minutes for about 2.5 hours and then we were finished.

Tomorrow he goes for some more testing. Oh, the joys of being a caregiver.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The balance game

I fall. Not often, but sometimes and I nearly always walk like I’m under the influence. I have Meniere’s disease and only one functioning balance nerve (and sometimes it forgets to function, too). I had a couple of bouts of severe vertigo in August 2000 and woke up a week later deaf in my right ear and the right side of my face numb. This followed a very recent (within 30 days prior) of being diagnosed with diabetes. The first doctor who examined me (in the ER) said I had a blocked eustacean tube, prescribed nasal spray and sent me on my way. The second doctor heard that I’d been diagnosed with diabetes and immediately told me I was deaf and to just get used to it (honestly, those are almost his exact words and his physical exam stopped right then). Then he wanted me to schedule a follow-up visit with him in six months. I told the receptionist that I wouldn’t be making a return visit as I was sure I’d be “used” to being deaf by then and if he couldn’t help me now, what could he possibly do in six months for me.

The third doctor I saw (after reading and researching sudden-onset deafness on the Web) was distressed that I’d not seen him immediately as he had a treatment that sometimes restored the hearing but it had to be started within 24-48 hours of the onset (and now I was about two weeks into deafness). I told him that my family doctor had tried to get me in there but his receptionist said he was booked up solid. He was visibly angry and said that he had blocks of time reserved for emergency patients and I was clearly one. So, although he couldn’t do the full course of treatment, he put me on steroids for 10 days which restored a bit of sound in my ear but no real hearing.

I was told the best option for doing away with the recurring vertigo was to have the right balance nerve surgically removed. I’d recently seen the effects of “surgical removal” of a balance nerve when my youngest sister had an acoustic neuroma removed. It wasn’t pretty and I knew I didn’t want that. The other option was non-surgical destruction of the nerve with gentamycin injections. The injections would kill the nerve, allowing my left balance nerve to take over for my whole body. It would, however, destroy any remaining hearing I had in my right ear. It wasn’t much but granted it was a little bit.

I opted for the injections and they were very painful. The good news is that I have very few vertigo episodes. The bad news is that my left ear never fully took over for the right ear (even after balance therapy) so now I have a physical limitation. I never know when I’m going to fall. I’ve broken a finger, tore my left rotator cuff, sprained my left ankle, twisted my left knee, and hurt my left hip. Those are the big injuries. I don’t even count the bruises and bumps I have all the time – most of which I don’t know for sure how I got.

I also tend to talk a bit loud on the phone, especially a cell phone. I try to use a headset and make a conscious effort to talk quieter but there are times when it just doesn’t happen that way. I’ve had rude comments, rude stares, and probably a lot of things I missed. Oh well… You do what you’ve got to do.

So, if you happen to see me on the street and I’m running into things – I’m not drunk or under the influence of anything. It’s just me in all my coordinated glory!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


A dear friend said I inspire her. She said my dedication to my husband and to taking care of his health is inspiring. That was truly an awesome thing to say and lifted my spirits. I don’t feel inspiring at all. I feel tired, stressed, worn out, and sometimes resentful.

With the hand problems my husband has, he has a lot of problems keeping his food on the fork (or spoon) and with personal hygiene. Short of cleaning him myself I’ve opted to just clean up after him. It is tiring to clean the toilet and floor as often as I do and to check every shirt for stains before they’re washed but I’ve accepted that it’s something I must do. I do it because I love him and I know he’d do it for me if the roles were reversed.

Dedication is really a term that more closely describes him. Dedicated is the man who gets up to go to work more days than not, even when he’s in so much pain that he can barely stand for his hands to rest on anything. Dedicated is the man who has no feeling in his feet except the pain that’s a constant reminder that he has severe peripheral neuropathy – but he puts his shoes and socks on anyway (well, actually that’s something I do for him). Dedicated is the man who adopted the children of another man and raised them as his own, making no differentiation between his biological children and them. Dedicated is the man who held emesis basins, cleaned rooms that had been vomited in, and changed clothes from more than one attack of diarrhea (kids will be kids). Dedicated is the man who brings home his paycheck (or has automatic deposit) and trusts his wife (that would be me) to pay the bills and take care of the household. Dedicated is the man who shopped for groceries for two years because the wife (me again) didn’t feel like going to the store because of panic attacks.

So, I guess if I’m dedicated to him during his “bad” years it has to be because he was so dedicated to me during his “good” ones. He could have left, but he didn’t. I could leave, but I won’t.

Headline news… Write to lose weight

I’d love to do that – lose weight through writing, and actually keep it off. I’ve tried so many diets that I can’t even begin to count them. Cookie diet, starvation diet, liquid diet, cabbage soup diet, Atkins diet, Weight Watchers, and even ordered a month supply of MediFast (talk about some nasty stuff {shudder!})

The problem I see is that these are all DIETS and not a new way of life. I am one of those people who likes to eat while I write so, writing (crunch, crunch) and eating (chomp, chomp) go hand in hand. I (chomp, crunch) need to probably go back to the old-fashioned method of losing weight – counting calories (crunch) and increasing (chomp) exercise.

