This Holiday season, despite Shasta's miraculous return, is full of question marks and worry:
Last week, DH got a phone call, that his mom (my mother in law) had fallen down the steps and broken her pelvis, hip and arm. She had surgery this week, which was as successful as could be, but is still in the hospital and will be there for Christmas.
The day after that happened, DH got a phone call from his stepmother (whom I love), letting him know that his dad had had a massive stroke and was actually in the same hospital as DH's mom for some time (they divorced about 35 years ago).....DH has been having some bad mental health issues himself these last few weeks, so he didn't think to ask a lot of questions about the prognosis (I'll give a call tonite if I can), but from what I can gather about the timeframe, it sounds like a major hemorrhagic stroke and that he has survived that (the stroke had happened about three days before DH was notified), but will need to relearn how to walk, talk, eat, etc.....DH's dad was not in good shape prior to this, as he had suffered a life-threatening infection after a "routine" surgery, so I'm not sure what this bodes....I think DH is a little confused, too, as he really doesn't have a high opinion of his dad, but is concerned nevertheless.
And then my Aunt Judy, who, when I was a child, was my favorite aunt ever--she had no qualms about coloring with me, or talking about teen idols, or playing with my dolls--it wasn't until I became an adult that I realized that she was somewhat childlike and dependent herself.....anyhow, she just turned 65 this past Fall. She and my uncle Neil, who is/was my dad's brother, quit smoking 24 years ago, when my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer (which he died from in January 1988). Anyhow, at Thanksgiving dinner, Judy was talking about how she had no appetite any more, which was somewhat unusual, considering that at some times in my life I am sure she weighed upwards of 300 lbs (but had slimmed down recently due to being more aware of how her diet affects her health). I made a little mental note to myself, just a "that's a little odd..." when all she ate for Thanksgiving was a couple of barbecue sauce weenies and two Dorito chips....anyhow, about two weeks ago, it was learned that she has Stage IV lung cancer and it has already spread to her brain and internal organs.
We won't be having our usual Christmas get-together this year at my brother's, we are going to bring Christmas to my uncle Neil's, because Judy is too weak to go anywhere. She is getting radiation and chemo, and the doctors say it is "treatable, but not curable". Whatever that means, I think this will be her last Christmas with us.
We won't be having our traditional Christmas Eve games (that I am in charge of), either, since DH's mom and brothers won't be coming. It doesn't really break my heart, I get stressed out, especially trying to come up with prizes that I can afford, and new and "improved" games every year....but it's going to be strange, for sure. I am scheduled to work the overnight shift at the group home on Dec., 23, 24 & 25 anyhow. I get double time for working Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so that will help. My tentative plan is to make a special Christmas Eve dinner and just enjoy spending time with DH and DD. I'll pop in to see my mom, too, of course.....
But the clincher is the mental health issues DH has been having. He was able to get FMLA for his physical health problems, so he won't (or shouldn't) be punished for missing work....but the thing is, in the last three weeks, he has only worked two days. And that doesn't help us much. A lot of days he doesn't get out of bed. So the double time that I'll get for working the holidays will help out. But he's not doing anything to help us or to help himself. Again. And this had started before we got all the bad news about family. I have reminded him til I'm blue in the face, that he needs to go see his PDOC, and he was supposed to have his Lithium and Depakote levels checked nearly two months ago, but when I remind him, he "forgets". And he hasn't checked his blood sugar, let alone watched what he's eating, for at least 3 weeks. One day he told me "I think I might be Schizophrenic" because he kept hearing his own voice in his head talking to him...."but the voice doesn't usually tell me to do something bad, it just talks to me...." but he hasn't been to the PDOC to ask about that. I suggested that DH check himself into the hospital, and he was concerned about how much I work and I could I "take care of things" without him.....I just looked at him, and he said "Oh. I guess things wouldn't really be that different, huh?"
The one good thing? I realized that this would be yet another "special occasion" where I didn't get much of a present. So I took some of my Christmas bonus and ordered myself a Kindle Touch ereader. I've wanted one for ages, and I know nobody will be asking me what I want for Christmas, so that's my present from me to me. I probably shouldn't have wasted that money on myself, I know I'll regret it when I have to scrimp for gas money to get to work, but I probably won't have any "extra" "not earmarked for a bill" money again until maybe next year if I'm lucky.......I hope it lives up to my expectations.
Monday, December 19, 2011
This Holiday season, despite Shasta's miraculous return, is full of question marks and worry:
Sunday, December 11, 2011
I'm fed up with coming home every day to DH telling me that another animal escaped. I'm not exactly sure why they escape on him but not on me, maybe his size has something to do with it....anyhow, I invested part of my Christmas bonus to buy a baby gate for the entry way. Some of the pets are rather bummed.
But it's proving to be worth its weight in gold :-)
Friday, December 2, 2011
I am happy to announce that Shasta meow was finally caught this morning, and is happy to be back inside!
She was apparently hiding under a part of our deck that is accessible to cats but not humans. She did not come out when we called. We never saw her the whole time. The dogs did not bark as if they saw her. We looked all over, notified neighbors, put an ad on the radio (they're free for lost & found), and it appears that she was only about 10 feet from the door.
I had put a live trap out for several nights, baited with tuna, nothing.
Then, two nights ago, I thought "maybe she is so used to her in-the-house routine that she doesn't know what to do!" So I put her purrsonal food and water bowls outside, and made sure there was some crunchy Iams in her bowl (just like in the house). I made a big deal of filling the food bowl...talking to her (even though I didn't know if she could hear me) and rattling the cat food bag. That night, something ate all the cat food and left the tuna in the live trap. I put the crunchies out the next night, and it snowed just the tiniest bit. And what did I see? Kitty paw prints in the snow! I followed them to try to see where she was hiding, and that's why I think she was hiding under that part of the deck (there were tracks coming to and from that area, but no tracks leading to a different part of the yard.
So last night, I put just a few crunchies in the food bowl and put it just inside the trap (where she wouldn't spring it). When I realized that food was gone, I put the refilled bowl in the trap as "bait". Viola!! Mad/scared kitty!
I guess she maybe doesn't like tuna, even though she begs for it when she's in the house? << shrug >>
I am so relieved. She was sleeping on the bed when I left for work. She's still fat, but maybe a little less so.....and I regret thinking that DH may not have been truthful about what happened. When he first told me that Shasta had escaped, he wasn't worried at all, I guess he thought she would just come home by herself. The not worried thing made me suspicious. But as the days went by, he got more and more worried, too. I have no doubt now that things happened exactly like he said.
This has gone from a really bad week to a pretty good one. In addition to getting Shasta back, my job at the group home gave me a $300 bonus!!! We usually get a bonus from there (although I never count on it) but some years it's $25, some years it's $50, and in the six years I've worked there, the biggest bonus ever was $75 a couple of years ago....so I was shocked and amazed when I checked my bank account today. Yippee!!!! Now Lester, who has moved into our porch voluntarily, can go and get some shots and have a little operation. Woohoo!!!!
Monday, November 28, 2011
I know some of you are probably sick of me bringing up my cats but....the night before last, we had an escapee. Shasta meow, age 11, who has not been outside since the day we got her in 2001, ran out the door 48 hours ago and has not been seen since. I'm frantic. I haven't seen any sign of her. We've alerted our closest neighbors, who haven't seen her (and I do believe they would tell us that), and I've set a live trap out on the deck where she escaped. Nothing.
I've looked under the deck, under the back steps, in the woods (where, while I was watching, I saw a huge hawk steal one of the chickens that refuses to stay in the pen, so that made me feel heaps better), in every clump of woods and trees I can think of. Last night I moved the live trap (baited with Fancy Feast Tuna & Whitefish dinner [really stinky]) from right outside the door to under the deck, in case that made her feel safer. I'm just frantic. All of my experience, and everything I found on the internet said that typically cats in this situation don't go very far. So where the heck is she? It's like she just up and disappeared. I'm so worried. All of these horrible images keep going through my head.
And I have to confess, although DH seems concerned too, that since she escaped while he was home and I wasn't, I've been wondering a little if maybe there's more to the story....and then I feel guilty about that.....but he's lied to me so many times, I doubt him more than I believe him. And thats a terrible feeling too. I am desperate. I need her to come back.
Anyhow, any words of wisdom and/or prayers are gratefully accepted....
Sunday, November 27, 2011
In the past week, DH has had two episodes where he um...soiled himself. The urge came on so suddenly that there wasn't any time to find a bathroom. He's had a couple of close calls at home, too. Luckily it hasn't happened at work yet, but DH was (understandably) worried, and went to the urgent care clinic yesterday.
