Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Overdue update

Ron is adjusting to life at the nursing home, although he has his moments where he believes that he doesn't need to be there. That is very hard because when he's being honest, he knows that he's much safer there. The staff at the nursing home is very good, and they take great care of him. All he has to do is push his call button, and then within minutes someone is there to help him if he needs it. If he was still at home he would have to call 911 or try to call me and it would take me 30 minutes to get to him.

He gets exercise three times a week, which is something he was not getting at home. He goes from his room to the cafeteria for all of his meals. That gives him an opportunity to interact with other adults. He has a private room so he can watch television as long as he wants to at night. He still doesn't sleep very well so his TV is on a lot.

All in all, it has been a very good move for him. His main problem is that he doesn't really want to be there. He's younger than many of the other residents and even though some are in better health than him he looks at them and he sees that he's going to stay there until he dies. I can't really do anything about that. His health is bad and there's nothing I can do to change that, either.

In fact, he was recently diagnosed with A-fib and put on a beta blocker and a blood thinner. Beta blockers affect his kidney function so he has to be closely monitored to make sure he doesn't go into kidney failure. His Parkinson's disease is getting worse and he was put on stronger medication for that as well. I would have missed the A-fib completely, which can cause a stroke. I would not be able to take him to have blood drawn every two weeks to check his kidney function. He has a ruptured disc in his upper back and goes to therapy twice a week; I wouldn't have been able to do that, either.

This all comes with a high price tag for us, though. It's 100% of his income and then a little bit of mine. In addition, I pay for his Internet, his cable, his phone, and any other personal expenses like haircuts, outside entertainment, or clothing. This makes it tough for me to pay all of the other expenses. I've had to adjust my cable to a lower package, slow my Internet speed down, lower our cell phone data package, turn my thermostat down a few degrees, not eat out, watch what I buy at the grocery store, etc. It's a good thing I don't have a lot of consumer debt. I have a car payment, student loans and very little other debt (working on taking care of getting that paid off). My rent is pretty low for the area and my utilities are as low as I can get them.

Christmas is very low-keyed. No gifts for the older grandchildren or for the adults. I had to replace Ron's iPod because his disappeared from his room (don't know if it was stolen or if he knocked it into his trash) but I found a used one for $110. So, that is his gift. I'm not getting anything, which is fine by me. Anything he bought me, I'd have to pay for anyway and I don't have any extra money to indulge in Christmas presents for myself. And, I'm really fine with that. We will be able to spend the day together with family and that is all that matters.

I had shoulder surgery two weeks ago and am recuperating at Amy's and Rex's house. I didn't have to have rotator cuff repair, but I had a sub-acromial decompression (removed the bursa), had the distal end of my clavicle removed, had the long head tendon of my biceps released (called a biceps tenotomy and leaves only one tendon attached to the bone), had frayed strands of the rotator cuff removed, and my SLAP lesion should be "fixed" by the release of the biceps tendon (I had a pretty significant tear and separation). I'm currently doing physical therapy and have very limited range of motion. I can't lift anything or otherwise put any stress on my shoulder joint. I can't do too much for myself so Amy wants me to stay here until I feel like actually cooking real food for myself. LOL, she said I couldn't live on cereal and I said I also had protein shakes. I guess they don't count as real food, either. :)

If Ron was still home, I would not have been able to take the time needed to have surgery. His being taken care of in the nursing facility has given me peace of mind and let me take a much-needed break to take care of my own health.

That's about it for the update. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and holiday season. My goal is to get back into writing more often and reading my blog roll. I've missed being able to follow my online friends. Take care...


Friday, October 4, 2013

I should be able to sleep...

Ron has pretty much given me the "go ahead" to get on with life. He said last night that he is comfortable there and is treated well. The staff are very helpful and the facility is clean - it doesn't "smell" like a nursing home. That made me feel much better. I know that he is where he needs to be. I just have to convince my mind at night when I lie down to sleep that I really do have permission to relax. And sleep.

I find myself waking several times during the night and then when I need to get up, I'm exhausted and dragging. Plus, getting everything figured out is really tough.

I took all of the paperwork to the attorney last Friday. I got my first bill yesterday. $122.00 for "inter-office email" review - so I basically paid him to read his mail. Go figure. At $200 per hour, it won't take long to hit his $2,000 estimate. I'm just thankful that he didn't hit me up for a large retainer. I won't have much money once he's finished with me and I pay my share of the co-pay - and no telling what Medicaid will say I have to pay. I'm trying to get everything all set up so I'll have the funds when the bills start rolling in. I'm trying to figure out exactly what I'll have left over each month and, until I find out the Medicaid part, it's hard to do. I've tried to figure it several different ways and not coming out too well for any of them. No biggie... I believe that God will take care of things when I need Him to. I know I haven't been too vocal about faith lately, but that doesn't mean that I haven't held onto my faith. Without it, I don't know where I'd be.

Whatever it is, it is worth it to have Ron receive the care that he needs. He fell yesterday - not really "fell" but he said he slid down onto the floor. He didn't have his leg attached securely and he just came right out of it. That sounds familiar. But he was able to get help there to get back up, whereas at home he did not. Now, he's supposed to ring for assistance if he wants to get up. He said he doesn't need it but when he asked me to take his leg off last night, it wasn't even attached. He was surprised and said he thought it was hooked on. Hmmm.... no wonder he fell earlier.

My sister made a couple of signs for his door. One says "PawPaw's Place" and the other says "Crampa's Corner." Anna calls him PawPaw and Isaiah has always called him Crampa. (Anna is pretty insistent that when I go see PawPaw, I can't stay at his "new housch" and I must come home.) We took a nice television down for him, plus I got him a Blu-Ray player that is Netflix ready. I had cable and Internet hooked up, and he's got his phone, laptop, and tablet. The man is set with electronics. He also has his lift chair, a nightstand, lamp, and radio. He sleeps in his chair so he's pretty comfortable.

Ron said the food is pretty good. He thought he was gaining weight from the food so he cut back, and still was gaining. I think it is the CHD that is causing the problem because he's still full of fluid. He went back to the doctor today but I haven't had a chance to find out what the doctor said.

My posts these days are so boring. LOL! What else is there to talk about? I had cortisone injections in both shoulders - trying to avoid surgery. That would be a trip. NOT. I'm trying to find something to wear to my son's wedding - in TWO WEEKS! I haven't found anything yet. Oh wait, I haven't looked yet! Tomorrow, I'm going shopping with Amy and the bride.

It's bedtime. Maybe I can think of something interesting tomorrow. Maybe I'll post my shopping find. Maybe not.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You know, life just shouldn't be this tough...

