Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What a roller coaster!

It has been a week of ups and downs for me. First I was all excited about our vacation being so close. Ron was getting excited. I was getting excited. We've been planning this for six months. Tickets bought. Money saved. I started packing. Bought him some new pants and some shirts so he'd look nice. It was really going to be something for him to remember, especially since his other trip ended in such a disappointment (kidney failure, resulting in hospital stay and no real memory of the trip).

Then I had some disappointment with the hotel and the extra charges that were going to take away from the shoestring budget that we were traveling on. They will hold $50 per day for incidentals "just in case" I want to use Wi-Fi or drink a cup of coffee in the room. The $50 per day can be cash or come off my credit card or off my debit card. The problem is, that $50 per day will be tied up for the duration and that's part of my entire budget for the four days. That was going to put a serious dent in the fun. So, I found a way around it and I was looking forward to having figured it out.

I wanted to take Ron to see where they film American Restoration, Pawn Stars, and Counting Cars - three of his favorite shows. Plus, there is a Mobster museum close to the hotel and I know he'd love that. This would really be a great trip for us and the grand finale would be the VIP passes and front row seats at the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas concert. So excited!

Then, tragedy struck yesterday. Ron fell while I was in the shower and cut his face by his eye. I got it cleaned up and it looked like it needed a stitch but he wouldn't let me take him in - which would have presented a problem when it was time to remove the stitch next week, so I said I thought it would be OK. I left for work because I had a class I was teaching. About 9:30 I looked down at my phone and realized I'd missed a call from him. Ten minutes later, I got a call from a number I didn't recognize but since I was teaching I let it roll to voice mail. When the class was doing an activity I listened to Ron's voicemail (he didn't actually leave one) and then called his number back. A strange person answered and told me she was with EMS. He'd fallen - again - and called 911. Since he was complaining of hip pain they were taking him to the hospital.

Damn, damn, and damn again! I knew without even being told that he'd broken his hip. Ron doesn't "call" for an ambulance or agree to hospitals unless he knows there is something seriously wrong. I came on down to the hospital and once I saw the x-ray I knew there would be surgery in his future. The ER doctor thought they could fix it with a pin but the orthopedic specialist said that the type of fracture it was would not hold up to normal activity and without a partial hip replacement, it would just crumble and he'd probably never walk again.

So, his trip is canceled for sure. He wants me to try and go without him. The tickets are non-refundable. Do I lose 1/2 of what we've spent or all of what we've spent? Do I look TOTALLY selfish for even considering going or do I be the loving, attentive wife and stay home - even though he'll be in a rehab facility and it's not like I'll be doing anything but sitting there and watching him sleep? If I don't "take" my vacation days, I lose them. Such a dilemma. I have already canceled our Christmas plans since he'll be in rehab somewhere for most of the rest of the month (that's what they expect considering the magnitude of his other health issues).

If I went by myself, I can't see that I'd enjoy much of anything except the concert. I don't have anyone who can go with me because they've all used up their vacation time for the year (I saved mine for NOW for this event). I feel so bad for him but at the same time I feel bad for me, too. He was afraid I'd be mad at him. I'm not mad - how can I be? I am deeply concerned though because he's fallen about seven times in the last month so his days of staying home alone may have come to an end. I know he does not want to live in a nursing home but we may have reached a point where we have no other options available for him.

So... I'm out of cheer for now.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Self-centered and selfish

This has been a very enlightening day. Come to find out what I thought were just random postings about how things frustrate me and how hard it is sometimes to take care of Ron, I come across as being self-centered. I guess that means selfish, too. I really don't mean for it to sound that way because I'm really not. I was told that is probably why one of my former readers was kind of nasty to me at times.

Hmmm.... Could be. I don't know. I've spent the last several years doing more than I write about and taking care of more business than I write about. Sure, I write about the frustrations of cleaning up after "accidents" and Ron's health. After all, that's the main reason the blog was started - to keep my sanity during Ron's health issues that continued time and time again. Without some of the opportunities I had to write what I did, I'm not sure I would have been able to face the challenges day after day.

When I write that I'm frustrated with something, it's not because it's necessarily about "me" but the situation. I am only human. I love my husband. I've had to deal with more than a lot of people, but less than a lot more. Finding fault with me for how I handle the stress in my life is only human for others as well.

I've had people find fault with the "trips" that we've taken... I'm 56 years old and we've been married for 28 years. In those 28 years, we didn't have a honeymoon (since we both had kids) and we had no real "vacations" unless you count the following:
  • Trips to the lake with Ron's ex-wife and her husband - we shared a mobile home for a long weekend a few times over the years when Keith was little.
  • 1995 - took a 4-day driving trip through TX. Our first "family" trip that didn't involve staying with family.
  • 1998, 1999, and 2000 - we drove to CA to visit Ron's family, who lived in Sun City at the time.
  • 2001 and 2002 - we drove to FL to visit his family who had moved from CA to FL.
  • 2004 - flew to FL for his step-dad's funeral (yeah, that was some vacation).
  • 2005 - drove to AR to see his mom before she was put into a nursing home there.
  • 2006 - drove to FL to see his mom after she was moved back to FL to a nursing home.

I've been more places while Amy was in the Navy and before Ron retired. Amy and I went to Disneyland in 2007 with Shaun and Jenny. I took Isaiah to WA in 2009 and then I want back again this past summer. In all of those trips, they weren't extravagant and I counted my pennies each time, keeping track on a piece of paper practically every dime we spent to make sure that I only spent what I had budgeted for the trip. I bought souvenirs for other people - rarely ever anything for myself because I figured the trip was my gift. Very selfish of me, wasn't it?

In the last couple of years, we've taken several weekend trips to Branson but we've stayed in $35 per night hotels - again very extravagant of us - and gone to shows that were GIVEN to us as gifts. Our main expense was the the gasoline to get there and food, but we made sure to eat pretty cheaply. So to have trips and things tossed back at me and to be told that I come across as selfish and self-centered is pretty surprising.

Most of the things that I've planned have been for Ron's enjoyment and I'm constantly on the lookout for things that I can get for other people. If I see something that I like and I think that someone else will like it as well, I'll buy it for the other person. I can't tell you the number of things I've bought for someone else that I desperately wanted for myself - but I could only afford one of them. Really selfish of me, isn't it?

When we were younger, there were many holidays where we had somewhere between "nothing" and "very little" but we always made sure the kids had Christmas and we adopted less fortunate kids. We picked Angel Tree children the same age/gender as our children and they shopped for their counterpart. They learned compassion and giving and enjoyed sharing that part of the holiday with others. I spent the whole year thinking about what I would get for others; I'd remember things (hints) that people had said and I'd try to find something along those lines. If I knew of a situation where someone was going to be lacking, I tried to meet that need. Last year, I spent as much on someone else's children as I did on a couple of my own grandchildren.

I'm really just in a mood today. I found out last night that the hotel will hold $200 ($50 per day) in addition to the cost of the room for "incidentals" on either my credit card, debit card, or cash until we check out. Since we're traveling on a shoestring budget (yeah, throwing down that money!) that will cut into my travel budget. A debit card (which I was planning on using since I don't really have a credit card) will hold the funds until after we check out, if I give them cash then I won't have the cash until after I check out, and it just goes on... They don't charge a resort fee, but if I want to use the workout room that's an extra fee. Coffee in the room? That's $10 for 4 cups. (It's a Keurig coffee maker so I'm taking my own K-cups.) Do we want Internet? That's $12.99 for 24 hours. Guess that's what that $50 per day incidental fee will cover but I'm not going to be using those. I think the pool is free but the hot tub is not. So, I don't think I'll be using that.

