Time and Time Again

Well, how time has flown. My mom was evaluated by the social worker from her independent living apartment complex and it was decided she was going to need to move to the assisted living building. Yes, the one she said she’d never go to. She was furious when I told her she wasn’t going to be allowed back into her apartment as she needed much more help. I looked into the assisted living facility near to me and found they had an opening and if she passed their evaluation she would be accepted there. I know we’d looked at their facility when Mom was looking for an apartment back in August, but they wouldn’t accept dogs. They can visit anytime, just can’t stay.

I was scared to tell Mom that she couldn’t go back to the apartment and had to go to assisted living. My Aunt and Uncle were coming to visit (my mother’s brother) and they agreed to be there when I told her to be my backup. My younger daughter was in town for the weekend and she also was there for support. I gave Mom the options of either moving to the building in her independent apartment complex, or moving to Ames to be closer to me (about five miles from my house!). She, thankfully, decided to move to Ames.

Then the big rush began. Mom was getting better and they decided she was going to be released in about a week. My daughter got right on the phone and got her brothers and sister involved. Three of the four and their spouses showed up a few days later and we started packing and downsizing. First, we’d moved mom from a three-bedroom, two story house with a fairly large kitchen to a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment with a small kitchen. Now we had to cram her into a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment with a kitchenette (not even a stove, just a small refrigerator and microwave and very little storage). I also got a storage unit not too far from the apartment and we ended up with 3/4 of the items going there.

On a Saturday, the kids helped pack and sort. On Monday the hired movers came. On Monday afternoon, Tuesday and Wednesday, besides going to see Mom some of those times, I unpacked all her things and put them away in her apartment. I hung all her pictures, made the bed, did everything I could to make it as ready to live in from the get-go. Then, Thursday, April 2, she was released from therapy and I took her to Ames to her new apartment.

She has some continued therapy… PT and OT, but as of this Wednesday they released her from OT and I think Monday will be her last PT session. She has also been released from using her walker in her apartment building and outside, if I, or someone else, is with her. If she is alone she is still to use the walker outside.

She’s starting to settle in. I’ve gone almost every day and taken the dog to visit several times as well. I took one day and did some reorganization of the storage unit, and finally feel we are getting a bit more in a routine. She had some appointments in Des Moines for later this month, but I’ve convinced her to try local optometrists and dentists, and switched out her medical doctor to mine.

I will admit, I did get angry at her just a couple of days ago. I still try to be there for all her therapy sessions and she gets snarky at me when I see her not doing what the therapist says… just things like doing her exercises way too fast. She whips through them as fast as she can, just as though she can’t wait to get it over with. The therapist will say to go slow, and hold for a count of two seconds to slow her down, and she’ll do it once,then ignore them and go fast again. If I say anything, like “slow down” she just glares and me or tells me to butt out. After the therapist left the other afternoon I told her I was just trying to help and she snapped at me that “If you weren’t here, I would do what he said to do”. HUH? Because I’m here she’s not doing it? WTF? I finally snapped and just said, “I’m done”. I walked out of the door. She’s saying, “Are you coming back?”… I said, “Not today”.

Well, I drove around the block and felt horrible. I went back and although it was about 4 o’clock and she eats at 5, I walked in and said, “Let’s go for a drive and ruin your supper… and go get an ice cream cone.” I gave her a hug and told her I was sorry, that I loved her. She said, “I’m just so confused”… and that’s what I was afraid of. She really is just not what she used to be and is confused and I think she’s doing the best she can with what she has. I realized that afternoon when she was trying to start crocheting an afghan for a wedding gift for a cousin that she really didn’t remember what to do. She taught me to knit and crochet and it was sad watching her. I started it for her to the point that all she’d have to do was the pattern back and forth (and it’s a pretty simple pattern) and it will be interesting to see if she manages to get anything done when I go back next time.

I’m trying to make her happy and keep encouraging her to join the exercise group at her apartment complex, or go shopping with the group on the bus, or they go to dinner once a month, etc. They play cards and have WII bowling (that she loved at the Senior Center when she lived in her house). I’m hoping she’ll make friends and be happy there and won’t be quite so dependent on me coming and going. I hung a bird feeder outside her window on a tree and she’s enjoying the birds. Doing whatever I can to make her life a good one under the circumstances.

