Friday, February 27, 2009

Duck in a Truck

My ducks are just noisy lawn ornaments....but I loved this video....

Taking a deep breath...

Tonite, everything seems to be getting back to normal. I'm a little more confident that my mom will be ok in her apartment. The staff there seem to be confident that they can support her in the ways that she needs. And that's a huge relief. My mom is the only elderly person I know. So while her condition seems rather shocking to me, I guess the assisted living people see it more often than I know. I'm grateful in a weird way.

DD apologized for getting upset when I didn't want her to read Anne Rice. I'm sure there are other people out there who might disagree, but DD's maturity level is only of a 10 or 11 year old. For the most part, I don't have problems with anything she wants to read. I just want to encourage her to read, that's all. But I just don't think she's ready to read about adult situations like that. I know that there's also a chance that she might REALLY want to read Anne Rice, now that I've said "no". It's a tough call, for sure. But DD seems to have accepted it, at least to my face.

DH has been a little off today. I'm not sure if it's good or bad. He called me and sounded like he was mood swinging. I know he was angry that I didn't leave him any money when I went to work. And then we had a snowstorm and I didn't go home. And he was out of cigarettes. I think he wanted me to be more sympathetic or something. Somehow he talked his mom into wiring him $40. But I think he's still mad at me for not offering to run right home (90 miles) to make sure he had smokes. he did tell me, also, that he wants to be useful again, that he wants to work. But his reasons for wanting to work weren't the ones I was hoping for--instead of saying "I'm sick of you working two jobs while I sit around at home." or "I'd like to help you out.", he said, "I'm sick of not having my own money." "I want to go to the City and buy some stuff for my guitar. But I don't have any money or gas, so it'd be a waste." I wanted to say something about that, but I bit my tongue, because it sounded like he was already mood swinging.

But then, when I talked to him a little later, he told me that he cleaned the bathroom, gave Molly her ear drops (for yet another ear infection) and did laundry. He hasn't done that much around the house for a long time. So I'm not sure what to think. I think that Abilify is kind of subtle--I'm seeing changes, but they're not the in-your-face changes that we saw with the Lithium. All in all, I guess things sure could be a lot worse.

So I'm just going to breathe and soak up my little bit of normalness for tonite.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

One crisis at a time, please....

Well, I haven't been writing, because I've been staying with my mom. It's really tough to see her like that--she's so unsure of herself--although she does seem to get a little better each day...tonite is the very first night that DH or I am not staying with her. We are going to see how things go without us. I am hoping and praying that everything goes ok. And I'm afraid that even if it does, I need to start looking at other options for her as far as living goes. Here's what I heard tonite, when i called her:

Me: Are you going to watch the president?
Mom: Yes, what channel is he on?
Me: He's probably on all the channels, I think if you just turn on the TV you won't have to worry about a channel (she hasn't remembered how any of the buttons on her remote work except the on/off yet)
Me: If I remember right, I left the remote right next to your phone.
Mom: Oh, there it is!
Me: Did you turn the TV on?
Mom: Nothing's happening.
Me: Did you point it at the TV?
Mom: What? Oh. No, I didn't. Nothing's still happening.
Me: Are you sure you're pointing it at the TV?
Mom: Where's the TV?
Me: Right there by the big window.
Mom: The big window?
Me: I think you should just call a helper, because it sounds like you're getting stressed out.
Mom: Ok! I can do that!

A month ago, she would've been telling me "I've been changing channels all night, there's nothing on but sports!" The change is very scary. And I can't imagine, that if she declines much from this point, that they could care for her well at her assisted living place. So, I think, unless I just completely assume that she would be going back to the nursing home where she just got out of, I need to look at other possibilities and get her on a waiting list for some of them, if that seems like something we should do.

I'm very relieved to be at work and knowing that I will be able to sleep in my own bed. But I'm worried that things won't go well there. I hope everything goes relatively smoothly....

And DD. Yesterday, she came home in tears, saying that some girls on the school bus said she smelled bad, and sprayed perfume on her "to make her smell better". So I had to call the school and get them tuned in to the potential bullying situation. For once, I believe that DD was telling the truth and not being dramatic. And the school took it very seriously, too.

And then....yes, there's a "then", of course! DH was telling me that he took DD to the library. DD gets on the phone and says, "Mom, I checked out an Anne Rice book on tape, and it's so creepy!!!" Instant mom alert. Anne Rice. THE Anne Rice? The one who writes erotic stuff about vampires? Yup. Definitely not suitable for a 15-year-old special needs kid. So there was a mini-meltdown when I told Dad to take it away from her. "But MOM!!! It's NOT THAT BAD!!! This one is ONLY about vampires, nothing else!" Yup, and Playboy is ONLY about the international news articles....Luckily, Dad could read from the back of the case that it probably was not "just about vampires"...

