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.....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A very sad and blessed day

I can't believe this. Nobody EVER has a day like this, EVER. Except me.

Last night, I left work early (1am) and took a couple of hours of vacation time so that I could get a little sleep before I had to be at DD's IEP (Individualized Education Plan--for Special Ed) meeting with all of her teachers/caseworkers/etc at 7:15am (they schedule these meetings before school so that all the important people can attend without disrupting their classes.) They have this meeting once or twice a year (once if she does ok, twice if she needs to have her goals adjusted) and I always go. Not too big of a deal, I could get home at 3 or 3:30, sleep until 6:45, go to the meeting and then go home and go back to bed for a couple of hours before I had to leave for work.

So I went home from work at 1am. Unfortunately, I was still very tired from Wednesday morning (my mom's Dr. appointment), which also disrupted my sleep. I try very hard not to do things like this two days in a row, but neither meeting was at all negotiable, so I was just going to bite the bullet. But when I got about 2/3 of the way home from work, I recognized that I was dozing off while driving. This happens every so often, and I've got places pre-selected along the way that are well-lit and populated, where I can pull in and take a mini-nap, so that I don't hurt anyone on the road. So I pulled into the WalMart parking lot. I was SO tired!

I turned off my car, but left the radio on, like I always do. I know my dad always told me not to do that, but I only nap for about 15-20 minutes, and I've never had a problem at all....anyhow, I woke up from my nap and went to start my car to go home (about 30 miles) and it made this noise like a little machine gun and then wouldn't start. And wouldn't start. So I called DH, who, luckily, was awake, and by some miracle had enough money to put enough gas in his car to drive 30 miles, and he came to get me. I was absolutely dreading having my car towed.

DH listened and thought it sounded like a dead battery. He took a look and it was like my battery was leaking out of the top of it, there was acid all over it and crystals and yucky stuff. He got the car to run after he jumped it. But with all that mess all over, I knew I was going to have to get a new battery, so I had to buy one at WalMart ($85.00 that I didn't have at all--something's gonna bounce, I think, but I guess you do what you have to do....) DH followed me home and told me that while I took his car to DD's meeting, he would install my new battery. I went inside and let Kirby (our dog, age 16) out to go potty, and everything was normal. By this time, though, it was 6am. I took a little "nap" until 6:45, and went to the meeting. No surprises there. Meeting got done, I headed home.

When I was about a half mile away from home, DH called on my cell phone, he asked me where I was, and he sounded upset. He said, "Kirby's having a seizure! Please hurry home!" So I got home and Kirby was still having a seizure on the floor. Blood was coming out of his mouth. Shortly after he arrived, he stopped having the seizure, but he was unconscious. DH picked him up and we rushed him to the vet. At the vets, he kind of came to a little, he kept trying to stand up, but he couldn't make his muscles work. And he was wheezing and panting. I know dogs can get "funny" after a seizure, so I wasn't sure if maybe we should just bring him home and see how he did, but the vet took an X Ray and saw that there were tumors in Kirby's lungs. Kirby kept trying to stand up, but he had no idea where he was going. I was holding his chest up so that he wouldn't fall, because his legs still couldn't support his weight, and he "walked" himself right into a corner, with his head in the corner and he didn't even seem to realize it. Then the vet went to listen to his heart and lungs again and he started to whimper. DH and I recognized that it was time. We both cried. Kirby left this world at about 11:30am. I miss him so much.

I still had to go to work, because I had to fill out my time card or I wouldn't get paid. But I called my boss and told her that I couldn't come in at the moment, and that I'd be in later.

I couldn't sleep. I still had to check on my mom, and I told her about Kirby, since she was the first member of my family to meet him on the day I got him, way back in 1993. My mom was still really down. I was kind of hoping that she would see that I really needed her, but all she kept saying was that it was her fault (she hadn't seen Kirby in probably 3 years, so I have no idea how that would work) but she did hug me a lot.

