Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Well, I'm about to head off to have a New Year's celebration at my mom's apartment. Last year, she was so proud of herself for staying up until Midnite, that she wants to do it again this year :-) Anyhow, I'd probably prefer being home, but every chance to spend quality time with my mom is precious, and I have no idea how many opportunities I will have....so we'll have a fun time!

It's supposed to get down to -15*F tonite. Yeck. I hate winter. First all the snow, now the cold.

Well aren't I just a little Scrooge? LOL

I hope you all have a Happy New Year and a nice long holiday weekend.

I'll "see ya next year!"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I know I should get used to it.....

Well, I still have to work my full time job until January 29. So today, I had to be there at 1:30pm for a meeting. Here's how the day went:

I got up at 9am, hopped in the shower. The phone rang, it was my boss from my part time job, wanting to know if I wanted a couple of extra shifts this weekend--I said yes. Then I remembered I had a scheduling conflict and had to call her back and tell her about that, it was embarrassing. But she just did a little bit of juggling and it turned out to be no big deal.

Then, I went out to take care of the chickens and....3 stupid ones apparently froze(?) to death last night? There were three chickens, they were outside the chicken house, no blood, just all three were dead. That really bummed me out, because if I was home more, I probably could've prevented that. And I'm so fond of all the chickens, I get very sad when even one dies. So that was a crappy thing.

Then, DH was still in bed, and the neighbor was out in the yard, trying to get the 4-wheeler going to plow his driveway (he gave us a bunch of firewood for the privilege) and I woke DH up and he just wouldn't wake up, and wouldn't wake up.....then he finally went out onto the deck and hollered to the neighbor, but wasn't even friendly enough to go down and say hi. Then, I went inside, and HE WAS BACK IN BED AGAIN. He said the "house was cold". I said, "That's usually when you start a fire." He said, "but I'd have to go outside for that."

But I had to go to the store for my mom before I went to work, because I knew she was almost out of Kleenex, and she goes through about a whole box in a day....her nose runs ALL THE TIME, and sometimes I think it doesn't, but she's just obsessed with it....anyhow, whatever the case is, she needed Kleenex, so I went to the store. Then I went to her apartment, and she was in the bathroom and didn't want me to leave until she got done. So I did that, and while I was there, I noted that her cat is almost out of food, and I also remembered that I had promised to buy a birthday card for my brother (from my mom) and I hadn't.

Then I ran home and changed my clothes and went to work. A half hour late, didn't want to go to that meeting anyhow, and hey....I'm getting laid off (bad attitude there, I know)....anyhow, I got to work and the meeting was cancelled anyhow. Grr.

At 2pm, when I got to work, I called home, and DH was still in bed.

So now that I'm here, I'm feeling sorry for myself for being laid off (soon) again. I'm shy. I don't like to socialize. I don't like to meet people. How am I going to "sell myself"? I think I'm getting depressed over this job thing. I look at job postings and even though they "sound" fun, I don't want to apply, because I don't know what my plan is yet. So then I start worrying again. I know I'm determined, and I know I'll find a way, but right now it just feels kind of hopeless.

And yes, this is the same person that took the census test, scored as high as I possibly could, and was excited about the prospects of that....apparently that was last week's thing :-)

(Don't worry, I'll get over it)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Well, I wanted to take some time to say "Merry Christmas" to all of you! I won't be working tomorrow--I already had a vacation day before I got word of the layoff, and before we found out about the big snowstorm--supposedly this will be the biggest snowstorm since 1991, so I probably won't be going too far in the next few days!

I'm hoping, though, that I'll at least be able to make it over to give my mom a Christmas hug....she doesn't come to our house for the games, and our Christmas dinner for our side of the family has been moved to Sunday....but still!!!!

I got all the games ready, the ones that we play on Christmas Eve. I've got to stop and buy some Play-Doh, though, because we're going to play a game that's like Pictionary, except it's with Play-Doh. Then we'll do some of the "old standbys" like the Christmas card toss (into a laundry basket) and a mini-scavenger hunt, among others....I get all happy thinking about how much fun that'll be (I kind of put myself in charge of these games years ago and every year I try to come up with something new and funny). This year there won't be a lot of prizes (dollar store), but I think we'll still laugh a lot!

DH's family is already in the vicinity, so the snowstorm won't stop them...I guess my mother in law got kind of mad because she had a HUGE Tupperware container (without a lid, though) full of cookies, and she set it on the kitchen counter when she stopped by our house today. Unfortunately, we have to put the cat food on the counter, so the dogs don't eat all the cat food. So Zeppy, the most senior kitty in the house, who also has a feline version of cerebral palsy, chose that moment to get up on the counter, fall down (she does that a lot) and grab onto the cookie container in a feeble attempt to right herself on her way down. Now we have no cookies! (I told DH that we had just washed the floor, I would've eaten most of them anyhow, and he said he would've too, but neither of us wanted to admit that to his mom, LOL) So she was pretty mad, and I don't really blame her too much, but Zeppy didn't do it on purpose....

Anyhow, I'm glad I was at work when that happened.

I'm going to leave early tonite, so that I can get to WalMart before it's too hard to drive.

But I wanted to thank each and every one of you for reading my blog, sharing your words of wisdom, and being kind.

Merry Christmas!!!

I'll probably be posting on Saturday night from my other job.

P.S. I took the test for the 2010 Census today before I came to work--I scored 28 out of 28 (yay!!!!) So maybe I'll get a little extra money after I'm laid off!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I had no idea.

I had no idea that I would respond to losing my job by freaking out. I haven't even officially lost it yet, but I wake up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding and all I can think is "What am I going to do????" Last night I had a dream about all the people I got laid off with, all the people I've worked with for (nearly) decades....I woke up and was sad. Then I immediately shifted into the "What am I going to do?" mode and couldn't get back to sleep.

In all reality, I did not like the job. And I hate(d) the commute. In all reality, I have more opportunities than most, and at least one plan, maybe more than one plan, if the dislocated worker people come through with some paid training.

I already have a part time job, which I am in no danger of losing.

I knew the layoff was coming, I knew it as soon as the outsourcing was announced.

So why am I freaking out???????

Probably because I've never, since I was 16, been unemployed. And I've always been one of those people who (smartly) found the next job before leaving the previous one. But now I have to sit here and wait. I could apply for all sorts of stuff, stuff that pays $9 an hour, with the 2 hour commute....or I can sit and wait and see if a) more people are hiring after the holidays and b) am I going to get some (re)training. It just kills me to send in my resume for a job 90 miles away, that pays so little. But I know that beggars can't be choosers, either....it gives me a headache just thinking about it all....

DH is, unfortunately, not much more motivated than usual. He hasn't gone out to look for a job since that one day. I hope, though, that he got the plow hooked up to the four-wheeler, because we are going to get walloped in the snow department.

I'm kind of excited about a big snowstorm. Especially since I don't have to work anywhere on any of the days....I had taken a vacation day for Dec. 24, and of course I'm off on the 25th....don't have to be anywhere until Saturday night :-)

Plus, I get paid from both jobs on the 24th, and I have only done about $15 in Christmas shopping so far....but that was GOOD shopping, LOL. I got DD an Aeropostale hoodie and a brand new pair of jeans at the thrift store, for .75 EACH!!!! And then a gorgeous sweater for her (but I'm not sure if it'll fit or not) for $3.50. And I got DH two coffee mugs that are from the "fixit" store "Menards"--the handles are shaped like bolts, they're like little tool mugs (yup, at the thrift store, too)....

Right now my plan is....leave work Wednesday a couple of hours early, take a couple of hours of vacation. Get to WalMart asap, and since it will be Dec. 24 by then, finish up my shopping. But if the weather's too bad, I'll just stick with what I've got, because it's such a long drive. From what I've heard, the snow isn't supposed to start until late tomorrow (Wednesday) night, then we can (according to the latest forecast) expect up to 20 inches(!) of snow! So I'm hoping we don't have to drive down to my brother's for Christmas dinner (that's a 90 mile drive, too) and maybe we can postpone. That'd be a nice present for me!

I've pretty much told myself that job-hunting is just going to have to wait until Christmas....but I'll keep checking all the good "jobs" sites and force myself to apply for at least one or two, just to make myself feel like I'm doing something besides just sitting here....

Oh. Forgot to tell you....tomorrow I'm scheduled to take the test to be a census worker in my county....it would pay better than McDonalds if I could get that...I know the jobs are temporary, but I don't know how long they last...but at least it would be a little extra coming in....they say it's "to my benefit" to work as much as I can....I think I'd feel better about myself if I could get up and go to work....well, who knows....I might not even be in the running for the Census job(s). There are so many people out of work, especially in my area, it's hard to be optimistic....but I'll try!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A little ray of hope....?

Today has been a better-than-usual day. First, our department (or, should I say, my soon-to-be-former-department at my soon-to-be-former-employer?) sprang for three of those Subway party subs for a Christmas treat. But only one sub got eaten, there are still two subs (and they are FIVE FEET LONG) and there is no fridge, so I get to take them home tonite.....they'll be a little soggy, but still very edible and yummy!!!! We haven't had Subway in so long, what a treat! (and how pathetic, huh?)