They told him that most cases like his are not physical as in "problem with digestive tract" issues, but neurological, in nature. Since DH has a possible TBI(?), the doctor speculated that this could be a progression of his injury, in which case, it may be something he has to "learn to live with". DH is extremely depressed about the whole thing. He's in one of those "the world is ending" moods, where, in his mind, there is nothing good at all in the world. He hasn't called me all night (I'm getting ready to leave work after working all night, he usually calls me to say "hi"), so I called him to make sure he was ok. He answered the phone, but his responses were very flat-sounding and short. Funny, though, DH states that his back doesn't hurt at all lately....(?)
I tried to remind him that the doctors have been wrong about a lot of things with him. He agreed that that is true, but that did not change his mood. He will (hopefully) go for an MRI on Monday (that's what the doctor recommended anyhow) to see if they can figure out what is happening.
I wish I knew how to help.
Monday, November 21, 2011
DH had another one of those nights last night, sometimes I really wonder what he's dreaming about!
DH: If we ever have another daughter, I want to name her Cookies.
DH: I really like Cookies!
DH: (10 minutes later) Carol.
DH: Do you think anybody will notice the burn marks?
Me: What burn marks?
DH: on Cookies.
Me: Oh no, that's terrible, what happened?
DH: We left her on the stove.
Me: Oh no! Nobody likes burnt cookies!
DH: And to think she started out as a sack of flour.
(10 minutes later)
DH: Carol, do you think people think it's strange that I bathe with a duck?
Me: Well, a lot of people might think that was strange.
DH: Oh. Because there's nothing funny going on, we just take a bath together.
DH: I always wanted a duck, I think I'll name him Quack.
Me: You're talking in your sleep again.
DH: I AM NOT!!!!
Me: Oh. Sorry.
(it was right about this time that Elmo meow meandered up to DH and gave him a smooch)
DH: I think I just kissed a duck.
Me: You probably shouldn't tell people that.
Me: Because some people might not understand.
DH: I said nothing's going on, Quack just waits for me in the tub.
(DH, after he woke up, clarified that Quack was a RUBBER duck, but in our conversation, that was never mentioned.)
DH: There's that man in the dress again.
Me: Was that one of the dresses you made? (remember the previous sleep talking episode)
DH: I didn't know I could sew.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Well, I did end up going in, got some antibiotics, because according to the doctor, "eighty percent of cat bite and scratch wounds become infected"....so it was a good thing I took your advice about going in. I hated to spend the money, but yes, it was better and smarter to do that than to end up with a $15,000 hospital bill and a bunch of missed work, etc....
The kitty? Still living in the chicken house. I'm her (his?) new best friend. When she(?) sees me coming, she runs up to me like a puppy! Then she purrs and prances all over and I scratch her ears. I think she has ear mites, as she has sores behind each of her ears, but I'm currently not confident enough of our friendship to try to do something about that....I know the flea medicine "Revolution" will also cure ear mites, and I actually have some, but you have to apply it to the skin under the fur, and I'm thinking my new friend probably won't like that, so it'll have to wait until I can live-trap her and get her into the vet. Hopefully that'll be in the next few weeks, as I don't want any "bonus" kitties. Unfortunately, our furnace is not currently in working condition, so it probably won't happen next payday (we usually burn wood only until the beginning of December anyhow, but when it starts to get really really cold, we need the furnace so that the pipes don't freeze/burst).
Anyhow, DH has decided to name the kitty "Lester". He doesn't care if "Lester" is a boy or girl, he's always wanted a black cat named "Lester", so there you go. So as far as black cats in the house go, we'll have Twilight (age 5), Elmo (age 6) and Lester (age unknown, but I suspect around 6 months). I'm still hoping that someone will call me up and say "I've been looking for a little cat, not a kitten, but just a real nice cat...." and I could tell them about Lester and.....I know, I know....odds are not in favor of that happening! But I can think about that anyhow....
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I had gotten home from work (at the group home) yesterday morning and gone straight to bed. DH was already up and smoking outside. Suddenly he woke me up: "Carol, there's a black cat in the yard!" Since we have two black cats, and none of our cats ever go outside, he was worried. But.....one black cat was sleeping with me, and the other one was in the kitchen eating cat food. So....apparently it was yet another "drop off", as my two closest neighbors hate cats.
I went outside to see it, and I meowed at it....kitty meowed back. I was satisfied that it wasn't one of ours, so I told DH that I hoped it would go on its way, because we sure didn't need any more cats, and black cats are harder to find homes for than any other color of kitty. I went back to bed.
When I woke up, I went outside to feed the chickens. Surprisingly (or not), there was a new chicken, a black one with a long tail. Kitty had apparently decided he/she was going to live in the chicken house :-(
As I put the food and water out for the chickens, and gathered the few eggs (chickens don't lay much in the late fall/winter unless supplemental light is provided), Kitty ran out of the chicken house to see if maybe there was cat food involved. Nope. But the water tasted good. Kitty was eyeing the chicken feed with interest, when I meowed at Kitty. Kitty meowed back and came over to smell my hand, turned around and walked a few feet out of my reach.
This was repeated several times until, when Kitty turned to walk away, I was able to stroke his/her back. Suddenly kitty was purring, rubbing up to my legs, just the sweetest kitty ever :-)
I finished up with the chickens and (still kind of hoping that kitty would go away, so I didn't offer cat food) went about my day. At the end of the day, Kitty was still inside the chicken house, so I started to feel like I needed to offer some food. I put some "crunchies" on a paper plate and he/she feasted. Once again, we had a kitty love fest, with kitty purring, prancing, rubbing up on my legs.....what a sweetie!
DH thought that we should bring Kitty into our porch, which is heated, until I could get the money together to get a Feline Leukemia test and a spay/neuter surgery (if a disease-free yet unneutered cat were to come into our house (where everyone is neutered), the hormones(?) would cause the other cats to be stressed out and, sometimes quite crabby). So the best I/we could offer at the time was the porch. But that would be better than the chicken house, plus I was a little worried that Kitty might consider a chicken dinner.....
Anyhow, I went back out there, and Kitty was (of course) in the chicken house. We began the petting/purring kitty ritual, and once again I thought, "What a sweetie!". Then I picked him/her up.
The purring continued. I scratched behind the ears, the purring got louder. Then suddenly Kitty looked at me and realized he/she was BEING HELD BY A HUMAN. Big problem. Kitty spazzed out. Kitty grabbed onto the top of my head with all of his/her claws and dug in. Then, as I tried to stay calm, kitty embedded his/her teeth in my scalp and then dislodged and jumped down. In hindsight, I was very lucky as my eyes did not get injured and most of the scratches/bite marks can be hidden under my hair.
But....it was rather dramatic. DH was just heading outside to smoke when I walked up to the house with blood dripping from my head and forehead. He got so worried when he saw me, I started crying. He was so nice and so caring......I bled all over my clothes and all over the jacket he'd given me for Christmas some time ago....he cleaned up the wounds for me and when I confessed that I was embarrassed by how stupid I'd been, he reassured me that he would've done the same thing, and I couldn't have known that would happen.....he even called the hospital to see if they thought I should come in--I was really surprised that they (the hospital) weren't too concerned at all! They asked if he thought the bleeding would stop without stitches, and then just said "keep an eye on it"....Luckily (or not), I've been through this before, although I don't think I've bled so much or had so many punctures.....so I know that I have a pretty good chance of one or more of those wounds getting infected....and I also need to keep Rabies in mind, although I think that its unlikely. I thought for sure, that the hospital would insist on rabies quarantine for kitty and/or shots for me, since DH explained that it was a stray cat....but they didn't seem worried about that at all.....I'll just stay aware, though, as I know that even if it's unlikely, it's a possibility.......Kitty is still firmly ensconced in the chicken house. Not acting crazy at all, just looking a little nervous, kind of like "I know I messed up, not sure what that means....". I went out there a few hours later to tell him/her I was sorry and I understood that it was scary and I wouldn't try it again. He/she let me pet her (but I opted not to pick him/her up).....I'll go to the regular Dr. tomorrow to have them take a look and get some antibiotics.....
I told DH that Kitty was still a sweetie, and he was surprised. But really.....Kitty didn't know what I was going to do, and I don't know what was in Kitty's past, he/she probably thought death was imminent, and if I was in that position, I would certainly fight with everything I had, too.....so I really can't blame Kitty, just gotta blame the overly optimistic cat woman.....