As some of you know, Ron is back in the hospital. He's in congestive heart failure this time. At least it's not his kidneys, too - right? I knew he was going downhill for a couple of weeks. Told him, even, that I thought he was heading toward a medical issue. He knew, too. We doubled up his Lasix and he got muscle cramps in his arms and legs, so I cut it back. I'd just started doubling it again when he went to the doctor yesterday. I knew he needed to be in the hospital and I guess they did, too.

Living just shouldn't be this hard for people. You'd think...

I did have a discussion with him the other night about assisted living/skilled nursing care. On the one hand, I'm sure there are a lot of people in skilled nursing care who are in better shape than Ron is. But, can he really take care of himself? Not really - so would he qualify for skilled nursing care? I'm not sure. I don't want him to go into a nursing home situation until he absolutely has to. Could he manage assisted living? That's kind what he has with me now and it's not working out so well. So...

I think we might be at that place. And, I'm afraid.

I'm afraid that I might feel guilty...

  • Guilty that "I" put him there
  • Guilty that I might be relieved that I don't have to do it all alone anymore (the day-to-day stuff)
  • Guilty that I gave up
  • Guilty that I won't be the one to find him - you know - not breathing
  • Guilty that I won't have to make the decision on what to do with him or for him
  • Guilty for being relieved for not having to dread what I'd find when I got home from work
  • Guilty for not being "there" for him all the time
He asked me last night if when I "put him someplace," if he could take his lift chair and his TV.  I don't want him to think that "I" am putting him someplace. I do worry that what ever I find for him, that he won't have enough visitors to keep him from feeling like he's been put away. I'm not worried about Keith and Amy visiting (or me), but is that enough to keep him from being lonely and feeling like his family has tossed him aside? He asked me how soon I was going to do it. Well... it can't happen overnight but I would really like to see him settled soon. This up and down, back and forth, etc., with his health issues are wearing me down and out. I told Amy today that the stress of it all would kill me but there is plenty of life insurance to take care of him. (I wonder what my blood pressure is right now...hmmm)

I have an appointment with an attorney tomorrow to discuss separation of assets. I don't have a lot, but I have a little inheritance from my mom, a small IRA, and my 401k at work. Technically, Ron is entitled to half of that. The attorney said it would cost me upwards of $2,000 but he thinks he can get Ron qualified for Medicaid, preserve those accounts, and also preserve some of his income for me. That would be nice because, quite frankly, if I have to pay for this out of my pocket, I'll be on the streets in less than a year. That's not a bluff or made for shock value. I've done the math. Although I was never great at algebra or geometry, but I can do addition and subtraction very well and I can't make that scenario work for very long.

Back to the "guilt" thing... 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

And, another anniversary is here...

Not one that any of us wish we had... September 11, 2001. It's been 12 years and sentiments are still as strong now as they were then. Instead of re-writing something, I'll just reference what I wrote in 2008.  If you want to read it, you can go here:

Where were you?

I re-read what I wrote and I couldn't do it any better today than I did then. Have we learned anything in these 12 years? I'm not sure. Terrorism is still alive and well in many parts of the world. Muslim extremists are still murdering innocent people every day - sometimes their own countrymen, women, and children.

It's truly sad and I just have no words to express the depth of feeling and sadness I feel for the victims.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's been 29 years...

Twenty-nine years ago today, I married my best friend. I didn't know then quite the ride I'd be taking, but I'm certainly glad that I "signed up" for it! We've had our ups and downs (just like every other married couple out there), our good times and our bad. But, we've always had each other's back in everything that we've done.

I bought Ron a new watch. He has trouble seeing the hands on the dials so I got one that has white hands on a black dial. Amy thought it was ugly but it's L.E.G.I.B.L.E. and that is all that matters. Plus, it was on sale! I got it for nearly 50% off. I almost gave it to him this morning but decided I'd wait until tonight. I don't want him to do anything silly like order flowers (they cost too darn much money!) because he wasn't able to get out and purchase something. It used to matter that he take the time to think of me and put some thought/effort into a gift (birthday, Christmas, anniversary, etc.) because I really put a lot of thought and effort into everything that I got for him, but now it just doesn't have that importance. I know he'd go buy something if he could and that is all that matters. Last year, he got me a gift card to my favorite local coffee house and that was perfect. This year, I don't even need that. He doesn't put up any kind of fuss when I want to do something and that is a gift all by itself. A lot of spouses (both men and women) carry on terribly when the other wants to do something. Ron's not like that and I'm thankful.

I'm thankful that I've had 29 years with him and hope that we're still kicking when it's time to celebrate 30!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A blast from the past... literally

I was cleaning out some boxes of things to put away in my new cabinet in my craft room/guest bedroom and came across an old(ish) newspaper clipping. I laid it down on the desk and pretty much forgot about it. Oh, I read it and remembered the article quite clearly, as it had featured Ron and I. What struck me was the date of the clipping. August 15, 1991. Since today is the 22nd anniversary of that date, I decided that I would share it with you.

The local newspaper used to have a place in their “Celebrations” section where people could be profiled as a love story and was usually reserved for people who’d been married for a long time. (They still have the Celebrations section, but people pay to put announcements in there. It’s no longer considered news to be added by the paper. LOL!) I don’t remember the details, but I must have sent them a little tidbit of information and we were picked to tell our story. We went down to the paper to have our picture taken and a reporter did a little interview.

The result was this article. I had to laugh at the timing of me finding it. Oh, my glasses are pretty funny, too. I had more hair then. Darn it. I wonder where all that hair went. Ron looked good. He’s been so unhealthy for such a long time that it’s nice to see a picture of him looking good. At the same time, it’s a little sad. I know he’s still there but sometimes I forget that.

Our 29th wedding anniversary is next week. I wasn’t sure we’d make it this far and often wonder if this will be our last one. But, I’ve wondered that before and we’re both still hanging in there.

One day at a time… Just one day at a time.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's (a wet) Hump Day!

We have had so much rain here lately that my yard has been suitable for ducks. It needs to be mowed (maybe a thrashing machine would be more appropriate!) but I don't think it's going to dry out anytime soon for it to be mowed. My poor yard man! He's going to have his work cut out for him, that's for sure.

I've got a whole bunch of nothing going on these days. Ron is good, I am good, life is good. Can't complain about a thing. LOL - that's a novel idea, isn't it? There for a while I found it hard to find anything good to write about. While I'm sure it wasn't always pleasant reading what I wrote, writing it did help me keep my sanity. I'm sure some would argue that I did lose it and I surely need "help" but, I would beg to differ. The writing was my therapy. Oh sure - I still get worried about things, I continue to worry about Ron (he's doing quite well right now), I still sometimes overly stress about things I shouldn't. But, that is the way things go and I probably always will. I'm like the kid who wants everyone to like him/her. I don't like to not know what I can do to make things better and I usually end up making things worse. So, I have to just learn to take things in stride and not worry over things (and people) that I very obviously can't change.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Atlanta for the Thirty-One Gifts National Convention. I had a blast! I was one of about 16,000 people there and just enjoyed the whole experience. I'd never been to anything like that before, so it was a very new experience. I did have a lot of balance problems (too much movement around me, poor lighting, etc.) but I had several ladies in my group who made sure that I didn't fall. I was so blessed.