So here I am at work. No sleep, missing my dog, missing my mom.

You know, sometimes I really can empathize with Job (in the Bible) and all of the bad things that happened to him. I mean, how many "emergency" "couldn't possibly be avoided or put off" problems can a person get in a week, when they don't possibly have a way to pay for them? And couldn't we just have one bad thing happen at a time, instead of several?

Some day I would like to be able to write a post where all sorts of miraculous things went right.

Or....maybe that's this post. Really. Here's what I'm talking about, now that I think about it....

1) If DD did not have that meeting scheduled for so early this morning, I would've stayed at my friend Anita's house in the city last night and not been anywhere close to home when Kirby needed me, and I may have been two hours away from home when my car broke down. But since I had to be in town at 7:15 anyhow, I drove home.

2) I have a two-hour commute through some very rural areas, some of which do not have a cell phone signal and my car chose to die in a WalMart parking lot, where I could go inside to warm up (it was 40*F), and where they were open at 4am for me to buy a new battery.

3) Yesterday (Wednesday), my mom's appointment made me run so late that I didn't have time to pick up DH's Seroquel from the pharmacy. Because of that, he didn't have any Seroquel to "knock him out" last night. He didn't sleep well at all, and was only dozing when he heard one of our other dogs making unusual noises because she was confused and knew that something wasn't right. If I had picked up that Seroquel, it's very possible that DH might not have realized there was a problem, and I probably would've come in from the meeting and gone right to bed without checking on him at all. After all, I had let Kirby out earlier and all seemed as fine as ever.

4) DH is still smoking (or trying to). His mom sent him some money for cigarettes again. But since his lungs are still not ok, he's not smoking as much as usual, so he had money for gas to come and help me at WalMart.

5) Kirby waited until DH was out of the hospital. As a matter of fact, so did my car. How much more terrible either of these things could have been if they had happened while DH was in the hospital...or when DD was home either alone or with her PCA...

6) Despite all the time I spend away from home, in situations where either it would take me two hours to get home, or, with the group home, I am not allowed to leave unless there is another employee there to relieve me (the clients cannot be left alone under any circumstances), everything happened in a way where I was able to say goodbye.

So, I guess, in spite of the fact that this counts as one of my worst days in recent history, I think it also might count as one of the biggest "it sure could have been worse" days.

I started out thinking that maybe I was being punished for some unknown thing. Now I'm seeing that I might have actually been blessed beyond reason.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Today's Dr. Appt.

Well, today the doctor was even more concerned about my mom's state of mind, and he saw/heard firsthand the whimpering noise she's been making....the assisted living people sent lots of information about what's been going on, too, so that was good.

My mom did not sleep all night, apparently. I need to remember not to tell her ahead of time about appointments, I guess. I've heard that other children of Alzheimer's parents need to do this, too. It feels deceptive, though. Spring it on her at the last minute, you know? But I guess the whole disease becomes a deception--where I don't argue with her when she tells me the entire church was in her apartment, I just tell her I'll tell them not to come back....etc....I guess in the name of harmony, there's no way to escape the deception.

Anyhow, the doctor decided we are going to try my mom on Paxil for the anxiety and the depression. He is going to wean her off of the Xanax because long term use in the elderly can increase confusion(!). He is going to put her back on Seroquel only at bedtime, too, to help her be less anxious at night.

It all made sense to me. Whether my mom's body will cooperate, that's a different story--I'll keep you posted!

Award received!

Thanks to Obladi Oblada for this Over the Top Award!