The last trip to Vegas (our ONLY trip there), Ron was in kidney failure so he doesn't remember much of it. I wanted to take him back (and - selfishly - have some fun myself) because he's doing better (kidney function) now and the Parkinson's will eventually make travel impossible so I'm trying to get as much enjoyment in his life as possible now. Again, terribly selfish and self-centered of me isn't it? So, I got us a $60 per night hotel and I'm going to take him to see where American Restoration is filmed, where Counting Cars is being filmed, and where Pawn Stars is being filmed - all shows he loves. There's also a Mobster Museum he'll love. God, I'm so selfish. (We are seeing The Oak Ridge Boys - that's mostly for me, but he loves them as much as I do.)

I've arranged for wheelchair assistance at all of the airports and once we get to the hotel, he'll have an electric scooter waiting for him. I "think" we can get a refrigerator in the hotel room at no charge since we need it for insulin, but I'm not sure. If not, it's $10-15 per day extra.

So, you all have my blessing to think this is a really pissy, selfish, self-centered post!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Airline ticket prices are awful!

I bought our tickets to Vegas many months ago - long before I found out my son would be sent back out on deployment and well before any of us realized our mom would not be with us for Christmas this year (figuring we'd be spending Christmas with her). If hindsight was foresight, I probably would have done things differently. I would still want to take a three-day trip with Ron but I would also have tried to figure out a way to take him to WA to see Jenny and the kids. He's never been to WA and he's never seen two of the kids (and you all know I've only seen them once).

So, after finding out that we'd be alone for Christmas this year (as in - totally alone; no kids at home - Amy/Rex and kids will be spending the Christmas week with his family in western Kansas, Keith has to work all but Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and Lindsay will probably go visit her family in NJ; the other kids don't really include us for Christmas Day activities [they're too busy with Ron's ex-wife's family and their in-laws] so it really will be a quiet time) I thought I'd see about getting tickets to take Ron to WA, which would entail airline, rental car, and hotel. Shaun's house is not handicap accessible and there are a ton of stairs leading to the bedrooms. There's no way that Ron could traverse the stairs every day and I think Jenny's family will probably be there as well, so there's not enough room for all of us to stay. Plus, with a hotel Ron could go rest as needed.

But, it's a moot point anyway because ticket prices are over $600 each. If we could fly Christmas Eve (out) and back on December 27, it's "only" $571 each. The hotel where I'd want to stay is $79 per night - so that adds another $237 (plus tax), and then a rental car. Cha-ching - we're talking $1600 or so just to get there and back. Frankly, I don't have that kind of money.

This would have been a good week to win a piece of the lottery. LOL...

Guess it will be a quiet time at the OK Corral.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, did you have a nice holiday? Ours was nice – pretty quiet. We had dinner at Amy and Rex’s house. It was very uncoordinated so we ate kind of late. But it was pretty good. I haven’t been feeling very good so I didn’t eat too much – nothing really tastes very good to me and the one thing that I was looking forward to (the gravy) didn’t turn out. I’ve never had problems making gravy from the turkey drippings before but it just didn’t turn out at all.  So, I ended up tossing it. We left all of the leftovers at Amy’s house and I kind of wish I’d brought home a little bit of turkey. We did bring home some lemon pie and a piece of apple and pumpkin pie for each of us.

Amy and I went shopping Thursday night. We opted to go to Hutchinson instead of Wichita or Salina thinking it would be less crowded. Not sure about that but Wal-mart was at least very organized. By the time we got parked (7:45) they were letting people in the door so we didn’t have to stand outside any. We went right to the places where we knew we wanted something (I was getting a Wii game for Isaiah) and stood in line. While I was in that line, Amy went to the toy section because she was there for something for Anna. Once I got the Wii, I went back to the pajamas and got each of them 2 pair and a rocking horse for Anna. We were literally back in the car by 8:35. People were generally (from where we were) pretty calm and not anything like what we saw on the news.

From there we went to Target and since they didn’t open the doors until 9:00, we had to wait outside for a while. The line to get in was pretty long and it was wicked chaos in there. They only had one line feeding the registers so it wound all the way through the store in and out of aisles so if you wanted something on one of those aisles, forget it. But, you could also shop the aisles as you passed down them. Hahaha! We ended up getting out of there around 10:30 and headed to Kohl’s.

Kohl’s didn’t open until midnight but we wanted to get in line because Amy was on a hunt for king-sized sheets and Kohl’s always has great sales – plus they had a set of pots/pans that she wanted and her SIL wanted as well (and her SIL doesn’t live anywhere close to a Kohl’s). We figured they probably wouldn’t have too many of them so we wanted to improve our chances (turns out they had 6 boxes – regular price $309, Kohl’s discount price $249 and Black Friday price $149).  I sat in the car for part of the wait as it was just too cold and uncomfortable for me. I went to Kwik Shop and got us a cup of coffee and they had little 50x60 throws for $5.99 so I bought one of those, which helped. I did stand in line the last 30 minutes so it didn’t look like I was line-jumping. We got the sheets, the pots/pans, and a few other things (I was only there for one particular toy for Anna, which I got) and we were out of the store by 12:40. Amy opened a credit card so she got to check out in the “express lane” (customer service) and got an additional 20% her purchase, so that amounted to a HUGE savings (over $750 off her ticket) so I let her pay for Anna’s toy (it was $39.99 on sale for $19.99 and then 20% off.

After that we went home and slept. I wanted to go to JCP for some shirts for Ron but I did that later in the morning. Their sale was on until 11:00 so we left the house about 9:30 just to make sure we had plenty of time. We ended up going back to Target because they sell the snack “Puffs” that Anna eats (they don’t have any wheat in them) and Amy can’t get them any place but Target or Toys R Us. While we were there, I bought a shower curtain, bath mat, and curtain liner. Because I spent more than $50 they gave me a $10 gift card for my next trip. I turned around and went back and bought Anna a Cabbage Patch Kid with it (which ended up costing only $11). Christmas for Anna and Isaiah is completely finished. I’m sending Jenny a check to go shopping for the other kids. Last year I spent almost $100 just on shipping so I told her I’d rather send her the money with a list of what I’d like to buy but she can use her judgment and get that or something else if they need it. Her parents will be there again this year so I imagine they’ll have plenty of toys. I know they all need clothes so she can take the money and buy them clothes with it.

Keith and Lindsay came up Friday and we had dinner again and watched some television. The rest of the weekend was just spent relaxing. We leave for Vegas on the 9th. I’m looking forward to it. Even though the Parkinson’s is worse, Ron’s overall health seems to be better (kidney function is good, diabetes control is good, etc.) so I think he’ll actually be able to enjoy himself this trip. He doesn’t remember a lot from our last trip since he was in early kidney failure then. I wish we could stay longer (we’ll have 3 full days – flying out on the 9th and then back the morning of the 13th) but we’ll probably be ready to leave at that point. I’ve seen Hoover Dam so don’t need to see that again. It was a long bus ride out there so not interested. Not sure what else we’ll do. One of the people I’ve met through blogging lives near Vegas so she may come to our hotel for lunch one day to meet. That will be nice.

Other than that, I don't have too much to write about. My life has become pretty mundane - boring. Since I took over Ron's medicine again (after mistakenly trusting him) he is doing better. I've put away the things that he seems to forget he's already taken and takes again. Once that all got out of his system, he's much more alert and his balance is better. He is still far from stable but I don't worry so much during the day. I reiterate to him to not take shortcuts or chances and to make more than one trip if he needs to. The biggest worry on my mind right now is a cut on the bottom of his remaining foot. He stepped on glass on September 21 and when he walks, it still bleeds. I am afraid he has some glass in there that I didn't see when I was cleaning it up and I don't want him to lose that leg, too. But, if he goes to the doctor before we leave for Vegas, I'm afraid the doctor will cut it open and we'll be back in the cycle of events that ended up costing him the other leg to begin with. It's a never-ending battle.

Oh well - that's a whole new thing to just not think about for a while.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and Christmas is coming!

I hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving! I’m missing my mom this holiday and thinking about all the wonderful things that she would make. Many of the dishes and desserts that she made were only made twice a year – Thanksgiving and Christmas. She’d spend hours and hours in the kitchen baking banana bread, pumpkin bread, apple pies, pumpkin pies, pecan pie, lemon meringue pie, and chocolate pie – all from scratch. She’d also make Waldorf salad, Jell-O salad, dressing, green beans, green rice, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, dinner rolls, stuffed celery, and whatever else struck someone’s fancy. Once we got a bit older, we’d help out in the kitchen but Thanksgiving was one meal that she mostly liked to do without much help. Everything had to be just perfect and she always got it perfect. We're having dinner with Amy and Rex tomorrow and then with Keith and Lindsay on Friday. Last night, Amy and I made some pumpkin bread and an apple pie. Tonight, pumpkin pie and tomorrow we'll do a lemon pie before we put the turkey in. I like to make the dressing and she likes to make the green rice. She actually wants me to make some sweet potatoes so we bought a couple but I'm not sure how I'll fix them. She had some at a fancy restaurant that were more of a scalloped version and I've never done those, but I'll give it a whirl and see what happens. Either way, I'll like them. I hope you all enjoy your dinners - whenever you get to eat them.

Ron and I were talking about Christmas last night. He wanted to know what I wanted this year. I told him that I really couldn’t think of anything. That’s an honest answer. Christmas is not really about “things” for me – it’s about spending time with family and enjoying each other’s company. In all honesty, there was a time when the lack of a gift mattered to me. But that was before Ron’s health went downhill so badly, before he lost the ability to get out and do things for himself, before he lost the ability to work and to shop. Now I’m not even sure I want to put up any decorations. Part of me says yes; part of me says no. I hate the “un”-decorating.

I told him last night that all the years when I’d have nothing on Christmas morning – not even a card – those were the years when it mattered and when it hurt. He asked me how he could go about being forgiven and I said he already was. I’d go to KC with the kids and I’d see my siblings and their spouses sporting gifts from each other and, honestly, I was envious. My parents bought gifts for my two divorced sisters because they didn’t have spouses to buy for them. They didn’t realize that although I had a spouse, he didn’t buy for me. If I thought to get something for myself so I could say he bought it, I did (he hardly ever went to KC with me because he was usually on call at work). Some years he’d offer on Christmas Eve to go shopping. Seriously? I really wanted to go out on Christmas Eve to pick out my own gift so he could take care of his conscience? No thanks. I would rather do without so I mostly did.

There are very few pictures of me opening gifts at Christmas time because there were very few opportunities to take any pictures. There were a few years where he went shopping. Not many but I can remember the year I got a jewelry box and the year I got my first (and only, until Amy came home from the Navy) stocking. I told him that I nursed that hurt for a long time but I finally let it go and it no longer has any control over me. When he could drive, could shop, could “think” and didn’t – those were the years that it mattered. One year I had a melt-down and told him how upset I was about it. We were in Florida visiting his family. He’d gone to the store before we left to get his mom a gift and to get a battery converter for the truck so Keith could watch DVDs while we drove. I thought sure he was going to get me something. Nope. Not a thing – not even a card. I actually cried Christmas morning. That memory can still bring tears to my eyes but not because I’m still upset with him but because I still remember how badly my feelings were hurt then. Now, it’s not any big deal. (Since then, and before he lost the ability to drive, he would go out of his way to make sure he bought me a gift but because of the way he did it – insisting that he didn’t want me to get mad at him again – I told him that I’d just rather that he didn’t because I didn’t think he really understood what I was saying to him. It wasn’t the lack of a “gift” that upset me; it was the lack of the thought, the lack of effort, and the lack of putting himself into something for me. I didn’t want a “thing” but I wanted him to care enough to think, to put out the effort, not because he felt obligated but because he wanted to. There are those who say that it doesn’t matter, it’s the little things that count, one day out of the year – whether it be anniversary, Christmas, birthday, etc. – shouldn’t be the only day that you or your spouse show each other how much you care and put out effort for each other and they’d be absolutely correct. But those are the extra special days to help make up for all the days when living and just getting by and “life” getting in the way of your best laid plans made you take each other for granted. Those are days when it can help to remind each other just how much you really do care. )

I still like to buy things for others and I still like to surprise people with things that I’ve heard them say they’d like to have but I just don’t have any wishes for myself.

Maybe I’ve grown cynical and I don’t have any wishes because I know they won’t come true? Or, have I truly just grown up and it really no longer matters? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. I honestly don’t know.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November Already! And it's half over...

This last two months have just flown by! Work has been extremely busy. I’m missing my mom like crazy and the closer it gets to the holidays the more intense it’s getting. I saw a lady at work today who had on a sweater exactly like the one I bought for my mom’s “last outfit.” It made me sad to see it. I had bought my mom’s sweater in Kansas City and really hadn’t thought about seeing one like it here. Oh well…

Ron went to the doctor yesterday and his A1C hemoglobin is 5.6 which is remarkable. Of course, he controls his diabetes with insulin so I’m not sure how well in control he’d be without the insulin. He eats pretty well – we still have Meals on Wheels bringing him lunch and most days he will eat most of what they bring. With his short-term memory problems I have to sometimes have a discussion with him about why I want him to eat what they bring. Sometimes he saves part of his lunch and eats something else. I also had to hide some of his medications from him. He wasn’t overdosing on purpose but he was forgetting that he’d taken them or was forgetting that he’d asked me to change when I gave him something. For instance, he takes Melatonin to help him sleep. He was taking three 3mg tablets and we ran out, so I bought 5mg tablets. I told him that I would be giving him two tablets in his bedtime pills instead of three. In addition, he takes one 1mg Xanax pill at bedtime (he used to take two of them but with the addition of Melatonin, he had a hard time functioning the next day), which I also put in with his bedtime pills. He forgot that he asked me to add those into his bedtime pill dispenser instead of having to take them separately so, unbeknownst to me, he was taking not only what I gave him, but another dose as well. That meant he was getting a total of 20mg of Melatonin (he took two and I gave him two) and 2mg of Xanax because I gave him one pill and he took another. On top of everything else, he was not taking the right pills at the right time of day. He has a pill dispenser that is divided into days, and each day is divided into four compartments. He takes something four times a day. He takes the day’s pills out to his chair so it’s there for him to remember to take them on time. So, for Monday he takes the section out and then takes his pills throughout the day. Somehow in his confusion, he took his daily pills and then thought he hadn’t taken something so was taking the next morning’s pills on top of everything. That was double blood pressure medicine and double Parkinson’s medicine – on top of double Melatonin and double Xanax. It’s a wonder he even woke up the next day at all.

For three days that week (Oct 31, Nov 1, Nov 2), Ron fell each day. The first morning he fell backwards in the bathroom and shattered the tank to the toilet. I did finally get the water to the toilet turned off but not before it flooded the bathroom. I had to have my son-in-law help me get him off the floor. He didn’t even realize he was wet and he’d been sitting in water for about 20 minutes. He couldn’t figure out how to get his prosthesis on. He didn’t realize his prosthesis wasn’t even totally on. He was really out of it. The second morning, I found him on the floor of the bedroom, at the foot of the bed with his back against the wall. Once again, he hadn’t gotten his leg on completely and couldn’t figure out what was wrong and how to fix it. I had a little bit of trouble getting him up and helping him get his clothes changed but not as much as the first day. That night, I was not a happy camper when I took his medicine away from him (I’d figured out by then what he’d done with the Xanax and the Melatonin). It wasn’t until the night before that I’d figured out about the double-dosing of the morning pills on top of the bedtime pills. Friday, he fell in the kitchen and didn’t tell me about it until one day this past week. I saw the bruise for the first time Sunday and I honestly don’t know how he didn’t break his hip. He has a bruise about four inches wide and at least 12 inches long.