Welcome Back

Oh, wait. That’s your line. I admit, it has been waaaay too long since I’ve been here. I’ve got tons of posts rolling around in my head that I should have put onto “paper” over the past few months and, Captain Obvious that I am, didn’t. Yeah. I’m here to say it is going to be a long haul, but I’m going to rectify this. You’ll probably be sick of hearing about things that already happened and are long over, but for my own mental health I’m going to do it. I hope someday these chronicles may find their way into a place where someone can say, “Oh! That’s what she was all about!”.

Well, I can hope, can’t I?

Post Surgery

After recovery I woke in a room, but not the recovery room. I probably slept through all of that. Still in pain, they had me hooked up to a pump of fentynl (sp?) – unfortunately, that is one of the drugs that doesn’t work on me. I have it a try for a few hours, then gave up. Much to my nurses dismay.

My hope of going home the same day were dashed pretty much right from the beginning. The doctor’s nurse originally told me since I was first I may be able to – but when they admitted me that morning they said it was rare, if ever, that it happened. Oh, well. I think my continued pain also had the doctor stymied. He thought I should wake up wonderful (I wonder how much of the “wonderful” he usually saw was due to the pain meds that worked for the majority of his patients…??)I tried to explain to him that even I expected it to take a little bit for the nerves to quiet down, but I don’t think he appreciated it when I referred to things being irritated in there because he’d been “rooting around” in there. I’m sure he felt he’d used much more finesse!

Middle of the night one nurse finally asked me what helped with the pain at home. When I said “ice” she immediately brought an ice pack and it began to ease some of the discomfort.

My whole stay was full of explainations about my high blood pressure (when I go home, it will be fine), my elevated blood sugars (I’m off my meds, it isn’t THAT high, and my doctor says it will be fine as long as it isn’t over ____ for more than five days – I was nowhere near that number), and my reisitance to pain meds (no, I don’t want the pump, no don’t hang that IV of Lyrica, vicoden and oxycoten don’t work either). You’d think they would talk to each other – or at least make notes. I mean, there were at least 3 nurses, 6 nurses aids, a couple of doctors, a p.t., and who knows who all else who got in on the act.

One funny note – and not necessarily in a “ha-ha” kind of way. The food. Normally, hospital food I’ve encountered has been good. This time? You be the judge. My first tray came up about noon and I was still pretty out of it, so didn’t really pay attention to it and Hubs took one look at it and got daughter to go get him a piece of pizza from the cafeteria. When the supper tray came, though, I was hungry and ready to eat. First thing was – it was all pureed. Every bit of it. (Pureed = babyfood consistancy) I guess they figured with all they’d put my throat and neck through, it would feel better. Okay, whatever.

Then I look at it. I mean, really look at it. Thinking it must be a mistake I look at the menu to identify what I’m looking at. A bright pink sticker on the menu identifies it as being ‘diabetic’ menu. Uh… really? Keep in mind… all of this was pureed. First off, that means most any fiber is so pulped that there isn’t much to stop the sugar rush. Then, I think they found the highest sugar content foods they could: carrots, white bread, spaghetti, apricots, ice cream, 2% milk. I took one look and told the nurse there was no way I could eat this – my blood sugar would really be over the moon.

We discussed what she could call and try and get for me and we finally came up with scrambled eggs. I’d asked for whole wheat toast, too, but they couldn’t “puree” toast – so I got my bread pureed in a cup (it seriously looked like raw bread dough) and, believe it or not, they pureed the scrambled eggs, then put them back on my plate and tried to form them into a scrambled egg shape. I mean, c’mon… scrambled eggs aren’t “pureed” enough? Sheesh. Starving as I was, I managed to get down the eggs. Next moring I ended up with another “diabetic” menu… pureed (then stamped back into form) waffles with regular maple syrup, orange juice, malto meal (which I did eat)… see? I mean, really? REALLY? Oh, and regular sugar for the cereal, etc. The nurse happened to have some splenda on the floor, so I did use that with my cereal, saving me a bit there.

So finally I was released late morning the day after my surgery. I’d managed 2 hours of sleep – not consecutively – and no pain relief.