Anyhow, then I had a meeting with the dislocated workers people, and I guess, if I understand things right, if there is a large layoff (more than 50 people) and ours was 240 people, the state provides extra job-search services, including, but not limited to, career counseling, and paid training to change careers, up to a 2 year degree!!!! Their goal is to get a person back to work at roughly THE SAME PAY and THE SAME BENEFITS as before the layoff(s)! I don't know if that's possible in my case, since the county where I live is so far from the county where I work(ed), and the county where I live has very high unemployment, but we'll see, won't we???? It sounds like there is a lot of funding for people affected by a "large" layoff. It gave me a lot of hope. Plus, they clarified that I will be able to get unemployment, even with the second job, it's just a little trickier. No doubt things will be even tighter, but I won't have the huge gas expense, and hopefully DH's truck will be paid off as soon as the tax refund comes (assuming there is one)....anyhow, I think that it can be done. They said it would take about 2 weeks (or a little more because of the holidays) to get all the counseling sessions set up. So that's something good. I'm more hopeful than I've been since the layoff was announced.

And then.....(drum roll please)......


Guess what he did today?

He went and really tried to find a job. He applied at three places, and went to two others (they weren't accepting applications)!!! That's more job-hunting than he's done in the last three years combined--I'm so proud of him.....and that gives me hope, too, because if he can find ANYTHING, it won't be so imperative that I find something that pays really good....

I actually am kind of excited right now about my new job, whatever it may be.....

Oh--but I think i will follow Grace's thinking (in her comment yesterday), and take anything that pays, then worry about "THE job" from there.....LOL, I don't know why I'm so hopeful, though, I've probably applied at 20 different places since the layoff announcement and I've gotten exactly ZERO phone calls....well, maybe the unemployment people can help me with that.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All talk and no action.

Well, yesterday I had the day off and I went down to the WorkForce Center, which is the "unemployment office" and started gathering information, etc. There are a lot of things I can't do until I'm officially "out of work", but I did do a job search and put out a few more resumes.

I'm meeting with some "Dislocated Worker" folks later this week, so hopefully they'll have answers on any training I'm eligible for....I'm a little hopeful....I KNOW for a fact that my job is gone because all of the work has been sent overseas. But whether the company will admit that or not, that is another question. We'll see.

So DH has been telling me he "will be finding a job" and "he won't let me down". I know better by now, that he has good intentions, but that isn't alway enough. He told me that he was going to put major effort into searching for a job. So today, he had to bring DD to an appointment, and then he told me he was going to go look for a job.

I called him about two hours after that, to see how his "job search" went.

"Not good."

Me: Why, what happened?

DH: I got to the WorkForce Center and all the computers were taken, so I went home.

(Apparently the fact that he has his own laptop and could have went to the library eluded him, as did the possibility of going around town and putting in applications...)

I know I'm going to end up doing this all myself. But it would be so much easier if that wasn't the case.

I wish I knew someone who'd been laid off, made it through, and lived to tell the tale (with a happy ending). Nobody I currently know has ever been laid off before. I know LOTS of people I USED to work with that have been laid off, but you lose touch with them.....

Well, after this is all said and done, you will all know me and how I handled things. For me, even though I've had two jobs for years now, job hunting is about on the same level as buying a used car. You don't know what to offer, you don't know if you're being misled, you have to go and present yourself as knowing things you really don't know much about....I just hate hate hate it. And it seems, now I'm going to have to get good at it. (At least the job one).

P.S. My mother in law is giving us a water heater for a(nother) Christmas present. That'll make me feel good when she opens up the pot holders or whatever I can afford to get her for Christmas....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A plan, even if it isn't the best one.....

Well, I've been feeling like things are so out of control with this layoff thing. And it's time for me to start taking charge of it. I'm not the first person this has happened to, and I'm not going to be the last. Others have made it through, and I will too. So I forced myself to come up with a plan.

Ideally, I would like to find something that pays decent (preferably indoors, LOL) near where I live (within about 30 miles or so.) It's probably not likely, but I'll still try. I applied for a convenience store assistant manager yesterday. I'm probably "overqualified", but it was close to home, and I have enjoyed working in a convenience store in the past. So why not...? No matter what I'm going to take a big pay cut. I'm hoping that if I can find SOMETHING fast, that I can minimize the impact(s). Especially if I can get DH to work, but I know that I can't depend on him, no matter how much he wants to help.

I am also applying for corporate jobs (with the 2 hour commute). Financially that is what I should be doing, because it will hurt the least and possibly come out better than I even was. But I'm not really enthusiastic about that, as I don't like corporate America much....we'll see....usually Fate (or God, or Angels, or whatever) knows what I really need at the time....

So the plan is to apply anywhere that gives me a little hope. Get lots of resumes out there. And then, if I still don't have many options by March, my plan is to enroll in a CNA course at the local community college. I don't want to be a CNA, but I know there are jobs out there, and I need to know that I'll find SOMETHING eventually. So in March, I'll enroll, then the class starts in May, and lasts a month. I'll keep sending out resumes during that time, and if, by the time I've got my CNA certificate, I still don't have work, then I'll find a CNA position. Who knows, I could end up working down the hall from where my mom lives.....

Anyhow, so after I came up with my plan, I felt better, more in control. But I'm still not sleeping well. I wake up after sleeping about 3 or 4 hours, and my heart starts pounding, and I start thinking "how can I be sleeping when this is happening?"
I'm thinking that if I don't be better at sleeping with this going on, I might need to talk to my doctor. I feel like I'm taking this much harder than the average person, and stressing out about it much more than the average person. But then I remind me that our situation isn't "average", and I so very much don't want to have to file for bankruptcy--that would kind of be like saying that me working my tail off all these last few years really didn't matter in the end, because I had to take the "easy" way out anyhow....not gonna do that unless I don't have a choice....

I've never been laid off before. I am having a tough time thinking about anything else. I've got to change my mindset. I hope this plan is a start.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Whew. This is hard.

Today I had two "workshops" for the "to-be-laid-off-soon" folks in my company. One was an "emotions are ok" and "your feelings are normal" class. That was the first time I saw some of the other people who got the axe. OMG. People I've worked with the entire time I've been there. People who trained me. One lady has put in 33 years, and only had two more years until retirement. It was very sad, but also it was (not sure of the word) (good? no) anyhow, I was relieved to see all of these other people there, because I didn't feel so alone.

The second one was a "we'll help you do your resume" one, and that one was sad, too.

So now I'm just basically feeling hopeless and depressed. I emailed out a bunch of resumes just so I could have some "irons in the fire". But really, what do I want to do? Do I want another corporate job with a 2 hour commute? Or a minimum wage job closer to home?

And DH. He says he is going to go out on Monday and find a job. I really hope that is true, because this will not work without him working. That's it, plain and simple. I'll have to file for bankruptcy unless he can start contributing. And even then I might have to. That's scary. And the thought that DH might end up with no health insurance, that is scary, too. It's all terrifying, and tonite I am not having any of that "It's a new opportunity" stuff. I'm scared that I've worked so very hard to keep it all together, and now just when I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it turns out to be a train.

I'm really stuck in this pity party. And I think that having to come to work every day and relive it all again is definitely not helping me get past this. Someone else in one of the classes today commented on that, it's heartbreaking. None of my coworkers who didn't get laid off know what to say to me, and I don't know what to say to anyone, laid off or not. Very awkward.

Oh. And to top it all off???? Yesterday morning I was feeding all the animals and I realized the water pressure was very very low. So I went into the basement to see if maybe the water softener was turned off or something weird, and the water heater was spraying water all over the basement. (Don't worry, it's unfinished, no water damage, just financial damage)....and where on earth would a new water heater come from? I'm still not sure, but DH's mom has volunteered to get us one for Christmas. So there goes the humility thing again, but it's like the tires....really gotta have it, if at all possible....

Things are so rotten, I just want to say "Bah, Humbug!" "How dare Christmas come when I'm feeling like this?"

On Christmas Eve, we usually get together and play party games--I'm in charge of the games and the prizes. This year it's been hard to care. I've really gotta get on the ball.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Going back and forth

I keep going back and forth. I wake up terrified that I won't be able to find another job, that I won't be able to pay the bills....then I get up and start thinking about the possibilities and I get excited and hopeful. I just need to shut off the scared, crying person.

I still think that if the financial picture in our house would have been a little better, I would be hugely excited about this.

I haven't told DD yet. She is so terrified of losing our house. She's seen some of her classmates lose their houses, and she is always asking for reassurance: Mom, are we going to lose our house?

So I'm going to talk to her therapist tomorrow to see if there is a "best" way to tell DD. The therapist will be a good resource, because her husband has been out of work for nearly a year now, and he's got a Masters' degree.

I wish I could say that DH has stepped right up to the plate, ran out and got a job, but that's not the case. He's been talking about it, but I don't know really, if he could work, even if he managed to find something....

I think I'm going to start applying for stuff this week, though, because I feel like I need to be doing something. Tomorrow's my first day back to work since I got told. I'm scared and kind of humiliated about that, too.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Going through it all...

I am removing this post because I don't like it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Oh happy day (not)

Well, I had heard rumors, but I chose to "trust". Haha.
We had been told that if there were going to be layoffs, everyone involved would have 6 months' notice.

Not so.

My last day of work at my full time job is January 29.

I'm bummed, relieved, scared, excited....about every emotion a person could feel.

But they offered to pay me for today if I want to take the day off.

So that's what I'm gonna do.

And I think I'll pray a little, too.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sorry for any inconvenience but....

I am absolutely sick of all the stupid comment spam I've been getting. Links to pharmaceutical sites, and oriental characters....one of my posts has received eleven comments in some oriental script that I can't read. Another one got three links to buy Cialis.