Oh--and the last thing? Not necessarily a crisis, but DH told me "I don't like my life." "I think the Abilify is working, and I am seeing my life more clearly. And I don't like what I see. I'm a lazy piece of sh**."

I'm not sure where we're going with that one. Hopefully it will motivate him to do something about that. He talked (for the first time in AGES) about volunteering. Maybe where my mom lives. Maybe at the nursing home. But he hates to see people suffering, so maybe not. I suggested the food shelf. I think he's still thinking about that one. Cross your fingers. These last couple of weeks have been nearly miraculous, in the way that he has been helping me with my mom. I have been amazed on a daily basis. So here's hoping that the amazement continues.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Do you want the bad news, or the bad news?

Hi everyone, I'm sorry I've been absent lately from this blog--my mom was released from the rehab unit of the nursing home, she is back in her assisted living apartment now. However, there are about a zillion hoops that I have to jump through to make things right....first, I had to find a "LARGE, TOUCHABLE, DECORATION" for her door....ok....I managed to find a heart-shaped pinata at WalMart. Then, since they aren't allowing "ANY" alarms, I had to try to find something that wasn't an alarm but could be used as one. I'm still trying to work on that. They required that "someone" stay with her 24/7 for the "first few days", so when I'm not working, I've been there. When I've been working, so far, DH has been there, but I don't know how long I can expect him to keep doing that....I'm hoping that by this weekend we'll feel more comfortable with her being at home again....I am so stressed out!!!

When my mom first got back to her assisted living, they asked me if I was going to continue to set up her pills, even though THEY were going to administer them from now on. I asked what the cost was, and they said $70/month to have THEM set up her pills. So I said, "I've been doing it for three years, it's no big deal." Ok. Settled, right? Nope. Then the nurse leaves a message for me: "I just set up your mom's pills and it took me 2 hours. I highly recommend that you have us set them up." So I called back and said, "I've been setting them up for three years. It takes me about 15 minutes, plus the call-in time for refills. They haven't changed. I'm ok with it." Settled, right? Nope!!! THEN, I got a message that "if you, Carol, set up the pills, and WE administer them, and if you made a mistake, then we could be liable." Ok, then. I don't want to cause a big scene, I'm just trying to maneuver through all this crap. I say we'll pay the stupid $70. But I had already dropped off the prescriptions at the pharmacy, so I would pick them up tomorrow and pass them on to the nurse. Not a problem, right? Of course there's a problem!!! They use a different pharmacy. They CANNOT use the pills from the pharmacy where I have already dropped off the prescriptions. No way. No how. So I have to go in tomorrow to the pharmacy and cancel the prescriptions. "THEY" (the nurses at the assisted living) have warned me that the pharmacist is not pleased to lose this business. Well, duh. It's a stupid reason to lose business. I feel bad. We've dealt with that pharmacy for ages. In a small town, that's a big deal.

If my mom didn't love her apartment so much, and if it wasn't just 4 miles away from my house, and if I wasn't afraid of making her dementia worse than it already is, I would be looking for a new place for her after all this stupidity. But I am going to bend over backwards to make it work, because right now, it's what my mom needs, regardless of how stupid they are. I cannot believe the stupidity. Unfathomable.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I think the Abilify is working. DH is doing a lot more, and whining a lot less (maybe I need some, too, huh? LOL). He has been spending time with my mom when I've been working, and that has really helped, too. The thing that sucks about that is that he has been trying to make decisions again and they are not usually well-thought-out, although they are well-intentioned. He's been giving away things to DD's Personal Care Attendant, things that he hasn't asked me about. He's been making parenting decisions regarding DD again, and not telling me about them, let alone discussing them with me. And here's my recent frustration:

We got our taxes done. Getting back a reasonable refund. DH did not work at all this year, except that stupid maintenance thing at those apartments, where he made a total of $1800, and the tax preparation for that "job", was $300! (Because he was considered self-employed)! Anyhow, every day he has asked me if the refund showed up yet (I had it direct-deposited into my bank account). This morning when I called him, I said "Hi", and he said, "Are we rich yet?" That really got my goat, because it feels like he is just waiting to get his hands on that money. Made me crabby, and I didn't really need a lot of help there. So I called the bank, and, sure enough, it was in there. Yay!!! That money, or at least the part of it that isn't going to be used to catch up on bills that have been sitting, is going into my savings account so that later this spring, we can pay for our roof repair/replacement. So it's already earmarked. But I knew that DH's tabs on his truck were expired last month, so I gave him $60--$40 for the tabs and $20 for gas and cigs. I figured that was plenty. After all, it's not like he has to drive to work every day or whatever....I just talked to him. He told me that he got gas and cigs. I said, "And you got your tabs, too, right?" And he said, "Well, I don't think there's enough for tabs any more." I got angry and he told me that he filled up one entire tank of his truck instead of getting tabs. I said, "Well, that was your decision, I guess." And left it at that. But I'm really angry and disappointed. So now what happens when he gets a ticket because he was stupid? I'll get stuck bailing him out AGAIN.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Care Conference