The rules are as follows:

Answer the survey below…you can only use one word answers!
Pass this along to 6 of your favorite bloggers!
Alert them that you have given them this award!
Have Fun!
Where is your cell phone?- Someone needs to call it – Car
Your hair? -scraggly
Your mother?- scared
Your father? – deceased
Your favorite food?-pizza
Your dream last night?- none
Your favorite drink? milk
Your dream/goal? – retirement
What room are you in?- office
Your hobby?- work
Your Fear?- loneliness
Where do you want to be in 6 years? – pta
Where were you last night? – work
Something that you aren’t? cruel
Muffins? banana
Wish list item? roof
Where did you grow up? Minnesota
Last thing you did? typed
What are you wearing? clothes
Your TV? none
Your pets? numerous
Friends? yes
Your life? chaotic
Your mood? overwhelmed
Missing someone? yes
Vehicle? toyota
Something you’re not wearing? goggles
Your favorite store? Book
Your favorite color? green
When was the last time you laughed? five
Last time you cried? today
One place that I go to over and over? work
One person who emails me regularly? Amy
Favorite place to eat? hmmm

Im going to pass this to:
Dustpan Alley
Miss Kitty

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My mom just called.


Me: Hello?

Mom: Hi, it's past 10:30.

Me: (not understanding right away) Yes, it is.

Mom: Well you're still at work. You told me the doctor appointment was at 10:30. I got all dressed and I've been sitting here waiting for you and you're still at work.

Me: Oh Mom, I think you got kind of mixed up. It's 10:45 at NIGHT. The appointment is in the morning. Why don't you put your jammies on and go back to bed?

Mom: (in a venomous tone) I DON'T HAVE JAMMIES!

Me: Ok, Mom, why don't you put your nightgown on, then, and try to get some sleep?


Me: Well it's perfectly fine if you sleep in what you've got on, then you'll be all ready to go when you get up.

Mom: Are you sure it's not time to go?

Me: You'll be waiting a long, long, time.

Mom: Well I don't want to miss that appointment.

Me: Well, that appointment is pretty important, so you'll want to get some sleep so that you can tell the doctor what's been going on. (Mostly I'll be doing the telling, but I don't think she realizes that). If you stay up all night, you won't be thinking very clearly and you won't know what to say to the doctor.

Mom: Well, if you say so, I guess I'll try....

Me: Promise me you're going to go back to bed?

Mom: (long pause) I don't know if I can.

Me: Remember you're going to have to talk to the doctor....

Mom: I guess I could try.....(not sounding sure of herself at all)

Me: Ok, you go to bed and I'll see you in the morning.

I know that the "helpers" check on her at midnight. Hopefully they can get her back to bed if she doesn't go for me. Sucks. Because I can't very well send DH over to check on her, and I can't call her because if she did go to bed, I'll wake her up. Just gotta trust those helpers...

DH is home (or, nightmare week(end))

Well, DH came home on Saturday night. Still wheezing to beat the band. But the hospital said they really couldn't do much for him, so he might as well wait it out at home as at the hospital...I'm so much dreading that bill, I get a headache every time I think about it!

So anyhow, DH home is just like DH being gone, except messier, of course. Dogs not getting let out, not much else getting done....but hey, he's sick, I know.

Sunday morning I get a call from my mom's assisted living place, can I come and check on her? She's really anxious and won't even get out of bed. She just keeps laying there, saying "I just can't do anything." So I get up and go over there and, sure enough, she just keeps saying that over and over. I don't know what to do. I had to call my brother and ask him to come up and help, because I had been up all night working and couldn't stay there all day unless I absolutely had to. And of course, couldn't have DH go over there....I am not really clear on how long he is/will be contagious (we still don't have test results from the CDC yet), but definitely wouldn't be a good plan, even if DH felt like getting out of bed. So my brother comes up and discovers this: "She keeps saying she can't do anything". umm...

I know all her blood work has been great. So it's some kind of anxiety attack thing, don't know if it's related to Alzheimer's or what (I suspect it is) but all that we can do until her Dr. appt later this week is try to make her laugh. And she's not having much of that.