I was seriously ready for assisted living for him but after I ran the numbers, I decided that no matter how bad he is, I can’t afford for him to go to assisted living right now. I don’t have a lot of debt, but I do have a car payment and student loans. Then, there is rent, utilities, medication (which is a killer), medical premiums, medical deductibles, medical co-pays, etc. and I’m easily beyond what I bring home. Medicare does not pay for assisted living so all of the expense would be out-of-pocket. He’s not bad enough to justify “full-scale” nursing home and I don’t want to do that. As long as his medications can still be regulated and his short-term memory doesn’t get any worse and he can continue to take OK care of himself at home, I’ll continue to keep him there. If I come home from work and find him on the floor more days (or find that he’s fallen more days) than he hasn’t, then I’ll be forced to make a decision that I don’t want to. My lease is up in February and I don’t know if I’ll have to sign another of go month-to-month. We’re good tenants. I pay the rent for the next month by the middle of the current month.

But… On a good note… I surprised him with tickets this past Sunday night to the Aerosmith and Cheap Trick concert in Wichita. Even with all of his problems, Ron will always love music and he was a rock ‘n roller back in the 60s. He didn’t enjoy Cheap Trick so much but thoroughly enjoyed Aerosmith. I had his best friend take him and it was so funny. I asked Chuck if he’d mind going if I bought the tickets and he said he would. Earlier last week, Chuck called Ron and asked him if he wanted to spend the day and hang out, and maybe take in a couple of movies. Ron thought that sounded like a good idea so he started planning the whole day. He wanted to see Flight and Sky Fall. I told him he might want to take his wheel chair just in case he got tired of walking or whatever (knowing that he wouldn’t be able to walk as far as he’d need to walk in to the concert venue with his walker) and at first he told me he didn’t think so. Luckily the weather turned cooler with rain in the forecast so I told him that Chuck would rather push him into the movie than take the chance that he would fall trying to get out of the weather so he agreed. Chuck picked him up Sunday morning and off they went – with Ron planning the whole day.

Chuck plays music for his church so that’s where the day started. After church, Ron was saying that they could see Flight at 3:15 and Sky Fall at 6:45 and just have about 30 minutes to kill between movies. Chuck had to tell him there was a slight change in plans and that he could pick only one movie to see because they had to go downtown. Ron hadn’t wanted to go downtown (not sure why since he wasn’t driving) so when Chuck told him what was up, he was stunned. He’d given up the idea of going because I told him the tickets were too expensive. I managed to get handicapped seating in the $49 price range (after taxes and handling fees, the total cost for two tickets was $121), which was a stroke of luck. The online ticketing agent didn’t show any cheap handicap seats left so I called them directly to see if there were any and they had some in their system. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have gone because the online tickets were over $100 each. I love my hubby but the wallet would not have let him go.

He’s still talking about how much he enjoyed that show and his day and he can’t believe I went to that much trouble for him. That really warmed my heart. He gets out so little that it just felt good to surprise him. He’d like to do something nice for me but really, what can he do? He asks me what he can do for me and I don’t have any answers except for him to try to maintain his current level of independence.

I hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Ours will be a small dinner with just Amy and Rex. Keith will come up Friday with Lindsay. She has to work a double shift on Thursday so we’ll do dinner with them on Friday sometime. Ron wants ham; I want turkey. I’m cooking. Guess who is going to win? Maybe I’ll do a small ham on Friday for him and Keith.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Medicare and Insurance {blech}

Insurance is a wonderful thing. Negotiating your way through the various offerings, what they cost, and what they cover can be a true nightmare.

Take Medicare, for example. I don’t know why it has to be so complicated. I’ve talked to countless companies (Blue Cross, AAA, and Humana just to name a few); I’ve been to a few Web sites (including the official Medicare site) and could only get one to actually send a representative out to talk to us. Everyone else wanted me to just go out to their Web site and figure out the best coverage that I could get for Ron. Right now, he’s on my group plan at work but because he is turning 65 in January, he’s eligible to take out the supplemental plans with no medical questions being asked. For him, that’s a big deal. If I keep him on my group plan, he might not qualify later. But, my issue isn’t really the monthly premium (although paying over $300 per month to insure just him is not in my financial comfort zone, especially with “donut-hole” amounts for prescriptions on top of that, plus co-pays and deductibles) – it’s the prescription cost. Medicare supplemental plans have what is called a “donut-hole” in them. Drug coverage is up to a certain dollar amount and then you pay fully out-of-pocket until you reach another certain dollar amount. Then you go happily along until you hit another level and then you fall into that hole once again – only it’s larger this time. Once you crawl out of that hole, you can “hope” that the rest of the year your hole is no longer a crater-sized hole.

Right now, on my group plan, we pay $250 per month for the two of us (I know, that’s a great premium and I’m not complaining). The coverage is adequate for most people. I have a $1750 per person deductible and $7000 maximum out-of-pocket per family. Since April, I’ve met the deductible for both of us (that’s $3500) and I’m well on the way to meeting the $7,000 maximum for the year. After you meet your deductible, insurance pays 80% of reasonable and customary, leaving the other 20% for us. That has added up to another chunk of change (going toward the $7,000 amount). Prescriptions are $17 for generics (90 day supply in most instances) and between the two of us, we have 24 generic prescriptions. Doing the math - $17 * 24 * 4 – it amounts to over $1600. Insulin (this is the kicker) is $180 for 90-day supply – but he takes two different kinds, so that is $360 for 90-day supply. That math is over $1400. Added to the generic costs, our prescription out-of-pocket for the year is easily over $3,000. Just the premium ($3,000), plus the deductible ($3,500), plus the prescription costs ($3,000) put quite the bite in our finances (just in case you thought I was just out here blowing my money on trips and things… hahaha). Add in the co-pays and you have the potential to be spending a lot of money medically (just this week I found out the co-pay on Ron’s new socket liners is over $350 so I should be seeing a bill for that any time; just got another co-pay bill for $1298 and they’d like their money in full but will let me make 4 equal payments {choke, choke}).

Medicare will take $99 out of his Social Security check beginning in January (he will get a 1.7% raise on his check but that is nowhere close to $99). I could decline Part B but I’m not sure that it is a good idea to do that. Supplemental policies that I’ve looked at are up to $160 per month. Part D (the drug plan) plans are anywhere from $20 and up (one I looked at last night was $44). So, now I’m up to a little over $300 just for Ron’s insurance. One particular plan has no co-pay and no deductible. That’s good… a savings of $1750 right off the bat. Prescription co-pays are lower (mostly) but right off the bat, in January (because of the cost of insulin) we would fall into one donut-hole – our out-of-pocket for the month would be over $1400. Yikes! I don’t really “have” $1400 in January for prescriptions. February and March, we’re OK but in April it’s a CRATER – forget the donut-hole. Out-of-pocket estimates are in excess of $2300 for his meds for the month of April. Seriously? $2300??? Well, if I don’t have $1400 in January, you can bet your bippy that I don’t have $2300 in April either. (Plus, I’m sure there is something about federal income taxes that will hit me then…) In a nutshell, the annual costs for the insurance plus his prescription out-of-pocket is roughly $7600 (the best combination of medical and prescription coverage) but not sure that includes what the government will charge for Part B (which is another $1188). If we changed how his insulin is given (vials instead of pens – and I’d just have to draw up the syringes and leave them in the fridge for him), it might save us a little bit of money. The above out-of-pocket assumes that I would be refilling ALL of his prescriptions in January, April, July, and October. They don’t really fall that way so the dollars would fall a bit differently but still be substantial in the months we had prescriptions filled.

So, do I save any money by putting him on Medicare? If I took him off my group plan at work, I’d go back to my policy that I get as a benefit from him retiring from Boeing. The premium is… $10 (yes, that is a “ten”) per month. No deductible. $10 office call co-pay. Generics are $7 per month. That’s a big savings for my coverage but taking into consideration that his premiums and such would go up, not an overall savings. I think in the grand scheme of things, it would be a savings but maybe the overall amounts wouldn’t fall in such a way that it would benefit us.

