Sunday, December 26, 2010

The saddest holiday I can remember....

Hi everyone...I'm so sorry to be sad during what is usually my favorite time of the year....and really, for the most part, things are looking up more than I had recently imagined that they could.

The thing is....I'm afraid I'll be losing my mom soon.  She now has a 3rd UTI and the bacteria culture shows that it is Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus, or VRE, for short.  For you and I, even though it's a bacteria that's resistant to most antibiotics (but not all), it really doesn't affect us, because our immune system(s) can take care of it.  But in people with weak immune systems, it is very hard to get rid of.  The nurse practitioner at the nursing home says that she thinks that my mom may get better temporarily, but we will probably never be "rid" of this infection.  She is being treated with Macrobid, which is one of the very few antibiotics that have proven effective against this bug.

Sadly, despite the antibiotics, which were started four days ago, I am not seeing that she is "getting better" much.  Yesterday she seemed to be alert for about an hour.  Today I went to supper with her, and got her to eat a little bit, but then suddenly, she couldn't stay awake any more.  I left feeling so very down and heartbroken.  I haven't wanted to write this post, because I've been afraid on some level, that I might "jinx" things--even though I know I really couldn't, somehow, I'm still strangely superstitious.

Here is what I am seeing/thinking, and I am very much hoping that I am wrong, and willing to be wrong and admit it proudly....but.....

My mom is still not eating much.  She eats more when I am able to be at the meal with her and coax her to take a few bites.  Based on my "career" with trying to become a size 5, I can guesstimate that at the meals where I am present, she is only eating about 100 calories or so.  And I'm told that she "eats better" for me than for the aides.  Many times when I cannot be with her at mealtimes, she refuses to eat at all.  I'm a little confused about this because of the dementia.  I know that when someone "stops" eating, it's a clear sign that the end will be coming soon.  But with Alzheimer's, I'm not completely sure if she has stopped eating because of that reason, or if she has stopped because she doesn't feel the hunger, doesn't remember why it's important to eat....?  I don't know if it even matters....Even when I'm feeding her, she gets to a point where she absolutely won't eat another bite--I guess when the time comes where she is "done" eating before she even starts, then I'll have a clearer idea of what's really happening with that.

I suspect that I may not even have time to worry about that.  These nonstop UTIs have really been wearing her down.  The nurse practitioner says that my mom's immune system is fading and she is no longer able to fend off any of these infections.  So at this point, the eating/non-eating issue may be moot, because of the infection(s).  Especially this most recent one.  I thought my mom would at least "bounce back" a little when they started the Macrobid, but that hasn't been the case so far.

Yesterday, Christmas Day, was very sad for me, too.  I was really torn as to how to do things and I'm afraid I didn't do a very good job.  DD was allowed to come home for a visit.  And since she hadn't seen many of our extended family since she went to the treatment center, I thought it was important that she be able to attend our traditional "family" Christmas and know that she was still included in the family.  But what that meant, unfortunately, was that my mom would be absent from the get-together, because at the moment, she is not able to provide much assistance when it comes to getting her in and out of the car, or in and out of the wheelchair....and my brother's home has lots of stairs, even just to go inside.  So I made the decision that DD would attend the Christmas with DH and I, then we would rush home and I would spend supper with my mom.  And we will have a "special" Christmas celebration on Jan. 1, where my brother has promised to bring his two little boys, so "grandma" can see them opening presents.  I hope she is well enough at that point.  I'm a little worried that, if things keep going the way they have these last couple of days, she might be bedbound by then.  I am so much hoping and praying that is not the case.  But I have never gone through this with anyone before, so I don't really know what to expect other than from here on out, it's probably not going to be easy or fun.

I feel like I've been focusing so much energy on my mom lately, that I (once again) have been falling down in the other areas of my life--you all know I tend to do this, but I don't think my family realizes it yet.....when things are really really bad, I tend to not want to talk to anyone except maybe DH.  So I haven't been communicating with friends who've reached out to me, both from this blog and from my old job that I got laid off  from.....I haven't been living up to my own expectations of myself.   And that doesn't help me feel any better.

I'm sorry I'm so sad tonite.  But I knew I could tell you about it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Interesting Article--Bipolar Has Many Faces

From health.com: 
Although the symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary significantly from person to person, mental health professionals have identified four main subtypes of the illness that are sometimes referred to as bipolar spectrum disorders: bipolar I, bipolar II, bipolar not otherwise specified, and cyclothymia.

Factors that differentiate the types of bipolar include the duration and intensity of the mood swings. Knowing which type you have can help doctors choose the right course of treatment, according to Gabrielle Carlson, MD, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York.

The article goes on to describe the similarities and differences in the types of bipolar.

Click on the link below to read the entire article.

Bipolar Has Many Faces

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dangerous Thoughts

I’ve been really concerned lately about my relationship with DH. I know that all marriages have ups and downs, but it seems like this "down" has lasted forever. I get so angry, I surprise myself with the anger, when I come home from work after my 2-hour each way commute and find that he hasn’t done anything at all except eat and sit on the couch. Even if I’ve called him from work to remind him to do something, chances are, it didn’t get done.

DH’s hours have been cut for the winter, due to fewer customers where he works, so he’s home three or four days a week.

I used to be able to tell myself that "it’s part of his illness" and "he can’t help it" and all sorts of stuff like that, but lately it seems like all I feel is resentment and disappointment. I’m tired of having to remind him to do everything, including taking his pills. I’m tired of coming home and having to do three loads of laundry even though he’s been sitting there all day. Lately, he can’t even lift a finger to call me and tell me that "the dogs are out of dog food" or whatever.

And I’m starting to think dangerous thoughts. On occasion, I find myself wishing that there was a man in my life who carried his (figurative and literal) weight. Who didn’t need constant reminders for everything. Who would work with me as a team, instead of dead weight. Who was financially responsible and didn’t incur a bazillion medical bills, dental bills and prescription bills…And when I think about that imaginary man, it feels really good. And the scariest thing is, I know I’m not asking for much. At least I don’t think.

I find myself thinking about how hard it is for me to handle everything at our house and how things would be easier if I either moved back to town, or moved to a city. And I find myself thinking about how nice it would be to live somewhere where I didn’t have to take care of DH all the time.

And I recognize that’s a bad thing. I did marry DH for life. I don’t break my promises. And I don’t intend to. But in the history of our marriage, these thoughts are very new to me. It’s likely that I am sensing that DH isn’t trying like he used to. And I’m feeling really beaten down, like I’m on a treadmill and can’t get off.

I’m wondering if I’m depressed? I honestly don’t have time right now to go and ask a doctor about that. But it’s a possibility. In recognizing these new thought patterns, hopefully, if I can’t go to the doctor, maybe I’ll be able to self-analyze and figure out what needs of mine aren’t being met. It’s clear that I need to do something, because these kinds of thoughts tend to feed upon themselves and poison things. So I’ve got to stop them, but not quite sure how right now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mom: A rebound of sorts

My mom has had two "good" (or better anyhow) nights this week, where she ate supper and took her pills without any coaching from me. Yesterday she told me that she went to the exercise class that they have at the nursing home, and that they "throw the ball at her a few times". (They play a seniors version of volleyball with a big beach ball).

I try so hard not to get my hopes up, but what a Christmas present it would be if she stabilized again and was no longer (I’d even take a "most of the time") living in that world where people are shooting at her and she is worried about being hung or convinced that I am dead, etc….I know she’s not going to get "better" by most standards, but if she was not so scared, I think I could handle the rest of it better.

Another thing, though, because yesterday was such a "good" day for her, tonite’ll probably be worse again. It’s just a different kind of roller coaster than the bipolar is. I’m not ready to lose my mom but I don’t think anyone ever is "ready". I don’t know what’s worse—the thought of losing her, or watching her go through this torment.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tonite sucked and I'm hurt and scared.

My mom's strange stories keep coming.  There have been strange stories before, but never like this--these are new since the UTI. They're always "bad" stories--like "those three little girls, they were taken away, never to be seen again, and they didn't even remember their mother's name" or "I need to keep my head down because they've been shooting at me all day." Or..."I've heard them talking in the hallway and I'm to be hanged in the morning. I killed 600 people, you know"....you get the idea....this sort of talk has only been "the norm" in the past, when there has been a UTI or other health problem. Prior to the original UTI, there were NO stories like this, and although my mom had little to no short term memory, she know me, could talk about the weather, and tell me what she'd had for supper, so she was as rooted in the present moment as she could be.

I have been visiting my mom at the NH every night after work for a very long time. Yesterday DH and DD (who had a pass for the day from the treatment center where she's been staying) and I had Thanksgiving dinner at the NH with my mom. My mom ate a few bites of everything, but didn't eat too well. In fact, she could barely stay awake, but she did try--I think she knew it was a Holiday....When I went back later, I heard that the aides were very happy that my mom not only ate a little Thanksgiving dinner, but also ate a little of the regular supper, too--they're all worried that she hasn't been eating much.