We haven't taken in a stray since 2007 (can you believe it?) And I don't want another one. I will try to find a home for him/her, but I'm not optimistic :-(
Phooey. I should've stayed in bed.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
I think you all know that I had enrolled my mom in Hospice back in August. When I called them the first time, she was refusing food, liquids, meds....very combative when she was awake, but very sleepy and difficult to rouse most of the time.
I had read, on the Alzheimer's Association web site (www.alz.org) that sometimes people can "rally" when they begin a Hospice program (it's theorized that maybe the extra attention/pampering helps). I kind of chalked it up to "wishful thinking" and even if some people did rally, well, probably my mom wouldn't, as she was pretty out of it.
Amazingly, though, we've had these last few months as a "rally" of sorts--she began again to eat and drink, and accept her medications. She even went to exercise class on occasion, where prior to Hospice, she had adamantly refused to attend any activities. This is not to say, of course, that she got "better", really. She no longer knows who I am most of the time, and when I tell her "Hi Mom, it's Carol", she says "What is your real name?" She believes my name is Donna Mae, for some unknown reason, so I say "Well, some people call me Donna Mae"....and she says "That's what I thought!" And smiles because she knew.
Aside from me being "Donna Mae", though, things have really been stable. I still go to see her every night after work. It's gotten more difficult for me emotionally to do that, though, sometimes I really have to force myself, because it's so hard to see.....but I tell myself that no matter how hard it is for me, it's got to be ever so much harder for her....and she needs to know (even if she forgets) that someone loves her....so I keep going.....
And now it's gotten even harder, because it appears that the "rally" has ended. Once again she's extremely paranoid and delusional, refusing food, water, meds.....hard to wake up.....and of course I start wondering: "Is this it? Is it time?" I wonder if it's another UTI. Even if it is, though, I don't think much will be done, and that worries me in a confusing way. How can I sit here and do nothing, what if something could help.....? Did I make the wrong decision by getting Hospice on board? "She rallied once here, maybe we can figure out how that happened, and we could get her back to that place...."
I'm really struggling with that right now. My heart is not ready to let go, even when it's so hard to see her. My heart is still thrilled when my mom looks at "Donna Mae" and says "I feel like we've known each other for years!" But in reality, on 90% of the days, I know my mom isn't having fun. Her quality of life is very small. And me wanting to keep her around......probably that's selfish. But I also don't want to "hurry" things along, either, because while this disease has been so terrible, and there has been grief at every turn, there are moments and memories to treasure. Have I mentioned before that I think my mom has a setback every November? It took me quite a while to figure out that it's possibly the time change/change in routine that brings on more confusion. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the latest downturn, but I still am.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Well now that DH has been officially restored to his "regular" dose of Lithium by the pdoc, things have gotten somewhat back to normal. He's still on the higher dose of Abilify, and that seems to be helping his motivation too. In his appointment, the pdoc said "Your case is one of the trickiest I've seen. You are on high doses of several drugs and there aren't a lot left to try. I've worried that as you grow older, this combination won't be as effective as it has been. Clearly, reducing your Lithium was not a good change. We need to hope this works, because I'm kind of at a loss here." That was a scary thing to hear from the pdoc who (as I found out when I googled him last weekend to see what hospital to call) is a state-renowned expert.
So I'd like to report that all is well. And surprisingly a lot of things are. DH's paycheck this week was $91.00 (frankly, I can't believe he's actually still employed at all). That's quite a drop from the $400 and $500 paychecks he was receiving a couple of months ago. But compared to lean times in the past, DH has been surprisingly understanding about how little money we have. In the past, he would be begging me to bring him out to eat, buy him pop, buy him cigarettes....and this time, he seems to have a better understanding that those are luxuries and there is no money for that. That's been a relief for me, because before, when we were broke, and he kept begging for stuff that I couldn't buy, I always felt kind of bad for not being able to make him happy (but intellectually I recognized that there was no way I could). So his new attitude has taken a little of the pressure off of me.
So what's the catch? Things are great, right?
Well, some of you who've been reading this blog for a long time might have already guessed: Last week, DH's "back went out" and he made yet another trip to the E.R., which resulted in yet another bottle of Percocet. I'm not sure how or why, but I'm sure it's the Percocet that's responsible for DH's improved attitude. I'm still doling out the pills, I keep the bottle in my safe and he can only have 2 or 3 pills a day, but as soon as he started taking them, once again, he was more easy-going, more ambitious and more alert. Once again he's concerned about his blood sugar, and has started to try to take some little steps to try to lose weight. I had mentioned this to the pdoc, thinking that maybe there was something similar in the world of psychotropic meds that could bring about a permanent change without the addictive narcotic, but the pdoc was just as puzzled as I am and didn't offer suggestions.
I know he's got a dependency problem. And it makes me angry. But really, things are so much better when he's taking them, I get all mixed up when I think about it. If he's on Percocet, there's a better chance that he'll go to work, and we'll be able to pay the bills. There's a better chance that he'll pay attention to his blood sugar, and that will enhance the quality of life for both of us. But there's that addiction thing. And shouldn't he be able to achieve these things without a narcotic to prop him up? I don't know the answer.
I hate Percocet. And once again I feel like I'm caught between a rock and a hard place.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Just as a "postscript" to the previous post, when DH went to his Dr. appointment at 2:40 the other day....he...."felt funny" and ended up talking about back pain with the Dr. and not telling the Dr. about his mental health symptoms at all. We had also put in a couple of emergency calls to the pdoc's nurse, who never called us back (but it's possible she was out of the office on Friday). We really felt alone and didn't know what to do.
DH continued to become more and more unstable during the night.
While I was at work at the group home, he called me and told me he couldn't sleep. I asked him what was going on, and he said "If it wasn't for you and my mom, I'd be dead right now." Now there's something that kind of tends to set off the alarm bells.....but wait, there's more :-(
I asked him at that point, if he thought that maybe he should check himself into the hospital and he said he thought he could make it through the night. A few hours later, when I had gotten home from work and was in bed, he woke me up and said "I don't know what to do, about every 15 minutes I just start crying for no reason at all and I can't stop. And I don't know why. And then when the crying stops, I get giggly for a while, then I start crying again. I just wish I was dead. I think it's time for me to check into the hospital."
I thought so too.
I asked him if he had had mood swings like this before he was on Lithium. He said, "Carol, this is a mental health realm like no other. I've never been so scared of my mind." "The mood swings have never been this fast and the urges have never been this scary."
So I called the hospital that his Pdoc was affiliated with, the one that the Pdoc had wanted him to go to last month when they started "tweaking" his meds. I told them that DH was a patient of the pdoc and was having a crisis and the pdoc had wanted him to check into that specific hospital. They were very kind, but unfortunately all of the beds were full there, so if he was going to go to the hospital, he'd have to just check himself in and he'd be transported to wherever they had an empty bed. DH didn't like that idea, because he was afraid things would get even more "messed up" without the pdoc that knows him. I understood and was unsure as to what to do--I knew DH was in a real bad spot. But since he seemed to be still able to recognize that things were bad and he needed help etc., I didn't want to just call 911 and have them take him away. We talked about it for a long time. I didn't get any sleep. I looked up Lithium and Abilify and there was no big red flag "DO NOT TAKE THESE TWO DRUGS TOGETHER" or anything like that, and, since DH was already taking Lithium with his Abilify, just that the dose had been lowered significantly (by half!), and since we couldn't find a pharmacist or a doctor who would tell us for sure if it would be ok or not, as a last resort, I said "go back and take the dose of Lithium that you were taking before it got cut" (he had been on that high dose for over a year). I hoped it was ok to do that.
All day the moods played across his face. "That Guy" came out often, for silly reasons, like a dog licking his hand or something. And "That Guy" would get angry with the dog. DH usually loves the fact that the dogs and cats love him and he usually tolerates their affections much better than I do, even. Then he would get so down that he was just paralyzed. He couldn't get up out of his chair to smoke. Then for a minute, he sounded fine. Then it would change again. I was really afraid. I knew I had to work all night and I was very worried about leaving him.
I had to leave for work at 8pm. At about 6pm I noticed that I wasn't seeing his expressions change like they had been. And his eyes weren't closed. I asked him how he was feeling, he said "I think I feel better." By the time I left, we had conversed enough where I was confident that he was, indeed, doing better. I don't think I've ever been so relieved. I asked him if he thought he would be ok when I went to work and he said he would be fine. And I believed him. So I went to work.
At about 3am, he called me at work and told me that he had felt so much better, he had cleaned our bedroom and bathroom. He said he was going to take his "old" bedtime dose of Lithium (the higher dose), along with his other meds, and go to bed.