I envy all those people who can’t eat when they’re stressed. Me – bring on the food! I don’t even care what I’m eating just as long as I’m eating. Do you know you can overdose on carrots? I’m beginning to find that out.

Phantom days and sleepless nights

I “borrowed” that from a friend's blog. It seems to fit my life right now.

Husband sick
House a shambles
Son lovesick (his “almost” fiancĂ© broke up with him)
Daughter lonely (no significant other in her life; she’s been separated/divorced 3 years)
Utilities too high
Can husband work? Will he keep his “good” leg?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Screaming on the inside

On the outside, I look like I’m a very calm, collected individual. It’s only by the grace of God that I’m able to present this front. I’m really screaming on the inside. Sometimes I’m afraid that I’m going to have a brain aneurysm or a stroke because of the amount of stress I’m under, but God is good and He’s brought me through a lot of trials in the past few years. He’s not let me down before and I don’t expect He’s going to now, either.

I have an arranged marriage. God arranged it, I accepted it, and my husband and I have worked over 23 years on making it successful (it will be 24 years in August). It hasn't been without its rough patches and we've had our share of ups and downs. I can't complain because overall, it's been a pretty happy experience.

I'm really a happy person. I don't let too many things really get to me but sometimes the little things just set me off. I can handle the big stuff, partly because I know that I have no other option. But when something little and minor happens, I just bristle over it. I figure that people should be more responsible with things so when they're not - I'm just overly upset about it.

My hubby has a lot of health problems. He's got intention tremors (due to taking Raglan for 7 years instead of just a few months and no one realized that it was a short-term medication; he'll never get better but stopping the medication made it quit getting worse), pulmonary hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary problems (and he never smoked), hypertension, diabetes (takes lots of insulin plus pills), severe peripheral neuropathy, diverticulitis, and is currently undergoing tests to find out what's going on with his liver. Since 1999 he's had an anterior cervical fusion with cadaver bone, a posterior cervical fusion with metal cage, pins, and bone from his hip (same vertebrae; just didn't heal before), two other surgeries on the neck to clean out staph infection - which left him with a deep crater in his neck that cuts through all of his neck muscles - several surgeries on his hands and elbows, and 1/2 of his left foot amputated (that was the most recent surgery). He's also had kidney failure twice (in the same month) and ended up in the hospital last year - once in ICU and the other time in a regular room. He had dialysis the first time but was told the second time that he didn't need dialysis.

Since then we've been battling a recurring hole in his remaining good foot. It will clear up for a while and then I'll spend a month or longer dressing it every day. Same thing - day in and day out.

Because of his overall health problems we decided to build a handicap accessible house since our last house didn't have hallway or bathroom access for his electric scooter. We didn't just blindly go into this but really prayed about the wisdom of it and if it was the direction that we believed God wanted us to take. Our new house has no hallways and 36" doors, plus the bathroom is totally handicap accessible. We could not have remodeled our old house to accommodate his needs.

In addition, my daughter and grandson live with us. My daughter is ex-military and is considered 40% disabled due to migraines. Although she takes medication for them, when they hit she's out and cannot function. My grandson is PDD-NOS, which is in the autism family, and he goes to early childhood education. I am my daughter's backup for when she needs assistance with her son.

I really don’t have a backup. Who am I going to lean on when the going gets tough? God. Plain and simple, He’s the only one that I can turn to. Sure there are times that I rant and rave and ask the inevitable question of “why me?” but the answer is always right there in front of me… Why NOT me?

I have so much to be thankful for that it truly does outweigh the troubles. I have a husband who loves me dearly, kids who love and respect me (and that’s saying a lot these days), a roof over my head, food in the cupboard, a vehicle to drive, and money to put gas in it (that’s a biggie, for sure). There are many who cannot say the same so who am I to complain? I am blessed.

But, I still scream some on the inside, too!

Opening act

First day, where should I begin… In typical fashion I knew exactly what I wanted to say before the blog was created. Now that it’s created I’m not so sure how I want to start. I will say that this will contain Christian thoughts and expressions so if Christianity offends you, then please read no further. I’ll make no apologies for my beliefs and expect that if you have a difference of opinion you’ll be mature enough to either ignore our differences or kindly express your own opinion. I welcome comments as long as they’re not derogatory in nature, as those are really uncalled for.

People who know me know that I’m a very tolerant person and I have friends who do not share exactly the same beliefs or views. We agree to disagree and maintain our friendship. We respect each other’s beliefs but we don’t try to shove our beliefs down each other’s throats. I have Muslim and Hindu friends and my DIL is Buddhist.

So, welcome to my little slice of the online world. I hope my "ponderings" provide you with some interesting fodder for your mind. Take care...