Today at 10:30am I got a call that my mom was refusing her medications and did I think she would take them for me...? I went to the NH and got my mom to take her pills, then I stayed to help her eat her lunch. She ate: 1 green bean, 1 spoonful of mashed potatoes, one spoonful of hot-dish, 1 90-calorie container of yogurt, and a chocolate chip cookie. She drank a cup of juice, a cup of coffee, and a tiny glass of milk. So that wasn't so bad...

Then when I went back after supper, they told me that she had refused to eat anything at all for supper (again). I had brought a cheeseburger from Hardees (fast food was her favorite up until the UTI hit) and had to beg and plead to get her to eat three bites. Then I tried a chocolate Ensure-type shake, which has worked in the past...and she refused to try that, too. Since we had talked earlier about how important it is to eat so that her body doesn't get sick, I reminded her of this and she said "CAN'T YOU SEE I'VE BEEN SHOT? THEY'VE BEEN SHOOTING AT ME ALL DAY AND NOW I'M SHOT AND YOU WANT ME TO EAT!" I quickly put the food away and just told her that I love her and don't want her to feel bad. And she said "NO YOU DON'T, I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU KEEP SAYING THAT." I said "because I'm your daughter, and I come to see you every day and I love you!" and she said "OH I KNOW YOU COME EVERY DAY. I USED TO THINK YOU LOVED ME BUT NOW I KNOW HOW SELFISH YOU REALLY ARE. I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU KEEP COMING HERE."

I was so shocked and hurt. She's never said anything like that to me before, even when she didn't know who I was, she always at least liked me....I completely didn't know how to respond and felt myself getting angry because of my hurt feelings, so I left.

I'm so scared and worried. I don't know what to do or think....and I feel bad that I left, because intellectually, I know she didn't mean it, but it still hurt....this is all such a drastic change for my mom, and the not eating--even at her absolute worst health crisis I could get her to eat....

I'm scared that this could be signifying that the end is closer than I ever thought....and I'm not anywhere near ready.....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Your family has been selected...."

…to take part in our "Giving Tree" program for needy families."

That’s a weird feeling, when you get that call….I went through the gamut of emotions—my first thought was "We’re not needy, we’re just broke!" After all, even though I know I/we don’t make much money, we’re over the poverty level, and there’s food to eat and a house to live in….and all…..

Then I started wondering about who had nominated us for the program. They must know that we’re struggling, that I’m trying so hard, and that we could use a little boost. Who could it be, though? I don’t bring it up to people (except you)—I usually try hard to pretend that I’m just like everyone else (who has discretionary income and TV and doesn’t have to keep the thermostat at 58*) and if someone does comment about how frugal I am, I just tell them I’m a cheapskate. So who could know? I was touched, though, and while I thought about this, I felt like crying, because someone out there understood.

And then I started wondering if maybe I’m not hiding it as good as I thought I was, and maybe I look/act poorer than I think. That made me sad and made me feel kind of like a failure.

And then I started imagining what DD would get for Christmas without "help", and what she might get if I accept the "help" and there was no question about it. I’m accepting it, no matter what, but I still feel weird.

It’s a weird feeling, for sure.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My mom has another (?) UTI

I've been spending more time than usual at the nursing home.  Two days ago, her wild and unbelievable stories changed from "unbelievable but making sense" to "rambling sentences that are not understandable".  I was alarmed, to say the least, and requested that they check to see if the UTI was really gone or not.  The results came back positive for another UTI, so she's back on antibiotics.  The day before yesterday, she refused all food and water and slept ALL day.  The aides said it was difficult to wake her up, and I found that to be true.  Then yesterday, she woke up, was mostly back to talking about how she was going to be hanged for killing 600 people.  I never thought I'd ever be happy to hear that, LOL!

The catch is, that she's very combative again.  She's convinced that "they" are trying to poison her and she won't eat or drink for them, or take her pills.  Luckily when I was there, I was able to get her to drink a little "Ensure-type" shake and take her pills, but she wouldn't do it for the aides and got so angry she hit a nurse(!).  She also wouldn't let them put on her nightgown and I was not able to help with that, she got angry with me, too.

So I don't know what to think.  Is this the beginning of the end?  Because I'm not ready.  I hope that today after work, she'll be better and I'll know that I/we've got more time left.  My mom's the only person I've ever known with Alzheimer's--I don't know how this works :-(

Monday, November 15, 2010

My mom: The weirdness continues....

My mom is supposedly done with her course of antibiotics for the UTI.  However, she's still saying weird things.  They've done extra lab work and nothing showed up.  But her ideas are still way out there.  Last night she was focused on her brother and sister in law who "had said they were coming tonite".  I knew they wouldn't come up, though, without contacting me to make sure it was a good time to visit.  So I tried to convince my mom that they were probably going to come some other night, and she then became convinced that she had heard a crash and (believing that it was a car crash) started to panic because she thought they'd been killed.

I read her a story and that seemed to calm her down a little, but I just wish I knew (once again) if this is "natural progression" or if there's something "fixable" going on--it's so hard to sit there and have a "conversation" with someone when they keep talking about things like they killed 14 people and so the police came and took her shoes, etc.....

Every time this happens, I freak out.  I wonder how close we are to the end, and part of me wants this to get over with, because it's so hard to stand by and not be able to help....and watch your mom going away little by little....... and part of me is absolutely terrified of losing my mom.

And I feel guilty because I don't have more time to spend with her.  I'm there every day, but the visits aren't very long, and I know we both wish they were.

I love my mom and, as I read through my blog, I recognize that this confusion has happened a number of times before, and there has always been a recovery of sorts....So really, if the past is any indicator, the odds are in favor of my "normal" mom coming back soon.  But I will be worrying until then.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"That Mom"

Whoa.  You would not believe the stupidity in our house in the last month or so (or maybe you would, LOL).  To explain it properly, I need to remind you that some time ago it was discovered that our roof was leaking.  DH and I both knew that we had to find a way to get that fixed before winter.  Our house is divided into three parts.  The first part (including basement) was built in 1910.  That part actually burned down later, so the basement was built in 1910, and the house part on top of it was built in 1917.  An addition was added on in the 1940's to add a bathroom and laundry room (before that, the house did not have indoor plumbing).  Then in the 1970's, the "big part" of the house was added on, providing a living room and another bedroom.  It's the part that was added on in the '40s that needed roofing the most.  Since doing the entire house was not financially feasible at this time, I/we opted to just do the 1940's part, which is the part that was leaking the worst.

I had managed to save up $2000 to pay someone to get this done, as I knew that DH could not be depended on to be able to get it done and I (with my new job) (and serious lack of skills and knowledge) was not going to have time.  Then DH and I started talking about how maybe if we asked DH's brother to help, instead of hiring someone, we could keep some of that money and put it in savings.  The materials for the roof only cost $700, so we could potentially have some left over!  DH's brother is 35 years old and has never had a job--he has OCD and some other mental health issues (a word to the wise that I did not heed--be aware of the possibilities if close family members of your new love suffer from mental illness) but has done a lot of work on DH's mom's house and he typically (partially due to the OCD) does excellent, by-the-book work.  Our hope was that because it was family, we wouldn't have to pay him much (if anything) for helping, and we could put some money in savings.

So DH's brother agreed to come up, and DH's mom came along to "help".  I hope I've mentioned before that I love my mother in law, because I do.

Now at this point I need to back us up again, to where my mother in law bought me new tires when we couldn't afford them.  She (and her siblings) had sold some land and she had quite a bit of money at the time.  I was very grateful.

Unfortunately, she blew through that money like nobody's business (it only took her about a year of helping her kids and buying stupid stuff and fixing up her house...).  She is now broke and she is even less frugal than DH, if that is possible.  And I mean she is broke.  She cannot afford her medications right now (she's in the 'donut hole').  I've been sending her money here and there to try to help but that is making it even harder for me to pay our own bills.  I've given her a website where she can buy cheap (and safe) medications from overseas.  I've given her a Senior Helpline number that is to help people pay for their medications.  And I've urged her to go to the county and see what help she qualifies for and what programs they might know about that I don't.  She refuses to try any of these things.  She says she will, never does, then asks for more money.

So she and DH's brother show up at our house.  The very first thing that I find out is that DH's mom's tires are so bad that they are "undriveable".  So she drove five hours to our house on undriveable tires and has no money.  Why on earth would she not mention this before setting out?  A trip to the tire shop confirmed that all four tires were scary bad and undriveable and the tire shop guy (who we know to be honest) was too concerned about safety to agree to just selling two tires so.....

We (I) got stuck paying for four new tires for DH's mom's car so that when she went home, she would be safe.  Ok.  That's fair.  She bought me tires, right?  Her new tires cost $733 (she has a Toyota RAV4).  I'm sure you figured out that we didn't have that kind of money budgeted for anything except the roof.

Anyhow, two things happened with the roof that weren't anticipated wholly.  Ok, maybe three things.  First, it was discovered that that particular section of roof not only had two layers of shingles on it, but also, underneath the shingles, were cedar shakes.  That meant a LOT more tearing off of roofing than was anticipated.  The second thing was that DH did not help AT ALL.  NOT ONE BIT.  I think everyone was kind of surprised about that, kind of, but not shocked.  So now DH's brother is re-roofing with absolutely no help at all.  I had at least figured on DH to be able to hand his brother things.  Nope.  The third thing?  DH's brother--he does great work--but he works slower than frozen molasses in January.

