Thursday, September 29, 2011


I'm tired. I don't know how caretakers take care of everything on their plates. How do they maintain their sanity and keep a positive outlook? I certainly don't know. I'm sure they struggle - maybe as much as I do, maybe more, maybe less. Unless they're saints, I don't think most caretakers ever do everything they need to do without some kind of feelings of either insecurity, fatigue, or something...

Moving to our new location was necessary due to all of the circumstances we found ourselves in, but...
  • I'm now 45-50 minutes away from my job
  • I'm gone 10-11 hours each day
  • When I get home from work, I have dinner, laundry, any cleaning that needs to be done
  • Sometime during the week, Ron needs to get showered (ideally, more than once but I do what I can)
Speaking of Ron, I need to make sure that he can handle the activities of daily living (ADLs) each day.
  • Food, water. Some days, he tells me "all I had to eat today" stories. I leave stuff that he can eat - fruit, yogurt, frozen vegetables, things he can heat up, etc.
  • Medications. He does a pretty good job of taking his daily meds but some days he takes the evening dose instead of the morning dose. Or, he forgets to take them entirely and I'll catch him fixing to take his morning pills late enough in the day that he can't safely take his evening pills when he should.
  • Medical visits. We can get a ride to the doctors' offices if they're local and he's already been once. The cost is anywhere from $5 to $11 per trip. That's cheaper than me taking off from work or driving each direction more than once. 
  • Knee surgery? The only way Ron is going to get any relief from is left knee is to have replacement surgery. I know there are risks involve and so does he. He will have to go to rehab until he can be mobile again. I cannot lift him or transfer him. I'm just not strong enough. He sees the new orthopedic surgeon on10/7.
  • Neurologist? He sees a new neurologist on 10/17 to find out if there's anything that can be done about the tremors. Ron shakes, sometimes so badly that he just can't even get up and walk. He's trying to wear his leg and get around but between the body shakes and the knee, it's a losing game.
  • What next? Today, he took Maisey out but got hung up on the ramp and could not get his wheelchair moved from where it was stuck. Since I wasn't here I don't know exactly how but I guess he was "high centered" and stuck. He ended up crawling out of the wheelchair onto the patio and back into the living room. He called the main building and asked for someone from maintenance to come and help get his wheelchair off the ramp. Maisey was outside loose so he was worried that she would run away.
Since he fell and had to have the stitches we've only managed to get him in the shower once. We had to wait until the stitches came out (that was 10 days) and then get a new shower chair. I ended up paying about $75 for one that is very sturdy and has very thick legs. It's heavy enough (and made well enough) that it's like lifting a weight to move it out of the tub so I can shower. LOL! The day we were doing the shower, Ron's sitting in his wheelchair and trying to slide his leg (his "good" leg) over the shower chair and try to pull himself over. It's hard to describe but the gist of it is there was no way it was going to work. None. I'm not strong enough and the room is not laid out in a way where that move would EVER be the way to go. Just not happening.

I had to say, "Ron, how many times do I have to tell you you have got to put your leg on the floor. You cannot slide across." Thank God, he doesn't try to shower by himself. I think I need to hire someone to come in at least once a week to help him with ADLs, at least the shower portion of it. But I'll need a giant of a man to do it. Don't know of "aids" that are men who I could hire, but I think I'm about to find out. Ron's friend, Chuck, is big enough and strong enough to help. He takes Ron out frequently and is great about taking him to the bathroom if they're out and he needs to go.

There are days when I'm having conversations with Ron and I think that he's perfectly fine (in the mind) and will be OK when he gets his knee fixed and the tremors taken care of. Other days, I have conversations with him and have to step back and analyze what he's saying. Or what he's not saying. He forgets little things that could be overlooked and missed by most people but I pay attention. He says that he's perfectly fine. He says things that make no sense and thinks he's funny. He says he's losing his mind and I have to agree. He is sometimes so far out in left field that I think I'm losing my mind.

Some days I'm sure that I'm losing my mind.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Getting turned on...

Did I get your attention? Good...