So, in order to try to combat this problem and cause you the least trouble, I am going to enable comment moderation on posts that are older than four days old. So you should still be able to comment on my most recent stuff without any hitch, but if it's been "out there" for more than four days, I'll have to "approve" it first.

From what I can figure, this is the best way to limit this stupid comment spam. Again, I'm very sorry if this causes you trouble!

Well, that was easy after all....

I hemmed and hawed, went back and forth, trying to decide whether I should call him or not. Finally, after acknowledging the fact that I tend to regret things I don't do more than the things I do do, I decided to call.

So, with my heart pounding and hands shaking, I dialed his number. I couldn't really even figure out what I was going to say.

"The number you have dialed is no longer in service."

Ok, maybe I dialed wrong.


Checked the phone book just to make sure, that's the number that's in there....

Ok, then....I called. Right?.....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I feel weird.

Back before I met DH (so this was years ago), I was in a relationship with someone else for six years. Towards the end, it came very close to being abusive, and I gave him an ultimatum: Get counseling for the anger within the next 30 days or we're through. He didn't. So I walked. But it wasn't that easy, of course. There were a lot of things said and done by both of us that weren't very nice.

I wasn't very grown up. Neither was he. And "fighting fair" was just a concept. There was a lot of yelling. He even went to my mom's house one day and told her things about me that I never wanted anyone to know. But I also did some things I regret--and could have handled differently. I played a lot of games. He responded by being angrier. It took me many years to see that, of course. I still believe that the relationship was very doomed. I should've left long before I did.

But it is a part of my past. There are still some happy memories, although the unhappy ones outweigh them.

I was at the thrift store in town when someone said "Hi Carol!" It was his sister and his mom. I hadn't seen them since probably 1996 or so. His mom looked so old--of course, what did I expect after all that time???? Anyhow, there was some small talk, then his sister said, "He's not doing well. He's not taking care of his diabetes at all. (I didn't know he had diabetes, of course). His leg's all black and he won't go to the doctor. He got arrested for driving without insurance and they wouldn't put him in jail, they told him to go to the hospital, because he was in too bad of shape. He keeps saying, "If I die, I die." And all he does is sleep. He's going to lose his leg for sure, but we think he's going to be dead soon."

That really freaked me out. I don't know how to feel. I never, even when we broke up, never hated him. But I was afraid of him. Now that I'm older, I can see that he didn't have very many skills in the relationship department. I'm not afraid any more. He never had another girlfriend after me. That kind of freaks me out, too.

Part of me wants to give him a call and tell him that I'm thinking about him and urge him to get to a doctor before it's too late. But another part of me does not want to open up a can of worms. I'd like to tell him that I know he did the best he could and that no matter what I said at the time, it wasn't all his fault (our breakup). I think I would regret not telling him that, if he were to die.

I told DH about all of this. He told me that if our positions were reversed, he'd probably call. He said he understood that this person was a part of my history and I didn't stop having that just because DH and I got married. (For all his shortcomings, DH is good at the relationship stuff...) But I also know that he might've just been saying that. The thought of me contacting someone who was a big part of my past has to make him at least a little uncomfortable. It makes ME a little uncomfortable.

I'm still trying to figure out what to do. And how to do it. I can't even imagine this person in such bad shape that he might die. I know we all do, but I guess you kind of tend to think of your friends and family as super-human, know what I mean? I'm kind of shocked and sad.

And it makes me want to force DH to take better care of HIS diabetes (or whatever). I know they were giving him insulin in the hospital. So he should at least be checking his blood sugar....and I should be trying to cook healthier, too. It's scary. Mortality sucks.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Today I brought my mom to the church services that they hold in the nursing home that is attached to the assisted living where my mom lives. Every week a pastor from a different church in town (they take turns) comes and holds a short service. The one this week was really dry. He kind of jumbled a bunch of bible verses together and I didn't understand what the point of the sermon was, so I know my mom didn't, then, the songs he chose were unfamiliar, and since most of the "churchgoers" can no longer read or write, that kind of flopped, too. (Most pastors choose things like "Amazing Grace" and "Rock of Ages", hymns that all the seniors know and love).

So on the way back to her apartment, when my mom started to lament that there hadn't been ice cream for lunch, I offered to bring her to Dairy Queen, and she got really excited. Unfortunately, when we got out to my car, I saw that I had a flat tire.

I've been babying my tires, all four of them for weeks now. Every day I need to put air in one or more of them. They're really old, and I've been trying to hold out "for a couple more weeks, until I can afford to get some better ones." But it's just been so hard to come up with that money. I knew I wasn't going to be able to put it off any longer.

My mom was kind of upset about not being able to go to Dairy Queen. So when I called DH to come and help, we took her there first. Then we stopped and bought a can of fix-a-flat and used that to get the car to the tire store, where we left my car for the overnight.

I went home and tried to take a nap before work, but all I could think was "I can only come up with enough money (maybe) to buy two used tires at the most. But I know I need four tires. So should I put the two better tires on the back (because that's where the worst tires are) or in the front because that's where one would normally put the "better" tires?" And I was really getting myself down, because it feels like we're just getting farther and farther behind. (I just finally got the bill paid off at the vet's office from when Kirby died and I've started getting the bills from when DH was hospitalized for the H1N1, and I have no idea how to pay those either). It's just been so hard. There's absolutely no wiggle room, for when something like this happens. And my car has 250,000 miles on it, so I know there'll be more "somethings", for sure. I was worried that I might not even have enough "wiggle room" on my credit card for the two used tires. Maybe not even one. I couldn't sleep. But I tried.

When I got up, DH said, "well, I've got some good news, I think..." and I thought he was maybe joking. But he told me that his mom (my mother in law) had called him and he told her about my/our day. And I guess when he told her that I've had four bad tires for a while now and just kept driving, hoping nothing would go wrong, she got kind of angry and told him that I drive too far to be doing that. And he told her that I was doing the best I could. And she told him that she wasn't going to sit home and worry about me driving "all that way" on tires like that, she's buying me four brand new tires(!) When DH told me this, I couldn't stop crying.

It used to be, when DH's mom offered me money, I would always say no. She's not my mom, I'm (supposedly) a self-supporting adult, and I didn't want her to think that I was a "mooch". It's hard for me to realize that at this point, I really don't have much of a choice. I owe so many people for so many favors and handouts. It's really a blow to my pride. I just keep telling myself that things won't be like this forever (I hope, anyhow), and someday I'll be able to show my mother in law and everyone else who's helped me out, that I really do appreciate and remember.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Whatever it is, I hope it's full of family, food, and love......

I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's apartment. I suggested to my brother that the 2 hour drive to his house might be hard on my mom. But when I brought it up to her, she wanted to go. My brother "compromised", by telling her that he'd come up with his family to visit over the weekend. I got the impression that he was happy we weren't coming. That made me kind of sad, but it is a long drive....

So anyhow, when I get home from work in the morning, I'm going to make the Hillbilly Housewife's Easy Crockpot Stuffing (see my blogroll for a link to her amazing site)...and then take a nap for a couple of hours. Then I'm going to my mom's to get the turkey started. If I organize it right, there's really not too much to do.

Here's our menu:
Turkey (cooked in a Reynolds oven bag--the only way I can consistenly get a really moist turkey!)
Stuffing (see above)
Mashed potatoes and gravy....I'm not very good at making my own gravy, so I did buy a backup jar :-)
Candied sweet potatoes
Watergate salad (with pistachio pudding, marshmallows, Cool Whip, and fruit coctail....)(I'm going to have my mom make this, I think it'll make her feel good to be a part of things)
Jellied cranberry sauce (from a can)
Some kind of rolls
Pumpkin pie

That ought to be enough, right? I'm hungry.

Black Friday....I'm sleeping in. Not sure how shopping will work this year, but right now there is $34 in my bank account, and I'll be needing cat/dog food....so no Christmas presents yet....I've been trying to figure out why things feel tougher this year than they did last (financially) and maybe it's just because I'm tireder(?)

Today when I got up (after 6 hours of sleep) DD, who didn't have school today, said "Mom! Your eyes are really white!"


Anyhow, I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday, and don't spend too much on Black Friday....I'll talk to you soon!

Almost afraid to post!

Things have been amazingly good (with my mom, anyhow). I don't know if it's a matter of the old medications getting out of her system, or the new medications taking effect, but the difference has been nothing short of miraculous! She's been remembering things that she hasn't known for over a year. She's not getting lost in her apartment. She's having ZERO incontinence problems. And she's laughing and singing. Amazing. She's still in her apartment. We are not staying with her any more. She didn't need us, she was doing everything by herself, and what she needed help with, the "helpers" had no problems with.

Thor's girlfriend seems to be gone. Sometimes my mom is still a little confused, but nowhere as bad as she was. She called my brother "what's-his-name" today (grin). But she is, for the most part, making sense, and doing better than she has in months. So the move to the memory care facility is on hold, no pressing need at the moment. I keep waiting for this to "crash", for the "honeymoon" to be over, but so far it's been great. She even remembers what she had for breakfast--"An apple turnover" as opposed to "some kind of roll". Wow.

On the other hand, I got pretty angry with DH. He was bringing DD (and her bio mo) to the movie theater in town. That's one of the things we allow them to do without us supervising, because it has a "start" and an "end". This time, however, nobody realized until they got to the theater, that the movie was rated "R". (The movie theater in our town only has one screen, so it's "take it or leave it" when you go to see a movie.) DD begged. And begged some more. She (and DH) know very well that we don't allow her to see "R" movies. She's so impressionable, we don't want her to think that life is really like that (full of sex and violence) (even though it is, to a certain extent, if she believes that it's ok, she'll be more likely to try to imitate)...DH let her go.