I’m happy to report that after two weeks and lots of rest, doing my post-surgery exercises like a good girl, and not doing the things I’m not supposed to, I’m feeling much better! Still wearing the neck brace, and probably will be for another couple of weeks. My shoulder pain is gone and my arm pain mostly gone – it only flares up a bit now and then if I move wrong. A bit stiff in the neck (which may be a permanent condition, now that most of my neck is fused) and a little bit of soreness still at the site of the incision, but overally I would call this a success! Go to the doctor tomorrow morning to get his opinion, but am hoping he thinks it is as good as I do.

Thank you all to my family and friends (including you) for all the love and support. I’ll take it all and bask in its warmth!

Surgery

It’s been nearly two weeks since I had my 3-1/2 hour surgery to fuse two more discs in my neck. Right after surgery, I was in considerable pain and was sure of the outcome – if it truly was successful.

Looking back, it started on a rather sour note and I was a bit fearful of it all going badly. The day started after a fitful night with a -4 degree actual temperature. Compounded by the bright light of the full moon as we drove to town at 5 a.m. Anyone who has been a reader of this blog for any length of time knows full moons and I don’t play well together.

After arriving and checking in, both the blood pressure machine and glucose meter decied not to work right away. Just reason for my nervousness to be heightened and my “white coat syndrome” blood pressure to spike even higher. After a brief hiccup in which we were informed that although I was scheduled to be up first, but that another patient had shown up with the first time designated on their paperwork as well… fate won out and I got the first time slot as promised. Yay! Things were looking up!

I finally had to leave Hubs and my younger daughter to go back to the prep area.

The I.V. was started (after a bad try on my left hand it was finally started in my very sore right one), the lovely cap was put over my hair, and the doctor came in to say he’d “take care of me” – proceeding to then write some secret gibberish to himself on my right arm and neck. Probably my neck was the dotted line where he was going to cut.

A few minutes later the anesthesiologist came. He let me know that my records indicated during my last surgery they’d had to intubate me with a different type of equipment – some special scope was needed. Because of how they have to put it in, the throat must be numbed and the patient must participate in the numbing process by breathing in the lidocaine. He said during my previous surgery they’d actually woke me up to do this before they could continue the surgery! I thankfully remembered none of that – to which he commented, “We have good amnesia medicine”. Yikes.

So now they didn’t want to even risk that possibility again, so I was asked to do the throat numbing prior to surgery. Nasty! Foul! It made me cough and gag and all kinds of yuckiness. Finally after five times of coating my throat (with something resembling a spray paint gun) things started numbing up and I was ready to proceed.

Funny how you can remember every detail until you are on the gurney outside the O.R. seeing the operating theater through big glass windows – but can’t remember going through the doors into the room! Good meds, I’ll say!

To be continued…

Racing Recap

What a year it has been for my son racing. Oh, my! I only rarely used to go but this year I got tough and ended up going to most of them. He was racing Friday nights at a track about 40 miles away and by the end of the season (a couple of weeks ago) he’d won several races and ended up second in points for his class. On Saturday nights he was racing at the track that is only a few miles away, but didn’t have as good a time there. Too many issues with other racers being… uh… dickheads. Yeah, I said it. At any rate, a couple of weeks ago was the big Supernational race there that I’ve spoken of in years past. It is a race that draws people from all over, even Australia, to compete in different classes. It is a week long qualifying challange, which ends up on Saturday night being the big final race.

Son didn’t have a very good week. His car was running well and although it was supposed to look like this:

By shortly into the first race, it looked like this:

Slammed into a wall by another car. Yes, it happened right in front of my face. That was a good thing and a bad thing, as his wife and I decided later. It was good because he was close enough I could’ve counted his freckles and we could see he was okay. It was bad because HELLO IT WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR FACE. Yeah.

So it got hauled out off the track, loaded onto a trailer and taken to the nearby shop where it was all torn apart and a new front end was put on. Son has some awesome friends who helped … and, who were just coming to watch the race… not intending to be put to work until 4 a.m., then having a couple of hours sleep, going back at it to get him up and running and back in ship-shape condition in time to run the next chance race at 2:00 that afternoon.

He didn’t do very well in that race. Three hours sleep out of the last 36 doesn’t make judgement or reflexes very good and he went over the bank. No harm to himself or the car, but no advancement either.