Went to the ear surgeon today and he said everything looks good. In fact, it looks great. He did trim some more of my hair off (darn the luck) but said it was wrapping around the post. He told me that I might have to have it trimmed some more for a little while. I asked him if that would be an ongoing problem and he said that once I get the hearing processor and start wearing it, the hair shouldn't be a problem. For some reason, wearing the processor every day seems to keep the hair from attaching itself to the post.

But, I have a "turn on" date set for November 4. Barring any unforeseen complications, I will get the processor and have it programmed for me on November 4. I'm excited.

It's going to be a long six weeks. But, I think it will really pass pretty quickly.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My earliest cards

My sister and my mom have been in the process of cleaning out my mom's cedar chest. She's been saving things and putting things away into that cedar chest for most of her adult life. It holds a lot of treasures, including such things as what she wore on her wedding day.

It also contains "treasures" that she received over the years from her children. I knew she probably saved some things (don't we all?), but with seven children it's hard to say how much she could realistically save from each of us.

Well, it seems that I've been doing handcrafted cards, complete with embellishments, way before it became the "in" thing to do. I don't even remember these items, so that tells you how old some of them must be.

This is a selection of cards that I made over the years. I "love" the tissue paper flower on the Mother's Day card:

For this card, I went all out. I think the best "touch" must be the artificial flowers that are STAPLED to the outside of the card.

The inside:

On Mother's Day 1964, I was not quite eight years old (would have been a little over three months until my birthday). Too funny... In retrospect, I did a pretty good job on this artwork for a seven year old.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Winner, winner - chicken dinner!

Many thanks to my friend Colenic over at A Smile A Day. I was one of her winners and came home to find the nicest box of stuff you can imagine.
I actually got the box on Thursday, but my camera wasn't liking me so couldn't get this post done until today. It has been a really long, busy week so I was really excited to open the box.

Inside, I found a ton of loot:
Happy face cup
Happy face trophy
Happy face lapel pins
Happy face magnets (Isaiah loved these; he loves to rearrange the magnets on my fridge)
Maine ornament
Maple Syrup (I LOVE maple syrup!!!!)
"Green" guy (I wasn't sure what he was but Maisey likes him)

Aren't those happy faces just the cutest thing? I thought so, too!

Thank you very much Nic!!! You made my day (and week).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11

It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since our nation faced the greatest tragedy to occur on our soil since the Confederate War. So much has happened since then, but like every other adult I know, I know exactly where I was and what I was doing.

I wrote a post in September 2008 regarding 9/11. I went back today and re-read it. I don't think that I'd change much if I were to write it today. As much as I don't want to remember that day, and the ones following, there just isn't any way to not remember. I don't want to ever forget.

The television has been doing in-depth coverage of many of the heroes of that day. Because I was on Amy ship (at sea), we didn't have access to the news feeds. Once we got back to port, a lot of the news footage had been "locked down" because it was deemed to distressing to watch. So, I didn't see many of the actual footage scenes for many years. The images I did see are forever seared in my mind.

I can't even imagine the horror and the nightmares experienced by those who witnessed it all first-hand.

Saying "thank you" to those who were the heroes of that day and every day since seems so ineffective and just not enough, but it's all I've got.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Baby shower decorations

The shower decorations are coming along nicely. I went to Michael's last night for glue and ribbon, Walmart for sucker sticks to mount my cutouts, diapers ,and a baby receiving blanket (ended up finding a few basket stuffer items), and Dollar Tree for shred and floral foam.

Although I still have the banner to make and some small table decorations, I'm pretty close to being ready to just sit back and not worry about the next two weeks. I have purchased the plates and napkins, but no plastic table ware or cups to drink out of. Amy and Rex are helping with some of the expenses because it's kind of expensive to host a nice shower, or party of any kind, these days. I still have a cake (or cupcakes) to get ordered and some kind of punch to drink. Because of where we live, we can use the center's recreation room for free, which saves about $75 dollars.

I'm not sure exactly where these decorations will go, but the stork will for sure go on the gift table. The other two will probably go on the "food" tables.

The stork was cut with my Cricut New Arrival cartridge and then layered for strength. I ended up putting his neck on a sucker stick and sliding that down into the package. I made his bow and tied that on around his neck and the stick for added stability. The other bow is one that Michael's had on clearance for $1.99 (I couldn't have made it for that price). His receiving blanket package is filled with diapers.