I wanted to update you on what was discussed at my mom's Care Conference (a meeting where everyone involved with her gives input as to what the next steps to take are).

The conference was on Wednesday, but for some reason I didn't feel like writing about it that day. So you're stuck with slightly late information, but don't worry, you didn't miss much!

Everyone went around the room and talked about the progress my mom has been making in the rehab unit (she's building up strength, remembering a little more, going to activities....) and it was discussed that she got a 19 on a Mini-MME test. I know what that test is, it measures her cognitive ability. I'm not really sure what the 19 means, as far as how bad is she, but that was on the very first day that she was in the nursing home, too, and so I'm sure things have gotten somewhat better since then....and on some test that they do to check a person's balance, I guess they determined that my mom is at risk for falling. That was kind of shocking, as she never wanted to use her walker at all, even after breaking her hip, and she seemed to do pretty well. So apparently she's not doing as well in that regard as I thought she was.

Then, they asked me what I thought. I told them that I thought that the assisted living apartments could probably provide the care she needs, with the exception of the security thing. My mom wandered into someone else's apartment, confused. She also (according to her), "opened up a big door, but it was really really cold, so I closed it.", which means that she was on the brink of being outside in -20 weather. If she had gone outside, she wouldn't have been able to go back in, as the entry/exit doors are secure, so you need a key to get in (my mom doesn't use a key, because the only time she ever leaves the apartment, she is with someone who has one)...anyhow....

I made the point that even though I don't think it'll happen again, there is always a chance. And knowing that, we need to have some kind of system in place to make sure that if it does happen again, someone will know right away, like an alarm that signals a pager or something. They are not sure if that is allowed or not, going to find out. I said we would pay for it, that seemed to help a little....

Anyhow, nothing really came of the Care Conference, except that the physical and occupational therapists are going to start working with my mom in her own apartment to see how she does there. I hope she does ok. I really do.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

That sound in his voice....

Me: Hello, this is Carol...

DH: Hi, it's me.

Me: Oh, what've you been up to?

DH: Well, DD and I are heading over to the nursing home to visit your mom.

Me: Oh that sounds great!!

DH: I got her a hot cocoa, like I did last time.

Me: Oh, she'll like that. She likes anything sweet these days.

Me: So what was your day like?

DH: Well, I've had better.

Me: Oh. What went wrong?

DH: I can't discuss it with you right now, I'll tell you about it later.

Me: Oh, ok. Because I think you've got that "spending" sound in your voice again.

DH: What???!!! Well, that's an interesting thought. Remind me of that later.

DH: Because I think you might be right.

Me: Really???

DH: Yeah. How do you know that???

Me: I have no idea. Probably wife telepathy or something.

DH: Well, I'll call you back later and tell you more about it.

Me: Ok, talk to you later, bye.

He only said one sentence to me and I could tell he either had gone out to spend money (since I know his mom sent him money for cigarettes) on stupid stuff, or that he wanted to go out and spend money on stupid stuff. And I think it's been a while on this, so I could tell the difference in his voice right away. Even though it's me recognizing this, it kind of freaks me out that I can tell.

I hope that having money in his pocket is what put him into this mood, I really hope....I'm a little afraid that the Abilify might be doing something bad. And I'm a little bit worried that I might be too sensitive and probably shouldn't worry about this too much until I have more to worry about....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Abilify and the bipolar hubby...

Well, I accompanied DH to his appointment with the pdoc. The pdoc is the one who first put DH on Lithium and we saw such big changes...so I have a lot of faith in the guy. Anyhow, I told him that DH was sleeping more, doing less, having more depressive thoughts than he had been there for a time. He's still doing REALLY GOOD compared to how he was about a year ago, but for a while he was doing better than this, so I thought the pdoc needed to know.

Anyhow, deciding what to do was made significantly more difficult because DH, despite having several appointments scheduled, has not gone to get his lithium blood levels checked since October!!! Same with his thyroid. So either of those (or something else, even) could ultimately be the cause of what we're seeing, but we don't know for sure. DH actually had another appointment today for blood work, but he missed that one, too.