I don’t know why the whole thing is so darn complicated. Why do we have to have a donut hole (or crater)? Why can’t it just be we pay X amount for prescriptions each month, every month, and not fall into those high dollar situations? It’s enough to make you want to stop taking medications. I can see why seniors sometimes have to choose to eat or to take their meds as prescribed. I can definitely see us cutting back just to stretch things a bit more. Getting (and staying) healthier is a smart move, but it’s already too late for Ron. The best he can do is maintain (and his A1C, which measures your glucose levels over a three month average, is down to 5.9%, which is outstanding; anything before 7 is diabetic in excellent control). His creatinine and potassium levels are excellent so what we’re doing is working. We just have to keep that up.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Back in the swing of things

Sort of...

I am so grateful for the messages of sympathy and support from my friends (both IRL and blogging). You all cannot imagine how much I appreciated all of your messages. You never know until something like this happens who your real friends are and who are the ones who disappear. I'm sure we've all experienced things like that.

The time following my mom's passing and up to the funeral seemed to go by so quickly and also to just crawl. I didn't want to say good-bye. I wanted to hear her voice one more time. I wanted to tell her how much I loved her one more time. Thursday (the 27th) she was still pretty alert and was having a lot of cramping in her left foot. It wasn't much but I was able to rub her foot when a cramp would hit and help it to go away. I get these same kind of toe cramps and I know how badly they hurt; the only real relief is to get up and walk it out. One time, it must have been too bad because she very clearly said, "let go." By Friday, she was pretty much unresponsive  and had mostly quit talking. I spent a lot of Friday afternoon and evening alone with her and I was able to talk to her quite a bit. I'm sure she heard and understood but she didn't really say anything. I know she was really uncomfortable and in a lot of pain so I made sure the nurses kept her pain medicine coming as often as she was able to have it and when she needed it.

My mom loved hummingbirds and always had one or two feeders up, plus she had a bird bath in her yard. My kids went together and bought this for me in memory of my mom. I was really touched and I think it's just beautiful.

The last week has been busy (getting back into the swing of things at work) but my mind hasn't been able to come to grips with the finality of "good-bye" and keeping the good memories front and center. Like her birthday present...In the last couple of years, Mom developed a liking for the slots at the casino. It was the one piece of entertainment she could do, she could afford it, and she could forget how badly she felt and how little quality of life that she had. She didn't look at it as gambling - she was just entertaining herself. I gave her $40 to spend on the Wheel of Fortune game and she smiled so big when I gave it to her - just like a kid in a candy store! She had a great time that day and I am so glad that I was able to go with her that last time (I was supposed to go back to KC the weekend of 9/16 and my sister and I were going to take her on my way back home).

I need to get back into a normal routine. Ron's doing OK - not great, but OK. His short-term memory is my biggest complaint right now. He just doesn't remember things that he needs to. Sometimes he acts like a child instead of an adult and that frustrates me quite a bit. He gets something in his head or on his mind and he just doesn't let go. He's been like this his whole life but lately it's been much worse. He'll interrupt people to ask questions or to have someone get him something or do something for him. He frustrates me a great deal these days. I told him Sunday that I didn't like us very well sometimes. I don't like feeling like this. I'm sure a lot of it is me - I'm short on patience these days.

Monday, October 1, 2012

In Loving Memory

Patricia (Pat) JoAnne (Dowdy) Keesee of Kansas City, MO (Northland) entered the arms of Jesus on Saturday, September 29, 2012, at Kindred Hospital. Visitation will be from 6:00-8:00 PM Wednesday, October 3 at D.W. Newcomer’s Sons White Chapel Memorial Gardens, Gladstone. Funeral Services will be Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 10:00 AM at White Chapel with burial following. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions can be made to the American Diabetes Association.

Pat was born in Kansas City, MO on August 27, 1930 to Agnes Maude (Turner) and William G. Dowdy, Sr. She retired from Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in March 1987 after 30 years of service. Pat was a former member of the Northland Optimist Club and was recognized by the Salvation Army Consistent Giving Hero Society. Pat was preceded in death by her husband, William (Bill) Keesee; a daughter, Kathryn Anne (Keesee) Gold; a grandson, Justin Teal Roberts; her parents; and three brothers, Glen Dowdy, John Dowdy, and Robert Dowdy. Pat is survived by three sons and three daughters; William Richard Keesee (Susie), Robert Franklin Keesee (Kathy), Teresa Gayle Williams (Ron), Jerry Ray Keesee (Leasa), Valerie Michelle McKim (Mike), and Kristina Renee Page; one brother and two sisters, Gerald Dowdy, Lois Wells, and Judy Loman; 22 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Pat and Bill met in the courtyard at the Alamo in San Antonio, TX, in January, 1949 while she was on vacation and he was on a one-day pass from basic training at Lackland Air Force Base. Pat was standing with a group of people when this Airman approached her and asked if she would take a picture with him. Thinking he was the cutest guy she had ever seen, she said yes. Pat and Bill had their photo taken together before they even knew the other’s name. They were married on September 8, 1949 and lived a love story that lasted over 56 years. Pat had recently relocated to the Garden Village Independent Senior Living community, where she was a well-loved resident. She was a much-loved mother and grandmother, and an amazing great-grandmother (GG) to all of her great-grandchildren. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren alike will all treasure the memories they created with her.

Just how do you say goodbye to the most amazing, wonderful mother in the world? I don't know. I don't know how I'm going to do it. I already miss her - I miss the telephone calls and the visits and I know I'll miss watching her at Hollywood. The back-and-forth late night Facebook conversations... I'll cherish them all, especially my birthday message. I knew that I could talk to her anytime that I wanted to and could take her phone calls anytime she wanted to call. Heaven is a "long distance" call that I'd love to be able to make. I know that she was welcomed with open arms, hugs, and much rejoicing by those who have gone ahead of her. It's those of us left behind who will have to figure out a way to make it through our days without her presence, humor, and conversations. My mom and dad have left such a legacy in their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. There's not any one person who ever crossed her path who wasn't affected in some way or another by her presence. She loved us all unconditionally and accepted us - faults and all - without reservation. I know that we all disappointed her at one time or another but she never held our shortcomings against us. She set a great example for others to try to live up to. She left some big shoes to fill and I don't think any of us will ever measure up. God knew that it was time for His earthly angel to come home.

Friday, September 21, 2012

So, I get home from work last night and decide to leave my car in the drive because I decided that I was going to surprise Ron with a trip out to run some errands and get dinner. It’s been a while since I’ve taken him anywhere and he likes to go grocery shopping with me. I don’t like to take him because I’m an “in and out” kind of shopper and he s.h.o.p.s. – sllllooooowwwwwlllllyyyy. I’d rather take a list of what he’d like to have and then decide which items on the list I’m going to let him have. That sounds terribly mean but I like to keep his snacks as healthy as possible during the week. I get protein bars, yogurt, granola, fruit, animal crackers, cheese sticks, and sometimes – very rarely – some kind of chip or cracker for him to eat. He also likes peanut butter on crackers, so I try to keep some on hand for him.

I had tried to call him earlier in the day to get his wants and desires but he didn’t answer his phone. It’s having problems so I wasn’t too surprised. Since I was already going to have to go home to make the list, I decided that I’d just surprise him and take him with me. Since I didn’t park in the garage, I didn’t open the door to the utility room/kitchen but went in through the front door (if I had gone through the garage, I would have seen the mess right away). Immediately, I spot an Oxy Clean stain stick on the table by Ron’s chair. That cannot be good news because that means he spilled something somewhere and was trying to erase the evidence, I mean clean up after himself.