So it wound up taking a lot longer than anticipated.  And DH's mom and brother were staying with us.  And every single day she would tell both DH and I that we HAD to put "that dog" to sleep (Sarah).  Finally, DH had to tell her to shut up, because we were both on the brink of saying something not-so-nice to her about it.  But that sort of thing is normal with DH's mom--she's very outspoken and opinionated and doesn't think before she speaks.  She used to tell us to "get rid" of DD, too.  So I wasn't too surprised by this.

I knew I was going to have to pay DH's brother something--it wouldn't be fair not to.  He was doing a LOT more work than I thought he would have to.  I told him that I'd be sending a check home with him but that he wouldn't be able to cash it right away.  He was fine with that and seemed a little surprised and happy that I planned to pay him something.

Anyhow, after they had been there for about two weeks (not a typo) (and yes, we were feeding them most of the time, too), the roof still wasn't done.  But we were going to get a big windstorm, so they decided to go home and come back when the weather was better.  Since I hate having company of any kind, I was fine with that!!!  I came up with $150 extra for gas, etc.  because I knew DH's mom didn't have much money and I was appreciative of their help.

Then they came back.  And everyone was getting frustrated by how slow DH's brother was working, but he was working steady and I knew it would be done right, so even when DH's mom would berate him about how slow things were going, I just kept telling him to not worry about that, because we were just grateful that he was "helping" (or doing all the work).  We were still feeding them (including buying food we wouldn't normally have on hand because DH's brother is a vegetarian), and by this time it was clear that we really hadn't saved ANY money by doing it this way.  In fact, we had gone significantly over budget.  But at least we were getting the work done by someone we trusted (rolling eyes).

Then DH's mom asked me how much we were going to pay his brother.  I (thinking things were normal) told her that I would probably send a check for a hundred dollars home with him and I was going to tell her that he couldn't cash it right away, but she interrupted and started yelling at the top of her lungs that THAT WASN'T ENOUGH.  HE WORKED EVERY DAY.  I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE DOING THIS TO HIM.  I calmly told her that I was working as hard as I could and our budget was not healthy in the first place (I was very tempted to point out that we would have had a lot more money to pay people if we hadn't spent $700+ on tires etc., but I bit my tongue), but she just continued to yell at me.  I was shocked, as I had never seen her like this before.  I honestly don't think I did anything wrong except try not to overspend.  But maybe I did mess up.

Then she abruptly announced that they were leaving, and they did.  They left the roof unfinished.  I sent DH's brother home with two checks.  One for $75 (I figured if I was going to get yelled at anyhow, I might as well not break the bank and do the $100 I was planning on) and a blank check dated three weeks from now, that I planned on telling him the amount as soon as I got paid and knew how much we could afford.

Miracle of miracles, DH was able to finish the shingling.  Kind of.  The shingles are up, anyhow.  The edges still need to be trimmed and the vent isn't right, but the shingles are on, anyhow.  And I guess that's the best it's gonna get for now, because we're getting snow....

Anyhow, DH's mom called and apparently DH's brother is having to turn over his roofing pay to her because his mom is so broke.  So DH's mom wants to know how soon "he" can cash the check(s).  DH told her that I wrote the date(s) on the checks.  She got angry with him when he said he didn't think they could cash the checks early, because he said he had to ask me first.

Then last night, she called again.  In one breath she told DH that she is driving out to Montana (he asked her how and she said she'd find a way (I have no idea why)).  And then she asked if she could cash one of those checks yet.  When DH said he didn't think so, she got angry with him again and then started yelling at him about me.  She apparently told him that I treat the dogs better than I treat him, etc.

And yet she still won't go to the county.  Or try any of the other resources that I gave her.  She'd rather get mad when we don't have the money she wants (and it isn't even hers!).

I started to cry when I was talking with DH about it, and he told me that his mom was like this a long time ago, long before I ever met her.  "Then she got a job and started getting nice."  He wondered if maybe because she's so broke, that she had mental health meds that she wasn't taking (DH thinks his mom wouldn't tell if she was taking those kinds of meds).  He reminded me that I always tell him that "That Guy" is "angry, selfish, and impulsive".  Then he said "maybe this is "That Mom"".  Made me laugh.  But I'm thinking he might be on to something.....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My mom has a UTI.

I’m a little upset here and I don’t know how upset I really should be. At 6am yesterday I called the nursing home to find out how my mom did overnight. "Oh, she slept really well…" "Still waiting on the UA results, though" Ok.

Then at 4pm I called again, and was told that they still didn’t have the results, but that my mom ate lunch and went to her exercise class, so they thought she was ok.

At 7pm, I got to the nursing home, and my mom was crying and telling me about how her two sisters (she actually has only ever had one, and that one passed on a long time ago) were trying to kill her and knocked her out because they don’t want her to be prettier than them. One of the sisters was hiding and waiting to kill me, DH and a host of other family members. She told me that one of the "helpers" had to call the police and they took the sister away and locked her up and now she won’t ever get out.

I went to talk to the nurse, who told me that although she hadn’t sat down to talk with my mom, she "seemed fine". I repeated what my mom was saying and all of a sudden she got alarmed and went to find the nurse practitioner, who, amazingly, was still at work (at 8pm!) The NP (who knows me and likes me (and my mom)) went with me to talk with my mom and got the same story about the sisters…..and she was alarmed. So she ordered the nurse to call the hospital asap to get the test results.

Sure enough, it’s a UTI. The NP wrote orders up, so they were going to start treating it right away. Thank goodness. Although UTI’s in elderly folks can be deadly sometimes, they’re still mostly curable. That’s a relief.

I’m concerned, though, about the times I was told that she is/was "fine" or "seems ok". I know nurses and aides in nursing homes are way overworked and don’t have nearly enough time to spend with the patients, but it seems to me (and I’m trying hard to just see this from "any person"’s standpoint and not the standpoint of "my mom is sick") that if a patient was noticeably confused on Tuesday, that on Wednesday everyone should be alerted to that and keep an eye out to see what’s going on. But again, this is the only nursing home experience I’ve ever had, so I just don’t know if I’m being unreasonable. I know that staff changes frequently and people call in/trade shifts at the last minute….but it seems to me like there might need to be better communication.

Also, though, I don’t want to "rock the boat" and become a pain-in-the-you-know-what to the aides and nurses—I like them all and I know that they like my mom, too, and I don’t want even the most subtle of retaliation(s).

Anyhow….I’m still deciding who I’m going to ask about that…and I’m glad I was able to be there and advocate for my mom—if I hadn’t been there, she might’ve had to wait an entire extra day for treatment (because medicines are delivered at night).

If you have had any similar nursing home experiences, please share--it might help me know how upset I can justifiably be.

Cross your fingers that the problem resolves itself quickly!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Somethings wrong with my mom.

I already knew, after talking with an aide, that my mom was having a rougher-than-usual night. But this was just a little more bizarre than I expected, especially since our conversation last night was about the weather, what she had for supper, the activities she had gone to, and how much she like the "helpers" there.

Mom: I’m so glad to see you!!!!

Me: I’m glad to see you, too!! How’s your day been?

Mom: Not good, I’m afraid. (starting to cry)

Me: What happened, what’s going on????

Mom: There’s something that I’ve never told you, something that nobody knows.

Me: What is that?

Mom: Well, I don’t know how to tell you this, but our entire family is black.

Me: All of us?

Mom: Yes, all of us. And our family that came over from Denmark, they’re black too. (In case you’ve not been certain of this just from reading the blog, we’re all Caucasian).

Me: How long have you known that?

Mom: I’ve known it for a long time. And then today, this woman, she said she was my aunt….she told me, too. She thinks she’s so pure!!!  She thnks she's not black, but she is!!!  Someone told me that she's at least fifty percent!

Me: Is she still here?

Mom: I think so. She had a gun. See these shoes?

Me: Yes, those are the shoes we bought together, from that special shoe store, so that your toe wouldn’t hurt.

Mom: No, they aren’t. SHE took those. She was shooting at my shoes.

Me: Wow, that must’ve been scary, huh?

Mom: (getting teary again) Yes, it was.

Me: Well, I’ll bet she’s gone now.

Mom: No, I think she’s here all the time.

Me: I know these ladies will take good care of you, though—if she comes back, they’ll call the police.

Mom: I don’t know about that….

Me: I heard they lock the doors at 11pm, so if she wants to come back she won’t be able to.

Mom: I don’t know, she’s pretty mean.

Mom: She told me she was going to take my pillows.

Mom: And then she told me that [my mom’s brother and sister in law] moved to Denmark and are never coming back.

Me: Well, if that’s the case, it’s a good thing you’ve got a phone to call them!

Mom: Well [my mom’s brother] said he was never going to talk to me again.

Me: When did he say that?

Mom: Well, he didn’t, but that one day he was here and didn’t even say hi. (referring to a day when there were musicians performing in the nursing home and my mom thought it was her brother/family and they didn’t say hi to her (because it wasn’t them)).

Me: Well, I’m so glad you’re in a safe place!