I haven't been so angry in years. I slammed cupboards, slammed doors, Didn't talk to him for two days. He knows better. But he took the "lazy" way out. He didn't feel like dealing with one of DD's tantrums, so he just let her do whatever. I'm still angry, thinking about it. Really angry. He's been helping out so much with my mom, but in other areas, the laziness is just taking over. He can't take three steps on the deck to put his cigarette butt in the ash tray, so there are cigarette butts all over the ground. The trash can that we put our aluminum cans in is full, so instead of emptying it into a trash bag and starting over, he throws his cans on the ground. And the dogs. Buffy, is a full-blooded collie. And she's a bur magnet. She doesn't go too far away from the house, but every time she is given any freedom, she comes back covered in burs. And I don't have time to groom her every day. But DH is too lazy to walk outside and put her on the leash, it's so much easier (for him) to just open up the door and let her go.

I'm sick of the laziness. Really. DD does more work around our house than he does, and that's not saying much. I've started speaking to him again, but mostly because Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I don't want to ruin it by being mad. (But I still am, LOL). I figure I'll wait until after Thanksgiving to bring up the laziness.

But really....except for keeping an eye on my mom, I really don't ask much of him at all.....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thank goodness, I think.

We/I finally found the owner of the dog. He was two miles away from home when I found him....they were sure he had been shot by a deer hunter...I hope they keep him closer to home from now on....DH will miss the dog, and actually, so will I--there's something about an older dog that's already "broken in"--you don't have to teach it all the doggie-manners that you have to teach a younger dog...but....we do have five other dogs that need attention, too....and most of them are already "broken in" too :-)

My mom is, apparently, being discharged from the geri-psych unit tomorrow. So right now, the tentative plan is to bring her back to her apartment, and see how things go until Monday or Tuesday and at that point decide if she'll be moving. I did look at the dementia/memory care assisted living, and I do believe that it's what my mom really needs. But, of course, it's not that cut and dried, because it's quite a bit more expensive than where she has been living. Her current apartment with services is about $3,000 a month (not a typo, for those of you who have never had a parent in a "facility"). The demential care assisted living would run about $5,000 a month. That's quite a difference. My mom is not rich. Her funds consist of social security and the money she got when we sold her modest house (we sold it for about $160,000). So it will run out. And since we don't have an "official" plan in place as far as my mom moving yet, it seems like we should give it the old "schoolyard try" and see if she can make it for another couple of months before she moves. I'm rather doubtful. And I'm a little bit more comfortable with the idea of her moving, now that I've seen where she would probably be going. It's a pretty nice place, a lot newer than where she lives now, and LOCKED. She would have more attention there than she does (from the aides) at her apartment right now. But she would have to give up her cat. I'm not sure how big of a deal that would be for her. Sometimes I don't think she'd notice much, and sometimes I think she really depends on him. I guess we'll have to see what happens.

Oh--and yes, I'm stressed out about all this. I wasn't ready for my mom to come home yet. I wish she could stay there for another month. It's so nice to know that she's someplace where they know what she really needs....now comes the hardest part, I guess, seeing if she can handle her apartment for a few more months or not....luckily, if she does end up moving, the weather is still pretty nice....

And DD. I don't know how I'm going to make it three more years with this crap. Let's see....yesterday she threatened another kid at school and the kid's parents called us. DH told them that it was ok for them to call the school--that maybe they could do something. DH was, I could tell, on the brink of a mood swing, so I told him not to even bring it up with DD, because if they both have short fuses, there's no telling what could happen....

So then today the school called and DD had apparently written or copied some kind of poem about "I want to die" and something about school. It was about two years ago that she told a bunch of kids at school that she had a "hit list" and that they were all on it, so the school takes things rather seriously. Apparently when DD was confronted by a teacher (or an administrator, I don't know which one) regarding the poem, she had a tantrum there in school. And refused to go to the EBD room to calm herself down. So they called us about that. I was visiting my mom at the time.

So apparently then she got home and had a tantrum because she didn't want to do her chores. And so DH had said "Ok, then I'll do them." And she just flew into another rage. DH was so mad that he was yelling at me when he was telling me this stuff. I'm just so sick of all of it. I'm sick of DH's drama and DD's drama. I've got enough real-life drama, and I wish they'd both just shut up.

It's three more years until DD graduates if she manages to stay out of jail until then. I have no idea how I'm going to do it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just what I needed. (right)

Well, yesterday was a good day. I visited my mom, and so did my brother. We sat in the "day room" of the unit, with three other patients. We chatted about the weather, and about the "fancy" whirlpool bathtub that they have there. My mom told us that "it was really fun!"

I was wearing one of my favorite old sweaters, it has three wolves embroidered on it. One of the gentleman patients asked me what was on my shirt. I said, "I think they're wolves." He said, "Wolves?" I said "yes, I think so." Then he started to howl like a wolf. I was worried that my mom might think he was crying or something, and be upset, so I said to her, "He's howling like a wolf." So then my mom started howling. Then the lady across the room started howling too. I haven't laughed so hard in a million years--what a "pack" of wolves!!!! And the patients all laughed, too. And one of the nurses (and I did too) had tears, she was laughing so hard....it was great. I went home with a big smile on my face, thinking that things were getting better.

But this morning, I guess, "Thor's girl friend" showed up, and my mom apparently became very disruptive. The nurses were very surprised because up until now all they've seen is a sweet little old lady with a bad memory. Anyhow, when I visited today, it was obvious that she wasn't as cheerful as she was yesterday, she was much more anxious. I didn't really know what to make of it, I do know that the nurses were going to call the on-call psychiatrist to see if anything needed to be changed.

Then, when I called tonite, the nurse on duty told me that my mom has a "low-grade fever". "But she has a UTI, so it could be part of that." I didn't know she had ANOTHER UTI. But I guess she does. So I don't know if I should worry about this or be relieved that there still might be something that they can possibly fix that will help her....I don't know!!!!

And then, to top things off. You aren't going to believe this (ok, you probably will)....please don't put me down for being who I am.....I was driving home from visiting my mom and I decided to drive past our house and go into town and clean out my car a little bit at the gas station. I got about half way from our house to town (it's 4 miles to town) and I saw this obviously elderly dog, standing in the middle of the highway, running up to every car that went by. It was very sad. But I thought to myself, "I can't stop. He must belong to someone. We just got down to five dogs, and as much as I really miss Kirby, even five dogs is still way too many." And I kept on going. I went into town and did my thing, then turned around and went home. The dog was still there, still in the middle of the highway, looking very lost. There were no houses around. I saw images in my brain of this dog lying dead on the side of the road, and I knew I had to do something. So I pulled over and called him over to me. He wasn't sure if I could be trusted, but he finally came to me, but he wouldn't get in my car. So I called DH and he brought a leash. Another lady stopped and tried to help. But the dog would only come to me.

So eventually I was able to get the leash on him--he didn't have a collar or anything, and then he hopped right into my car. We drove around, knocking on doors, trying to find his home. He didn't look like a starving stray, he looked well-cared-for. But nobody knew him. I'm now wondering/speculating that possibly he was "dumped" on the highway. I don't want to think that, though. I want to think he was chasing a squirrel and got too far from home.

He's at our house right now. We haven't introduced him to anyone really, yet, I want to find his owners so bad.....I really very much don't want another dog, but I also don't want him to die....I wish there were more resources for stray animals in my area. We called the sheriff, and the radio station. The radio station will be announcing him tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully someone will claim him. It's been just a little more stress worrying about where to put him, since we don't know if he's cat-friendly, or if he has fleas or anything....got to keep him separate for now, anyhow....sometimes I'm proud of my "stray magnet" thing--the way strays and I seem to find each other....but right now I'm really really wishing that I was a "normal" person, at least in that sense. From the time I first saw the dog, probably a hundred people swerved to go past him. But I'm the sucker who couldn't just drive by.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Craziness. Pure and simple. And oh, the guilt....

My mom. Last time I posted, I was telling you about her cat's girlfriend, who "went out and got pregnant by someone else." Well, when the aides went to give my mom her medications, my mom started yelling that she "wasn't taking anything from her, that tramp, I want her out of here!!!!!!!!" And nobody could get her to calm down until the aide left. They tried a few hours later, with a different aide, and she (the aide) was also "a tramp, hurting Thor like that, get out of my house!" Very alarming.

So after weighing all the options, and realizing there really weren't a lot of options any more, I decided that we should go to the geriatric psychiatric hospital about an hour away from our town. My brother agreed, and so I brought my mom there yesterday afternoon. I know that even if all the other weirdness gets cleared up, she'll probably still lose ground there, but things just couldn't go on the way they were--they were really, unfortunately, only getting worse.

So my mom was admitted and so far has not had too much confusion there. But it could be just too early for that. Today I visited her, and she seemed about the same, with a little more sadness thrown in. She's still very upset with "the girlfriend", I guess, and I guess the aides in the hospital ran up against the same thing as the assisted living aides did ("get out, you tramp!"). I forgot to ask how they eventually got her to take her meds.