Ron: You’re home too early.
Me: Why do you say that?
Him: Well, I had a little accident.
Me: I see that. What did you do?
Him: I dropped the peanut butter. (Note: This was “natural” peanut butter in a glass jar from the health food store, so it was really oily in one layer and then the “peanut” portion was another layer.)
Me: What were you doing? (By now, I’m a little bit irritated – really quite a bit irritated – because we’ve had multiple discussions about him eating snacks in his chair in the living room. He has access to more than one area to eat but he can’t see the television from those spots. Ugh!)
Him: I was bringing the peanut butter and crackers in here for a snack and I dropped it. (The crackers are in a plastic tub with a lid, so in one hand, he was trying to carry a tub of crackers, a knife, and a jar of peanut butter. In the other hand, he had his cane. Of course, he has to wear his prosthetic leg when he’s walking but lately he’s not been wearing his left shoe/brace insert and has been going barefoot. We just spent $70 on a new pair of lightweight shoes so it would be easier and more comfortable for him to walk around the house. He’s lost his balance before when barefoot and has fallen more than once. The most recent was about three weeks ago when he fell and cracked a couple of ribs and broke the legs off of a Lazy Boy recliner from landing on it so hard.)

During this conversation, I’ve been setting my stuff down and looking at the floor by his chair and noticed blood. Lots of blood. (I’d just cleaned the carpet Sunday after I came home from Kansas City because he’d bled a big spot from not knowing that he’d scratched his foot. Amy and Rex had been there and as I came in she said she was just cleaning up for me. I had to borrow their small carpet cleaner to actually get it all up.) This blood was in almost the same exact spot as it had been Sunday. He said it was from his arm, which he’d cut from the peanut butter jar but I thought it was his foot. I looked where the bandage was on his foot and it wasn’t bleeding so I decided it must have been his arm.

I head to the kitchen to get something to clean up the carpet with and notice blood all over the kitchen floor. It seriously looks like someone has been murdered in there. Blood everywhere, along with broken glass and oil from the peanut butter jar. I went around the corner to the laundry area/utility room and found more blood. He had dripped and tracked blood all over the kitchen floor. So, I headed to the bathroom to get the mop and discovered even more blood. By now, I’m figuring I need to shampoo most of the carpet and that’s not happening right now.

I cleaned up the blood in the bathroom first and headed back to the kitchen where I proceeded to sweep the floor, vacuum the floor, then mop the floor. In the midst of all of this, I slipped on either oil from the peanut butter jar or because of the mopping, or a combination of both. I went down hard on my right knee, with my leg bent out away from my body, almost like I was doing the “splits.” My left knee didn’t hit the floor, which was good because it would have landed in a pile of glass, but it was stretched out the other direction enough to feel that pull, too. My left arm – which is already a mess because of the cartilage tear in my shoulder – got the brunt of keeping me from totally landing my whole body on the floor. I could barely get up and as I’m yelling a couple of lovely words, Ron is in the other room asking what’s wrong. When you hurt yourself like that, the last thing you want to do is EXPLAIN what happened. I had to catch my breath.

We had quite the lively discussion about his continued stunts. He does not even begin to think about something before he does it. Trying to walk barefoot (a big no-no), carrying a tub of crackers, a knife, and a glass jar while he’s walking is just one of the many things he’s done recently. Besides breaking the chair (which my landlord graciously fixed for us), he’s broken the glass front to the antique china hutch (that could have been so dangerous if he had fallen into it instead of grazing it as he fell past it), he’s dropped a dish onto an antique dish (which broke), he’s fallen out of bed (last Monday, I found him on the floor by the bed; he’d been there about an hour – slid out trying to get his leg on), he’s spilled cups of liquid on the floor (he thought they were empty) because he’s not careful of where he sets them or how close they are to the edge of the table, and he’s bled on the floor more times than I can count. It’s not like I resent cleaning up any of these things but he doesn’t learn from what he’s previously done to keep from doing it again.

I just looked at him last night and said I can’t continue to do this and that he had to quit acting like he was invincible.  Then, I decided I was going out but I didn’t take him. I knew that I just had to get away for a while. I went down the road to play “Alice in Wonderland” and it was a nice reprieve. But, when I got home we had to continue our little discussion.

There was more blood on the floor in the bathroom (and on the wall) and in the kitchen. He insisted that his ankle was not bleeding but I made him let me see his foot anyway. Not only did he sustain a substantial cut to the bottom of his foot, about where his big toe would be if he had one, he also has 10 puncture wounds. So when he thought he was “fine” he was actually cutting his foot up by traipsing through broken glass. I felt bad that I hadn’t noticed it before but I was concentrating on where he knew he’d been bleeding from. I got those all cleaned up and bandaged and asked him when was he going to learn; did he want to lose his other leg, too? He still thinks he could walk just fine on two prosthetics. Seriously? He can barely get around on one prosthetic with a cane. I told him he’d find himself in assisted living if he wasn’t careful because I was not capable of providing the care that he was going to need if he didn’t start taking better care of himself – and that includes wearing his shoe. I don’t expect very much of him – actually, nothing. He will sometimes wash up a few dishes but that’s really all that he can do and I usually end up re-doing them because he doesn’t see if he’s not gotten something clean (I never tell him though – I just put it in the dishwasher or something).

He’ll promise me that he’ll do things differently and then he forgets all about it. He’s supposed to wash the socket sleeve every day with mild soap and hang it over a form to dry. He has two of these. They cost $1200 each and our portion is several hundred dollars. He said he’d be responsible for washing them and taking care of them. He doesn’t remember and by the time I realize that he’s not washed one for several days, they both need to be washed. He’s only had these for six or eight months and already one needs to be replaced (skin oils cause the material to break down – that’s why he’s supposed to wash them after every wearing).

Too bad it was too late to go back out. I think Alice was calling my name. J

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On previous anniversaries of September 11, I have written a reflective post on where I was, how things were going, what I thought, etc. This year, I couldn’t reflect on that date when the days surrounding this September 11 have been in such turmoil. The Oak Ridge Boys concert was last night and we did attend. I tossed around the decision to attend or not and decided that my attendance (or not) wouldn’t make any difference in the grand scheme of things.

This may seem like an odd way to begin a post, and I’ve written (but not posted) a message on mortality but now it is so much more poignant and appropriate. You see, my mom had a massive stroke this past Sunday, changing everything and bringing the thought of mortality to the forefront of my mind. My attendance – or not - at the concert last night wouldn’t change the fact that she is lying in a hospital bed in another state. We did enjoy ourselves and probably needed that time to get away from the stress of the unknown. I’m not in a giveaway frame of mind right now so I’ll have to postpone that until a later time. I have two people who posted about their “star” dreams and since they are both so good, I’m sending each of you a prize. I promise. Just not right now.

What I wrote on mortality on September 4 but never got around to posting (additions in red are my thoughts today on what I wrote then):

I never really considered my own mortality before but the older I get – and the older my children get – makes ignoring it more difficult to do. People are born, and die, every day. My time will come when God decides that it is here. My father passed away in 2005 but he had really been “given” 18 extra years in his life following a near-fatal heart attack in 1987. Luckily, he’d had a quadruple by-pass in June and then suffered the heart attack in July. His doctor said if he’d had the heart attack first, there would not have been a by-pass surgery. He was only 56 when he had the heart attack – the same age I am now. He was 74 when he died and I did not connect his death to my own mortality. (Back then, my mom would always say that Dad didn’t feel well and this made him grumpy. I told her to make him go to the doctor and she said that he wouldn’t go. I told her to make him an appointment and when he got home from work, to tell him to get into the car. She took my advice and on a Friday in June took him to the doctor. The doctor wanted to admit him to the hospital that day but my dad refused. He made Dad promise to not lift anything heavier than a coffee cup all weekend and scheduled him for by-pass surgery for the following Monday. The accurate diagnosis by the doctor saved his life.)

My mom turned 82 last week and I turned 56 two days later. I saw my mom the weekend before her birthday and although she didn’t look as bad as she has in the past, she feels worse than she has in a while. She goes to kidney dialysis three times a week and that is really sapping her strength and energy. It’s impossible to look a loved one in the eyes and not wonder about his/her – and your own – mortality. I worry about the length of time we have left with her. I worry about the quality of that time. I’d like to turn back time and do or say all the things that should have been said or done – and take away the things that should not have been said or done. If I could turn back time, I’d have gone to visit more, said I love you more, and asked if there were more things I could have done for her. If I could turn back time, I’m not sure exactly what I would do but I hope that I would do things differently. I’d apologize for things said (or left unsaid), things done (or not done) in the heat of the moment, and for where I had failed to live up to the hopes and dreams that she had for us. If I could turn back time, I’d sit down and have her tell me stories of her life – and put them on paper for my children to read. I bought her a book one time that was a sort of “fill in the blank” and she didn’t want to fill it in; she said none of us would really be interested in the minutia of her life. She was very wrong. If I could turn back time, I’d cherish listening to those details and ask for more.