Mom: Have you talked to DH lately?

Me: Yeah, he’s at work.

Mom: I thought he wasn’t working.

Me: No, he’s still working. At the same place.

Mom: Do you think you’ll ever get back together with him?

Me: What do you mean?

Mom: You were having a lot of problems. And he left you.  And now you're all alone.

Me: No, he didn’t leave, everything’s ok.

Mom: But he did move out.

Me: No, everything’s fine.

Mom: Did I tell you about that aunt? She’s the meanest, most inconsiderate person I’ve ever met! She said I lie, and that I steal and that I’m as good as dirt.

Me: Well I know that’s not true….you know you don’t lie or steal and you’re not dirt, right?

Mom: But she said I was….

At this point I realized that me talking with her was actually getting her more riled up instead of calmed down, so I left, after instructing the aides and nurses to test her for a UTI. Natural progression? I have no clue. The other times when she has been like this, there has always been a big underlying problem—like a UTI (I hope).

You know, when you read about Alzheimer’s, you always hear about the memory loss/disorientation. There’s not so much about stuff like this, and it’s scary. It’s especially scary because it’s so hard to tell if there’s "something" going on, or if it’s just dementia talking—and is this just a "bad day" or is this a sign of how things will be in the future? (I suspect that, unless they find a UTI, this is a sign of what the future holds)….You don’t find out about the hallucinations, the inability to recognize pain, the extra-sensitivity to medicines, the fear and anxiety….
www.alz.org has helped me a lot. But after a night like this, I get so scared for my mom, and for the daughter (me) who’s losing her a little bit at a time…..

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last word

Ok, well, I just somehow feel like I need to explain/defend my thoughts on DH and suicide still/again, as I don't feel like I've explained my point of view correctly.

I don't think I'm being manipulated or threatened with an "If you leave me, I'll kill myself".  I believe strongly that if I asked DH if he would harm himself if I left him, he would deny it vehemently.  However, I strongly suspect that is not the case.

To better explain this, I'll use a different-but-parallel situation.  My mom is in a nursing home.  My brother only visits every few months.  I visit her every single day.  Without fail.  Even if the visit is only 20 minutes, I'm there every day.  I tell her about my day, ask her about hers, tell her I love her.  Make sure she has everything she needs.  (For those of you who know my mom has Alzheimer's, she does still know who I am).  She is happier than I ever thought she would be there at the nursing home.  But she is very proud of the fact that I visit every day and she waits for my visit.  And....I am sure that if I died or stopped visiting, she would lose her will to live and pass on much sooner.  She is not manipulating me or threatening me, and I'm not even sure she knows this.  But I feel it is true.  And that is how I feel about DH and the likelihood that he would harm himself if I left.  Not that I'm that wonderful, but to both DH and my mom, I am a very important person, a person who takes care of them, helps them, hugs them.  It is my opinion that MANY PEOPLE, if they only have one person in the world who is really that kind of support, would see no point in going on if that support person were to be gone forever for whatever reason.  The difference between my DH and my mom is that DH has the means and ability to end his life, where my mom's only recourse would be to curl up and die.  In my mind it's not manipulation at all.

And I also wanted to say that the possibility that DH might kill himself is not the only reason that I stay, not by far.  But it does merit my consideration, for sure.  And my thoughts on that might change if I were to lose so much of my love for him that I was only staying for that one reason.  But I'm not.  I love him and unless "That Guy" moves in to stay, I won't be leaving any time soon.

And now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Small clarification

I just wanted to clarify that DH has never ever threatened to kill himself if I left.  Not once.  But because of how depressed he can get, and how he acts when the bipolar is at its worst, I suspect that if I left, he would see no other alternative.  Not because he is necessarily wanting to blackmail me, but more of a case of "There's nothing left....why bother?"  If I ask him about this directly, he will always deny it.  But I know.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why I don't leave my bipolar husband

Well, it's been a thought process to come up with this post, and I have a lot of thoughts on the matter.  My feelings tend to vacillate on a spectrum from "This is stupid, why the hell shouldn't I leave" to "I love him so much and can't imagine life without him".  Most of the time it's somewhere in between, for any of these reasons at any given time.

First and foremost, I did vow to stay married "in sickness and in health".  I take that seriously.  If my DH had brain cancer and it caused him to act like he does now, would people be telling me to leave?  Probably not.  It would be easier for a lot of people to understand--cancer--nobody does THAT on purpose, right?  At my full time job that I was laid off from in January, I worked with a woman who was 55 and whose husband had had a stroke.  Physically, he was able to recover nearly fully, but his personality was forever changed from a laid-back, easy going guy to an angry, easily frustrated, impulsive man.  There were many times she questioned what the "right" thing to do was, but it always came down to "he didn't ask for this to happen" and "If I was in those shoes, I would hope that he would stay with me, too."  And there is DH.  He didn't ask for this.  Which is why when he tries to do things right, even if he messes up, or if what he tries isn't effective, as long as he's trying, I'm seeing that he doesn't want to be like this either.

A lot of the things I'll be listing below do not apply to "That Guy", just DH.

Now, the specific things that he does that keep me in the marriage.....well....

He is very kind-hearted to the animals.  There are not a lot of people who would willingly live with this many animals.  Now those of you who've been reading my blog for a while know that "That Guy" can get angry with the animals.  If you're not familiar with my position on "That Guy", I'll give you a little here, but please read back in the blog to try to ascertain a better understanding--"That Guy" is NOT DH.  I know some of you will argue.  But as I've said before, they are two very distinct personalities.  DH is usually easy going and tolerant.  "That Guy" gets angry over things that DH has been ok with for years.  When "That Guy" goes away, DH might say something like "I know I said that, but what was the big deal?"  Or "I have no idea what I was so angry about".  Which makes it relatively easy for me to divvy him up into "two" personas. 

Anyhow, DH loves the animals as much as I do, and sometimes more.  A man like that is hard to find.

We share the same values.  That's important.  Once again, I can hear some of you saying "What do you mean?  You work all the time and DH is lazy."  I'm talking about the big things--like what's important in the big picture.  Family (including animals).  Spiritual matters.  Doing the right thing as much as you can.  Helping someone who needs help (including animals).

He (and I) have an unspoken agreement and have never needed to talk about it but....we fight fair.  When we disagree, we don't bring up the past.  We don't do name-calling.  We don't "hit below the belt" and take jabs at the other person's weak spots.  That's not to say we don't disagree, but when we do, we stay within the bounds of respect.

DH is very tolerant and accepting.  He never criticizes me.  The only time he questions my actions is when I do something that doesn't make sense to him.  That kind of acceptance is something that I have never seen/known before.  I wish I could be as good at this as him, but unfortunately, I get angry and critical a lot of the time.  I try to follow his example as much as my personality allows, though, and I have learned a lot from observing how nonjudgmental he is.

He's funny.  He knows how to make me laugh and has a sense of when I really need a smile.

This is kind of selfish, but another reason I stay....and by far not the most important one....I can't afford to leave.  A lot of times, when "That Guy" is around, I want a divorce RIGHT NOW.  But....it's hard to find a place to live when you've got a bazillion animals, a boatload of debt, and have been at your new job for less than two months.....

DH trusts me.  When we first married, he would NEVER let me even think that he could/would cry.  He would tell me all the time that "men don't cry" and no matter what I told him, he didn't vary from that.  Now, he is no longer afraid to have me see  him cry.  He doesn't cry too much, but when he does, he's ok with letting me in.  Now here's something I'm not sure I can explain properly.....but despite all the deception that bipolar has brought to our marriage, I trust DH to keep my secrets.  I trust him to tell me if my clothes don't look right.  I trust him to know how much I weigh and not make any comments like "boy, wasn't it just last week you were 10 pounds lighter?"  LOL

He brags about me ALL the time, to everyone he knows.  He is so proud of me.  And when he's DH, he's the most supportive person I could imagine.  He hates to see me cry (although I know that and probably could use that as a "weapon", please see the 'fighting fair" part) and would do anything to get me to stop crying.

He loves my mom.  I don't know a lot of men (maybe I just know the wrong ones but...) who would accept their mother in law's dementia and try to help care for her when he's needed, even to the tone of helping her in the bathroom (when she was really out of it in her apartment and had to have someone with her 24/7, when she couldn't remember the steps involved in bathroom stuff (she still can't) DH did not complain, he did not make snide comments, he just accepted and helped).  He always asks how my mom is doing, and tells her that he loves her.  My mom loves him, too.  Sometimes she remembers his name but not my brother's.  Sad, huh?

Also, if I were to leave DH, he's never said it or alluded to it, but I do believe that he would kill himself.  He has told me many times that I am the only reason he "takes care of himself" as good as he does (and I know it's not too good!).  He has told me, especially in the depths of his depression(s), that he doesn't care about himself at all.  I'm very afraid that if I left he would kill himself and I love him too much to chance that.