They also told me that she needs a lot of "cueing". In other words, they have to instruct her on everything. They can't just help her to the bathroom and say "I'll wait outside. Just give me a holler when you're done." They have to tell her each step of the process (I won't share the process with you, I'm sure you know what to do) as if she has never been in a bathroom before. That's kind of what was going on at home, too. And the assisted living just isn't equipped for that kind of constant care. So DH and I were doing it, in hopes that things would improve, but they weren't. So basically, unless the psychiatrist(s) figure out what the problem is, she probably won't be able to stay in her apartment.

When I think about that, part of me is relieved. She needs so much, and it would be so nice to know that she was having all of her needs met in a safe place. But also, you hear so many bad things about nursing homes, etc., and when she was in the nursing home in June, it was "adequate" and the staff were caring, but I felt like if I wasn't there, a lot of things wouldn't get done or would get done incorrectly. I need to visit some more facilities, I know I do. But I had planned on doing that last week, and when it came down to it, I got a HUGE case of "head-in-the-sand-itis". I didn't want to think about my mom needing to move to a nursing home. So if I didn't think about it, well, you know....it wouldn't happen, right? (I know how stupid that is/was, and I recognized it that day, but I just couldn't bring myself to go and do that. Now I think I'll need to get on the ball.

I know I just need to be patient, too. She has only been there about 24 hours now, and that certainly isn't enough time to effect changes, so I really just need to trust them and hope for the best.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


DH just called and told me that every time my mom would hear a sound in her apartment, she would start screaming about Thor's girlfriend being back. DH "chased her away" several times, but my mom apparently was so upset that "that cat broke Thor's heart, she's indecent and shouldn't be allowed here!" that she just couldn't calm down. The aides finally came in and gave her a PRN Xanax (that's the only PRN my mom has for anxiety) and she just fell asleep.

Thank God for the angels that work at the assisted living facility. And thank God for DH.

Things are just so weird all of a sudden.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cats and craziness (or...I'm scared still/again)

Last night I got to stay with my mom in her apartment. And I dared to get hopeful. Nothing she said was weird, she didn't come out into the living room to find the bathroom, and she fell back asleep after the aide came in to remind her to go to the bathroom....I started thinking "maybe the antibiotics are helping!" HaHa. I know better than that, don't I....really.....?

Remember from Nov. 7, the post about my mom's cat's girlfriend? (Just in case you don't, you might want to click and read up on her).....

Anyhow, DH went to stay with her tonite (I'm working, as usual), and she was angry with someone. He asked her who she was talking to, and she said, "Thor's girlfriend. I want her to leave. She did a shameful thing and went and got pregnant. I don't want her here any more." "But I told her to leave and she won't go."

So DH (bless his heart) told her that he thought the girlfriend had already left, because he thought he heard Thor tell her to "get out, he didn't want her around any more." So my mom had him check the apartment to "make sure she was really gone" (and of course she was)....and then she went to bed. At that point, DH called to update me.

About 10 minutes later, he called me at work, in a whisper and asked me to call the "helpers" (aides) on their cell phone and have them go to the apartment because my mom needed "an anxiety pill or something, right away". So I called, the aide said she was on her way, and I haven't heard anything since.

I'm scared again. Freaky crazy scared. I don't know if I should head home, or if it's under control. It's 2 hours to get home. So do I take 6 hours of vacation for this? Or save it in case I need it for something even more alarming/serious? I don't know.....I just hate it. Tonite I was fantasizing about my mom being in a nursing home, because I/we could get some semblance of a family life back....and then I felt instant guilt, because I still feel that this is not a "natural progression"....

And....to top it off, "That Guy" has been making very brief appearances. I'm sure at least part of that is due to the crazy sleep schedule he's now on, from staying with my mom....but I can't, I just can't have him get unstable too.....he swears he's been taking his meds...all I can think of is this crazy schedule is wearing on him.....I didn't call the doctor yesterday because I was thinking things might be improving....then tonite I asked DH if he thought I should call the doctor, and DH said we could make it until Thursday....I don't know.....I wish I knew what was going on....I'll give you an update as soon as I know....

P.S. To those of you who have been following this blog because it is a blog about bipolar, I apologize--it seems that right now it is more a blog about my mom's dementia, and I know some people aren't probably very interested in that. I'm glad that DH is stable enough where the dementia is first/foremost in my thoughts....and I hope things stabilize soon....

Monday, November 9, 2009

Making things more difficult than they are

Today I'm obsessing over my mom. Yesterday morning the assisted living facility called me, because my mom had asked the aide if she "had heard about Carol, she was in a terrible accident." Of course the aide said "no, oh--that's awful, was she hurt?" And my mom said "Worse." So they called to make sure I was still alive. It seems like every day there's something kooky.

I guess it's needless to say that we haven't seen any improvement yet. But I'm supposed to wait until Thursday to get back in touch with the Dr.

Yesterday, though, for some reason, my little brain became fixated on the likelihood that the Paxil could be to blame for this. I want to ask the doctor if we can try to taper off of the Paxil. And I want to call him right this minute. But, of course, I also want to give the current plan enough time to work....and I don't want to be telling the doctor what to do, either--if I was a doctor I would become resentful really quick if a patient or family member kept doing that....

So do I wait until Thursday, or call the doctor today? It's a tough call. I know I'll call the doctor today, of course--it's my mom and if we can take a stab at fixing something, why shouldn't we start sooner rather than later? But I guess I'll just worry about it for a while longer.

And speaking of worrying, I made some chicken nuggets and french fries for supper last night, and ever since I've been at work I've been worried that I didn't turn off the oven when I left. And DH is staying with my mom right now, and DD sleeps like a rock and wouldn't hear or answer the phone in the middle of the night. I'm not really so afraid of the oven being on for seven hours as I am worried about using that much of our very limited propane. Oh well, there's not much I can do about it now....I'll be home soon and hopefully I was just worrying for nothing....heck....pretty soon I might need Paxil myself!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I'm falling apart.

First, I need to tell you about our doctor's visit. The doctor doesn't seem to think that what is going on with my mom is a "natural progression" either. So even though all the tests say otherwise, he put her on some more antibiotics, in case there is still a UTI or other infection that is not being picked up by the tests. And he re-upped her Aricept, which is an Alzheimer's drug. When my mom first started on Aricept a couple of years ago, we saw an immediate improvement, even though we had been told by the doctor that the drug isn't supposed to be able to improve things, it just slows down the progression. Then when she was in the hospital in January of this year, they doubled her Aricept dose, but that didn't do much. And when she was having so much trouble in the hospital in June, they thought that maybe she was getting too much Aricept for her system, so they brought it back down again. Now the doctor is raising it again. He also did a bunch of lab tests that they don't do on a regular basis, but for various things that can cause confusion (or delirium, as he called it). He said it is possible that it is a natural progression, but he doesn't typically see it happen this quickly. So since I'm not all that confident in the Aricept, I'm really hoping the antibiotics will do some good. I have to call the doctor on Thursday and tell him what I'm seeing, and he will decide what our plan is from there. I like him, he's a really compassionate and thorough doctor.

Last night my mom called my brother and told her that the people on TV were invading her apartment, so she was telling them off and she needed help. I have been trying to tell him how weird she's been, but I don't think he really believed me until that. And he was very disturbed. But not disturbed enough to come up and help. I shouldn't say that, I know he's busy too, but sometimes I do get a little resentful. I'll get over it.

In the meantime, my mom told me today that "I think Thor (her elderly cat) has a girlfriend." I asked her what made her think that. She said, "Well, there was this bowl full of food, and I don't know where it came from. And he went over there and ate a lot of it." (How she got a girlfriend out of that, I'm not sure, but it was cute.) I said "well, I'm glad she can cook." And then I told her about my cat Ninja, who, when the food bowl is empty, will climb up onto the counter and rip open the bread and snack on that. She laughed and laughed. That was great, she hasn't done much laughing lately, and it was nice to be able to say something that would make her laugh.

So anyhow, more about me. I just realized that our garbage didn't get picked up this week. And there's only one reason for that and it's "Carol didn't pay the bill." And I'm so embarrassed. I'm going to have to go in there on Monday and pay it...That means the truck payment will be later than usual, because I'll have to take the garbage money out of that...I always put the garbage bill in the "Pay it when I can" pile, because I can't pay that one on line. I have no idea how late I am/was. I don't remember getting a recent bill. But things have been so crazy, I might've gotten it and not even realized. It's getting where I'm avoiding the mailbox because I feel like I just can't think about all the juggling I do to keep things afloat. I just can't do it. So I ignore it. Not a good solution, but maybe since I'm telling you this, I'll recognize how pathetic that is and get on the ball. At the very least, I should call some people and tell them that the payment is coming, just not right away....

And then I went to put gas in my car. I was doing pay at the pump, and my credit card was declined. I knew I was close to the limit, but I was kind of surprised that I was already there. Luckily, I had the other credit card. (I know it's not god to use a credit card and I know that it's bad news when your card is maxed out, but there are so many bills that often after I get paid, then pay all the bills, there's no money left for gas, etc.....DD's child support has been really sporadic in the last two months....I usually get $300 a month, but last month we only got $6, and this month we only got $3. I don't know what's been happening, but I've been relying on the credit card(s) to make ends meet.