So it appears, that Lithium may be a miracle drug once again. I'm not looking forward to explaining to the pdoc that I/we changed the dose of a med without authorization, but I honestly didn't know what to do. It seems like right at this moment, anyhow, that it was the right choice.
Friday, October 21, 2011
I am seeing mood swings often. Yesterday, DH called me at work and was in such a good mood, he was so happy to hear my voice, he was going to make me supper and clean the kitchen, and he couldn't wait until I got home. I drove home feeling like it was a rare day when I could feel really good about my marriage--I was really happy.
Well, I got home, no supper, kitchen hasn't been touched. I asked him what happened, and he got that cold "That Guy" voice and told me if I was going to lecture him about not doing things then he isn't going to do them (huh?) So much for that.
But then this morning when I got up for work, DH told me that he's "having big problems". He told me that his moods are going from happy to sad to angry in minutes for no discernible reason. He said that yesterday he cut some firewood (yay!) and he looked at the chainsaw and had an overwhelming urge to apply the running saw to his foot. This hugely alarmed me. I suggested he go to his regular Dr. and ask for help, as the PDOC is 100 miles away (but comes to our town once a week). DH also told me that thoughts of self-mutilation are popping into his head. He says he's not suicidal and he believes he is strong enough to fend off the self-injurious urges.
I suggested that DH check himself into PDOC's hospital (as PDOC had suggested before) but DH doesn't want to let me down by possibly missing work and/or getting fired....he also is worried about the dogs needing to go out while I'm at work. I told him neither reason was worth dying over and that we could and would cope with both. He said he would just wait until the urges pass, as he knows his emotions will change in a minute anyhow.
I'm really worried. I want to say "at least you were (mostly) stable when you weren't doing anything....lets go back to the old meds..." but we probably need a medical doctor to tell us that we can do that.
DH has a 2:40pm appointment today. I hope we can find a way to help him.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
I'd been really stressing. After the "can't wait" bills got paid, I was left with $11.00 to last for 10 days. That's for food, gas, and any other incidentals. I was slightly panicked.
DH's pdoc raised his dose of Abilify to 15mg and lowered his Depakote dose. DH continues to be on less Lithium than ever before, as well as the Seroquel being totally discontinued. Sadly, though, with the $11.00, there was no way I could go to the pharmacy and pick up the new med. That helpless feeling like I was drowning was really coming on strong.
The only difference with this recent "panic" is that I've been here before. I've done it all before, and cut things to the bone. I know I can do it, and I know a lot more tricks to make sure I do it well.
I'm virtually certain that DH will be unemployed soon. They took away another one of DH's scheduled days because of his attendance. So right now he is scheduled to work 16 hours per week. DH didn't even remember that they (his employer(s)) have a policy of doing that (cutting hours when you miss work at a certain point level), so when he found out he was only scheduled for 2 days, he asked for more hours and wound up looking foolish....I don't think the people who work directly with him know about his mental health issues. He is going to have the pdoc write a letter to management and see if that helps.......who knows....
.....And of those small checks of his, $25 comes out of every paycheck to pay that loan for when he pawned Jim's rifle. DH swears that since we made that contract, he has not pawned anything at all. But basically his pay will only cover his cigarettes and not much else. I know I need to be grateful that he is still employed at all, because I remember how frustrated I would get when I had to come up with money for his cigarettes when we were broke anyhow....
I'm going to have to buckle down again. We really never got back to where it was comfortable to go out to eat, or where we could get TV again, but it was nice to be able to buy better foods at the grocery store and not juggle the bills so much. It's better this time, though because this time I have a little warning. The last time DH was out of work, he had been making about $50,000 a year, he came home from work and said "I quit". And I thought (since I didn't know about his mental health problems at the time) that he'd just up and find another job right away, so I wasn't as worried as I am now.
Now, I recognize that there's a high likelihood that he will be unemployed indefinitely again, although maybe that would improve his chances of getting his disability approved. The hardest thing will be to try to be able to buy foods that will be diabetes-friendly. I can do it, though, I know I can.
So here's the blessing:
Shortly after DH got home from the PDOC, I got a phone call requesting my services as a pet-sitter for three days. At $10 per visit, that'll be $90!!!! Just in the nick of time!
(I had started pet-sitting when I was laid off in 2010, since I wasn't confident that I'd find a new job so quickly, and this was one of my clients from back then).
I always try to tell myself that "the money always comes from somewhere"....which, I guess, is another way of saying "the Lord will provide".....but sometimes I have a hard time believing it. Once again, I'm proven wrong and I'm happy to admit it.
P.S. As requested, I'm putting a "donate" link on the page in the next few days. But I feel kind of weird about it. I'll see what happens and how I feel about it after I've had it for a while.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Well, we got the Abilify approved. DH started back up on it. I think we might've expected too much or something, but basically.....nothing happened. Nothing.
His last paycheck was $65.00. That's it. And he now has enough "points" to lose his job, but because they like him, they are trying to give him one last chance.
While he was not on the Abilify, while things were messed up, I didn't expect much, because I knew that things were not going to be right. It was back to the sitting around all day, nothing getting done, same old, same old...
When the Abilify finally went through, DH had been on a reduced dose of Lithium, and no Seroquel and no Abilify for 2 weeks. He started back on the Abilify and we both expected positive changes. But...
The diverticulitis does seem to be cleared up for now. But he thinks he might be getting yet another cyst. I'm sure some of these issues may be related to Percocet and/or poorly managed diabetes, but how can I/we get him back to the point where he would be interested in fixing stuff? For a minute there, when he started taking the Abilify samples, I thought we might be there.....but.....
He sat around. He did nothing. As a matter of fact, things are so "out of whack" that DH even completely forgot that he was not out of Percocet and hasn't even been requesting them. I caught him smoking in the house (even though that was a rule that has been in effect since before we got married, even). He has completely (again) stopped caring about the Diabetes, even when I remind him of the possible ramifications. And he's been getting mad at me again when I tell him we can't afford whatever it is that he wants at the moment.
He has a PDOC appointment today at 2pm. We'll see what the Dr. says.....I know things aren't all that great right now, but I also know they were a lot worse before, too....I've got to be patient....or something.....
Right now I'm wondering how I'm going to make it another 10 days with $11.00 in the bank. It'll work out somehow, I hope. It usually does.
Monday, October 17, 2011
I guess I need to preface this with a couple of things-first, DH has a tendency to talk in his sleep, if it's funny, I tease him about it....secondly, despite how big DH is (about 400 lbs), he is very masculine-looking. He has a beard and mustache, and basically looks like a massive lumberjack. Oh--and when it comes to me picking on him, he's a pretty good sport.....With that in mind.....
I got done with my overnight shift at the group home on Sunday morning, 8am, I crawled into bed for a few hours. DH rolled over and excitedly said "I've got great news!"
Me: (thinking we could sure use some)--What's going on?
DH: Remember those dresses I was sewing? (um, no?) Well, I just found out that they're one size fits all!!! They're interchangeable!!!! They can be worn by cats or humans!!!!!!!!
Me (to myelf): oh brother. (I'd love to see that).
Me (to DH): Wow, that's great! Um...were you wearing one of those dresses?
DH: (as if I was really an idiot) Of course!!!!!!!!
Me (trying so very hard to keep a straight face): Oh good! What did the dress look like?
DH: It was brown, and it had "pirate flaps", you know? And it had little pink hearts all over it.
The picture of this was just too much. I burst out laughing and DH woke up.
I asked him what "pirate flaps" were, he told me they are the ruffles on the shirts that pirates wear.
It was like one of those comedy hypnosis shows where the hypnotized people have no clue how silly they're being....
I told DH that I was very glad that the dresses would now fit both humans and cats as now we won't have to buy all the cats new dresses.
He told me he wasn't going to talk to me any more.
Monday, October 10, 2011
I mentioned that DH had a cyst and had been warned that the infection from the cyst could spread and if it did, it might necessitate removal of his manly parts. This was a huge motivator for him to start paying attention to his diabetes (at least until we ran out of Abilify).
After that, though, it's been one thing after another with DH's health (or lack thereof), and I don't know what to think at all. He's got so many weird health problems it's unbelievable.
After that first cyst, he got one on his tailbone. Then one under his arm. Then under his other arm. Each time required a trip to the E.R. to have the cyst drained and a prescription for Percocet (please do a search on Percocet in this blog to learn about DH's relationship with that drug). The doctors were baffled and have instructed DH to make an appointment with an infectious disease specialist to find out why all of these cysts. The doctors keep handing out Percocet like it was candy.
Then of course the back pain is back with a vengeance, probably due to the state of the medications he was and wasn't on.....more trips to the E.R., more Percocet.