So the pdoc suggested Abilify. Supposedly it kind of gives anti-depressants a kick in the rear. It's a small dose, 5mg. From what I saw when I looked online, it can help improve concentration and motivation to someone who is already on some other antidepressant(s). DH is on Effexor XR as his antidepressant, and he is also on Seroquel, Lamictal and (of course) Lithium. I'm not yet sure what to think of the Abilify. I'm hopeful. It sounds like it could be very helpful.

We also found a brochure in the pdocs waiting room, regarding a jobs program for disabled workers, and it is not the same program that he has been working with. So I am hopeful about that, too, although DH still has to make the phone call...

Anyhow, today I asked DH if he thought the Abilify was doing anything yet. He said no. I really didn't expect much, I know most drugs take more than a day to work. But with the Lithium I was seeing a changed person after about three days, so I was just hoping....DH still complained about being tired, and not having any motivation...but...

Let me tell you about this: One of our animals somehow got through the vet visit without apparently being diagnosed with ear mites. I'm thinking that it was probably Twilight, our black kitty, who came into our house as a pregnant stray last year. Since evidence of earmites (without a microscope anyways) is black yuck in the ears, we didn't see it, and apparently neither did the vet when he did her leukemia test and later spayed her. That's all I can figure, as it is routine when I bring a "new" cat in there, that they automatically check for ear mites, so I don't know what happened....anyhow, I've been noticing a lot of scratching going on in our house. And some black yuck in ears. One cat brought to the vet had ear mites. And that was a cat that we had had for quite some time, so we had a multi-cat problem. Sigh...anyhow, the vet offers two remedies for this. First, Revolution, which is like a flea spot-on that also kills ear mites, and Second, their run-of-the-mill put-drops-in-ears ear mite medicine. My first choice would definitely be the Revolution. Way easier and more dependable. But to treat our household it would be $300. To buy the other medicine to treat our household would be about $25. So, budget being what it was, I opted for the cheaper one....which requires each animal to get drops in each ear every day for four days straight. And then we get to do it again in 3 weeks. We started yesterday. I don't think any of the animals were thrilled with the whole thing. I know I wasn't.

I was planning on coming home from work tonite to do them again. But DH just called me to tell me that he did them, every single one!!! And in his next sentence, he was "going to see what he could find to do for a while." I know it's probably too early to blame the Abilify, but whatever it is, I like it!

Monday, February 9, 2009

I might be losing my grip....

I'm really concerned about me lately. I'm worried that all of these stressful things are just coming out to be way too much for my little brain to handle all at once. Last night I worked the overnight (as usual) and I was so tired driving the 30 miles home, I missed the turn-off onto our road, I think, because I was dozing and didn't see it!

But that's not the worst part, by any stretch. I made it home, and I pulled into the driveway with the milk and misc other things I had stopped for on the way home. DH's brother's car was there--the one who got divorced because his wife was cheating on him?

Anyhow, I have known for a couple of weeks now that he is rather depressed, even a year after the situation, and he has decided to move to Ohio to stay with some friends of his. He cannot be dissuaded from this. He thinks things will be better there. I hope they are, but have my doubts....anyhow....so his car was in the driveway. Actually, I had known that he was coming SOMETIME today (Sunday) because DH had helped him clear out his apartment and a bunch of furniture and odds-n-ends came back to our house. DH's brother was coming up to help unpack and rearrange, purportedly so that DH didn't hurt his back.

Anyhow, I was just so tired, and I walked into the house and DH met me at the door. I had picked up some things at the store that I had told him I wasn't going to, so I said to him, "I got you a present!" And showed him what I'd gotten him (some pot pies--which I usually don't buy because he eats four of them at a time, and at that point, they aren't economical any more-- and a 2-liter of pop) And he found two cookies in my bag that were left over from my work and put them in his pocket. I told him he could have them, I just didn't care. Then DD came out and asked me if SHE could have them. I told her no. I just didn't want to deal with it. And she got this hurt look on her face, and it was probably more than a little justified. I was suddenly SO INEXPLICABLY CRABBY!!! Then they were both half teasing and half serious, and said, "Well, what else did you get us?" I had also gotten DH and DD each a little box of those candy hearts, you know, with the words on them (.33 cents) for Valentines day and they were in one of the bags, and DH started digging through the bags and I just started biting his head off. I grabbed the bags, told him that if I hadn't already given it to him, he needed to leave it alone, and that I needed to go to bed. Then I stormed into the bedroom and went to bed. But I couldn't sleep. I was extremely embarrassed by my outburst.