Here are a couple of the pictures that were taken of me:

I let myself be in several other pictures but since they include other individuals, I didn't want to post them here without their permission.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Insurance woes?

I've found that this year has been the most difficult one for us with regard to filing insurance claims. It wasn't this difficult in years past. Is it because Ron has Medicare and a Medicare Supplement (Humana) - and has my employer-provided insurance, too? Is it because I have not only my employer-provided, but also Boeing retiree benefit insurance (this is a great policy and only $10 per month!)?  I don't know what it is, but when I got the information below I decided it was helpful information and that I'd provide it here. If you have any questions be sure to go to the link below.

Filing an insurance claim, be it health, car, home insurance, or workers comp, is exhausting and no doubt a daunting task especially for those who have never done it before. Most people are intimidated to do so not only because of utter lack of information, but just the amount of work - tons of paperwork, a lot of going back and forth with different people, long frustrating hours on the phone - will just about send anyone running for the hills. Well, it shouldn't be like that. If you have all the necessary information to back you up and if you know the correct person to talk to, then it wouldn’t be as complicated as it needs to be. Myclaimsource.com is an open resource for consumers looking for information on how to file a claim. You will find insurance providers’ contact information - phone, email address, mailing address, and website address listed on the site, tips and tricks, even discounts certain providers offer. The site also aims to be an open forum to connect those looking to file claims with people who already have, and who may be able to offer tips and advice on claim filing with a given provider. Drop by anytime and find the information you need on filing a claim. Hopefully, http://www.myclaimsource.com" will be able to help individuals make an informed decision and make the no-fun task of filing insurance claims a little easier.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Life is like that...

You can please some of the people some of the time but you can't please all of the people all of the time. And... you can't please some people no matter how hard you try.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Update on my main squeeze

Ron's doing pretty good. His potassium went down to 5.0 with the "acute care" treatment he got, but as soon as they stopped those medications it went right back up to 5.2. The doctor came in and we talked quite a bit. He's going to do some further testing - wants to check him for Addison's disease and other adrenal gland problems. They did a 24-hour urine collection and that testing showed the potassium is mainly coming from outside sources. That could mean medication and the only thing he's currently on that can increase potassium is Benicar (for high blood pressure). So, he's stopped that drug and increased the dosage of his other blood pressure medication.

In addition, he prescribed kayexalate oral medication, which is another drug that binds the potassium and flushes out of the body, in the form of "solid" waste. Ron wanted to come home because he's feeling better, but Doc said if he went home today at 5.2 he'd be back in the ER by Sunday or Monday at 5.7 or higher. He wants to get the potassium level below 5.0 and would prefer closer to 4.0. He did say the creatinine was going down, so that's another good sign. (I told Ron that it's not like we were going somewhere - we didn't have any plans that needed to be canceled. Sitting there and watching TV or sitting at home watching TV - not much difference...)

He says that Ron has Stage III kidney disease now. I think he's been in Stage III for quite a while. At Stage IV, they recommend dialysis. Ron says he won't do dialysis. We'll see... :) I can be very persuasive.

He was complaining that he wanted the IV out, he wanted the heart monitor off, he wanted blah, blah, blah... LOL - I finally told him to quit his bitching and that he wasn't the only person this affected when he was in the hospital or sick. That did shut him up and he apologized. I don't mean to be snarky with him, but this is exhausting to me, too.

I only stayed about three hours today but I'm so tired I can't see straight. I needed to do some housework, yard work, and laundry and the only thing I've managed to do is two loads of laundry. My house needs some TLC but I don't think it's going to be from me today! My herbs are growing and my tomato plants are growing, too. I have flowers in pots in the front of the house and they're doing quite well. I bought two more pots but too tired to do anything with them. Maybe tomorrow...

If the tests go well, and the potassium continues to go down, I expect Ron will come home tomorrow afternoon or Monday morning.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Well... it's that time AGAIN!

And what time might that be? Hospital time, of course!

Ron's managed to stay out of the hospital for a grand total of 18 weeks. That's 4.5 months. Doesn't sound like a long time, does it? It doesn't feel like one, either. In the 4.5 months that he's been home he's fallen three times (a couple of them could have been bad) and not felt too great overall.

He's in the hospital now because his potassium level was dangerously high. It's down some today but they're doing a 24-hour kidney function test since they think he's had too much trouble with his potassium lately. He doesn't drink more than the specified amount of liquids in a day, we stay away from the "known" high potassium foods (bananas, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, potatoes, etc.) as much as possible, and he's eating healthier at home (when he feels like eating). He doesn't "go" very much and it's really hard for him to get the job started and to finish. I frequently have to ask if he's OK in there. His blood pressure medication was changed (again) in January but that was after his last potassium problem. I'm not sure what the culprit is this time. Maybe his kidneys have finally decided they're done.

In addition to his regular problems, he's been having problems with his mouth, throat, and esophagus. He says they feel like they're on fire. He says he's having trouble swallowing and feels like food gets stuck half-way down. The doctor has scheduled an endoscope test for next week.

I feel like all I ever have to say is something negative. Or, I sound jaded and calloused. I'm not. I'm more tired of anything else and I feel guilty for being tired of this whole process.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Undercover Boss

We've been watching Undercover Boss just about ever since it started on the television. We've missed a few episodes but usually get them either on reruns or record to watch later.  The last couple of weeks have been looking at employees who were "Wow!" either in a bad way or a good way, and then bosses who have made a difference.

I recorded the show featuring the bosses and watched it today. I have to say the ones they profiled were episodes that I did watch and the bosses were really good. Some of the undercover outfits were hilarious (and I wondered how they ever pulled it off!) and I loved the looks on the faces when their real names/positions were revealed.

I think I was most impressed with Stephen Cloobeck of Diamond International Resorts. He actually did two undercover episodes (only one to do this) and although he is a stern employer, he was also the most generous to those he worked with. I was quite impressed. The world needs more bosses like him. Compassion for others is something you either are born with or not. You can't teach it.

He seems to have a lot of compassion of his employees and I was impressed to watch him.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Happy 35th Birthday to my son!

Through the years; not a great picture since
it's a picture of a scrapbook page.
I remember the day you arrived into this world as clearly if it was yesterday, and not nearly 35 years ago. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. You were late. As usual. LOL – you were late to a lot of things growing up so I guess you started the “tradition” early.