Luckily (or not), for quite some time now, DH has recognized on some weird level that he has a problem with Percocet. So he gives the prescription to me and I keep the pills in my safe and dole them out one at a time. (The safe is now an integral part of my life, it's where I keep everything that DH might be tempted to steal from me--I know that's sad, but at least things don't get stolen any more....) but it kind of sets us up for a power struggle because he ALWAYS wants Percocet, and even though it was prescribed for cysts or back pain, he wants one because he stubbed his toe or whatever. So it's stressful and I hate it. But with the doctors pushing this drug at him every time he goes, I haven't come up with a better solution at this moment.
Then last weekend, DH went to work and was sent from work to the E.R. for severe abdominal pain. Now he has diverticulitis, a painful infection of pouches in his intestine(s). He didn't go to work all last weekend after that. He didn't go to work yesterday or today either. But he is under the belief that if he has a doctor's note, he won't get in trouble. I hope he's right. And....you guessed it....even more Percocet.
And the bills. I cannot believe the hospital bills. Things are never going to be ok financially for us, we are always going to have a bazillion hospital bills like this, unless DH loses weight, and that isn't going to happen unless I am there to cook every meal and force him to exercise.
I have never known anyone to have this many health issues consecutively like this. It's crossed my mind that he might be faking it to get the Percocet, but how do you fake a cyst? And the way he was breathing with the diverticulitis, I don't think you can fake being in pain like that....at least I don't think DH can......
So it's been a frustrating couple of weeks.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Not too long after we lost Tippy Toes, DH ran out of Abilify samples that he had gotten from his pdoc. When he only had a couple of days worth of pills left, he called to get more, and they were out of samples. So they gave him a prescription to bring to the pharmacy.
Unfortunately the pharmacy informed us that insurance would not pay for the pills, as the price comes out to around $15-20 PER PILL and of course they didn't want to shell that out. And at $600 per month, there was no way that we could pay for it ourselves....DH's pdoc informed us that he was going to appeal that decision. In the meantime, we just had to wait and see.....
So there we sat. The pdoc had reduced DH's Seroquel and also his Lithium, in response to DH being on Abilify. And it had all been working out so good, he was getting out of bed, and what's even better than that, the Abilify had done something to make him less focused on himself and his own wants and needs and more focused on me and us. And that was huge. But with no Abilify and less Lithium and Seroquel, things got weird.
DH brought a bunch of stuff to the pawn shop to get money to buy fast food. He even pawned an antique rifle that his friend Jim (the one who stayed at our house for so long, but who has helped us immensely) owned, it had belonged to Jim's grandfather, and DH pawned it to go to Dairy Queen.
He went to the liquor store and bought beer.
He started laying huge guilt trips on me when I didn't have (or didn't want to part with) the money that he wanted for (candy, ice cream, etc).
When he had started the Abilify, he had started, for the first time, to check his blood sugar and he had started drinking diet pop (with the added motivation of the possibility of losing manly parts if he didn't). But when the Abilify stopped, this stopped, too.
It was all very frustrating, because I just kept thinking "I cannot go through this again. I am just not capable of doing this again." And DH knew something was wrong (in moments of lucidity), but he was powerless to stop it, and except for those moments of lucidity, he did not see how bad things got so quickly.
It was a very scary time, topping off the loss of Tippy Toes, and very painful to me.
When we got the word that the appeal to the insurance company had been granted, it was a huge relief. That was just two days ago. DH had been off of Abilify and on lowered doses of Lithium and Seroquel for about 2 weeks. He told me that he had even been thinking about trying to get a credit card(!) during that time.
Despite the fact that DH had made the decision(s) to pawn those items while he was "even less right than usual", I was not willing or able to help him unpawn them. I have had it with bailing him out (at least directly out of my pocket), and I'm done with it. He wasn't happy with that, but too bad. He, of course, in his deluded state, had been sure that he could make enough money to get the items out of the pawn shop, and when he started to come back to reality a little, he realized he had made a huge mistake. He had to come up with nearly $500 to get the stuff back. Luckily for him (but not really lucky for me so much), just in the nick of time, he found out about a program that the place where he works offers--he could take out a $500 loan, no credit check required, and they would take $25 out of every paycheck until it was paid off. So that is what he did.
I'm so very tired of this pawn shop stuff. I sat him down and we wrote up a contract that states that he will not bring any items (no matter who they belong to) to the pawnshop without talking it over with me first. And he signed it. I guess whether he sticks to it is dependent on where his mental health is at any given time, but usually, for DH, no matter his mental state, a promise is a promise, and breaking it is a big deal. So I'm hoping, but being realistic about it, too.
The one good thing that came out of this (if you can call it good) is that for all the times DH has wondered if maybe he should just go off all of his meds because he really was a lot better when he was off them, well, this little experience showed us how things could go bad really fast without proper medication.
Well everyone, this event was kind of what started off my non-blogging streak. I have so much wanted to share it with you, but the pain was so raw, I really couldn't bring myself to. But somehow I was "stuck" on it, and felt like it was so important, I had to put it in here. But I couldn't.
DH, on his new Abilify, was out of bed and (wonder of wonders), doing laundry. I was sleeping (I go to bed at about 9pm on nights when I don't have to work at the group home). I was happy. More like thrilled. DH was trying, and he was helping.
At about 2am DH woke me up, panicked. "Carol, it's Tippy Toes, she's in the dryer". I was asleep, so it didn't register with me at first. "Carol, Tippy Toes is dead."
Tippy Toes, one of the more adventurous and mischievous kitties, and also a slender and dainty little girl, had somehow gotten into the dryer while DH had the dryer door open but was not paying attention. DH had loaded up the dryer with a full load of wet clothes and run the dryer.
He heard strange noises, and opened the dryer to check, but didn't see anything unusual, so he started it back up. He didn't find her until the load was done.
OMG, OMG.....it was surreal. I couldn't bring myself to imagine what she must've gone through. And DH, he was absolutely beside himself with guilt. I tried to tell him that it could have just as easily been me, but he was just despondent. And I can honestly say that I was, too. In shock, disbelief.
I've been aware of the danger of cats and clothes dryers for years. And in all those years, I've never even had a concern, as our cats never seemed interested in the dryer until Tippy Toes.
We both cried and cried and remembered her and felt awful. I felt awful, and DH felt worse. I've never lost a cat to a preventable accident before, it's much more heartbreaking than losing one to cancer or kidney failure--oh the guilt.
And the dryer. I can barely bring myself to use it. And DH hasn't touched it since. We are looking for a new dryer on Craigslist (a free or extremely cheap one) because of the association of the current dryer, and because it doesn't run right any more now.
I buried Tippy Toes in the back yard. DH couldn't bear to be a part of burying her. He still can't think about her without tearing up. I'm crying as I write this.
R.I.P. Tippy Toes, we loved you very much, and we're so sorry.
Um...hi, it's me......I think I owe you an apology. No, I'm certain of it. I have no excuse really, but for a myriad of small reasons and nothing I can really point a finger at, I have not been updating this blog. And I have so much to tell all of you......I guess I get in these "ruts" where I put it off for a while and then starting back up (like this) is hard, so I put it off some more.....anyhow, I'm sorry. You don't deserve to be treated like that.
I've missed you all. I hope you can forgive me.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
DH just called to tell me that he made an appointment to go to physical therapy for his back.
Basically every doctor in town has told him that he needs to go, but after more than three years he's made exactly one appointment (at my behest) and attended that and never went back.
But he called and set up the appointment himself. I absolutely cannot believe it.
Maybe the med changes are a good thing.....? (Or maybe he's feeling good about taking care of his diabetes and it's overflowing?) I don't know, but I'll sure take it!
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Well, DH has been VERY good this week about monitoring his blood sugar and avoiding overtly sweet things, like non-diet pop, candy, etc. Better than I ever imagined he could be--teehee. He still is having a tough time recognizing that things like white flour can be bad, too. But he's just beginning to take this seriously, so I guess it'll come. He's been checking his blood sugar twice a day, writing it down, when it's higher than usual he's wondered out loud what he did wrong....and he hasn't taken the class yet, but he wants to (it just hasn't started yet). It's so refreshing to see him taking care of himself, even minimally--I don't even care that he's doing it to preserve his "man parts" and not because he wants to be healthy--whatever motivates him!
And he went to his PDoc. Explained about the lack of initiative, the complete lack of motivation, the missed work, how a few times on days off he didn't get out of bed all day except to smoke (of course), and the PDoc thought things were bad enough where he wanted DH to check himself into the hospital where the PDoc is on staff so that DH could be monitored closely and kept safe. DH didn't want to do that, because he would likely lose his job, so he said no. So the PDoc made some med changes.