The next night he was able to gain a spot in the bigger ‘B’ main but drew starting position 25. He had to end up within the top 8. I missed that race, as it rained and we weren’t sure if it was going to be rained out or not and my back was killing me, so daughter came and picked me up to take me home. Hubs told me he did awesome, though, battling through all those cars and getting just a car length from being one of the eight. He wasn’t happy but was glad the car was running well and he felt he got his groove back after some much-needed sleep.

Finally the last night and the last chance. He had to do well enough to get a last chance in to the big main race. It wasn’t to be. After all the rain the night before, now the track was bone dry and slick. He started near the back and there was just no getting anywhere. No one was passing… it was just too slippery and they couldn’t get a grip. Sadly his week long quest to get into the big race was not to be.

Watching the races after that was bittersweet. He was pretty down at first, feeling like he’d let all the guys down who had helped him with the car all week. Then his buddies got to talking with him and let him know they were just happy to be there and thrilled with how well he’d done and it boosted his spirits up. I was able to watch the other races knowing he was going to be okay and I didn’t have to worry about him being out in a car.

It didn’t hurt that a friend of his won the whole thing, too. His friend that was the number one in points at the other track… where my son came in number two. So, it was okay.

Plus… son had another big race just last Friday night and came led the field most of the race until some lap-traffic messed him up. Still he made it into second place. Not too shabby.

Me? I’m always about a.) is son okay? b.) is the car okay? … last but not least is c.) how did he do? In my mind, all is good.

Happy Self-Love Day 2010

Thanks to Hilly for the graphic and the thought behind this.

The idea is to post something about yourself that you love and to open it up to comments as to what others love about you as well. To people who have known me for any time at all it should be apparent this is a difficult post. I have spent years trying to learn to love myself… any part of myself. I don’t accept compliments well, I don’t see myself as others do, and I have spent most of my life trying to block out the voices in my head that were put there from the first, oh, say, twenty years.

Since I have to pick one thing I’m going to go with…my sense of humor. I like that I can generally find something funny in most things in life. I admit it is a dark kind of humor (think “Dexter”) but I like to think it isn’t hurtful. I try to laugh WITH you, not AT you…

Having said that… whatcha got for me? Anything? C’mon. I can take it.

Winter-land

I am tired of winter. Never thought I’d ever hear myself say that one.

Winter, specifically this time of the year, has become my favorite over the past ten years or so. Since I started working in a farm-related business who has their busiest season in the fall, just like our family farm. Then we get into multiple birthdays around Christmas and New Years, the holidays themselves, and it all translates into stress. The farm has year-end book-keeping to do, and tax stuff has to be compiled and given to the preparer in January, early February, because farmers don’t have until April 15th to file taxes. Ours are due March 1.

I generally hold my breath until after mid-February and let out a big sigh when the bookwork is done, the holidays are done, the birthdays are done, and there are no outside tasks with a yard or garden – except to make sure the bird feeders are full and occasionally the sidewalk and porch gets a swipe with the shovel or broom. It becomes my down time. My time to curl in front of the fireplace and settle in with some intense World of Warcraft playing or messing around with some Facebook games. It is notoriously a time to cook up a pot of vegetable stew or chicken and noodles and get a pan of brownies in the oven and some bread baking in the machine. The smells and homey warmth of winter.

This winter my patterns have been shifted and I am unsteady and unsettled. I am not sleeping well. I am dreaming like the moon is full… and the moon hasn’t been full for quite some time. I am making a super-human attempt to be good about my diabetes and as such have adjusted my diet to be ‘healthy’… so the heavy starches and sugars and general yumminess of the typical winter fare has been given up. The snow has been oppressive. In winters past I looked forward to huge storms and not needing to go anywhere. I could sit at home by the fireplace, cozy in the knowledge that all the kids lived where they could get where they needed to be and if I really, really had to go somewhere that Hubs’ and the snowplow truck would be able to get me there.

This winter I worry about my mother, forty miles away and yet it seems like a million… the snow and ice prohibiting trips through the countryside where the winds are blowing the almost every few days snowstorms into drifts and black-ice patches that I am not equipped to handle. She’s doing fine… neighbor kids are walking the dog and scooping the walk and she’s still able to make short trips for groceries and to get to the senior center for some socialization. I worry about my daughters. One of who has to go into school and work and the other who has to not only get herself to work, but her son to and from school in another town. She wants to keep things as constant for him as she can, so she’s been driving him daily… and putting up with her ex-husband’s phobias about not being able to drive him to school now after he has had three car accidents this winter. So she has extra driving to go get her son from her ex’s when he spends the night there, several nights a week, then drive him to school and reverse the process after work.