This basket was supposed to be done to look like a bathtub, but it just wasn't the right shape and I couldn't find one that was. So, I decided to use it as a gift basket instead and put in things that add up in cost, but are things you might not think about needing. I made the bow and used diapers in the bottom as filler. Then, I put in some floral foam for my items that are standing up. They're glued to the sucker sticks and then those are stuck down into the foam. On top of that, I added shred to hide all the "hardware" needed to put it together. It's got two headbands (with bows), bedtime lotion, body wash, socks, alcohol-free hand sanitizer, nail clippers/files, stuffed hippo and giraffe. I picked those up because they are very close to the animals on her invitations and on her bedding. I just couldn't resist them.

This basket has all of my Cricut cut-outs in it. I used the New Arrival cartridge again. I used grocery bags as filler and then added my floral foam for the sucker sticks. The cut-outs are glued to them and then attached to the foam. On top of that, I added shred and some iridescent shred (I added that after this picture was taken). It's kind of hard to see everything, but there is a bathtub and duck behind the rattle, the circle in the middle is a cut-out of booties, then the right side has a bottle in front and two onesies behind it. The safety pins are attached to one of the diapers. The three "heads" are attached to soft rattles and I got them because they matched the other animals.

Amy loves them and was very impressed that I was able to find the animals. Actually I was, too.

Next up, the banner. I'm leaning toward using the baby bottle as my background and then adding Anna to it. Once they're made, then I'll attach the letters together with ribbon. That's the initial plan. It may change after I cut out a bottle or two. I'm thinking 4.5 inches wide by 9 inches tall. That will leave room for the letters to be 3 x 5 and still fit.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursdays Things in a Row

I decided to join Pat this week because I happen to have some great pictures of things in a row. We have some very dear friends who we've known for about 15 years and who recently opened a cupcake shop near Oklahoma City. The store is called Cupcake Heaven OKC and is located in a major mall in Edmond, OK.

Kenni (the wife) is a fabulous cook and has the knack for creating fabulous things. She's frequently tasted things that were rich in taste and high-calorie, sugary ingredients - and then re-created them with still the rich taste, but with lower calorie and less sugary ingredients. She's made many things for Ron over the years that he absolutely loved and even though they were sugar-free, you never would have noticed what was missing because of all the greatness that wasn't.

Don't those look delicious?

They were... The front middle and right were sugar-free chocolate with whipped cream frosting. The front left was "birthday cake" with butter cream frosting. The back left was Red Velvet with chocolate ganache filling and chocolate cream cheese frosting. The back middle and right were OMG Chocolate (chocolate cake, chocolate chips, chocolate ganache filling, chocolate chip chocolate buttercream frosting).

Man (or woman) down!

Seems I had a follower decide to leave the nest over the weekend. Sad to see anyone go, but that makes me appreciate all of you who do stick it out (and have stuck it out) with me. As I looked back over my blog for the last 3+ years, I read and re-read a lot of the posts and a lot of the comments.

You all are great! You give me your ears, your shoulders, and your unconditional love and support. I truly appreciate it. I'd say I couldn't do it without you and even though it does help (tremendously!) to have bloggy friends, in order to maintain what little sanity I have left, I probably would keep right on writing.

But, that is not an invitation to leave me! On the contrary - please stay! I promise to.... to... oh, what the heck - I can't make promises that I might have trouble keeping. I can't promise to not make people mad and I can't promise to always see eye-to-eye with everyone. But, I can promise that I'll always tell the truth and never write anything with the intention of making people mad.

It's Thursday evening and I'm enjoying a quiet night with Ron watching television. His leg looks good. His stitches are suppose to come out on Monday morning. One of the Villa volunteers will take him so I don't have to miss work. It's a great blessing to have the resources of volunteers here. There is a small fee, but way less than how much in wages that I'd lose. It's worth it all.

Have a great one!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Much better day...