I don't want to start over.  I've spent a lot of time with this man, and things have been a LOT worse than they are now.  I complain a lot, I know I do.  A lot of it is due to my inability to (deep-down inside me) accept the fact that the bipolar is going to be there forever, and we are not going to wake up one day and have things go back to "normal".  I get very frustrated when he starts to be more like he used to be, and then he backslides.  I don't know how long it'll take me to somehow recognize that there are ups and downs with this illness (in more ways than one!) and I just have to hang around for a while and things'll change.  I probably won't stop complaining.  I would rather complain to you in a rather anonymous way than complain to my coworkers or other people who know him.  The last thing I want to do is damage his reputation.  "That Guy" has already done that to some extent but I don't want people to think less of him because of his mental illness.

I love my DH very much.  I honestly can't imagine life without him.  There are a lot of changes I can imagine, like moving to a place where it's easier for me to manage on my own (so I don't get so frustrated) and having less animals (you do know that nobody wakes up one morning and says "Yes!  I want to live with fifteen cats and four dogs!") and having one job only and still being able to pay the bills.....and easier to help DH do the things he needs to do to stay healthy.

I could probably write more on this, but right now I'm going to stop.  My marriage to DH is not a "dream" marriage, for sure.  But I honestly do not know many people with a "dream" marriage.  (Ms. Kizzle, you may be one of the few!) My marriage is a good one (for the most part, when "That Guy" is not around too much), and when I look at the marriages of other women I know, really, if I can put aside the bipolar, I've really got it pretty good.  And my brother.  He's got a "dream" job and a "dream" house.   He's got a beautiful wife and two kids.  But all he wants to do is go to bars and strip clubs.  And he told DH that he knows that his wife cheats on him, so why can't he cheat on her, too?  (DH was flabbergasted).  My brother's wife gets irritated when he spends too much time with my mom.  She gets irritated over a lot of things that I see as stupid (like "there's a rabbit in the yard!  What are we going to do????")  I don't want a marriage like that, where they pretend like things are so good, but they're not.....I want (and have) something that (to use a very over-used term) "is what it is".  Warts and all.  Things are better now than they were a year ago.  Hopefully things will be even better next year. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The post you've been waiting for (Nope,it's not here yet)

I’ve been thinking about Anonymous’s not-so-subtle hint (in the comments section of the previous post) that I have been procrastinating my promised post "Why I stay with my bipolar husband", and she’s right. I think about it all the time, but it’s been tougher to put it into words, especially during the "down" times like what we’re apparently going through right now (for about the twentieth time or so). I really think there could be two completely different posts, each one depending on how things are going at the time.

Right now, when I’m very angry at the bipolar and at the situation, I find myself (even without writing it down) fantasizing about just throwing up my hands and saying "That’s it. I can’t do it any more, and it gets harder every day." I come home from work on his day off and I’m instantly crabby because the ONE CHORE that I asked him to do did not even get started. And the fact that he still needs to make that lab appointment, that makes me feel like "he’s not trying, so why am I wasting my time?"

But then, when "That Guy" isn’t around at all, and it’s DH, and he listens to me, supports me, and tries his best to help, I know I can do it—especially if I can get my finances to a point where I would only need one job—I can do it—take care of the stuff that needs taking care of, and still have a better marriage than many people—because that’s really what we have, when things are going smoothly—we have a good marriage with huge obstacles to overcome.

I wish that DH would just stay in one mode or the other—either be "That Guy" all the time, or DH all the time, then it would be a simple thing to figure out.

The tough post (the "Why I stay" post) will be coming over the weekend, I think—it’s harder than I’d like to admit.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bipolar is always there. Sometimes more than usual.

DH has been sliding back somewhat, mental health wise.  I think it has to do with me starting the new job and not being around so much, maybe?  That's all I can think of, anyhow....he's been "forgetting" to take his pills more often (so I end up being the pill nagger), and he's been starting to spend a lot of time in the bedroom watching Frasier reruns again.  For hours on end, when he's not working.  At least he hasn't been fired yet....that money is going to be very important this winter, since my new job does not pay as much as my old full time job did.

DH is supposed to have gotten his lithium and depakote levels measured at the clinic way back in July.  I remind him to do that EVERY SINGLE DAY and he tells me he'll schedule it and then he doesn't.  One day I scheduled the appointment for him, and he "couldn't get up" to go.  It's getting really frustrating, because it's possible that the lab appointment could pinpoint why he's been struggling.

Right now, being married to a bipolar husband is like swimming with a 10-pound weight around my ankle--I can do it, and I can get where I want to go, but everything is a lot harder than it should be, and nothing is done as "prettily" as it would be--like garbage.  DH, when I'm not home (and he's not healthy mentally), is apparently, as of late, incapable of dealing with garbage.  When the garbage in the kitchen gets full, instead of emptying it into the garbage can that the garbage hauler picks up, DH just throws the bag onto the deck.  I HATE this, because to me, the deck is a part of our living space, and I wouldn't throw garbage into the living room just because I was being lazy....but anyhow....when I see garbage on the deck, I stubbornly refuse to put it in the right spot, because it's not that hard, and he is making things harder for me if I go along with that.  Ok, at this point, he's making things harder anyhow...sigh....anyhow, it can take DAYS of nagging for me to be able to get him to put the garbage in the right place (remove it from the deck and put it in the can).  And he's back to his old habit of just throwing his pop cans wherever they happen to land, too.   I can't help but fantasize about how much less cleaning stress there would be if it was just me living there.  How many more things would get finished when they got started.....one of the hard things is, though, that he has the skills and knowledge to do a lot of the fixit stuff around the house and I don't.  So I depend on him to do the fixit stuff, and usually he starts something, and then doesn't finish it until I start looking for someone to pay to get it done.

There is so much around our house that should be getting done.  I am only one person and it seems like if I can work 60 hours a week and still manage to clean the litter boxes, clean up after Sarah, take care of the chickens and geese and also do laundry, that maybe he could do something too, besides watching tv.  Yes, that does sound resentful, doesn't it?

I do know, as I've said before, that he doesn't do this on purpose.  But I also feel, when he doesn't even TRY to help himself (i.e. by going to his lab appointment etc) that it is not a joint effort.  If he was trying to help himself but still having troubles, I would be a lot less frustrated because I would know that he's trying.  But he's not.  And I'm ready to scream.  I suspect things'll get better, but right now I'm really feeling dragged down.

I know I need to readjust my expectations, like I have in the past, and not expect anything at all from him, then be pleasantly surprised if he does something.  But it's not even just a matter of him not doing things, it's a matter of him making things worse than the need to be, and that is what is frustrating me the most today.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Doggy Diapers--not designed for diabetes insipidus!

Well, I've now got two different kinds of diapers for "incontinent" dogs.  The biggest problem I'm seeing is that the diapers on the market are designed for dogs who might "leak" a little, or have one "regular sized" accident maybe once or twice a day.  Unfortunately, the problem with Sarah is that she is now having five or six HUGE accidents a day.  And the diapers get so soaked that they get heavy and fall right off.  And of course the "wipedown" in between changes isn't fun, either.  But I haven't found the "perfect" solution, for sure.

One possibility is that I try to use "human" diapers, which may be (?) designed to hold more urine(?).  But they also aren't designed to fit a dog well.....I think maybe I'll try putting a heavy-duty human incontinence pad inside the diaper and see if that works.

Another problem I'm finding (and some of you won't be surprised) is that DH keeps finding excuses not to use the diapers, so then we are right where we started.  "I didn't put one on her because I knew that you were going to let her out when you got home".  "I didn't put one on her because they fall off."  ARGH.  But you can bet that "That Guy" will be the angry one when the house smells bad again, and he won't see the relationship.  I've got to get this all to work.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Opossum Facts

I was at the nursing home, telling my mom about the opossum, and she asked me some questions that I couldn't answer--like..."What are they good for?" so I decided to look up opossums.  What I found made me even more happy that I had no means of killing the one I "met".  Apparently they aren't as "mean" as they look.  Anyhow, this link and others caused me to look at opossums in a whole new light.  I'll still try to keep my chickens away from them, but they (opossums) really sound like amazing animals and not the big-time predator(s) that I thought they were. 

Opossum Facts

When I did a search as to specifically whether opossums do, in fact, eat chickens, the facts were unclear.  I found many sites that said that they do, and many sites that said that they don't.  So the jury is still out on that one--I'll try to err on the side of caution and assume they do, but also consider the possibility that they might just be looking for eggs, etc...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Visitor in the chicken house.

Sunday morning, in the chicken house, I found a dead chicken.  She was an old hen, though, so I figured it was natural causes--I couldn't really tell, though.  Then.....I had gone outside to "potty" the dogs before I went to work at the group home last night.  I noticed that Buffy, our collie, was staring at the chicken house (not normal).  Then I noticed that there were a couple of chickens in the pen (not in the house) at 9:30 at night.  That was alarming, because they all go to "bed" as soon as it gets dark.