So I go home and go to sleep for a while (did I mention it rained for about 3 days straight?). I go to work. DD calls me (because dad won't wake up long enough) to tell me that the "ceiling in her bathroom is leaking really really bad". Argh. Remember that roof? I sure do. I spent a large portion of the roof money on Sarah puppy, to find out that there was nothing they could do about her diabetes insipidus. And the rest on bills. Because I knew that DH wasn't going to be able to fix the roof anyhow. Heck, he can't even sweep the floor most days. So. New roof is the very first thing on the "what to spend all my money on" list. Oh. Except propane, which I have no idea how to pay for....

Seems like I have a lot of days/nights like that, doesn't it? It does to me, too. It sure would be nice to have one crisis at a time. Oh well, I guess....

So anyhow, tonite, I guess, DD had her "girls group" again. It's a group for girls who have a hard time getting along with people and making friends. Unfortunately, the thing this week is that her most recent friend (the one who stayed at our house last time DD had a meltdown) has decided not to be friends with DD because DD is not nice to her. It's my understanding that the friend was asked by DD to be an "editor" of one of her school assignments, a story she wrote. The teacher had all the editors fill out a questionnaire about the story they were critiquing (every kid had to have someone critique their story, and DD picked her friend). I looked at the story, it really was pretty poorly done. Lots of typos, not really a plot, etc. I also saw the critique her friend wrote, which was tactfully honest: "I think maybe you should proofread this again. Some of the sentences don't seem to make sense." And DD got angry and told her friend she never liked her anyhow, etc., etc., and now she's surprised that friend doesn't want to be her friend any more.

I know it's all related to her disability, but it seems so obvious to me, you know?

Anyhow, DD has also DECIDED that she is having a Halloween party (she did this last year, for those of you who remember)....The first thing I knew of it was when she showed me the invitations she had made up for her party. "What party?" I said. She said, "I'm having a party on Oct. 16. This is who I'm inviting. Can you come up with some games?" I said, "I thought you were grounded." She said, "I was, but I've been really really good...." I said, "Well, I'll talk to Dad, but I think you probably should figure out IF you're allowed to have a party before you send out invitations...."

I talked to DH and he said (even in his stupor) "She's grounded."

We don't know what DD has been telling the kids at school about this party, but her ex-friend's little sister (age 9) has been forbidden to go (to the party that doesn't exist). So DD is currently (according to DH) screaming at the top of her lungs about how nobody likes her, how friend's parents hate her, how we never let her do anything, etc....

DH couldn't stand the screaming. So he left! And called me at work (2 hours away). "Can you call DD and calm her down?" "I left. I couldn't stand it any more."

I told him I was not going to call her because the screaming is an attention seeking behavior and if we give her attention for it, she will be rewarded. So I told him to go home, tell her to go to her room, and when she says no, start taking away privileges again. These tantrums are getting really really old.

And I probably would've wanted to leave too, but jeez....she's out of control so you LEAVE? How does that help?????? Who is in charge there????!!!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I think they've got it....

We still don't have an "absolutely positive" test result for DH, but the Dr. says "We've ruled everything else out. I've seen some cases of H1N1, and this is behaving the exact same way. I'm about 90% sure that it's H1N1." So there we go.

It's so strange to hear DH wheezing and see that the traditional asthma treatments aren't doing much to help. But tonite I think the steroids they've been giving him are helping. He seems to be having an easier time talking. And he doesn't seem to be coughing as much (but I know they gave him some pretty powerful cough syrup, too) I think he's on the mend. But when I ask him if he feels better, he says "no". I'm going with my gut on this one (although my gut really isn't very smart) and believing that DH is in recovery mode. I hope.

Oh--and they're giving him insulin at the hospital, apparently his blood sugar wasn't as "under control" as he thought it was :-(

I'm enjoying knowing that he's there and someone else is taking care of him!!!! (I know that's bad) (but true). Let them do the nagging for a while. I don't think he'll be coming home tomorrow, but I guess time will tell.