I have to admit, I let hurt feelings overshadow the whole reason I wanted to have a baby shower for Amy. There's a baby to celebrate! That should take precedence over everything and I should not let the other stuff bother me. One thing that I tried to explain to my nephew's wife was that it was just the culmination all the years of me doing for them and feeling like I got nothing in return. I got it off my chest. I think she "gets" what I was saying. I know that what happens in my family is important in the lives of the people who truly matter to me, and that's all that matters in the long run.

On another note, we got our insurance explanation of benefits for my surgery today. Wow! My insurance company got off cheap! The bill... $38,644.56. Provider Write-off...$29,666.59. Insurance paid... $7,776.71. My portion? $1,198.26. That's amazing. I bet they won't give "me" a write-off of nearly 80%. That would mean I'd pay less than $250. Seems only fair, right? LOL! (Just kidding - but I can dream, eh?) As if that would happen. I can afford to make $50 per month payments so it'll take me a while to get that taken care of. But, that's OK. It will be all worth it.

I've been working on the centerpieces for the shower. They're not complete and I have a couple of other things to do, but here are the beginnings of them.

The basket on the left (with "It's a Girl" tag) will have floral foam in the bottom, with a shred cover over it. The items in the 2nd picture are going to be on floral picks and arranged in the basket, along with baby toiletry items. The basket on the right (with the baby) is going to be transformed into what "hopefully" will look like a bathtub. I have some more work to do for it, for sure.

Then, I also have a big "stork" that will be attached to a pink blanket full of diapers and made to look like it's delivering a pink bundle of joy.

That's the plan, anyway!

More work on them will go on this weekend.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Memories Digital Scrapbooking

Just a reminder to go visit my Paper blog to enter the Digital Scrapbook software! It costs nothing to enter and you just might be the winner! The software is very easy to use and there are tons of absolutely FREE images and backgrounds you can use to create the cutest things.

I created this cute "pretend" Halloween party invitation yesterday from a free download:

Once you create a "layout" you can export it to a JPEG image and use it in other ways, such as printed greeting cards, invitations, photos to send to loved ones. The only limit is your imagination but even that gets help because of the online support and ideas gallery.

So, what have you got to loose???

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Friday fun

Two ambulance calls in two months. What must the neighbors be thinking??? This one wasn't nearly as "convenient" time-wise, either. This one was at 10:30 at night.

Ron is fine, but he sure scared the living daylights out of me Friday night. And, it's all my fault (in a weird sort of way). Accidents happen, but if I hadn't insisted on him taking a shower, the accident wouldn't have happened.

We have a really small bathroom. It's barely big enough for him to go straight in with his wheelchair and back out. If he's really careful, he can turn around (very slowly) and drive out forward-facing. These units were built in the 1970s and although designed for retirees, handicap accessibility wasn't really something that was focused on back then. The bathtub was converted to a "step-through" shower but there's still a little lip there. In order to use the shower, Ron has to drive his wheelchair straight into the bathroom and then slowly turn until it's setting at an angle. There was only one shower seat that would fit in the shower but I made sure that it was rated for up to 300 pounds. When Ron is retaining fluid, he can go from 260 to 290 in just a matter of days.

Transferring to the shower seat is tricky. He doesn't stand up very well on his good leg (that only has 1/2 foot) because his knee has arthritis really badly. He needs surgery on it but no one wants to really tackle it because of his other health problems. He's in better shape [overall] now than he's been in a long time, but still not in a position where surgery is a good idea.  So, because he doesn't stand very well, he has a tendency to push down really hard on the side of any chair that is closest to him. That puts a little "twist" to the structure of that side of the chair. One day (when he was home alone and showered), he noticed that the seat seemed to give a little bit under him. We both "fixed" the screws that seemed to be loose and then didn't really think anymore about it. I did tell him that I didn't want him to attempt a shower without me being home.

We were scheduled to go to visit Oklahoma City with a friend on Saturday to visit some other friends who have recently relocated there and have opened a cupcake bakery (yummy stuff...). So, I told Ron that he should shower and I'd be there to help him in case there was a problem. He got into the shower with no problem. I arranged the shower curtain so he didn't get water all over the floor and then started going about the business of getting his things ready for the next day.