I know my mom is proud of all of her children (there were seven of us) but she wasn’t (and still isn’t) one for flowery speeches or gushy shows of affection. It took me a lot of years to understand that her lack of “show” did not equate to a lack of feeling. As an adult myself, I’ve learned more about feelings – hiding and showing – than I ever thought I’d learn. I may not say much (when I could) but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel deeply. I’m sure this probably explains my mom pretty accurately. We were each raised in households where feelings weren’t discussed or shown. It was expected – and understood – that we would love each other and get along, not only with each other but also with others outside of the family unit. I posted an analogy of a tree today on my Facebook page. I won’t bore you with all of the details (the original message came from Tyler Perry so you could search for him on FB and read what he wrote) but give you a shortened version of it. People are like trees. You have some leaves, weaker, blown around by the wind, and when the winds change, they’re usually gone and out of your life without really being the type of supportive person you need. Then you have your limbs, which are stronger than the leaves but like them, if you pile on too much weight they break easily and are also gone from your life. These two groups of people have purpose in your life but they’re not the ones you go to if you need support and help. The final group of people is the roots – in the background, often unseen and without drawing attention to themselves, providing us with the support, encouragement, and nourishment in every way they can. My mom is the strongest “root” I know and the knowledge that her earthly presence and wisdom may soon be gone from us is a chilling fact and is causing this “tree” to lean.

There were definite times when this did not happen. It is sad to realize that as we all get older, we may not be there for each other in the way that we could – and maybe should. There are friends that have come and gone; relationships that have ended just because people have drifted apart and other relationships that were damaged due to the actions of one or more people. Some relationships were never meant to be and should be ended. Others should be mended; forgiveness should be extended. Forgiveness is as much, or more, for the person offering forgiveness as it is for the one being forgiven. I have a lot of actions that I need to be forgiven for and I hope that I’ve asked for it from all I needed. Instead of wondering (in some cases) where/what/how I went wrong, I just have to accept that some relationships may never be mended. We may need to re-cultivate our root system to include others, but not diminishing the role of the ones who were there before. Broken trees can re-build and just as a damaged tree bends and changes with time, I know that I will also change and grow as time passes. I may not always have my mother to lean on but I can always lean on her strength, her love, and the wisdom that she has passed down to us.

Monday, September 3, 2012

It’s Giveaway Time!

I promised a giveaway to celebrate our upcoming trip to see The Oak Ridge Boys on September 11. To be eligible to win, answer this question:
Did you have “star fantasies” when you were a kid (or even now as an adult)?  If so, tell me all about it – but keep it clean. I’m not talking about anything kinky, weird, or inappropriate for everyone to read. I mean – a crush on a “heartthrob” or music idol (such as Elvis), or dream of running into a movie star somewhere, or a date.
I know when I was a teenager I loved Davy Jones of The Monkees. Sadly, Davy Jones passed away this year but I always thought he was soooo cute! I also had a big crush on David Cassidy from The Partridge Family. (I actually met Susan Dey one time – she is TINY!) I never dreamt of having a date with anyone famous, but I always thought I could be a good friend to female stars. Of course, that was very naive of me, but I still would dream about meeting famous people and being “friends” with several people.
I love the Oak Ridge Boys (and the Statler Brothers) and we have gone to as many concerts as we possibly could. One time at a Wichita concert, we were coming around the building to the entrance as they exited a side door. They were so nice and chatted with us for several minutes. I think I was too stunned to get any pictures so hopefully the next time we see them, I’ll be able to get some pics. We not only have tickets for the Kansas State Fair, but we also have tickets for a December 11 concert at the Golden Nugget hotel in Vegas. My big fantasy right now would be to get a knock on our hotel door and have the Boys on the other side of the door.  That would be cool all by itself but the BIG part would be that they invited us on their cruise (takes place the end of February 2013) – all expenses paid, of course. LOL – now that’s truly a big, BIG fantasy (I had a dream one night after I read about their cruise that we got to go; not a possibility but it was a really good dream!).
So… those are my old, new, naive, and silly fantasies. What about you? The contest will run until September 12 (the day after the Kansas concert). To enter, leave a comment about your “star fantasy” and I’ll pick the winner from the entrants. The winner will get an Oak Ridge Boys package – contents to be detailed later when the winner is announced. I’m shooting for a CD and a signed book – either one from Joe Bonsall or the new one from Richard Sterban. Not sure – just what I can put together.  Unfortunately, this contest is only open to residents of the US but I will be having another book giveaway that will be a download.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Catching Up

Again... That seems to be my theme song these days.

I am very remiss about writing these days. I’ve started many different posts and never got past the first few paragraphs. Some of them are so out-of-date that it is just not feasible to post them. I’ll try again this weekend to get some stuff up. I miss reading and writing but I’ve just got so much going on that I can’t keep up with it all. I suppose if I made a goal of once per week that would be sufficient. I need to update Isaiah’s blog, too. He’s growing like a weed and in 3rd grade this year. Wow! It’s just amazing to see how much he has changed and grown over the past few years, and especially since Rex has come into the picture.

Rex is a wonderful dad to Isaiah and we couldn’t ask for anyone better. Isaiah wants to go to the same college Rex attended (K-State in Manhattan, KS) and have the same type of career (agricultural engineering). It’s just a joy to see them together. Isaiah is an awesome big brother to Anna, too. He has his moments but most of the time he’s great at entertaining her while his parents are busy. She’s taking a few steps now and seems to be into everything. He definitely has to be on his toes when he’s playing with her. She’s quite the little princess.

Ron is doing OK. His last checkup from the kidney doctor was really good. His neurologist gave him an additional pill for Parkinson’s and it seems to be helping. He’s now on three different Parkinson medications (one is a combo pill, so technically four different medications). He’s lost quite a bit of weight and is getting around the house better. He’s fallen a few times (broke a rib and one of our chairs) but for the most part is doing very well.

I had an MRI Arthrogram yesterday (not the best way to spend your birthday but at least they sedated me for it). They injected a contrast material into my left shoulder and then did the MRI (sedated – yay! Thank God for good drugs!). It doesn’t appear that I’ve re-torn my rotator cuff – which is a good thing. However, I found out I have a SLAP lesion (that’s a tear in the Labrum) in my left shoulder. Baseball pitchers get this type of injury but I don’t play ball. The only thing I can think of is that because it’s already a weaker joint than my other arm, that I injured it trying to catch Ron or pick him back up. This is why I’ve had so much pain and so many problems with it. I’ve done the injection, rest, heat/ice, exercise, anti-inflammatory meds, etc. so I wonder if the next step will be arthroscopic surgery. My orthopedic doctor is retiring and the practice is getting a new doctor. So, I don’ t know if he’ll want to start over or just go right for the surgery. I might try to put it off (regardless of the suggestions) until after the first of the year. I think I’d be off work for up to four weeks. Not sure… From what I’ve read, the patient wears an immobilizer sling for 2-4 weeks. Not sure how I’d dress for work with something like that. Oh well – will see what the new doctor says and I won’t see him for at least three more weeks.

I probably won't get caught up on all my blog reading so you'll all just have to bear with me. Or, not. LOL! I try - really I do. But there are just days that I come home and want to do nothing. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. And, that's exactly what I do. I get dinner, do whatever needs to be done around the house, take care of what Ron needs done, and then sit down. Sometimes I read and sometimes I surf Facebook, which is a real time waster. I have to watch myself there.