DH is no longer on Seroquel at all (he was taking 150mg at bedtime). I remember when the PDoc started DH on Seroquel and how it was the first medication that started to change DH's out-of-control manic behavior. At the time it felt like a miracle drug. So thinking about DH not taking it any longer......well, that terrifies me, because while things are bad right now as far as him being lazy, unmotivated and whiny, things were so very much worse back at the time when the Seroquel was first prescribed. And to help DH be more energetic, the PDoc prescribed Abilify. I don't remember if he was on that before or not, but it all scares me--I guess I'd rather deal with "the devil I know" as opposed to "the devil I don't know"!
So far, I'm not sure if it's the fear of losing his "man parts" or the Abilify, or the lack of Seroquel, or a combination of all three, but DH did a load of laundry, folded it, put it away, fixed the dryer, and made an appointment with the eye doctor without me even saying a word. So something's definitely better. Now my question is.....for how long? If it's just the "fear of losing man parts" causing the motivation, I suspect a lot of the motivation will wear off soon, although the motivation to be careful about the diabetes might remain. If it's the med changes that are helping, well, WOW! I'll remain cautiously optimistic for now.
So far I haven't seen "That Guy" yet. That doesn't mean he's not around, and I keep expecting him to pop up--but so far, so good. Sometimes it's a tough call as to whether I would rather be married to DH who is somewhat motivated but "That Guy" shows up regularly, or would I rather be married to an unmotivated, lazy DH? Tough call. I'd much prefer a somewhat motivated DH with no "That Guy". I wonder if it can be done?
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Well, if you remember from my post regarding the Wellness Walk, DH was supposed to go but he had a "health issue". Well, that issue has turned out to be bigger than we thought.
(Warning--slightly grown-up material ahead--and not for the squeamish)
DH had a rapidly growing lump on his inner thigh. He thought it might have been from his pants rubbing his leg or something, he could walk, but he didn't do the Wellness Walk because he was afraid it would make it worse. As usual, I didn't pay too much attention, as he always has a reason not to do something that requires a little effort....
Anyhow, the lump continued to grow, so DH went to the doctor. What the Dr. said has caused DH to sit up and take notice like no other health problem he's ever had.
Basically, the lump was a cyst. They had to cut it open to drain it, and the doctor said that he had seen bigger ones, but not too many. DH has to go back to the hospital to have it "re-packed" with cotton/gauze because it is draining really bad. It will recur, and since diabetics are more prone to infection, especially if the diabetes is poorly controlled, eventually, the recurrence will almost certainly become infected. This particular kind of cyst becomes more difficult to combat each time it recurs, can cause scarring and "tunnels" under his skin. Once the infection is present, because of the extremely close proximity to DH's "manly parts", and the increasing difficulty in treating the cyst, it is likely that those parts would become infected/gangrenous and require amputation. The Dr. was absolutely serious about this and said that unless DH starts controlling his diabetes, it was almost a certainty.
DH has suddenly decided that it is time to take control of his diabetes.
He's been buying diet pop, considering the sugars in what he eats, and has decided to attend a "control your diabetes" class.
Priorities, priorities :-)
I guess all those times I "reminded" him that if he didn't start taking his diabetes seriously, he'd lose his legs and maybe his arms too, and end up in a nursing home because I can't lift him.....I was threatening the wrong parts! Sheesh.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Today I took the day off (but I'm at my other job right now typing this)....
The nursing home where my mom is had their first ever Walk for Wellness. Family, friends, volunteers, nursing staff and nearly all the residents took part in a one mile walk, including my mom and me. The goal was to raise money for new exercise equipment for the Wellness program that they have at the nursing home, which helps residents with strength and balance, enhancing their quality of life. DH was "supposed to" come too, but he had several health concerns that may or may not have been as troublesome as he made them sound....anyhow, he didn't go.....
When I got there this morning, I could tell it was going to be a "good" day. I asked my mom if she wanted to go on the walk and she did. Not only that, but she was ready to get out of her wheelchair and REALLY walk! :-) (but I told her she could ride!)
It was a warm summer day and everything went off without too many snags. My mom said it was nice to be outside. We did the entire walk, then went back to the nursing home for hot dogs, beans and watermelon. I couldn't believe it, my mom ate the entire hot dog (but only a couple of bites of bun)....and all of her watermelon and a couple of small spoons of beans, too! I asked her if she was tired and she said "No, this is fun!"
There was a bit of a lull, which was filled by a very talented 14 year old girl who sang songs from many eras--she started off by singing "We Will Rock You", and I wondered about the choice of music for all these elderly folks....then....I noticed....MY MOM WAS SINGING ALONG AND TAPPING HER FINGERS!!! When she noticed I was watching her and smiling, she said "I don't even know this song!" I've been smiling all day just from that memory....
We sat for quite a while in the sun, and I frequently asked her if she wanted to go inside, and she didn't. Then they had an auction of donated "goodies" with a real auctioneer.....my mom loved it, and I loved seeing her so happy....and judging from the prices that some of the donated items brought ($7.00 for 12-packs of pop!), they raised quite a bit of moolah.
I do have to mention that at least twice she said to me, "You've been so nice to me, what is your name again?" :-)
I only minded a little, because it really doesn't matter to me at this point who my mom thinks I am, if I can make her smile, or if I can get her involved with something that she enjoys...
It was a precious day, full of memories, made so much better by the fact that my mom had such a "good" day....
Thursday, August 25, 2011
He hasn't gotten fired yet, but I know it's only a matter of time. They've cut him down to 3 nights a week, which, after gas expenses, pretty much pays for pop and cigs and not much else.
He has another PDoc appointment on Monday, hopefully he is able to express what he feels has been happening--it seems like this could (and should) be better.
He still has no initiative at all, and his thinking is funny, lots of "all or nothing" stuff, like the dryer broke down and he says "Why does bad stuff always happen to us?" and then "We've GOT to have a dryer....." (I'm fine with a clothesline, at least until winter.....)
But I am trying to look on the bright side as much as I can--we have so much more than lots of people. We have options. We (both of us, amazingly, especially in this economy) have jobs....and the bills get paid. Despite the fact that things aren't easy, we've been blessed. And I'm trying to remember that, so that when DH says "why does it always happen to us?", I can look past that.
Nothing huge. In the grand scheme of things, anyhow....
I told one of DH's friends that I would pay him to cut our grass. I cut about half of it last week and it took forever, because the grass was just that long :-( And the weeds along the fences and close to the house and stuff....they're as tall as I am, no kidding!!!!
So, rather than beat myself up over why it isn't getting done, I'm going to pay DH's friend to do it. He might be sorry.
It's a jungle out there.
Posted by Carol at 3:50 PM
Saturday, August 20, 2011
And it shocks me. When DH is moaning in pain from his back, I don't even feel bad for him. I find myself getting angry, because all he wants is for someone to give him a pill (preferably Percocet) to get rid of the "pain" and he doesn't do anything at all to make sure he doesn't get the pain in the first place, like go to physical therapy, exercise a little, or maybe make a half-hearted effort to lose weight (I know weight loss is hard, even for people without mental health issues, but if he just showed me he was trying to do something, even if he was failing, it would make me feel better)....
And when he comes home from work all sad because he was sent home from work for having high blood sugar, instead of being the "supportive wife", I turn into the "angry and disgusted" wife. Because the problem is so easy to avoid, yet he doesn't.
And he doesn't realize these things for whatever reasons, every time it happens, even if I've told him that it will happen, he is shocked and surprised. And I'm not. I just get more disgusted.
And that surprises me on some levels. I know he believes his problems are not of his doing (don't a lot of us?) and that he has a mental health condition that warps his thinking. So should I really be angry with him for something he can't seemingly control? I feel bad. But I just can't see how it can be pointed out to him, step by step, and he still doesn't do anything about it.
I have no sympathy. When he goes to the Emergency Room for his back pain, I don't even go with any more. Because every week there's some different ache or pain. And it's never anything serious. Last week he was having strange pains in his ribs, under his arm, on his right side. I just got angry, wasn't even worried about what might be going on, because it's always something. Then, I was glad that he was gone to the E. R. Then, I kind of mentally chastised myself, because what if I feel that way and he's really having a serious health problem? It's like I have run out of sympathy. It's not something I'm proud of. But after rereading what I've written here, it might not be as surprising as I thought it was.