I'm usually so quiet. I don't know what got into me. I laid there for a while, with my heart pounding, thinking "what was that all about?" I still don't really know. I suspect it has something to do with me coming home to a house that was messier than when I left, and two permanent people over the age of 14 being there the whole time and can't do anything....see? There I go again!!! I NEVER do this!!!

I hate to think of what DH's brother thinks of me now....what a shrew!

Friday, February 6, 2009

My mom had a busy day!

I called my mom, and she sounded very good. I asked her what she had been up to, and she said, "Well, I had that therapy this morning..." So I kind of repeated it after her, and said, "Oh! So you had therapy!" And she said, "yes, quite a lot of it!" And then she added: "But then we had to have lunch. And I went to that exercise class again, too. And what do you call it? There was a music program and they were playing old church songs. I went to that too."

I am so incredibly relieved. I don't know if it's the new "memory pills" (Aricept and Namenda--both for Alzheimer's) that the neurologist added, or if the Benadryl is just getting out of her system, but either way, I'm feeling a lot more hopeful than I was last week.

I told her that I had been told that there will be a "care conference" next Wednesday, where the staff at her assisted living place and the staff at the nursing home (and my mom and me) all get together and discuss where we go from here. I am very much hoping that she can go back to her apartment. But I didn't say anything about that to my mom, I haven't said much about the possibility of her not being able to go back there....but anyhow, when I told her that we were going to have this "care conference", she said,

"What will be, will be."


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My phone call

RINGGGGG!!!!!!!!!! RINGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!

Me: Hello, this is Carol speaking...

DH: Hi. It's me.

Me: What've you been up to?

DH: Nothing.

Me: So you've just been sitting there?

DH: Yeah.

Me: You don't sound like you're doing very good.

DH: I'm not. Did you get something to eat? I could bring you something...

Me: It's 90 miles away. It would be silly for you to drive 90 miles to bring me something to eat, when I've got some ramen right here...

DH: Well, I just want to see you, that's all....

Me: Have you tried to figure out what's going on?

DH: It feels like something serious, like really bad....like I'm going to have a breakdown.

Me: What do you think is causing this? (I'm thinking the stress of my mom's illness and him forcing himself to go and visit her, even when it upsets him....)

DH: I think it's because I didn't take my pills yesterday morning.

Me: (silence) Oh. I see.

DH: So what should I bring you?

Me: Well, you know what I think you should do?


Me: Well, that's about right.

DH: But then I won't get any cleaning done or anything...

Me: What are the odds of you getting any cleaning done anyhow?


Me: So why don't you take your nighttime pills, and do "SOMETHING" until they kick in and you need to go to sleep?

DH: Oh, I guess so....I'll call you in a little while. I love you.

Me: I love you too. Bye

DH: Bye

All things in moderation....

During this entire time with my mom, DH has been wonderful--helping out at home more, going to visit her when I am working, everything that you could imagine to help. So I warned him, "Don't put yourself under so much stress that your mental health is in danger."

He said, "I have to! She's FAMILY!"

Me: So am I, and so is DD. And we are going to suffer big time, if you have a setback.

DH: What do you mean?

Me: If you get so stressed out that you can't help around the house like you have been, or worse, if you end up in the hospital again, you are not helping anyone, and in fact, you are making a lot of peoples' lives more full of worry. Missing one or two visits with my mom is not going to make her better or worse. But it might be the difference between stability and instability with you.


Me: This is s signal to me that you are already not thinking rationally. Please use your common sense and try to understand what I'm saying.

Well...now he's stopped helping around the house. And he's been watching more TV. And not wanting to take his meds. I'm sure the stress of the situation has been part of it...but it's an "all or nothing" thing for him--either he devotes every waking moment to the crisis, or he doesn't. Moderation seems to be a harder thing to come by....and I guess with DH's illness, that's a big part of things, isn't it? If he could do "all things in moderation", well, then we wouldn't have much of an illness, would we?

My mom seems to be a little more stable. Nobody really has a good explanation of what might have happened. She's not crying so much, and she's getting braver about trying things at the nursing home (yesterday we did an exercise class, and it was fun!) and she seems more hopeful that she could possibly be going back to her apartment soon...I was comfortable enough to where yesterday I only spent about an hour with her and then I went home and did about eight loads of laundry, instead of worrying about her being there and scared and lonely...I think that if she does end up having to stay in the nursing home, that aside from not having her cat, it will be familiar enough to not be scary. Even in the exercise class, I saw several people I knew--who used to live in my mom's assisted living complex, but who have moved to the nursing home....so she would have some familiar faces....but of course I'm praying that it doesn't come to that....