I'm not really having any issues but just have a lot on my mind.

A friend of mine described a sort of "circle dance" on her blog recently. She is an amazing friend - one I've never met in person - and I often find that what she writes speaks to my soul. She is able to put to words things that I know my heart and soul feels deeply - things that I would say if I could find the words to do so.

I have found myself performing my own version of this circle dance. Do I write, or do I not? Do I care what others think and say, or do I not? I've always wanted to be the "people pleaser" and hate it when someone is mad at me or disappointed in me. I hate it when people decide to drop out of my life without saying what I did to offend them. I can't attempt to "fix" what I don't know is "broken." I think it's even worse to find out that I really did nothing. It would be easier to understand if "I" was responsible for something that I could fix. I have given up trying, though.

When I started blogging, I did so pretty much as a sanity check because it was such a stressful time in my life. I did it for me and then I discovered reading blogs written by others and others started reading my blog. I've made so many friends through this online world. Seriously, how would I have ever gotten to Australia, New Zealand, England, or Japan except through this blog? It's pretty impressive (to me) that the words I've written have spanned the globe and ended up displayed on someone else's computer screen. This is no small thing to me. Unlike gaming, where people live in make-believe worlds with make-believe items, this is real life and involves real people.

I’ve had my share of ups and my share of downs. We all have. None of us is any more special than the next person. Our challenges are just that – “our” challenges. They’re no less challenging or any more challenging than the next person’s. Everything we do and say is subjective. The level of joy, sorrow, ease, or difficulty that each of us experiences is different for each person. I think all we can do is support each other in those challenges – no matter what they might be.

I’ve been much busier since I changed jobs and my writing has suffered. I’ve also tried to not focus so much on “airing” our medical problems. There are those who just don’t want to hear about them. That’s OK. This blog isn’t about them or for them. As such, they may have left and/or decided to not read any longer. Again, that is OK. But, if what I've said has offended anyone then for that, I truly am sorry. Offense has never been my intent and never will be.

This is probably as long of a rambling post as I should do. If you've made it this far - good for you. LOL - if you bailed before you got to the end, that's OK too.

I'll catch up with ya'll later. I still have a book giveaway and an Oak Ridge Boys giveaway (I haven't forgotten!).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Snaps

Vacation pictures...

Mt. Rainier from the airplane window

Beautiful scenery

Alexander, Zachary, and Katy at Olive Garden


Katy and Grandma

Alexander and Grandma

Zachary, Katy, and Grandma

Alexander running away during water balloon fight.

Katy ready to throw balloon.

Tristan is excited in his exer-saucer.

Poor Zachary... We wore him out and he fell asleep eating his dinner.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I'm back...

I've been back a week but have been so very busy that I couldn't update. I'm so far behind that I have just come to the conclusion that I will NEVER catch up. If I haven't commented on your blog for a while - I apologize. I try to get them all read but just can't seem to get it all done.

I had a great time with my grandchildren. They were a little bit shy when I first got there but warmed up quickly. Katy was really attached to me and Zachary wanted to do whatever Katy was doing with me. I would frequently end up with both of them on my lap - not a bad situation at all. I hated to leave them and I tried to prepare them for the fact that I'd not be there when they got up the next morning. I told Katy that I had to go back home to take care of grandpa (the big baby) because he missed me. The next day, Katy went into the bedroom where I'd been sleeping and said yep, I was gone home to take care of big baby grandpa! It was so funny.

I started calling Zachary "little man" when I'd talk to him. One time, I said it to Alexander. He said, "that's Zachary. I'm big man." So we had big man (Alexander), little man (Zachary), and baby man (Tristan). Katy was "Sis" a lot of the time. I don't know why I do it, but I love to give the kids little terms of endearment. I've called Isaiah "bubba" for most of his life, along with several other things. LOL! Anna calls him bubba, too. She gets very excited when she sees her bubbas!

Ron survived his week without me (he had Keith and Lindsay here making sure he did). He was glad to see me and isn't in any hurry for me to take of again any time soon. Next time, he'll have to go with me and we'll get a hotel where he can relax in between visiting the kids. LOL - they are quite active and I think a place for him to retreat would definitely be in order.

Shaun's ship is headed back to the Middle East and we're none too pleased about it. He just got home March 2, 2012 and they expect to be headed back out by the end of August for another 8-month stint. They have already been underway the whole month of July doing maneuvers so they won't get much home time before they pull out. Not too easy for Jenny to handle another winter without Shaun there to help. Thankfully, one of the neighbors has offered to haul trash carts down the street (they have to take them to where the paved road begins) and will help with other things while Shaun is gone. They have some really fantastic neighbors.

Ron went back to the neurologist for a follow-up visit and medication check. The tremors bother him more than anything and his memory (or lack of) bothers me the most. He got a new medication that is supposed to help the tremors (this will make pill #3 and medication #4 - one is a combo pill - that he'll be taking). The doctor also took a look at his latest CT scan and said he has a mild case of hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and it's causing pressure in the areas that deal with short-term memory. The only treatment is a shunt and he is not willing to do that at this time. So, we just have to find a way to work around the memory problems (and they are getting much worse). The doctor may increase Ron's Aricept. His next appointment is in three months so we'll see what kind of changes there are between now and then.

I'm in a training class all week to become a company-certified trainer. There are going to be eight of us who will be responsible for teaching everyone in the plant (nearly 1,000 people) how to do a certain function (corrective action/preventive action [CAPA] plans). The company is changing gears and rolling out a new method for this CAPA procedure. So far (after day 1), it's going well and I think I'm going to enjoy teaching the procedure to people. That's today. I may not be so certain come Thursday or Friday.

I"m going to be hosting a new give-away in a couple of weeks. This one will be in honor of us going to see the Oak Ridge Boys this September. Be thinking about your entry.... I want to know the wildest dream(keeping it CLEAN - no sexual fantasy) you've ever had about a movie star or music star. I'll pick the story I like best (clean and entertaining) and that person will win a special prize (I'm still in the planning stage for this but I will say that it involves the Oak Ridge Boys). I'll even ship out of the country so all of can can join in.

I'll hold the give-away open a couple of weeks after it's posted so you have time to think about what you want to write. When I pick the winner, I'll tell you my wildest dream (pretty far-fetched, perfectly clean). I've had a lot of time to day-dream and night time dream about some of my favorite acts (I am, after all, OLD so there have been a lot) and TV shows. For instance, when I was a kid, I used to dream that our house was in the Old West and frequently a scene between Cowboys and Indians would take place - but more of the comedy variety like Bob Hope in the old westerns. He was one of my very favorite actors/comedians. Yeah - I was weird even back then.

Have a good week! I'll post some WA pictures when I get a chance to get them off my phone.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hold down the fort!

I hope you all are doing well and surviving this heat we've been dealing with. Triple-digit temperatures has a tendency to make people grouchy and a bit crazy. Not that I'm talking about "me" you know.... not much anyway. The heat is handled quite well at my house (PTL for air conditioning!!!!).

Tomorrow, I'm getting on one of these:

(Compliments of Boeing Images)

And, heading here:

Image Google Images
 To see these:

I'll be back next week. Expect pictures... That's my plan. Lots of pictures.

Have a great week and I hope you all have a safe and fun Independence Day celebration!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My own version of Sunday Snaps

Thanks to Diane over at Southhamsdarling. She does Sunday Snaps nearly every week. I don't usually have what I consider good pictures on a weekly basis to post, but this week I have quite a few that are worth sharing today. These are from our local arboretum and although I took them with my phone, I think they turned out very well.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Today's post brought to you by the letter "C"

Coke (diet)

There are LOTS more words that are graced by the letter C. Notice one BIG one that is missing from my list? Cancer. Yep, that's right... It's not only missing from my list but it's also (more than likely) missing from my body, too.

{happy dance in KS...} I have to go back in six months to have the spots re-checked but it is very probably benign cysts.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

The Stare Down

The Stare Down, part II

GG, Anna, and Isaiah