So I grabbed a flashlight and went into the chicken house to see what was going on.  There was an opossum on the nest boxes, just staring back at me!!!!  I shined the flashlight on it for a minute, hoping it would get scared and leave, but it just kept staring at me, and (since I have seen the teeth those things have) I started to envision what might happen if it launched itself at me and clawed/bit me when I was out in the yard all by myself and DH was not home.  So I went back out into the yard to try to figure out what to do.  If I left the opossum in there, I'd undoubtedly be minus another chicken in the morning.  But I didn't have a gun and wouldn't trust myself to be a good enough shot with it anyhow.  I was in a hurry, as I didn't want to be late to work, so I grabbed a "Tidy Cats" cat litter bucket and propped open the "human sized" door to the chicken hutch.  Then I grabbed another bucket (I don't know what I was going to do, but I figured I'd use it as "protection") and went back inside.  The opossum was still in the same spot, still staring.  Boy, his tail was huge and looked like a rat's tail, except it was about the circumference of my thumb!  But the opossum was a smaller one than I was used to seeing, about the size of an adult cat....anyhow....

I took my bucket and put it next to the opossum's head.  He STILL didn't leave!  But he didn't make any noise or growl or anything, so I pushed a little.  He slid over a ways.  Then I pushed some more.  More sliding.  When he got to the edge of the nest boxes and was about to fall of the edge, he grabbed on with his claws.  So I took both my hands and pushed that bucket as hard as I could and all of a sudden he fell down and ran away. 

Talk about adrenalin!!!!

And as you might have noticed, I hate killing, so I was pleased that I got rid of him (at least temporarily) without killing him for doing what he was created to do.  I'm sure now that he (or she)'s the reason the chicken was dead in there.  But I was happy that it was only one, and not more than that.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Yes I'm a wimp.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to tell you all this but....I'm a wimp.  So, apparently, is DH.  All day Friday, I felt terrible about Sarah.  It was bittersweet, because being rid of the mess and odor would sure be nice....but I kept coming back to the fact that I was going to be putting her to death because it was inconvenient for me, not because she was in great pain, etc....and that's not how I envision myself to be.  I felt very conflicted.  But I also realized that DH lives in the house, too, and "That Guy" was already mad about the situation.

I got home from working at the group home at 7am and DH was awake.  He asked me if Sarah still had an appointment at 9:30 today and I got quiet and said "yes".  He then begged me not to put her to sleep, that it wasn't her time, and it would be wrong.  I was only too happy to oblige, as that was kind of what I had been thinking, too.  He told me that he would think of a way to deal with the incontinence.  We talked about maybe putting puppy pads in the bottom of a kennel crate or gating off a small part of the house.  This morning I am going to buy some doggy diapers and see just how bad the cleanup would be from those. 

So she is still among the living and I'm not sure how I feel about that, but "guilty" isn't one of the options.  Now I HAVE to find a solution that will work, but killing isn't the right way to handle it, as far as I can tell.  Thank goodness.  I think.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The appointment is made.

Sarah "Woowoo" puppy's last appointment will be on Saturday, October 2 at 9:30am.  I am still really torn about this decision.  I know that in more than a small way, it goes against my "core" animal beliefs, because I have never been one to have an animal put to sleep because it is easier for me that way....and, really, that's what this boils down to on some level.  She walks, talks, eats, drinks, barks, and I'm putting her to sleep because I can't handle her "senior dog" issue(s).  I feel guilty.

Oh--and by the way--doggie diapers.....they sound good, but they come with the same issues as human diapers--that is, there is cleanup involved with changing (i.e., wiping up).  And I don't have time to do that on a consistent basis and I can't depend on DH to do it, either.  So, once again, it's a matter of what is convenient to me.

On the other hand, when I imagine a house that smells "normal" again, and not having to wash all the towels (twice) every single day (today she used 6 towels!), I have a huge sense of relief.  And, like I said before, nearly all dog lovers would have done this much earlier than I am. 

It's been a little more difficult because "That Guy" has been here all week and I haven't been able to figure out why.  He's angry about everything, and ESPECIALLY Sarah.  He says he's taken his meds.  Maybe it's my new job--I'm not home as much now....?  Anyhow, I gave myself a week (before the appointment) because I want to carefully examine my motivations and make sure I'm not "just" doing this because he's mad.  I don't think I am, but I need to be sure of that, and not havnig DH there to talk to (because "That Guy" is there instead) makes it a little tougher.

I just wish she had cancer or something, where I could say "she's suffering".  She probably is, in the sense that she probably doesn't like all the accidents either, but truly, her discomfort seems minimal and I know it's going to be tough.  I have such mixed feelings about it, as you can tell. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I worked for the Census over the summer, if you don't remember....During the second "operation", which lasted about 3 weeks, my "boss" was an older man named Larry.  I didn't think too much of him--he argued with me a lot over stupid things and did not seem to believe that anyone could do the job well without him reminding them of every step of the process, even though we'd all attended the same training sessions.  He even added in a few steps that the Census didn't require.  I was frustrated with him, but I was able to see that he was a nice guy who just wasn't that good of a boss. 

Yesterday, I was reviewing the address book on my cell phone and I realized that since the Census was over, I could remove all of the Census folks from my address book.  So I deleted Larry, along with several others.

Today, I was reading the local paper, and I see that he passed away last week, only about two weeks after I last saw him.  He was 62--must've been a heart attack or something, as he died at the local hospital and he wasn't sick when I saw him last....

Made me feel bad for not liking him more.

Yikes.  You never know....

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An open letter to "Anonymous" (and anyone else who thought the same thing)

Dear Anonymous:

I appreciate your comments and was expecting someone to say pretty much what you said.  I do appreciate that you were pretty nice about the things you said--I know my pet threshold is higher than most.  But mostly, through all this hard stuff, they have been my reason for not giving up.  I give a lot to them, but they give me so much, too--while I would like to live as a "normal" person, maybe that's just not meant to be right now.

You may want to do some reviewing of my blog.  My dog has been to the vet and has been diagnosed with diabetes insipidus, which is a non-life-threatening disease (unrelated to the kinds of diabetes that require insulin).  It causes her body to not be able to conserve water, so she has a lot of accidents.  The medication for this illness, according to my vet, would run about $600/month (no way to afford that) and it only works in about 50% of dogs.  The vet told me that people with dogs like this either put the dog to sleep, make the dog an "outside only" dog (not very realistic considering her age of 15 years old and our location in MN) or make do.  So we ripped up the carpet and have been "making do".

But now, instead of one accident a day, it's more like 5 or 6.  Hence the blog post.

As to the 15 cats, it's not something I set out to accomplish, but I live in a very rural area where there is no animal shelter and most cats (and dogs) that have no home or get dumped off "out in the country" end up on the bad end of a gun. And I don't really fault my neighbors for solving the "problem" in this way, there's really no other alternative.  If you live in an area where this concept is unfathomable, please do a search on "cat overpopulation" and see that I am not making this stuff up.  I can't needlessly send an animal to its death, obviously (LOL--you could see that from my blog post!), hence the 15 cats.  They range in age from about 3 years old to 13 years old, and all are spayed or neutered.  My personal policy has been and still is "if the cat will die without my intervention, then I will try to help."  Otherwise, if someone is just "getting rid of" their cat or kittens, it's their conscience as to what happens, not mine.  Each of my cats has a story, and all except three would almost certainly be dead if I hadn't intervened.  The dogs, too, but I'm just defending the cat population right now!  They are as well cared for as they can be.  They all get their shots (I do them myself, as do many people in my "neck of the woods".). They all get Frontline (for fleas and ticks), and they eat Iams cat food.  They go to the vet when they are sick, and I love them all.  However if, via attrition, I ended up with two or three cats, well, that would be ideal.

You are correct that they probably don't get the attention that they should get.  There are only so many hours in a day, after all.  However, they do get attention, and love.  Believe me, if someone came along who could offer any of them more than I can, I'd happily part with most of them. (in fact, I offer them to every trustworthy person I know, but many people I know already have a cat or two from me!) I only want them to be as happy as they can be.  While I am not an "animal activist" per se, I believe that living in my house is probably, even on its worst day, more fun than starving or getting abused or killed.

And as far as the odor from 15 cats....it's NOTHING compared to the dog pee smell.  The litter boxes get scooped every day.  You might be surprised to learn that the cat "accidents" in my house are extremely minimal and usually signal a medical issue, which can be taken care of rather quickly.  The point of me mentioning the cats at all in that post was to point out that the cats, as many as there are, don't smell up the house like this one dog (and it's very easy to tell the difference, too, as to who is creating the odor)--whom I love, too.  We have a stack of rags that we use just for the dog "accidents".  They get washed every day, twice.  But it's getting hard to keep up.  I'm frustrated because I don't want to live like this, but other than this problem, she's pretty healthy.  That was the point of my blog post.  It's not a normal thing or a natural thing for me to put my wants/needs ahead of the life of a living thing, who happens to be a family member.

Anonymous, I love all of my animals.  And I certainly am not shocked by your sentiment.  I think that the reason so few people commented is that most people feel the same way as you and didn't want to seem judgmental.  I do understand, though, too, because you're right--15 cats is really too much for anyone.  But either I have too many cats in my house, or a bunch of animals end up dying just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I hope that someday, things will change so that I won't have to post things like this any more. But until then.....