You’re lucky that you were born first. If I’d had Amy first, I might not have had any more children – or I’d have waited several years, like I did with Keith. She was such a handful since she got into everything so early. Walking, talking, having an opinion. But… this isn’t about her; it’s about you (her time will come).

I had such a hard time in labor and delivery that you had a lot of swelling on your head. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was quite serious and could have killed you. In fact, I found out a few weeks later that another baby with the same type of delivery problems had, indeed, died. Scary time that was!

Your difficulties didn’t stop at birth… You couldn’t tolerate any regular formula so we tried many different things before we settled on ProSobee for you. When you were five months old, you had to spend a week in the hospital. You’d lost two pounds in three days from diarrhea and the doctor did not know what was wrong. You’d only been on baby food for about a month – one new jar every day; you ate ½ at lunch and ½ at dinner and the rest was tossed. You ate vegetables and fruit – no meat. During the time you were sick (at least two weeks before you were finally admitted into the hospital), the doctor had me stop giving you anything except rice cereal, made fresh at each meal with formula. She thought the blandness of the rice would stop the diarrhea. It did not – it progressively got worse until you were having more “blow outs” than not and by the time I’d get you changed, you’d need to be cleaned up again. It was pitiful. You were in so much pain and I was helpless in how to make it better.

Once in the hospital, they discovered you had salmonella – a potentially deadly bacteria. Someone can get this disease from bad water, bad meat, or food that has gone bad in the jar. 1978 was before “use by” dates and there wasn’t really many ways to track what was eaten, but I knew that I’d only given you two types of food and a new jar every day. Beechnut baby food was the brand I used as it was a few pennies cheaper than Gerber. It’s thought that I had gotten some baby food that had gone bad on the shelf and no one knew it. By the time you got a diagnosis, I’d already thrown out anything that could be tested for bacteria.

Once you came home from the hospital, we started you on a new formula for “milk sensitive” babies… Neo Mull Soy was a brand of soy formula designed for children like you… those who couldn’t tolerate cow’s milk. Unfortunately, the formula had a key ingredient missing – sodium chloride. The formulation already called for a lower amount than recommended – it actually contained less than 2 measurements of chloride per liter, which is much less than the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of   11-29 measurements per liter. The company had stopped testing for sodium chloride several months before the change in formula so they were unaware of the sodium chloride level. Pediatricians were also unaware of the decreased amount. This resulted in life-long problems for babies and toddlers who relied on this for their nutrition.  These problems included crumbling teeth, stunted growth, higher-than-average incidence of convulsions, problems with speech, memory, and attention span, and learning disabilities. Some babies even died.  Some of those who were affected suffered brain damage so severe they were awarded millions of dollars in damages in lawsuits.  The formula was recalled in 1979 but not before it had already done damage to so many children. 

Imagine my horror to discover that I’d not only fed you tainted baby food, I’d also given you formula that would potentially affect your future. I felt like such a failure as a caretaker and a mom. I’d been given the best gift in the world, and I didn’t do the job that I should have. 

You were so hyperactive as a toddler and youth. It’s remarkable that you were able to function and learn at all. You are so remarkably smart, I wonder just how smart you’d be if you hadn’t experienced the things that probably set you back.  I wonder how much better you would have gotten along with your peers if you hadn’t taken that formula. I wonder how much higher in your career you’d be if you’d not had the earlier delays.

That is something I’ll wonder about for the rest of my life. I just hope that you can forgive me for my ignorance and the things that I did.

There are so many memories that I have of you as a baby, toddler, pre-teen, and teenager. You did everything “by the book” when you were a baby – crawled at approximately seven months, walked independently at approximately 12 months, etc. I could have written the developmental books myself just by watching you. I loved being a mom – your mom. 

I know that I didn’t always treat you fairly. I was not sure what to do a lot of times. You presented challenges that no one ever told me about. LOL – you didn’t come with an instruction book! I had my own issues that prevented me from being the mom that you deserved and, for that alone, I am sorrier than I can ever express. Dad has said so many times that if he could go back and be a better "dad" to you, he would do it in a heartbeat. We both did our best (at the time) but know that we failed a lot of the times.

What I can say on the positive side is that I was so proud of EVERY achievement you made. Walking, talking, projects in school (I still remember your “drawbridge” in you advanced class in grade school where the older kids copied your design), your drawings, and your remarkable memory and the ability to just “know” facts (like giraffes having seven cervical vertebrae, just like humans).  I was so proud of you for doing so well in Scholarsbowl and for receiving a “letter” for your work. I was extremely proud of you when you graduated.

When you joined the Navy, I know that I didn’t act like I thought you’d be successful. I have to admit, I was worried. You hadn’t been too successful at maintaining employment but I knew that if you set your mind to it, you’d be able to do it. I just wasn’t sure if your mind was really set on it or not.  I was so glad that I was proven wrong! I knew you had it in you – “if” you decided you wanted it. You had to prove yourself to a lot of people and you’ve done an OUTSTANDING job. Grandma and Grandpa were so very proud of you, too.

You scored so highly on the ASFAB that everyone was amazed, especially the recruiters. Going into Nuclear Power was a great career choice for you, and I think you've done a wonderful job. 

I am so proud to be your mom (and you know that Dad is EXTREMELY proud of you, too!)

So, on this celebration of your life, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You've grown so much as a man, husband, and father!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Myer-Briggs Type Indicator

We took the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test at work last month. I’ve taken it before and was curious if my results would be the same. It’s been years and a lot of things have happened since I took it last. Surprisingly, I came out with the same results (the numbers might have been different, but the results are the same).

I focus my attention                (I) Introversion; People who prefer Introversion tend to focus their attention on the inner world of ideas and impressions.

I take in information:              (S) Sensing: People who prefer Sensing tend to take in information through the five senses and focus on the here and now.

I make decisions:                     (F) Feeling: People who prefer Feeling tend to make decisions based primarily on values and on subjective evaluation of person-centered concerns.

I deal with the outer world:     (J) Judging: People who prefer Judging tend to like a planned and organized approach to life and prefer to have things settled.

Characteristics frequently associated with this type include:

Quiet, friendly, responsible, and conscientious. Committed and steady in meeting their obligations. Thorough, painstaking, and accurate. Loyal, considerate, notice and remember specifics about people who are important to them, concerned with how others feel. Strive to create an orderly and harmonious environment at work and at home. (Data taken from MBIT Form M Report Form, copyright 1998 by Peter B. Myers and Katharine D. Myers.)

The following is taken from a Web site that defines “portraits” of the different personality types (www.personalitypage.com/html/portraits.html):

As an ISFJ, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you takes things in via your five senses in a literal, concrete fashion. Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit into your personal value system.