When stuff like this happens, I really feel like I'm not doing a very good job of holding things together. I keep telling myself I've just got to make it 'til spring, and then we'll finally have "wiggle room" (when the damn truck is finally paid off). But when things get this close to the edge like this, I go into panic mode and think I'm not going to make it until spring. I hate feeling out of control financially. I just hate it. I'm not like this. I'm the "saver" in the family. Unfortunately, there's not much left over to save.....but I still try. I feel like I'm losing control. And I still don't know where the propane money is going to come from. I guess what I'll try to do is get the tank filled around Thanksgiving, and use wood as much as possible. Last year I think we turned on the furnace on Dec. 3 or 4? And we kept the thermostat at 58. If we wanted the house warmer than that, we had to use the fireplace. It's a high-efficiency fireplace and it puts out a lot of heat, so the only reason we really need propane is to keep the pipes from freezing when we aren't home to keep the fire going. But the propane...they won't deliver less than 200 gallons, so that's at least $400. I'm just trying not to think about it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tomorrow's the big day

Sorry I haven't been writing too much lately, sometimes I want so much to tell you all everything that's been going on, but it makes me so sad that I hate bringing it to the front of my brain long enough to type it--does that make sense?

Tomorrow's my mom's Dr. appointment. I'm trying to list all of my concerns so that I don't forget anything. And I've got to remember to not tell my mom that there's an appointment tomorrow, I'm hoping that will keep her from getting worked up about it. I've got so many questions--I hope that maybe they can do another test for a UTI and find something that's easier to fix than what I'm thinking it all is.

And I've decided to call Public Health. I'll make the call tomorrow when I've got some time off. I had requested some materials about a memory care facility in our region, and they also included a brochure on how Public Health might be able to help...it sounded like it had potential, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

There've still been some crazy things happening. At least twice this week my mom got into her nightgown in the middle of the day and went to bed, telling the staff that it was time for bed. Then another time this week, a "helper" came into the apartment to walk her down to supper, and my mom was standing in the corner in her dining room...just standing in the corner. The "helper" asked her what she was doing, and she said that she "was waiting in line to use the bathroom."

And I just remembered something. Drat. Last night, DH told me that my mom thought all the people on the TV were her friends and had come over to her apartment. That's really not all that shocking, because it wasn't too long ago that she thought the "church" on the radio was really in her apartment. But I just remembered: I just got off the phone with her, and I told her that DH would be coming to stay with her tonite. She asked me "Is he the only one?" And I said, "Yup, just DH". Now I'm thinking that that comment was related to "all the people" who "came over" last night. I hope nobody turns on her TV....and I hope DH calls me before he goes over there.

I'm kind of scared of what the Dr. might say. But kind of prepared for it, I guess....I hope so much that they can find a reason for this drastic change. I hate thinking about it....but it's all that I think about.....

I think DH is trying hard to do "what needs to be done", but I think he is having a tough time with this, too. And although he's known my mom for many years, she's not his mom....and I'm worried that having DH staying over there so much will affect his own mental health. That would be all I need--all three of them unstable :-( yikes

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Taking Pictures

I hope you all had a happy Halloween....DD was angry because we told her that 16 years old is too old to go trick or treating....I thought she was going to have another tantrum, but she just had a regular "mad". That was ok.

I'm still so worried about my mom. On Friday night, when I stayed with her, she didn't even need me at all. She slept, got up to use the bathroom when the "helpers" woke her up (I suggested they try that approach, so that she wouldn't get lost looking for the bathroom....and they were happy to give it a try....so far it seems to be a good thing)
And falling back to sleep. So Saturday night, I told DH (who is really helping out) that I really need him to take care of his own mental health, and that he could probably leave early if he thought things were ok. So he did, and things were "fine".

But today, I was thinking that it'd be nice to get out of the apartment for a while. So I asked my mom if she wanted to go out to eat, and she said yes and seemed happy about it. I gave her a choice of two of her favorite fast food places in town, and she picked one. So off we went. Just like usual. Except once we got in there, we were the only customers. The workers were (not surprisingly) all teenagers, and they were laughing and joking with each other. And the restaurant had their "muzak" on, too. My mom started to get upset because there were hundreds of people there. Nothing I could tell her reassured her, and so she did eat, but she was really bothered by the "crowd". And there couldn't have been less of a crowd. I can't remember the last time we were the ONLY customers. Ok, not a big deal....

So we got back into the car and I asked my mom if she wanted to go right home or if she wanted to go for a ride. Usually, back when things were more "normal", she always wanted to go for a ride. And she wanted to go for a ride this time, too. The sun was going down. We drove through town. My mom became upset about someone "taking pictures". I didn't know what she was seeing, so I just told her that "tourists" like to take pictures to show to their families. Then she got upset because she "didn't want anyone showing pictures of her", so I assured her that they only take pictures of the houses, not the people.

I started driving a little faster, and my mom started to panic. And then I realized what the "pictures" were....it was the sunlight shining through between the buildings as we drove by, making kind of a flashing effect. I couldn't stop it at all. She was very upset and telling me that it was terrible, dangerous....and I told her we'd go home right away. And she didn't want to, because she wanted to go for a ride. But she was breathing so fast and she was flinching every time we drove past another building, I just headed back to the apartment.

It really wasn't any more sad/crazy/shocking than anything else that's happened recently, but I guess it was just that we were going to do something that we've done hundreds of times before, and suddenly it was a bad thing, and not a good thing. Made me sad.

And then, my mom called me, asking if it was me that called her (because I guess she didn't get the phone in time). I told her it was probably my brother, and I reminded her of what to say to call him (on her voice activated phone dialer). We said goodbye and about 20 seconds later the phone rang again...."CArol? Was it you that called? Oh! Did I just talk to you?" Sigh.

I started second-guessing myself, thinking that maybe my mom is having more confusion when we mess with her routine. Like after the UTI when we went to my nephew's birthday party, and then after that the confusion got worse. And the last couple of nights, things weren't "great", but they were stable, and then I go and bring her out to eat, and she gets confused again.

That's one of the things that's so painful about this disease....it's all a bunch of guesses. I'm hoping that the doctor will have some idea in his bag of "tricks" that will help. I'm clinging to every hope, despite what my educated brain is telling me.

Oh, and I'm so grateful for DH's stability right now....I'd be completely lost without his help....he's been staying with my mom every night that I have to work...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Question for the day:

Is it better to consider having Mom placed in a nursing home 4 miles away from my house, that has relatively few services specific to dementia, but does have some familiar faces (of both employees and residents who used to live in the same assisted living where my mom lives now)...

Or is it better for her to be 45 minutes to an hour away from my house, in a place that has more specialized services for people with dementia, and more activities, etc.?

It's a tough call.

Right now I'm leaning towards keeping her close to me--I can stop by every day, give her a hug, etc....

But then I go back to--I don't have much time every day. So often she might end up just sitting there, doing nothing. Where in a dementia-specific place, there would be more activities that she could partake in, and a different atmosphere....?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The hardest thing

Last night, the assisted living staff found that my mom had wandered out of her apartment and into the lunchroom (dining room) of the facility, because she could not find the bathroom in her apartment. They found her on a chair in the lunchroom with her pants around her ankles. Luckily there was no accident....I guess...

I got so upset when I found out about this. To me this is a pretty terrible thing. Of course DH will stay with her while I work tonite...but...even so, it's a terrible thing. It quite possibly signifies an entirely different stage in the dementia game.

And I had to take DD to her therapist today, and (lucky us) DD was just as awful as she was the night she cut her wrist. She had (once again) decided that she was having a Halloween party on Friday (yep, day after tomorrow)....and when I said "no", and the therapist said that there was no way I could do that when I'm under so much stress, DD started swearing and screaming at the therapist. I'm glad it happened there, because now she (the therapist) will know exactly what's going on at home...) but the clincher of that was when DD yelled out "IT'S ALL GRANDMA'S FAULT!" I felt so sad, hurt, and angry....I just started crying right there in the therapist's office....and she was concerned...so concerned that she called me after we left to talk a little more....

I honestly feel so absolutely overwhelmed....I so much want to do the "right" thing for these people I take care of....

And you know they say "God never gives you more than you can handle" and "you've got an awful lot on your plate..."? I think I grabbed someone else's plate. And crumbs are falling off the plate all over the place.

The hardest thing is the not knowing. About my mom, that is....I know there is probably a nursing home in the future for her. Is it now? I don't know. I talked to the nurses who are in charge at the assisted living center, and while I was panicky, they were pretty calm (I imagine they see this fairly regularly, being in the line of work they're in....) They told me that right now all we need to do is keep an eye on my mom.....she has that appointment on Nov. 6, so if we can get to that, maybe the doctor will have some ideas.....or maybe she will stabilize(?) The nurses said "we just need to see if this is going to be a regular thing, or if it's just a fluke." That made me feel a little better. They're not going to just kick her out for one episode of troubling behavior.

I'm not even sure what I should be hoping for right now....I guess I've just got to trust the other people who know her and just keep an eye open in case....I don't want her to go to a nursing home. But if this confusion is going to be the "new normal", it won't matter where she's at any more. (But she got better over the weekend!!!!) (and now she's not better any more). Although today she seemed relatively normal (where yesterday she didn't know where her couch was....) I don't have any idea what to do.

I did, however, talk to my brother and we did come up with a sort-of plan....we (I/DH) are going to try to make it to Nov. 6. At that point, if the Dr. doesn't have any ideas and the confusion is still not ok, we will bring her to that new geriatric psych hospital about an hour away to see if they can improve things at all. (If she has to go somewhere anyhow, might as well start with that)....and then see what they recommend.

And DD's therapist also suggested that I contact Public Health and see if they can help me out a little. I don't really know what they do (Public Health), so I'm a little hesitant to get them involved....it might be another good idea, though....

