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.