I'm not going to defend my animals beyond this post.  Those readers who have been reading for quite some time seem to have an understanding that this is who I am and that's how it is.   I'm probably not going to change my core beliefs, and, if you have a huge disagreement with how I live, well, you're probably not going to change yours, either.  The point of my post was only to point out that I am troubled by the possibility of having to put a relatively healthy dog to sleep just because I can't live with it.  That's all.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Sarah (the Woowoo dog) is getting worse.  She's not losing weight, she still can walk just fine, but every morning now, there's not one, but three puddles to clean up, and sometimes a solid "present" too.  Sometimes I wake her up to go outside and she can barely make it to a standing position before she can't "hold it" any more.  It's sad.

And in case any of you have ever thought about it....right now there are 15 cats in our house.  And you know that Woowoo's messes are making the house smell worse than if the cats ALL refused to use the litter box on the same day.  I never knew dog pee could smell so bad--it smells worse than poo....or maybe it's just "elderly" dog pee that smells that way?  I don't remember any puppies that were related to an odor like that, and I think if people had to endure that smell, nobody would ever try to housebreak a dog.  I'm totally embarrassed to have ANYONE over, and even considering having Christmas in a hotel room so that people will actually stay long enough to have a conversation....

So is it time?  I know most non-animal lovers and even quite a few animal lovers would say yes.  But....she still gets happy when she sees us....still wants to go for walks (although they're only about 50 foot walks, LOL) and is eating and drinking fine....still snaps at the other dogs (that's her stupid way of showing affection), and still begs to be petted.

When I think about putting her to sleep, I feel selfish.  I know that we're dealing with a lot more ick than most dog owners, but....it's the only life she has, too.....

It's agonizing for me.  Sometimes she sleeps so soundly....I just get a little teensy bit hopeful that maybe she won't wake up and I won't have to think about this.....

My new job

I think I made a good choice.  Except for the commute, it all seems good--the people (so far anyhow) are nice and don't seem to complain....the culture seems to be a little more laid-back than the corporate one I left, that's a good thing, too--and the training so far....very thorough.  I guess I'll be "in training" for the next few months.  (!)

I don't mind the commute as much as I minded the commute to/from the last job--riding the bus for an hour each way does make it a lot easier!!!  But the fact is that basically I've had a lot of time off this past year, and adjusting to being gone from home for 12 hours a day is tougher than I would like to admit.  And trying to fit my animals and my mom into that schedule....it's going to take some practice!

Right now my plan is to keep the part time job and work two nights a week (Friday and Saturday).  My ideal plan is to put the paychecks from that job into a savings account, and see if I can do without them--if I can, then I can do without that stupid job, too!  If working two extra nights a week on top of the full time job proves to be too much, I'll drop a night.  But I've been with that company for over 5 years, so I don't want to give it up unless I'm sure I really can do it.

On another note....got a phone call from the place where DD is--apparently she ran away last night at 9pm.  I thought that she would be back quickly, because she's not sophisticated enough to come up with a plan, and she's too much of a "country bumpkin" to know what to do on her own in a city, so I was surprised that she did not come back until after midnight (!)  After I finish this, I'm going to call and see what the staff there have to say about that--i.e., what kind of consequences she would be getting....I'm plenty angry....and I was angry before that started, because last week, she had requested that I or DH bring several things from her room at home to where she is now.  I did remember, and I brought what I could find.  When she realized she didn't get everything that she wanted, she started yelling at me.  When I told her I was not going to listen to that and was leaving, she got mad at me for that.  I told her "too bad", I won't be treated like that when I am trying to do something nice for you!  Haven't heard from anyone since then, so I'm kind of wondering about that, too.

I wish I had internet at home.  There's so much to say.....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I'm doing better....

I knew it wouldn't stay like that for long...and Sarah (Woowoo dog) seems a little peppier, too--she even chewed a little on a rawhide, which made me smile....I'm thinking she's totally blind, though, because she keeps falling off the side of the wheelchair ramp on the deck :-(

DH had a rough night at work, and I'm feeling kind of bad that I wasn't very tolerant of his drama (it really wasn't as bad as he was making things out to be).  But then he did call me back and tell me that he knew he was being dramatic(!) and that was shocking!

Sunday, after I get off work at 8am, we have a family reunion and I have to bring my mom (and pick her up at noon).  I wasn't planning on telling her about it, because I think it's going to be extremely difficult for her and for me to pull this off, but my brother asked her if she was going, so then I was kind of stuck. Argh. He's not the one who has to do all this on no sleep!  Of course my mom wants to go.  And she is remembering it.  So there's really no getting out of it, and I probably shouldn't even be thinking that way, since I don't know how many more family reunions she'll get to go to....

Just rambling today, I guess....

Monday, August 30, 2010

This post should have a different title.

"The day of death" comes to mind, but that's a little dramatic, I guess.....it just has been a sad day for me and I'm struggling.

I got home from work at 9am and slept until 1pm, then got up to go to church at the nursing home with my mom.  On my way there, I saw something on the side of the road.  Having just a few days ago "saved" a snapping turtle from certain death on the highway by nudging ti with my shoe (and accidentally flipping it over in the process), I recognized the "something" as an upside down snapping turtle.  I couldn't tell for sure if it was alive or dead, so I hopped out of my car and walked over to it.  At first I thought it was dead, but I did the shoe-nudge thing again and flipped it over--sure enough, a small puddle of blood and a cracked shell....but the turtle moved its legs weakly.  I didn't know what else I could do, I was sure the turtle would probably die, and I couldn't help it in any way short of running it over with my own car (to put it out of its misery) and I couldn't bring myself to do that, so I had to leave it there on the side of the road with a little prayer.  (In case you've never met a snapping turtle, when they're scared, they're fast with the bite, which is very powerful and dangerous) I do not know how to pick up a snapper without getting bitten.  I'm still sad about that.

So I went to church with my mom.  That went fine....then I went home, intending to take care of the animals and take a nap.  First thing I found was Mrs. Bun, dead in her cage.  She's been sick for a long time, but yesterday she looked fine to me, although I noted when I petted her that she was getting very thin.  I felt very bad at the possibility that she may have suffered while she died.  There will be no more rabbits at our house.  I don't feel good about the quality of life they have, and the constant worry about predators is wearing.  I was surprised and saddened that Mrs. Bun had finally gone.  I feel guilty, like I should've done something.  Beating myself up.

Then....as if those two things weren't bad enough, I went into DD's bedroom to check on my mom's cat, and today he cried out in pain when I petted him.  He hasn't been getting up to greet me for several days now, although he's still using the litter box and eating and drinking, I know it's time.  He'll be going in later today for his last appointment.  I didn't think I could do it, but I did tell my mom that I "think he's sick and I don't have a good feeling about it."  I think my mom was more upset that I was sad than that her cat may be dying....I hope that's the case anyhow....every time I think about this my heart starts pounding and I get weepy.  I found my mom's cat back in 1995 when I stopped at a convenience store on a busy street on my way to work.  I could hear a cat meowing, and I saw him outside the door.  "Oh, someone's cat is waiting for them," I thought.  Nope...as it turned out, I was the only customer in the store.  I was worried that he might get hit by a car at the busy intersection, so after checking with the clerk to see if she knew where the kitty belonged, I grabbed him and dropped him off at my moms.  I asked her if she could keep him overnight since I was on my way to work and didn't have time to deal with him.  She said sure, and the next day, after I put up a bunch of flyers around the vicinity of the store where he found me, my mom said "You know, if you don't find his owner, I don't think I'd mind if he stayed here...." and that was that....He's been an amazing companion to my mom, both before Alzheimers was apparent and as she's gone through this.  I can't help but wonder if being separated from my mom is speeding his demise....I'm very sad, though, no matter what....

And then.....Sarah, aka WooWoo dog, the one with diabetes insipidus....?  I've been noticing that she's eating and drinking less, and spending even less time on her feet.  DH said he'd noticed it too, but he was hoping it was just a "phase".  I'm afraid that there are even more trips to the vet in the near future.  I feel guilty about her, too, because I get so frustrated with all the "accidents", and I get frustrated with how "stupid" she is....she is afraid of walking on the linoleum floor, but she will walk backwards on it.....and she shows affection to the other dogs by snapping at them (you can guess how that goes over, and her feelings are always hurt when the other dogs don't understand)....I haven't appreciated her like I should, I'm afraid.  I know that a few weeks ago, she apparently forgot how to come back into the house after going outside, and I got so worried, I didn't know how upset I could be when I envisioned not having her....and I know the time is coming....she's at least 15....she's blind, mostly deaf, incontinent for the most part, and I think she has doggy Alzheimers.  But as happy as I will be (when the time comes) to not have to clean up after her all the time, I'm going to miss her a lot more than I ever thought.

Oh.  And just in case you wanted to know....it's that time of month, and every emotion I have is basically magnified a hundredfold.  So I'm pretty sad.  Really, I look at all this death and potential death, and I think "what's the use, why am I wasting my time like this when I know my heart will end up broken?"

Tune in tomorrow.  I'll be feeling better, I hope.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I took the job.

In case you were wondering, I decided to take the job.  My brother (whose opinion I would like to respect) was strongly against me taking it, but....If I'd done everything HIS way, I would live in a condo in the City, with no animals and an amazing TV.  (Instead, I live on a run-down farm 90 miles away from The City, house and yard is full of animals, and don't even have TV at all.  So.....taking my brother's opinion with a grain of salt, I opted to go to work for the county gov't in the City.  I start Sept. 13.