I'm struggling

Well, DD is home, she came home on Sunday. I have to say that although I thought she was somewhat contrite, her attitude still sucks and I am still having a tough time coming to terms with this whole situation. The hospital recommended "family therapy" with a therapist that does not know me, DH, or DD, but in our rural area, there are only two therapists qualified for this type of therapy, and both are booked out to the end of November. So really, I guess, back to the same old thing.

And my mom. She seemed to be getting better, then yesterday she started to be more confused again. She didn't know who my brother was, didn't know where the bathroom was, told my brother she'd been "up walking around the apartment for hours", although she told him that she had just come back from supper....and it was more of the same today...so I spent the day at the clinic again, hoping that her UTI was back, because that is/was fixable. But nope. They couldn't find anything wrong. They checked her urine, a chest Xray, bloodwork, and an EKG and all came up normal. So what do I think?

I finally, for the very first time, allowed myself to think about the fact that it's probably time for her to move to a nursing home. There's no way she could live at my house, with DD so unstable and the house is only a 2 bedroom....and I work all the time....the nursing home is going to be the only choice. And if there is no medical reason for what we're seeing, well, she can't keep living where she's at. I keep trying to comfort myself by thinking that "if she's confused like this, chances are that the nursing home won't be that big of a change for her", but I'm wrong on that, I know that even if she can't verbalize it, it's not home and is going to suck. When I think about it, I get really really scared. And kind of relieved, too. And panicky. And sad. And guilty. And relieved.

We're going to try to wait a week and see what happens. She has a Dr. appt on Nov. 6, so we'll see what he has to say. I know we're very lucky that my mom has lived where she does for such a long time....the staff are so fond of her, and they don't want her to leave either, so they'll do whatever they can to keep her there....so I think that even if this next week is tough on them, they'll wait to see what the Dr. says....maybe he can change a med and make a difference....I sure hope so....

It's just getting to be too much. I don't have time to recuperate between crises any more. I'm so emotional, and I'm turning into this frustrated angry person I don't like very much. I think I'm starting to accept the fact that unless things stabilize soon, the options are limited.

I hate this. It's so much harder than the books make it out to be. I never imagined.

P.S. DH got his rejection letter from Social Security for his disability claim.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Calm after Crisis

I really don't want to be writing this. Every time I think about it, I feel a little funny and want to put it off, but really, there's nothing that dramatic going on....just me not wanting to think about this past week, that's all....

My mom....she is responding to the antibiotics and is starting to make sense. Last night she stayed in her apartment without DH or me staying with her, so that was good. It's not so good, though, that she's still having anxiety issues and is still thinking that she is covered with poop, or hair or whatever, when she very clearly isn't. She has an appointment with the Dr. on Nov. 7, so we'll see if maybe he can increase some of her anti-anxiety meds so that she isn't so worried.


Still in the psych hospital. I'm still angry with her, but I'm starting to calm down. This is the longest I've ever stayed angry with her. Tomorrow, though, we have a family counseling session at the hospital, so maybe we can work on some things there. Like I need another appointment to go to. (Yep, I'm resentful, too)....anyhow, we're doing that and I'll let you all know how it goes.

I read all your comments about this stuff and I wanted to just respond a little--I am starting to recognize that the hospitalization itself will be a good enough consequence for DD. She is missing out on her visit(s) with bio mom, which is what her tantrum was designed to avoid. Plus, she is missing my nephew's 3rd birthday party on Saturday. She loves my two nephews, and her favorite thing is to go over to their house and play with all their toys with them. So the fact that she is missing that because she did something stupid and can't leave the hospital, that's a natural consequence, too. So I'm feeling much less inclined to come up with any other consequences. Thanks everyone, you were right.

I guess what I need to say is that what it all boils down to is love. And maybe that's something that God wants me to learn. Loving someone isn't just taking the good times and handing the problem(s) off to someone else when it's not so fun any more....and that's the case with my mom, with DD, and, with DH, too. For me, there isn't any question of whether my mom goes into a nursing home, or DD goes into a group home or whatever.

The genuine truth of the matter is, that probably someday my mom will HAVE to go to a more skilled residence. But until that becomes the only option, I will do everything that is within my power to help her avoid that. She's been in her apartment for nearly four years now. No question about it, it's home to her. And her cat, which she'd have to give up if she moved. The staff at the assisted living feel confident that they can meet her needs (with a little help from the family), so I will do whatever I can to make sure that she has the best possible quality and quantity of life.

And probably DD will end up living in a residential group home after she finishes school. It's becoming more and more apparent that unless she gets some huge benefits from this hospitalization, she will not be able to live on her own without significant supports. But right now, I'm her mom, and my job is to keep her safe, teach her skills that will benefit her, and love her. Even when it's harder than I ever imagined. I can't tell you the number of people at work and elsewhere who told me this past week to "get rid of her, she'll be nothing but trouble" etc. Would they say that if she was my bio child? Based on some of the people who've said these kinds of things (relatives), I just don't think so. Because although I don't have bio children, I suspect that my love for her is pretty similar to that.

A lot of bad things happened when DH got sick. And I admit, I still kind of hold a grudge regarding some of those things. But I love him and have stuck it out this far. It's the same principle.

And isn't it sad that every family member that I love so much has a significant mental health issue? That's why I named this blog what I did, by the way....with DD, DH, my mom, and the people I work with at the group home(s), sometimes I wonder what a "normal" person is really like.....

I love my family. And I'm in it for the long haul. But I might complain a lot.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Remind me again why I did this?

As usual lately, it's been a tough week. As usual, crises in our house don't just happen one at a time after a long drought. (big sigh)

I'm furious. I know I have to come back to calm, but I don't believe I have ever in my life been this angry. And that's saying an awful lot.

The assisted living place where my mom lives called me early Saturday morning and told me that my mom had wandered out of her apartment, down the hall, and was found sitting on a bench in the hallway, in a soaking wet nightgown, and had no idea where she was at. The nurses wanted her to be checked again for a UTI, so I brought her in to the clinic and spent the morning there. We knew from last time we did this (not too long ago) that my mom would have a tough time providing a sample, so they used a catheter. I'm sorry if this is too much information, but I knew it was bad when I saw the cloudy urine that was in the tube the nurse was labeling. Sure enough, my mom has a bad UTI.

The doctor really wanted to admit her to the hospital for I.V. antibiotics. I explained that every time my mom is hospitalized, she becomes more confused, takes a step down cognitively, and never really bounces back. So is there any way at all that we could treat this without admitting her? The doctor was understanding, and said we could try, but someone would have to stay with her all the time until she started to think clearly again. I'm willing to do anything to keep her out of the hospital, so that was no problem at all. The doctor wrote out prescriptions for me to have filled in town, because we weren't sure if/when the delivery service that the assisted living uses would be able to deliver on a weekend. So DH was going to stay with my mom while I filled prescriptions and picked up some other things that she needed.

Unfortunately, this meant that DD's visit with her bio mom would have to be postponed. She did not like that idea, and decided to have one of her wonderful screaming-at-the-top-of-her-lungs tantrums. But DH was kind of mood-swingy and stressed about my mom himself, so he told her he didn't have time for her "crap" and he left to meet me at my mom's apartment.

As soon as he walked in, his cell phone rang (mine was in the car). She had decided to cut her damn wrists!!!!!! So I had to run home and deal with that. When I got there, it became VERY clear that this was attention-seeking at its worst. I've had worse paper cuts.

But they were bleeding. I told DD that this was absolutely the most selfish thing she had ever done in her life. I decided that in order to cover my you-know-what, I would have to bring her down to the hospital. They put a 72 hour hold on her and cent her to a mental health unit in the City. 2 hours away. And "a parent has to be there to sign the admission papers."

By this time she had figured out that it wasn't going to be fun, and she told me she felt better and could we just go home, and I told her "No, you did this. The doctor thinks that a kid who hurts their self like this needs to go to the hospital, and there's nothing I can do about it now." She got really contrite and started telling me how sorry she was. Huh.

So. After convincing the doctor that I really really needed to go and get the prescription filled for my mom while we waited for the ambulance to take DD to the City, I took a half hour to get that done. Then I quick ran home to potty dogs, and make sure food bowls weren't empty. And then I went back to the hospital.

After they left, I drove to the city to sign the stupid papers. I was three hours late to work (for which I won't get paid), plus out gas money AND parking money for the hospital. PLUS, at a time when my mom is having a health crisis, DH wound up having to stay with her, because he was too angry and stressed to deal with DD at all.

And I don't blame him. Today, I didn't call the hospital or go there. I am so angry with her, this stupid, childish, drama-stunt has done nothing but make me and DH much more stressed at an already very stressful time.

I talked to the psych nurse on Saturday night, and she was pretty firmly of the opinion that this was attention seeking behavior. So she was not suicidal (that was my suspicion all along). Just drama.

There is a "family meeting" at the mental hospital tomorrow. At that point, since she really is not suicidal, they might request that the 72 hour hold be dropped and send her home with me. If I was one speck less of a person, I'd tell them to keep her.

I am so angry with her, I don't want to talk to her. Or, I do want to talk to her, but the things I want to say are not allowed to be said in our house. I am really having a hard time coming down from this anger. And I don't know what, if any consequences she should receive for this. The logical parenting part of me says that the hospitalization was the consequence, and that's enough. But the angry disgusted part of me wants to drive the point home that this was terribly wrong, an awful and selfish way to try to get her own way. Oh, and you can bet tthat she'll be "bragging" about this to the kids at school, how she "slit her wrists", etc....she'll turn it into something even bigger than it was, and of course none of it will be her fault at all..... So right now, if you could see me, there'd probably be steam coming out of my ears.