Monday, August 15, 2011
It's been a strange few weeks, mom-wise.....there were about 2 weeks where she was adamantly refusing food and water, refusing all medications, and very delusional when she was awake, which wasn't very often. There were days where they couldn't wake her up enough to get her out of bed, there were days when she refused to let them clean her or change her. I thought "the end is near". And opted to sign her up for Hospice, mostly, I'm afraid, selfishly, because I know I am going to need support as I go through this and I know the hospice social worker will be a support and the nurses will tell me what to expect. I don't really believe that it is going to help my mom all that much, as she states she is not in pain (when I can get her to answer) and I believe that is the truth, because most of the time she is just groggy and sleepy, not agitated as if she was hurting. When she is agitated, it's because of her delusions.
So I signed the forms to get the ball rolling, and set up the "intake" appointment with the hospice program, and then.....mom rallied. She started getting out of bed, eating at least 50% of her meals (although she can no longer feed herself) and talking about real things, like the weather and supper. And she was like that for about 7 days to the point where I wondered if maybe I had jumped the gun with hospice. Then today was the "intake appointment" and she was back to being lethargic again. She ate well today, but she did not want to participate in life, she only wanted to sleep. I was disappointed, again, and I kind of mentally rolled my eyes at myself--here she is, can't feed herself, needs help with everything, can't remember things from one minute to another, but I am still getting my hopes up for the "good" days. And I know the letdown is coming, but I just hope it doesn't, then I'm sad when it does.
It's almost an exact parallel to my reactions to DH's issues. Every time there's some good days, I start to think things are getting better, but really, I'm just setting myself up for another crash. When I recognize this pattern, I feel like maybe I've got a Pollyanna outlook and maybe I need to do something to make my thinking a little more reality based. I think intellectually, for both my mom and my husband, I know where things are at and that they aren't going to get as better as I want them to......but emotionally, I still cling to hope......
Sunday, August 14, 2011
I insisted that DH call his worker at the program that had gotten him the job, and explain what had happened. She wasn't surprised, I think that she was like the rest of you, kind of surprised that it took this long to happen....but she made a couple of phone calls and got him his job back--for the most part, anyhow....
But just barely--I don't remember if I've explained how the attendance thing works there, but if he's late or misses work on a weekday, he gets 1 point; if he's late or misses work on a weekend, he gets 2 points, and on really really busy days, like Mother's Day, if he's late or misses work, it's 3 points. When he gets to 8 points, they start cutting his hours back (he loses 8 hours per week), when he's at 9 points, they cut his hours even more than that (16 fewer hours per week) and when he hits 10 points, he's done--fired. Right now he's got 9 points.
I'm not sure if the mental health worker can help him when he reaches 10. Actually, if they were as strict as they should be, he's probably got more like 20 points right now, because they didn't give him points for the days when he showed up for work but had to go to the E.R. for his back pain, or had to go home for whatever perceived health problem he was having that day.
And I think it would feel really weird to go back to work after that, when you had "quit" and then you're back, but DH is so relieved to still have a job that it doesn't seem to bother him. I'm really relieved too, because it really helps DH feel like more of a contributing member of the family....
Unfortunately, he still has no insight into the fact that his behaviors may cause him to lose his job--I just can't imagine that, but it's true. I tell him all the time that drinking water or diet pop instead of sugar-laden pop could make a big difference, as when he drinks the sugar pop, his blood sugar gets high and they often end up sending him home. And he's had numerous referrals to physical therapy for his back, but he doesn't bother to go, instead he keeps going to the doctor, hoping that someone will prescribe him some Percocet. But he won't take any action that might require any type of a change. I finally, one day, came right out and told him that, that he was going to lose his job if he didn't start making some changes to his lifestyle. He "tried" to change to diet pop for 2 days, then he was right back to sugar pop :-(
There have been a lot of times lately where, although I have never thought divorce was/is an option, it is looking more like a possibility than ever. How on earth am I going to spend the rest of my life with someone like this? I just don't know how I'll do it. But when I start fantasizing about being "on my own", I realize a) I absolutely can't afford to do anything right now, and b) there's still a little bit of hope there, that things can get to a point where I can feel ok with them, although that hope is dwindling.
DH has an appointment with his pdoc on Monday. I'll let you know how that goes.
Friday, August 5, 2011
I know all of you will probably wonder how on earth he managed to stay employed as long as he did, but he's been getting slack(er) about doing things to keep his mental health stable, and last night he had a rough night at work and walked out.
He said it wasn't until he was driving home that he realized the consequence(s) of doing that. And now I'm really scared, although I've been here before.....
He thinks that maybe if he calls his manager and explains, maybe they'll let him come back....but he's also been missing a lot of work due to health related stuff, because he doesn't do what the doctors tell him to do..... so maybe the casino is happy to be rid of him....I don't know!!! I'll hope that maybe he can talk someone into giving him another chance...
If that doesn't work, then my next thought is to call the agency for mentally ill people that helped him get this job and see if maybe they can advocate for him....there are so few jobs where we live, that if this "sticks", it could be a long time before he works again....
And of course in the meantime I've got the husband sayin "I'm so worthless, I always do stupid stuff like that, I'm a piece of sh**...." and all I want to do is throttle him because any way I look at it, decisions he made caused this.
I'll keep you posted.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Well, DH is still pretty much in the same place mentally. He's not doing much around the house at all, and if there is a way to save him from expending one extra calorie, he will take the lazy way out, even if it means doing something that upsets me.
Take, for example, cigarette butts. They're all over the driveway. I've provided him with cans to put them in, explained that all the litter shows a lack of pride in our yard/house/belongings and he says he'll use an ashtray/can, but then after a day or two, he's back to just flicking them anywhere.
Or the damn garbage. He'll take the full trash bag out of the waste basket in the kitchen, but instead of putting the bag of trash into the big trash can to go out for pickup, he just puts the bag on the deck outside the door. Same lecture from me about respecting where you live, and also that the deck is not a "garbage room", it is a part of our house/yard that the world can see, and when you put garbage out there, it says "I don't give a crap".
But the worst thing is, that I know he doesn't give a crap about those things any more. And I look around at the grass which needs cutting again, and recognizing that if I take the time to mow it, I won't get any sleep this weekend.....and looking at all the things that need to be fixed but I don't know how and/or there's not enough money to fix them.....the screen door no longer shuts at all because of the way the hinges broke and according to the hardware guy is going to necessitate a new screen door (and someone alert enough to put it on).....the rest of the roof, which is awful (except for the part that DH's brother did last year, but I can't do that again, that was more stressful than a leaky roof!......The fence for the chicken house kind of fell apart after all the heavy snows this past winter, and, of course there's all the animal chores and the housecleaning. I do the bare minimum--litter boxes, garbages.....sweep once in a while.....laundry.....but the stuff that takes time and attention to detail, well, I put that off because between working and my mom and sleeping, there's not much time for those things, either.
I'm a little concerned because I find myself thinking about how much easier things would be if he wasn't there. And they would be. And that upsets me because I didn't used to feel that way. He just makes more work for me all around, and I don't know that I'm getting much in return any more.....then I feel selfish, because the "what's in it for me" is not usually how I think (or is it?) I think (and I recognize that this is never going to happen but....) that if he decided to leave, right now I'd be a little bummed but mostly vastly relieved. And I think that our story is not on the path to a happy ending. I don't want to hurt him, but I keep trying to point out that he doesn't seem to care about anyone/anything any more....and things really don't change. It's really hard to do both sides of the marriage all by yourself.
I'm feeling like I can't handle this place any more, either. It's too much. I need to live closer to my main job.....in a place that isn't falling apart all at once.....in a place that costs so much less than where we're living now....where cutting the grass doesn't take 6 hours.....but of course that's all a pie in the sky, because I need to live near my mom right now.....and I have made a lifetime commitment to the animals....and there's just no place except "out in the country" where I could have them all.....don't get me wrong, I certainly don't want any more, but the ones that are already there, well, some days knowing that they depend on me is what gets me up in the morning.....and I like where I live.....it's just that I wonder if maybe it's not very realistic any more.....
Well, that's a lot of wondering. And not much I can do about it right now except ponder.....I've always been a person who believes (but doesn't necessarily always follow) that if something bothers you, either do something about it or shut up about it. Unfortunately there are things bothering me, and I feel kind of trapped. I recognize that some of the "trapped" feeling is my own doing, but it doesn't change how I feel.....I'm hoping this is just a phase...... maybe I need to get a live-in housekeeper/groundskeeper, huh?