The shop where my Hubs’ works on his equipment which is located at his mom’s had enough of the winter snows too. The roof caved in. In early December the roof started sagging so badly that Hubs wasn’t even able to open the large doors to get in and out and they were propping up what they could as best they could. Insurance covered it, but it just recently was repaired and it was a couple of months that the shop couldn’t be used. Not a good situation. Every day they predicted snow or ice the question was raised if this was going to be the final straw that was going to bring the roof down all-together.

The eastern coast has been hit with 3 foot snows… and the west coast has been hit with major rains causing mudslides. Here in the midwest we have had ice storms, snow, high winds causing white-outs and blizzard conditions. Power lines have come down making for outages – in some cases, for days. We’ve been lucky so far. When our power went out it was only for a day and we have a generator that ran the essentials. I feel for those who lost power and didn’t have such amenities. Right now we have about 18″ on the ground and just had a 10″ snow come through on Monday. The snow piles on the side of the gravel road are three times the height of my car… and we have another 5″ storm expected this weekend. The latest long-term forecast I heard said we are in a pattern that is going to continue for a few more weeks. A few more weeks.

I’m done. I give. If that’s what Old Man Winter was waiting for? He won.

Having Fun Yet?

Sorry I’ve been missing. Partly it has been an issue with the evil forces of the internet. You know… those stupid virus-maleware types again. Thanks again to Brad for fixing me. Sheesh. I wish that would just stop. It really gets annoying. Hope none of you got infected. It upsets me on so many levels. Mainly because I’m afraid it will scare off all two of you who are still reading this.

The other reason for my lack of posts is the season. We are full-swing into harvest now. Among other things my sleep patterns are all messed up. Yesterday morning I was wide awake at 3 a.m. Then I worked until 7 p.m. only to turn around and be wide awake again this morning at 4 a.m. I mean, c’mon! We are so busy and then my brain just seems to not want to shut off. Glad this is only a seasonal thing. If it lasted year-round I’m sure I would have a melt-down. I feel sorry for those people who have these kinds of long and stressful days every day. I couldn’t do it.

Last, I just once more want to mention that no matter how much I rant and rave around the internets… my heart knows just how lucky I really am. I have seen so much loss, hurt, sorrow, pain… there are people hurting all over the blogosphere and in my real life and I feel for them. I suppose I should just shut up and quit whining, but then what would I blog about? KIDDING. (Sort of.)

To those of you who are hurting or have loved ones who are hurting… you know who you are. You know that I care. To those of you who have things going pretty good right now? Take a minute to acknowledge that… be it to your God, the Universe, or just to yourself.

If You’ve Seen My Mind… Send It Back

No, I'm not really losing my mind… not in the normal sense of the word. I am just having pangs of mortality. I'm not THAT old, but I find as time goes on I'm having more and more brain farts. You know, you have something on the tip of your tongue – or the edge of your brain, more likely – and it just won't come out.

I have always been fairly quick-witted and pride myself on the amount of won't-make-me-a-dime trivia I have always known. Life lint. The itsy bitsy little things that somehow get stuck in the crevices of my brain that I have always been able to pull out at a moments' notice. Now? Not-so-much. I have to stop and think about it… or start playing the 'relationship' game with my spouse or one of my kids. You know, "they were in that movie with what's his name "… and his name starts with a "D". Then they say something else that triggers the name to pop out of hiding.

Lately, I find myself depending more and more not on my own brain, but on the internet. It is so much easier to google the movie I thought they were in or the one I'm currently watching to remember what else they've been in or "where have I seen them"…

I have turned into a cheat.

Even with all that? I am losing it. The other night I was watching a show with my daughters and I was so sure that one of the characters had played a certain part in another show that I bet my daughter $20 on it. I looked it up.

I was wrong.

Do you know what that did to me? I mean, seriously. Me. I'm the one who knows these things. Now it isn't just about the speed of response, or the fact that I even am aware of the connections that are there to be made… now I am wrong even when I'm SURE I am right.

How depressing.