ISFJs live in a world that is concrete and kind. They are truly warm and kind-hearted, and want to believe the best of people. They value harmony and cooperation, and are likely to be very sensitive to other people's feelings. People value the ISFJ for their consideration and awareness, and their ability to bring out the best in others by their firm desire to believe the best.

ISFJs have a rich inner world that is not usually obvious to observers. They constantly take in information about people and situations that is personally important to them, and store it away. This tremendous store of information is usually startlingly accurate, because the ISFJ has an exceptional memory about things that are important to their value systems. (My kids would do well to remember this. Hahaha! I knew I was right!) It would not be uncommon for the ISFJ to remember a particular facial expression or conversation in precise detail years after the event occurred, if the situation made an impression on the ISFJ. (This is why I have trouble letting go of things.)

ISFJs have a very clear idea of the way things should be, which they strive to attain. They value security and kindness, and respect traditions and laws. They tend to believe that existing systems are there because they work. Therefore, they're not likely to buy into doing things in a new way, unless they're shown in a concrete way why its better than the established method.

ISFJs learn best by doing, rather than by reading about something in a book, or applying theory. For this reason, they are not likely to be found in fields which require a lot of conceptual analysis or theory. They value practical application. Traditional methods of higher education, which require a lot of theorizing and abstraction, are likely to be a chore for the ISFJ. The ISFJ learns a task best by being shown its practical application. Once the task is learned, and its practical importance is understood, the ISFJ will faithfully and tirelessly carry through the task to completion. The ISFJ is extremely dependable.

The ISFJ has an extremely well-developed sense of space, function, and aesthetic appeal. For that reason, they're likely to have beautifully furnished, functional homes. They make extremely good interior decorators. This special ability, combined with their sensitivity to other's feelings and desires, makes them very likely to be great gift-givers - finding the right gift which will be truly appreciated by the recipient. (I definitely see myself in this area. Except for the “beautifully furnished, functional home” part. LOL! Functional – yes… beautifully furnished – not hardly! I am a great gift-giver, though.)

More so than other types, ISFJs are extremely aware of their own internal feelings, as well as other people's feelings. They do not usually express their own feelings, keeping things inside. If there are negative feelings, they may build up inside the ISFJ until they turn into firm judgments against individuals which are difficult to unseat, once set. Many ISFJs learn to express themselves, and find outlets for their powerful emotions. (Amen!)

Just as the ISFJ is not likely to express their feelings, they are also not likely to let on that they know how others are feeling. However, they will speak up when they feel another individual really needs help, and in such cases they can truly help others become aware of their feelings.

The ISFJ feels a strong sense of responsibility and duty. They take their responsibilities very seriously, and can be counted on to follow through. For this reason, people naturally tend to rely on them. The ISFJ has a difficult time saying "no" when asked to do something, and may become over-burdened. In such cases, the ISFJ does not usually express their difficulties to others, because they intensely dislike conflict, and because they tend to place other people's needs over their own. The ISFJ needs to learn to identify, value, and express their own needs, if they wish to avoid becoming over-worked and taken for granted.

ISFJs need positive feedback from others. In the absence of positive feedback, or in the face of criticism, the ISFJ gets discouraged, and may even become depressed. When down on themselves or under great stress, the ISFJ begins to imagine all of the things that might go critically wrong in their life. They have strong feelings of inadequacy, and become convinced that "everything is all wrong," or "I can't do anything right." (Hey! Who has been peeking into my brain?)

The ISFJ is warm, generous, and dependable. They have many special gifts to offer, in their sensitivity to others, and their strong ability to keep things running smoothly. They need to remember to not be overly critical of themselves, and to give themselves some of the warmth and love which they freely dispense to others.

Jungian functional preference ordering:
  • Dominant: Introverted Sensing
  • Auxiliary: Extraverted Feeling
  • Tertiary: Introverted Thinking
  • Inferior: Extraverted Intuition

Anyone who knows me “might” find some of me in the portrait. Hmmm… Just maybe…  LOL!


Monday, April 8, 2013

Moving on...

I had a friend…

At least, I thought she was a friend. I’ve decided that after a year without any contact on her part that I was probably wrong.

I met this friend online and had many interesting conversations with her. I had (and still have) genuine affection for her and her family. I considered myself more than just an online acquaintance. I felt like we had a bond due to health issues on both sides of the fence. Hers and Ron’s… I never felt like one was in worse shape than the other; they both had their ups and downs and each illness is just as much of a concern as any other. I kept her and her family in my prayers and knew that she did the same for us.

When her mom passed away, I felt her pain and sympathized with her over the sudden loss. I remembered losing my dad just a few years earlier and knew that grief is a powerful feeling.

Anyone who has read very much of my blog knows that it’s been mostly about Ron’s health and my challenges in dealing with it. There have been several times that I wasn’t sure if he’d come home from the hospital or not. I tried to not dwell on these but – I am human – there were many times that what I wrote sounded like I was having a pity party for myself. Maybe I was… I can’t deny what was going on in my mind any more than I can deny what was going on in my life. This blog was created as an outlet for my frustrations and I never intended for it to reflect my “perfection” in any way. In fact, it shows more than not how imperfect I really am. I’m OK with that.

But, in all of that I wasn’t keeping score of who is or was in worse health – her or him. I just assumed that my comments on anything were interpreted as they were intended, not as a comparison. I got to where I was afraid to say anything about how she was feeling… if I said I was glad she was feeling better, or sorry that she was not feeling up to par, it was taken very differently than intended. Since I didn’t (and still don’t) know the details of her illness (except that it’s been up and down and she has a lot of issues, including hospitalizations), it was hard to phrase something that was on target so I kept dancing around the edges.

Unfortunately, my “dance” was met with snarky comments. Instead of understanding what I was trying to say, my comments were interpreted entirely differently. I didn’t know how to fix it so I got more cautious. Finally, last April – in the middle of an email conversation – I received a message that said she thought it best that we didn’t communicate for a while. Ron was “obviously” sicker than her and she just couldn’t provide the support that I needed. It was apparent that I had a good support system – plenty of friends reading my blog and on FB and that she just couldn’t give me what I needed and that there was no need to reply to her email (in fact, she would prefer that I didn’t).

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{screeching halt}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}} I had no idea that she thought I was demanding more of her than what she was capable of giving. In fact, I didn’t realize I was demanding anything of her. I thought we were two friends talking about how illnesses suck and, because of what is already going on in his body,  Ron has more problems to look forward to. Nothing more; nothing less.

So, I immediately read back over all of my email messages looking for where I went wrong, searching and analyzing each word to see if they could have been taken differently than what I intended. I could find nothing amiss. I apologized and said I was sorry that I’d offended her.  She replied back that she wasn’t offended but that she couldn’t talk to me for a while and to please respect her wishes to not contact her. (My apology was directly opposite of what she’d asked, but I did feel that if I’d offended her, an apology was in order.)