Kindhearted suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kirby Puppy: 1993-2009

I hope none of you mind too much, I think I really need to tell you about my dog.

In May of 1993, I became a homeowner for the very first time. Shortly thereafter, I decided I needed a dog. I had a fenced in yard, parks nearby for walking....it was a great idea. Since I wanted to make a good decision, I researched dog breeds diligently. I wanted a male dog, because in my small yard, I preferred not to have brown spots on the lawn. I wanted an active dog, one where I could be active and feel like I was doing it for the dog. I wanted a dog that was a little unusual-looking. And I wanted a shorter-haired dog, because I didn't want to mess around with the grooming thing.

I narrowed my choices down to an Australian Cattle Dog or a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. I vacillated between the two and couldn't make up my mind. It seemed, from what I could tell, that neither breed was very common in our area.

But one day, there in the newspaper, was someone with Australian Cattle Dog pups. 1/2 ACD, to be exact, and I never did find out what the other half was. I went to this farm, and there were 6 puppies. The cutest ones, of course, the ones that looked like the dog of my dreams, were all female, and so I was having to decide what to do. Then, the lady showing me the puppies said, "Well...there is one more puppy, he's in the house....but we don't think he'll be very good with children...."
I said, "I don't have children" and asked to see him. Of course it was meant to be.

I brought my puppy home with me and on my way home stopped by mom mom's house to show her. I remember putting the puppy down in the grass and the grass was taller than he was!!! He was such a cutie!!!!

It was quite a while (about two or three weeks) before I came up with a name for the puppy--nothing seemed to fit. But as I got to know him better, well, he really really liked to play ball. And the Minnesota Twins had a player at that time, Kirby Puckett, who was an amazing ball player. It wasn't an "Ah-hah!" moment or anything like that, I called him Kirby Puppy because nothing else really fit at all.

I had wanted an active dog, and Kirby was that, for sure. In fact, I would walk him at least twice a day, and play with him in the yard (this was back when I had more time than ever) and he still just would not get tired. I started to think that maybe I had made a mistake and maybe an "active" dog wasn't such a good idea. I was sure getting my exercise, though, and I loved that dog!!!

I decided that "just in case" I couldn't keep him and he wound up at a shelter, I would bring him to obedience school--that would make him more marketable. It was right around this time that Kirby started to become dog-aggressive. On our walks, he was trying to start fights. In obedience school, he was trying to start fights. I got him neutered. It didn't make a difference. For his entire life, Kirby thought that he should be the only dog allowed to be alive in the universe, unless he gave his special doggy permission (like he did with the other dogs who joined our family eventually). The obedience instructor(s) would give me tips on both wearing him out, and on curbing the dog-aggression. One idea that I liked was agility classes, where dogs run an obstacle course. We both really liked agility classes, but I got more exercise than the other owners, because they were letting their dogs off leash and directing them to run the course. I had to run the course alongside Kirby, because if I let him off leash, he would immediately try to start a fight with another dog.

Unfortunately, though Kirby was in obedience school and agility classes for about five years, he never lost his dog-aggression. I did, however, learn to be watchful, and could command him to do a "down!" command (a submissive position for a dog) when another dog got too close. Maybe if I had known more about dogs at the time, things could have been a little less aggressive, I don't know! But we both enjoyed the classes anyhow, although I'm sure the instructors kind of cringed when we showed up every week....

Despite his dog-aggression, Kirby proved to be the kindest, gentlest dog towards other creatures that I could ever imagine. He would snuggle with kittens, let them climb on him. He would let a cat stand right under his front legs to take dog food out of his bowl! And the bunny. I had a rabbit named Cadbury, who was an inside "house rabbit". She was litter box trained, and very sweet. While I was at work, she lived in a huge dog crate, but when I was around to supervise, Cadbury had free run of the house (she needed supervision because she chewed on cords a lot). Every night before bed, I'd tell Kirby "Ok, time for bed." and he would very gently "herd" that bunny back into her cage. He knew what his job was.

Along the way I ended up taking in a stray lab/pitbull cross, "Megan". Megan was (and still is) the sweetest dog. She doesn't jump on people, doesn't lick people, all she does is snuggle. And most of the time she is very submissive. She's about 12 now, and I've learned that she is NOT submissive when she believes she is being attacked. One day, Kirby and Megan were in the backyard with me. I had bought them each a rawhide bone and they were each chewing on theirs. But Megan got bored and stood up to come over to me. She had to walk past Kirby to get there. Kirby, being who he was, decided that she was going to take his rawhide, and attacked. I have never experienced such a dog fight, it was terrible. I was smart enough to not get involved, but it became pretty clear that if I didn't do something, one of the dogs would lose badly....so I used a shovel to get to dogs apart, and when it was done, Kirby's ear had been mostly ripped off. We went to the vet and got stitches, and then he was a mostly one-eared dog. I was much more careful about treats after that. I had no idea that something like that could happen. I guess I was pretty naive.

Kirby was the perfect bedtime doggie. Every night he'd climb into bed with me, and we'd have a snuggle, then he'd go down by my feet for a few minutes, and then he'd jump down and sleep at the foot of the bed. He was so loyal, unless he was chasing a tennis ball, he would never leave my side (almost), if he had a choice. In fact, in one of our obedience classes, I was supposed to tell Kirby to "stay!" and I was supposed to walk out of the room. Of course every time I started to go out of his sight, he ran to catch up to me. So then the instructor held on to his leash while I said "stay!" and walked out of the room. And he just cried and yelped like he was getting tortured....it was kind of pathetic. After that we kind of adapted that part of the class (we did a lot of adapting, I guess :-) )

Tennis balls. They were Kirby's "drug of choice". He would chase a tennis ball until he couldn't stand up any more. Sometimes I would take him to a lake and he would swim after the tennis ball. He was usually afraid of the water. He would never swim on his own, but if there was a tennis ball involved, he was right there.
The agility instructors saw how crazy he was for a tennis ball and thought that Kirby might be a good flyball dog, but once again, Kirby's dog aggression prevented him from this activity....

When I met DH, he suggested that for our first "real date", we would go to a state park a few hours away for a picnic. I told him that I didn't think I could, because I had to let Kirby out. DH said, "Well bring him with!" So I did. (I didn't have Megan yet). It was a really pretty park, lots of hiking trails and woods, and since I knew that Kirby would stay close by, I let him off the leash. We walked along a small lake that was at the bottom of an approximately 20-foot waterfall, then we took a path upstream more, to a shallow part of the river. I walked to the shore of the river to see if there were any minnows or tadpoles in the water, and Kirby did, too. DH and I kept walking, and I was so engrossed in conversation with him that I didn't notice that Kirby wasn't with me any more. All of a sudden, another couple came up: "Excuse me, I think your dog just went over the waterfall!" Oh what a feeling in my gut. I had seen the rocks at the bottom of the waterfall. I didn't know even where in the lake to look for him, let alone to save him, and I had visions of a first date gone horribly wrong....DH later confessed that he wondered if I'd ever see him again if my dog died on our first date....I started to cry....and all of a sudden, Kirby Puppy ran out of the lake with his tail wagging, shaking off the water with a big "Let's do that again!" grin on his puppy face....I can't even express how relieved and happy I was....I kept him on the leash after that....I'm a slow learner but I do learn....

Kirby had his bad habits....he never outgrew them--like digging in the garbage. Even two days before he died, he spread the garbage all over the kitchen floor. He would go for months without doing it, then all of a sudden he'd decide he needed to remind us that he still could do that. And shredding stuffed animals. You know those "stuffies" that they sell at the pet store? Well, early on, Kirby learned how to get his teeth into them and shred them. If they had a squeaker, that was even better--the squeaker was always the first to go. Even tennis balls, in his later years, got shredded. He would somehow get all the fuzz off of the tennis ball, and when there was no more fuzz, he'd kind of chomp on the tennis ball in his mouth, until the tennis ball broke apart at the seams.

And he was always so afraid of thunder. It got to when he heard it raining, he would get scared and try to hide under the bed. I always felt so bad!

But he always was so gentle. When we had baby chicks, he would gently nudge them with his nose and lick them. When one of our animals was sick, he was right there, ready to comfort...

When he was 11, he started limping. A trip to the vet brought bad news: a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament)--fixable, but pretty expensive. I wondered if I was being smart, paying for the surgery for a dog that was already, by most standards, "elderly", but I did. I'm glad I did, because he had five more good years after that. After his surgery, though, I started to notice his age more. He didn't run as much, and slept more. About two years ago, he became almost completely deaf. At first I thought that was a sad thing, but then I realized he could no longer hear the thunderstorms that terrified him, and that was a great thing. Sometimes I still wondered, though, if Kirby ever wondered why nobody ever talked to him any more....

Last April the vet told me that Kirby probably had cancer. Since by then he was 16, and combined with my financial situation, there really wasn't a realistic hope of a meaningful recovery, so I opted to just keep on going like we had been. I knew his kidneys were failing too, but he was still eating well and walking down to the mailbox with me on occasion....sometimes, when he had been outside and he suddenly spied me in the yard, he'd still come running, his one ear flopping up and down....

And like I said, even a couple of days before he died, he was getting into the garbage....I knew the day was coming, but I guess you're never ready. I loved that dog so much!!!!! Sometimes I still can't believe he's gone. My dog....my dog.....