I'll drive an hour, then catch a bus for the remaining hour.  That does make me a LITTLE nervous, because if something happened to my mom, it'd be tough to get back to my car....but hopefully that won't happen....I also can stay at my friend Anita's if I don't want to drive home.

It's reasonably good money, just a smidge less than I was making before, and very good benefits.  I don't know anything about what I would have gone to school for anyhow....and some of the words of wisdom that my commenters shared with me were very thought-provoking.

Really.  All I want is a job to pay the bills, one that won't go overseas, one that will pay for DH's medications.  I honestly don't think I care too much about what kind of job that is.....

My brother is concerned about it being so far from home (even though it's actually 15 miles closer than the last job).  And he's concerned about the "diverse" clientele.  (What I heard, although he didn't use words to say it, was "You'll be working with all those [African American] people."  I'm not concerned about that.  I know there will be angry people of all backgrounds.  So what.  I work with angry mentally ill people all the time....I'm still ok....

Another driving factor was that if I can get the training for this position, maybe work there a few years (?) then when a similar position opens up in my county, I would (hopefully) be able to transfer and....viola--I'd have a good job close to home, even though it took a while.  If I went to school, depending on what I went for, I may not have that option....although, to be fair, if I went for computers, I probably could find something......

But in the meantime, there's the part about "live on unemployment for two years".  Not sure that's feasible, especially if DH becomes unstable again.....I'd rather have a job now that would pay the bills in that situation than MAYBE be able to make it through school and MAYBE have a job after a couple of years in that situation.....

I'm still not sure I'm doing the right thing.  But after listening to all the "economy's getting worse again" stuff on the radio, it feels pretty good to be thinking about "going to work" as opposed to "getting a pink slip".

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thinking too much--but it's a good thing!

So here's my "dilemma of the day"--I GOT A JOB OFFER!!!

I'm really excited, because it's with a county government, which will mean that the benefits will be good, and the job will be relatively secure.   I really couldn't do better as far as finding a job with the current resources that I have.

Here's the dilemma part:  Is this really the right move for me???  It will be another 2 hour (one way) commute, five days a week.  I'll have to pay for parking, too, or find a "park-n-ride" where I can take a bus into the city.  Either way, that'll be a cut into the budget, along with the gas.  Not to mention the time....I do have a friend I could stay with sometimes, so I wouldn't have to drive every day if I didn't want to....It does pay better than most of the things I've seen lately, and then there's the benefits.....DH needs to have his medications.....but here's another thing--like I told you all, I just found out that I could potentially go back to school on the government's dollar.  I could come out of school with something like a paralegal certificate, or a computer degree....if I take this job and don't like it, I'm probably throwing away that opportunity.

And then, of course, there's the big "if" of DH.  He's working right now.  But what if I decide to go back to school and he becomes unstable again and can no longer work?  Barring a lottery win, there's no way I could support us on unemployment for years.....? So if I took this job that's being offered, I'd have a good chance of avoiding that scenario.  Hmmm.

I hate decisions.....it's just like buying the car--what if I make the wrong decision....?  I know eventually I have to do SOMETHING, but what is the smart thing to do????  Hint:  unless someone who reads this blog has a compelling reason why I should forget this job and go to school, I'm thinking I'll take the job.  But I do acknowledge that there is a chance I could be making a mistake.

Where can I find one of those crystal balls, anyhow?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My day sucked. (warning--not for squeamish)

Actually it wasn't too bad up until about 7pm.

First, a little background:
I met yesterday with the Nurse Practitioner who prescribes medications at the nursing home where my mom is.  Everyone seems to agree that my mom has been sleeping a lot more than she was when she first arrived there, and nobody is sure whether it is a "natural progression" or a medication thing.  The NP and I agreed that my mom's Seroquel dose would be reduced--the NP felt that the dose was high enough to be dangerous anyhow--and they were going to add a new laxative, too, since my mom seems to have lost the ability to recognize when she has to have a bm, and how to push (sorry if that's TMI).  I thought this sounded reasonable.

Also yesterday, DD called me and said she "had a question".  I suspected that she wanted something unreasonable and didn't return her call (bad mom).

Cut to today: DD called again, "with a question".  She wanted to know if she could apply for an all day pass so that she could spend the day with her bio mom!(?)  I told her that it had nothing to do with her, but I was going to be pressed for time that day and there really wouldn't be time for that.  Then I asked her if she had asked the therapist/staff where she is staying if an all day pass to be with bio mom would be allowed (I suspected it wouldn't, because the therapist won't even allow unsupervised phone contact with bio mom right now).  Sure enough....it hadn't been discussed.  So I, assuming that she was "getting better", said "I don't think that they would go for that right now.  Even if there was time to do that, I'm thinking that they would probably say that's not a good idea."

DD: But Mom.....she said she was going to take me to get my hair done!!!!

Me (to myself): I wonder how that's going to happen, since DD is an hour away from her, and bio mom doesn't have a car or a license...???  It certainly hadn't been discussed with us....

Me (to DD): You know, DD, your mom has very little control over things like that right now.  She has even less control now than she did when you were at our house, and that wasn't much.  I'm not sure it's realistic to think that she can just decide to do that, and it's probably not a good idea to get your hopes up for stuff like that.....


Me: DD, I don't want to argue with you.  I will talk with you about this some other time.  I love you.  Goodbye. 

And I hung up.  I just didn't have the patience for the crap.  But that decision (to hang up on her) left me feeling like a "bad mom".

Then I went to visit my mom.  Unfortunately, she'd had a lot of extra confusion today.  She was wandering in the hallways (not normal), and thinking that I was going to take her back to her apartment to stay....she said something was wrong, but she didn't know what.  She was already wearing a nightgown when I arrived at 6:45pm--that's only a little unusual--some aides like to get them dressed for bed early--I happened to look down under her wheelchair, and saw a little brown on the floor.  Sure enough, diarrhea--a lot of it--and my mom hadn't realized at all.  Apparently it had overflowed her Depends and, well....you know....

So I called an aide and she started to get my mom cleaned up.  I am very willing to acknowledge that that is the part of the job (nursing assistant/aide) that I could not do.  I walked down the hall while the aide did her thing(s).  When I went back into the room, the smell was so bad--it smelled like a combination of vomit and diarrhea, and was so awful I thought I was going to be sick.  My mom seemed a little more comfortable, but still confused.  I had to leave for work and hated to do that, but at a group home, it's next to impossible to call in at the last minute--and if I just up and say "I'm not coming in tonite", then the person who worked before me has to stay until SOMEONE shows up to relieve them.  So I went in.

So it's looking like both of the med changes were probably bad ideas.  I wanted to call the NP up right then and there and say "Ok, lets go back to how things were..." but of course she wasn't working at that time of night....and I know that 12 hours isn't really enough time to honestly evaluate a med change anyhow....I should've just requested that things stay the same med-wise.  At least then, when my mom was awake, she was more tuned in.....

I felt like a total failure.  As a mom and as a daughter.  Intellectually I know that's not the case, but emotionally I'm a basket case tonite.  I've been on the brink of tears all night.  Five years ago, when I felt like this, I would've called my mom to talk.  Nobody to call now.  My heart is breaking.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Employment does not get rid of bipolar.

I think I mentioned this before.  DH has been working now for FOUR MONTHS!!!!  And it's going well enough (most of the time) for me to start to consider the possibility that he might stay employed for a while--after all, he's been employed for a longer period of time in our relationship than he's been unemployed....

The problem is, I start thinking that because that one problem (employment or lack thereof) is "solved" for the time being, that lots of other things should get "back to normal" too.  Unfortunately, that's not the case.  DH gets $50 worth of "fun money" per WEEK.  To me, that's a HUGE amount of money.  I suggested that amount because I wanted DH to a) be able to directly see the fruits of his labor, since I am now handling all the bills and b) give him a chance to relearn how to handle money.  I'm not sure either of my hopes have happened.  His $50 is gone within 2 days of me giving it to him--fast food, I'm guessing.  And then things happen like tonite--DH apparently snacked on all the cheese that was in the fridge.  So now it's gone.  And he wants more, because he "can't eat a sandwich without cheese".  Well, unfortunately, too bad.  The cheese was purchased for sandwiches, not for an expensive snack.  Have a peanut butter sandwich.  Or bologna with NO CHEESE.  For Pete's sake!!!! (/rant off)

And I guess I thought that the working thing (I know it was stupid to think so but...) would give him more energy to help around the house.  But I'm still mowing the lawn, taking down the garbage, laundry, etc.....

Frankly, I'm disappointed.  But I know that's not realistic.  I don't really get too angry with DH, although I do spend a lot of time trying to explain to him that if he budgeted right, he could have fast food every day of the week and have change left over....or....maybe even be able to buy something that he wants, like a CD or something....I get angry with bipolar.  As some of you've said before, sometimes it's like I have another kid and not a life partner.  But sometimes I do have a husband--just not one that can handle money any more.  Sigh.  More on this in the next post.