OK – I did that. For quite a while, even. One day, I decided that enough time had passed but it had not. She replied to the effect that she’d asked me to not contact her and there was no need for me to do so again. She was not mad, I didn’t offend her – she just didn’t want to communicate with me.

Still shaking my head, I complied. Oh, I still read her blog and still leave a comment here and there. We’re still “friends” on FB and I’d leave a comment every now and then – none of which have been acknowledged, even when I ask her a direct question. She took my blog off of her blog roll so she doesn’t know when I write an update (I supposed she might look occasionally or if someone tells her that I’ve written something).  

When my own mother passed away (almost exactly one year after hers), I received no message from her. (I did see she went and checked out my post on my mom’s death after I’d made a comment on one of her posts, but she didn’t leave a comment.) That in itself told me that I was the only one who (foolishly) thought we were still friends and that she just needed some time. It’s been a year now and I think that I’ll let go of this foolish notion.

I just don’t let go very easily. It doesn’t matter if you’re an “IRL” friend or an online friend – it’s hard to let go. I guess I need to put this poem into place, because it does perfectly explain it (not sure who actually wrote it so can’t give credit – sorry):

People come into your life for a REASON, a SEASON or a LIFE TIME.

When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON, It is usually to meet a need.
You have expressed.
They have come to assist you though a difficulty,
To provide you with guidance and support,
To aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend and they are....
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
This person will say or do something to bring the relationship to and end.

Sometimes they die.
Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes the act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realized is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled,
Their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON.
Because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it, it is real.
But only for a season.

LIFE TIME Relationships teach you life time lessons things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.

You job is to accept the lesson. Love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and are as of your life.
It is said that Love is blind but Friendship is Clairvoyant.

Thank you for being a part of my life. Whether you were, a REASON, a SEASON or a LIFE TIME.

So... I wish her well in her life, improved health, and much happiness. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New page

Be sure to check out my new page - Getting Tangled - to see my latest tangle creations. I decided I'd put in a new page instead of cluttering the main page with drawings. That way, you can look if you want or not if you choose.

Life is still going on as normal as we can be. Ron is still being "Ron" and some days are harder than others. Overall, he's doing OK. It could be worse. I know it hasn't sounded like it in some (many) of my posts, we are blessed. I do have friends who applaud my efforts and say they're not sure how I do it. I'm not either so it must be by the grace of God. Ron appreciates all that I do, so that makes a difference. I still fail a lot in the patience area.

It's very hard to watch him slowly lose more and more of his short-term memory. I could tell stories that would either give you fits of giggles or fits of sympathy. It could go either way. I try to go the upbeat route but it doesn't always work out that way.

Oh well...

Have a safe week! I know that I've lost a few readers (can't blame you - I haven't been keeping up very well on your blogs). I appreciate each of you very much!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ron is improving

Finally, some good news from the doctors for a change. Ron say his kidney specialist this past Friday and he said everything is looking very good. The potassium is down to a manageable level, his BUN and his creatinine look decent, and he's very pleased. In fact, unless something changes, Ron doesn't have to go back until October.

March 7, he will have his first cataract surgery. He's nearly blind in his left eye because the cataract is so big and the doctor is confident that he will be much improved after the surgery. We are confident as well.

God has been really good to us through all of the things that have gone on these past few months. When Ron fell in December and broke his hip, he "could" have laid there until the Meals on Wheels driver brought lunch, but he was able to get to his phone and call for help. Now, he keeps his phone in his shirt pocket (most days). Having the visiting nurse twice weekly was really the reason he didn't go into full-blown kidney failure. She was available to draw blood each time and the doctor saw the results early enough to forestall something worse.

He's been home from the hospital for nearly a month and is doing well. Although he's not getting physical therapy, he is doing his exercises on his own and is now walking (some) in the house with a cane instead of a walker. I told him that I didn't want him using the cane if I wasn't home. I bought him a three-wheeled walker with a tray so he can use it to get himself water or something to eat, without worrying about trying to carry it while using a cane. He's still not very steady on his feet and sometimes still in denial about what he's capable of doing.

I still come fully awake at night when he needs to get up. I'm so worried about him falling in the night that I get up and turn on the bathroom light for him while he puts on his leg and left shoe (thankful, he's decided that he doesn't have enough "foot" left to try to walk without the support the shoe and insert give him). I also turn on my lamp and once he's back in bed, I turn it all off. Eventually, I'm sure I'll relax enough to let him handle it but for now, I'm not. Consequently, I'm tired most days because he gets up at least twice nightly (he at least stirs enough to wake me). I sometimes feel like I have a newborn in the house {grin}.

I have been very lax about writing since there hasn't been too much going on except his health issues. LOL - that can get very boring for everyone. I know it's been monotonous for me.... home for a while, then the hospital, then home, and repeat. He's been to the local hospital so much that the nurses KNOW him on sight! He's had some of the same CNAs and nurses taking care of him. In fact, he's been in the same room more than once.

I was supposed to go on a business trip next month and I was kind of worried about leaving him behind but the trip has been canceled. I'm a bit disappointed since I've never been to Chicago (except for one day when Shaun graduated from Navy boot camp; when Amy graduated from boot camp, we didn't go) but relieved that I don't have to worry about who was going to stay with Ron while I was gone.

I'd like to go to watch Shaun's ship return from deployment but not sure I can swing that. Airline tickets are kind of high right now and I don't see them going down anytime soon. I haven't seen Shaun in three years, partly because his ship has been on deployment so much in the last two years, partly because of Ron's health, and partly because of finances. In order to take Ron to Seattle, I have to make sure that we have preferred seating, get a rental car that I can haul a wheelchair in (he can't walk very far even before the hip replacement), and then get a hotel room since Shaun's house is not handicap accessible (the bedrooms and bathroom are upstairs). That is way more money than a 4-day trip should cost. Sigh... maybe this year but I'm not sure I can make it happen. I know Shaun is disappointed that we probably can't make it for his ship's return (Ron's never seen his ship come back from deployment, whereas I've been blessed to make all of them except one) as he wants his dad to experience the joy of the occasion.  We'll see...

Keeping Ron healthy enough to even contemplate it is a challenge so it may be a moot point anyway.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tangled Tee

A couple of weeks ago, one of my former co-workers invited me to a "Zentangle" workshop. She described it as sort of yoga for the brain. Knowing how much stress is in my life, she said it was a wonderful way to unwind and so I said I'd like to go.