Suddenly, I hear him yell that the shower seat has collapsed under him. The structure had weakened because of the way he transfers and it just couldn't take it any longer. I rushed in and held the chair up while we got him rinsed off and then I got his wheelchair positioned so he could transfer. I just wasn't strong enough to help him get high enough to slide from the shower chair to the wheelchair. I thought we were there and he suddenly slipped out of my grasp. He didn't hit hard and we were able to get him up and in his wheelchair in a matter of moments.

Just in that amount of time, I saw blood starting to pool on the floor and at first I thought he'd re-opened a scratch on the top of his foot (he constantly hits that portion of his 1/2 foot on his wheelchair wheels when he's transferring). All of a sudden, I realized that blood was rapidly falling and there was no way it was coming from his foot. (This is in the space of just a matter of seconds - not even more than a minute had passed.) I went to turn his leg over so I could see what he'd cut (still thinking he'd cut it on his wheelchair because that was the only thing with any sharp surfaces) and realized that he had a huge gash down his shin, just to the left of the center bone. It was bleeding very heavily. I grabbed his washcloth and stuck it on there, all the while saying, "Oh my God! Oh my God! You've got a terrible cut!" I told him I was calling an ambulance and he asked me to call Rex (son-in-law) first. While we waited for Rex to get there, we'd gone through two washcloths, so I grabbed a towel from the linen closet and two rolls of gauze (thankfully, the big thick rolls that were left over from when I used to have to do foot dressing changes).  We had two rolls left and I used them both.

The part with the red box is what sliced his leg open. I think the real issue was the pressure against it as he slid down and the fact that his skin is so thin from diabetes and other health issues. It's not sharp. In fact, it's purposely designed to be safe for older Americans and people who have trouble getting into and out of a traditional bathtub.

About that time, Rex arrived and realized that we really couldn't get Ron out of the bathroom without him putting pressure on the wound (by standing) so he said to call an ambulance. I was crying because it was cut so badly and I felt like it was my fault. What if he lost his leg just because I insisted on a shower??? It would be all my fault. Poor Ron, he was so worried about me because I was so stressed. I don't do blood very well, but I do know how to react in an emergency. I may sound panicky on the phone, but it's not because I don't know what to do, but because I'm afraid for the person (usually Ron) that I'm calling an ambulance for.

In a matter of minutes, our house was full of emergency personnel (10:45 pm) and because I'd told 911 that it was a bad cut, they were all prepared to have to do pressure bandage. They were impressed that I'd been "with it" enough to put a pressure bandage on with the towel and gauze rolls. (The towel I grabbed was a "Sham wow!" towel and it really absorbed the blood and helped keep it from pouring out more.) They didn't have to change the bandage at all.

The hospital was very impressed with it, too. It wasn't quite as deep as I'd thought but he cut an arterial vein that was pumping blood out with every heartbeat. In other words, if I hadn't been there, he would have (could have) bled to death. Of course, if I hadn't been there it wouldn't have happened at all because he wouldn't have taken a shower without me being present.  The physician's assistant sewed on his leg for over an hour. He's got 15 stitches on the outside of his leg and about 15 in the next level. But... she sewed for over 30 minutes on the inside in just one place (the vein) and at one time, told the doctor that she'd put in about six different types of stitches in one small area and it was still bleeding. He had her do one more type; she asked him if the thickness of the sutures would be a problem and he said no. Based on what I saw her doing, and how long it took, we estimate he's got between 50-100 stitches in the wound (counting all of the levels and the stitches in the vein area).

We got home about 1:30 am and Ron insisted on going to OKC to visit our friends. Even though he didn't walk much, he wore his brace which helped keep the leg immobilized. Once he took the brace off, he's been unable to put any weight on it. (That makes a difficult transfer even more difficult.)

Ron wanted me to take a picture of it BEFORE it was sewed up. No thanks... I'd seen enough when I was putting the bandage on it that there was NO WAY I was going to stand there long enough to take a picture just so he could see it. He did watch them sew him up, which totally gave me the heeby-jeebies. I don't watch anything surgery related. (How I worked in the medical field I'll never know.) Then, he wanted me to take a picture of it AFTER it was sewed up. I did that so he could see it but I know there are people who read my blog who don't want to see "sewing" on someones body part.

But, I will post a picture of the bandaged leg.

It doesn't look bad in the bandage.