I'd never heard of Zentangle so I looked it up (Zentangle.com) and found that it's a form of art and is used in many places as therapy and is a great way to de-stress. The class was $35 and taught by a (one of only two) certified Zantangle teacher. She went through a training program in Rhode Island and is certified to teach others. It was a fun two hours and I came away very relaxed and with something that I can do while Ron is watching TV. It takes an ink pen (a marker), a pencil, and some paper. That's it. No big investment. No big things to lug around. There are a lot of books and patterns on the 'Net that you can buy but you don't have to.

Here is the "tangle" we created in class. We were all given four "tangles" that we learned and then told to pick three of them to make our own tile. Once we put them all together, it was pretty surprising to see how we all did something different with what we learned.

The next two I did on my own just looking for things and patterns online.

A friend sent me a link to the bottom picture and told me to try to re-create it. The original is much nicer but I was pleased with my results.

For this last one, I found a blog with a challenge list on it. I got there through some other links my friend sent me. The challenge for this week was to take the Moebius Syndrome symbol and "tangle" it. Even though I'm a total beginner, I decided to try my hand at the symbol.

This is my version:

 Purple is the official color for the Moebius Syndrome so I've incorporated some here. I've also added some glitter pen to add some pizazz.

I'll get better as I go but right now, it's definitely amateurish.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Healthy eating

I'm working on getting healthy and losing weight this year. With that in mind, I bought myself a Ninja food processor/blender for "Christmas." I'm not sure that this is the model that will work for us but I've been using it for a couple of weeks and it seems to be doing what I want it to do.

Here's a recipe that I got from my sister (she has a Blendtec) and modified it a bit for us.
“Faux” Chicken Tortilla Soup (this recipe a modified version of one from Blendtec blender). I imagine it would work in any blender that chops well.

Add the ingredients in this order:
2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
½ large carrot (I used 5-6 baby carrots)
1” slice red pepper (I didn’t have red; used green instead)
¼ avocado (again, modified to suit our tastes so I used the whole thing – plus it was kind of small and very ripe)
2 tbsp onion (I used about ½ half of a medium white onion)
1 ounce pepper jack cheese (I used a little bit more than that and had reduced fat cheese)
2 sprigs fresh cilantro
1 tsp no-salt herb seasoning (I left this out)
¾ tsp kosher salt (left this out, too)
¾ tsp garlic powder
2 c warm water

Blend these ingredients together until smooth (or the consistency you like). The original recipe said to add ½ c tortilla chips and “pulse” in 2-3 times. I did not add any chips.

Variations: The original recipe called for ½ cup black beans, corn kernels, more cheese, chicken, fresh tomato. I took rotisserie chicken from the store and shredded about 4 oz in each bowl. I also took an envelope of black beans that was designed for two servings and pulsed that in, along with a little bit more onion, some jalepeno slices, and a bit of garlic salt (just a little bit).

 After the soup was the consistency I liked, I heated it up and then poured it over the shredded chicken. Topped that with a bit of shredded cheddar and we practically FOUGHT over it! This is supposed to make four servings but Ron and I ate the whole thing in one night. Oh.My.Goodness delicious!

Nutritional information: (based on the basic recipe without any variations and four servings)

Serving size: 1 c
Calories: 60
Fat 3.5g
Saturated Fat 1.5g
Cholesterol 5mg
Sodium 350mg
Carbohydrates 5g
Fiber 2g
Sugar 3g
Protein 2g

This is so good that I’m going to make it for dinner again tonight. Since Ron came home from the nursing home (i.e., rehab), I’ve been working on feeding him only healthy stuff. He’s doing pretty good (except for the fall on Sunday which scared the daylights out of me!). I took him to the doctor for a follow-up and he drew blood to check Ron’s kidney function and blood count as he’s very groggy (in fact, he’s slept most of the day, which is really a bit of a stressor for me as I don’t always know how to handle it).

He's loving the food, though! I do a healthy smoothie every morning for breakfast for the two of us. It's usually this with a few variations on the fruit:

5-6 carrots
1 stalk of celery
1 Roma tomato
1 c skim milk or 1/2 plain yogurt
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
3-4 ice cubes or some extra water to thin it down if too thick
handful of fresh spinach
Fruit of your choice (I pick two out of the list below) and use fresh or frozen

Fruit: apple (cored but not peeled), orange, banana, blueberries, blackberries, frozen tropical blend (pineapple, mango, etc.), mixed berry blend, strawberries, blueberries.

Blend until the consistency you like (add more ice, more water, whatever) and pour into two tall glasses. This will easily make two 20 oz servings. Enjoy!

I've also made the above without the vegetables or fruit and add in 2T peanut butter, 2T sugar-free chocolate pudding mix, and 1T sugar-free butterscotch pudding mix. It tasted just like a shake from Sonic - only much better for us!

Ron home

I brought Ron home from rehab last Friday and it's been a challenge. There have been nights in the last week where I felt like I was living with a newborn. Every little move he makes, I'm instantly awake. I'm worried that he's going to fall when trying to get out of the bed or get into the bathroom. The door from our room to the bathroom is too narrow for his walker, so he has to go out into the hall and then into the bathroom. He fell Sunday morning (lost his balance) and landed on his LEFT hip and that scared the daylights out of me. Luckily, he hit the wall behind him first and then down or he might have ended up back in the hospital. He did put a hole in the wall that I'm going to have to have someone fix. Oh well... better the wall than another hip! I had to call Rex at 8:00 in the morning to have him come down to pick Ron up off the floor.

I've had many conversations with Ron over the past week about his habits, his medications, and how he sleeps in between conversations and such. He scared me so much Sunday morning that I went ape-sh** on him when I found out he'd gotten into some medication that I had HID from him so he wouldn't take too much of it - and he took it anyway! I know that it slows down his response time and he can't afford to be any slower than he already is. Because he took this, I'm sure that it is the reason he fell because he couldn't catch his balance again. I threatened him with nursing home residency if he didn't straighten up. He has a lot of short-term memory problems, but he KNEW that I had this medicine hidden and he KNEW that I didn't want him taking any extra, and he hid the fact from me that he took it until the next day. So, he has enough memory to know when he's doing something that he's not supposed to do.

In all honesty, I'm not sure realistically how much longer he'll be able to stay home. I know I've said this before, but things have really changed with the hip replacement.

Speaking of... oh my - the bills (and insurance claims) are rolling in. His hospital bill was over $32,000, the surgeon and his PA each charged $2900 for the surgery, the ambulance was $650, the rehab was $9600 (that's just for the December portion; not received the claim for the first 11 days of January), the primary care doctor bill was $450 for the hospital, the PA and doctor for the nursing home (rehab) was $90 or $135 every day they saw him and "supposedly" one of them came in every day of the week. Insurance picked up the entire tab for the hospital and the December portion of the nursing home. They also paid all but $453 of the surgeon and all but $105 of the ambulance. I'm not sure how much of the various other doctor bills or the January nursing home bill will be paid by them or owed by me. At the very least, I'll owe $1750 (his deductible) and then possibly 20% of the rest (reasonable and customary) until the maximum out-of-pocket ($3500) for him has been met.  I'm hoping with the addition of Humana Medicare that most of the extra expenses will be picked up by them. We shall see...

In the meantime, we also have a visiting nurse (twice weekly), physical therapy (twice weekly), occupational therapy (twice weekly), and home health attendant (once per week to help him shower). Those are "extra" charges that I haven't got calculated into the above charge. I'm so glad to have the help that I'm just not going to worry about the financial aspect because I know they'll all take payments.

Payment plans are definitely in my future!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ron Update

Ron has had a rough time recuperating from his broken hip. He fell on 12/4 and had a partial hip replacement on 12/5. On 12/8, he was transferred to a "rehab" facility (nursing home) where he has had physical therapy every day since then, except for Christmas Day. Other than that, he's had some type of therapy. A lot of days, he's not able to walk any but he's had upper body strengthening exercises and is working very hard.

He had been in mild kidney failure while in the hospital so it was a few days before everything settled down and he lost the confusion that accompanies kidney failure. Once that happened, he was more ready to begin the arduous task of "rehab."

Last weekend, Ron started complaining of severe pain in his hip and couldn't even put weight on the leg without being in serious discomfort. Sunday, they discovered that he had an infection in the incision so he was started on an antibiotic. His blood pressure has been very high so they've put him on a new blood pressure medication. It's still not doing the trick so the doctor is adding back one of his previous medications. We're hopeful that the combination will do the trick.

On the good news side, with the antibiotic in his system and resting the last two days (he was in too much pain to try and walk), Ron was able to walk 150+ feet today! That is an amazing bit of progress. I know that "150 feet" doesn't sound like a lot, but when you've been walking 10-20 and having to stop, that is a big accomplishment.

We're not sure how much longer he'll be in rehab but I'll have a big surprise for him when he comes home. I had planned on getting him a new television for Christmas and he kind of changed those plans. I went shopping Monday and found a "return" at Sears for less than 1/2 of the original price, with all of the same manufacturer's warranty still intact. I also bought a 3-year "in home" warranty that will also allow us to have it serviced and checked out each year for no charge. That (plus the price) made the TV selection a no-brainer. It will be set up and ready for him to enjoy as soon as he gets home. Now, I just have to get him to quit focusing on a new television while he's cooped up so he doesn't do something silly - like trying to buy one himself! LOL, that would be just like him to try!

I got him a 60" Samsung Smart LED flat screen for $850. The regular retail is $1799 for this same TV; "on sale" price would still be $1299 for it. I was stoked! It doesn't have built-in Web browsing but it does have Wi-Fi and he can (if I get a cordless keyboard) access his Facebook there. The biggest selling feature is a big, red NETFLIX button right in the middle of the remote that even he can operate (with cataracts it's hard for him to see the buttons but it has the Netflix red so will be easy). I sold our existing 52" Toshiba television for $200 so I only have a $650 investment. I'm a happy camper and he will be, too.

But... mum's the word! He can't know until I bring him back home.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Another Chapter Ends

When my dad passed away in 2005, I don’t think any of us thought much past his death. We were just glad to still have our mom. She was still living in the house they’d owned since late-1986. Naively, I am not sure any of us thought past her living there.

As her health declined, it became more and more apparent that she needed to look into moving to a smaller place. She fought that with every fiber of her being. I can relate – I hated the thought of down-sizing to move to where we are now, and I didn’t have the 50+ years of memories to sort through (my parents were married in 1949). With a three-bedroom, 2-car garage house, with full finished basement (including storage area), there was a lot of stuff for her to worry about. One of my nephews lived with her for a couple of years, which had mixed rewards and challenges. It kept her out of assisted/independent living but it was a financial challenge on her as well. He kept to himself in the basement more than staying upstairs with her but she was happy with that arrangement and that is all that mattered to me.

Eventually, my nephew moved on and mom’s health concerns took on a whole new dimension. She spent most of December 2011 in and out of the hospital and then was transferred to a “rehabilitation center” (i.e., nursing home) for several months. Once she was discharged from the nursing home, she moved straight into an independent living center. Even though she didn’t use most of her house (she slept in her recliner in the living room due to back problems), that space was still “there” and she had access to it when she wanted it. In the new place, she had one big room and a tiny kitchen. She felt constricted and closed in but knew that the time had finally come for to recognize she could no longer live on her own.

Her new digs – the “villa” – was a very nice apartment building where meals were served in a central dining room, restaurant-style, or were delivered to the residents’ rooms if they were unable to go to the dining room. She made a few friends but mostly kept to herself. Days she went to dialysis became days that she had her meals delivered as those trips exhausted her. Her outlet became visits to the local casino (when someone could and would take her) where she could forget how bad she felt.

During this time, we all pitched in (some more than others) and helped Mom sort through things and divide up into piles for selling, donating, trash, and to give to each of us kids. That was quite a chore. Once that was done, we went about getting things set up for a massive garage sale. I’m very thankful that Mom got to choose who would get some things and whether or not to sell some items. We sold and sold and still had tons of stuff to donate to local charities. There was a lot of stuff that just wasn’t worth donating so those items went to the trash. I know it was hard on her to see so many years worth of memories going out the door, one piece at a time. But, she got to visit with some of the people who shopped and shared stories about where some items had come from. That was nice.

After the sale, my younger brother set about getting her house cleaned up, carpets removed (there were very nice hardwood floors under the carpets), walls painted, and some basic maintenance taken care of. The result was astonishing. Mom got to go back in and see how nice the house looked before it was put on the market to sell. She still wasn’t happy at her new place but she was adjusting.

Then, on September 8, tragedy struck when she had a stroke. She knew that even independent living was out of the question and she made the conscious decision to discontinue dialysis treatment. She passed away on September 29, 2012, and my life – and the lives of all of my family members – changed forever. While we still have the memories, and the physical items that she wanted each of us to have, there is an emptiness that will never be filled. There will be more good memories that will surface and the pain will (hopefully) diminish over time, but the hollow spot that was her presence will always be there.

Friday, December 28, 2013, another chapter closed with the selling of the house. No more will it be “Mom and Dad’s” or “Mom’s” (or “Grandma’s”) house. It has become someone else’s house. The new owners will make their own memories there – holidays, birthdays, daily activities, etc. The ghosts of our past celebrations will slowly fade away to be replaced with new ones. Pictures adorning the walls will be of someone else’s choice – not of Mom’s. While it’s a very sad time for us, it will be happy times for someone else.

“Our” chapter there has ended but theirs has just begun