Monday, July 11, 2011
The good news first: I didn't end up getting laid off (at least yet) because the judge deemed my job to be "essential" so it will still be funded even though the government has shut down. I know some things might change if the shutdown lasts for over a month, so there is still some uncertainty....but at least I don't have to worry about that for now...
And the rest? Just sad news.
My mom has been extremely sleepy, to the point where she can't/won't wake up. She is refusing food and yesterday she refused liquids too. I'm very afraid, because although there are "good" days in between these no-eating/drinking days still, the "good" days are where a) she opens her eyes, b) she asks about my day and c) she eats a few bits for supper--so as you can see, even the "good" days aren't very good any more.
I'm really grieving. My birthday was July 7. It was the first year that she didn't know it was my birthday. And lately I've been so much wanting to just call her up to hear her voice.....but then I have to remember that she doesn't know how to use a phone any more, even if she was alert enough to talk....
The nursing home was concerned about her sleeping so much and tested her for another UTI. Of course it was positive, and the culture showed that the UTI might respond to an oral antibiotic, so they started her on it....but nothing changed at all. So the nursing home called me to ask me how aggressive I wanted to be with finding out what's going on....and I said I don't know. Right at this moment, she really has no quality of life that I can see....she's not enjoying herself, and even the "good" days aren't very good. But if there is a treatment that could improve her quality of life, I don't want to forego that, either.
I requested that the nursing home social worker contact me about getting my mom started with hospice. When this was brought up a couple of months ago, I thought that we should reach a decision as to the resistant UTI first. Then my mom got a little better for a couple of weeks, so I put it off....But I think it's time. And the denial part of me is screaming and pounding the floor with her fists. My mom can't die, she just can't. But she's going to, and unless she starts eating and drinking, it'll probably be sooner rather than later.
I woke up this morning and remembered that the social worker would be calling today, and then yesterday came back, where my mom couldn't seem to summon enough strength to draw liquid up into the straw, and where she got angry with me for trying to get her to drink even one swallow of liquid....and how she slumps over in her wheelchair, and how I'm having a harder time understanding her, and she's having a harder time finding any words at all.....and my heart started pounding and I got all scared again.....I wanted to go back to sleep, but of course I had to go to work and even if I could have stayed home, with my heart pounding like that, chances are, I wouldn't have been able to sleep anyhow.....
And then I realize: I've been "taking care of" my mom for over 20 years, since my dad passed away from lung cancer in 1987. At that time, my mom's entire life was my dad and us kids (my brother and me), and in addition, my mom never learned to drive, so she mostly depended on the city bus and my dad for transportaton......but my brother and I were both young adults by then, and we "flew the nest" shortly after that....so my mom ended up pretty isolated and started drowning her sorrows in beer (she had never ever had a drinking issue before my dad passed). I tried to get her to try new things, but (as was to become the story of my life for the next 25(?) years) she refused to try new things unless I went with her. So I got her to join my bowling league, even though she had never bowled before. I made sure we got out to eat, went to places where she wouldn't go otherwise...one year we went to Duluth and stayed overnight because she said she hadn't been there in years......and I took her to the casino, I even took the "seniors bus" with her to the casino, hoping that she would decide to do it herself once in a while....but really....she never did take much initiative to try new things on her own....maybe it's just her generation, or her personality, I don't know....
But the same thing continued even when she moved to the assisted living facility, because even though they had a lot of activities and stuff, she was afraid to try them without me. So I attended the sing-a-longs, exercise classes, and went along on the assisted living bus to go shopping (once again hoping she could do it herself, but she never could) and attended all the special celebrations they had there.....and when my mom transitioned to the nursing home, she wouldn't go to the church services without me. I still go to "church" at the nursing home every Sunday, although in the last few weeks, it's been about a 50/50 chance of her being alert enough to go.....and now, it's ice cream. It's the same but different. I get to the nursing home every night at about 7pm (that's when I get back from work) and at 7:30 the staff brings around snacks. Although the rest of the world can see that I'm overweight, my mom has consistently been convinced that I don't eat enough, so she wants me to eat ice cream (the nursing home serves ice cream in little 4 oz cups). And she will only eat ice cream herself if she thinks she is doing it in order to get ME to eat some. So every night for the past few months, we've had ice cream together. Even now that she's been needing me to feed it to her, she still won't eat it unless she's convinced that I've got some too, and that I'm going to be eating it if she eats hers. Yesterday the ice cream was the only thing she ate or drank. And she refused nearly all of her pills, too. Unfortunately, this "I'll eat it if you'll eat it" only seems to work with ice cream, not supper :-(
My point, I guess, is that I've been "taking care" of my mom for so very long....I truly have no idea of how my life would be if she was gone. I have planned so much around my being there for her, I'm already starting to feel lost....even on the days when I get up after 3 or 4 hours of sleep so that I can go to "church" with her, I feel a sad disappointment when she isn't awake enough to go....
And there's the other side, too....my mom's been "taking care" of me (of course), for years, too. When her Alzheimer's was yet just some "eccentricities" and not yet truly apparent, she would walk to a local dollar store and buy me bags and bags of food from the dollar store. Way more than even a family of 8 could eat, even if they didn't eat anything else ever....but she would do it all the time, because she was concerned that I wasn't eating enough.....and she would get very hurt if I tried to tell her I already had plenty....and she would call me every night just to say hi.....when I think of all the times I really didn't have much to say, or was too busy to take the time to have a real conversation, it kills me, because I would give anything for just one more phone call......
I don't know how I'm going to get through this. Before my mom got it, I thought Alzheimer's was just a disease where people couldn't remember stuff....kind of like an old person's amnesia....and every time my mom has moved to a different stage, there's been grieving involved....now it looks like she's running out of stages...
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Well, as you probably remember, after my layoff in January, 2010, I got a job with a local county government. I love my job, more than I ever could have imagined. I think I'm good at it, and I love my coworkers and the culture there. But....
Not sure if it's been on any news outside of MN, but....the MN governor and the Legislature cannot come to an agreement about the budget. So far, it sounds like they are miles apart. If they cannot reach an agreement by July 1, the government will "shut down", because there will be no funds for anything that is funded with State money.
Working for a county, we were "safer" than actual State employees, but in reality, many of the programs we administer are State-funded, and also, many of the computer systems we work on are State-operated. So potentially, if there is a shutdown, there would be no work for us.
I got my "in the event of a shutdown, there will be layoffs" notice from the union. I think....although, since nobody I work with has ever gone through this, so I can't get a "for sure" answer....that if I were to be laid off, I would be called back when the shutdown is over. So I'm not as worried about that as I was with my corporate layoff. But....if it lasts very long....Unemployment is state-run, too. The Governor is trying to make sure that Unemployment stays running, and that the programs/systems I work with stay running, too, but the judge hasn't decided what will happen.
I guess I'm kind of ambivalent about this--I could use some time off. My mom has declined considerably and most days now struggles with her words and the delusions have become a "normal" thing. There are many days when she refuses to eat, and some days where she refuses her pills, too. Often when I am there, I can get her to eat, so spending more time with her would sooth my soul, for sure....I know "they" say that when a person starts refusing food, it's the beginning of the end....but.....some days she doesn't, and eats quite a bit, so I really still don't know how close to the end we are in this journey...I am certain, however, sadly, that we are fairly close to the end. I'm guessing a couple of months, but I've never been through this before, and I really hope I'm wrong. Even though I really can't talk with her any more, beyond telling her "it's raining out" or "was there any music today?" I already miss her so much....I'm not ready...
So the shutdown would be beneficial in that regard....but the uncertainty is stressful, too. What if I got laid off and the unemployment office was closed, too? What if I didn't, for whatever reason, get called back? What if a shutdown lasted quite some time? So I would be very ok if the shutdown doesn't happen. Right now it's not looking like that'll happen, but there are four more days where they could come up with something....I guess we probably won't know for sure until Thursday, the 30th of June, whether there will be a shutdown or not, and whether my job will be affected or not.....
Friday, June 17, 2011
Following is a snippet from an article in the journal "Nature" regarding funding for new mental health drugs. Click on the link to read the entire article--it's surprisingly easy to understand and scary.
Psychopharmacology in crisis
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I guess it's time for me to start recognizing that who and how DH is, is likely how it'll be from now on. His medications seem to have (for the most part) stabilized him, and there is good and bad with that realization.
"That Guy" rarely makes an appearance any more. The only time we see him now is if DH hasn't been responsible about getting his medications refilled and has gone without taking his Lithium and/or Depakote for a few days. Otherwise, except for a brief "breakthrough" sighting (where "That Guy" isn't quite controlled completely), he's pretty much gone. And that truly is a relief, because I believe that "That Guy" has posed the biggest risk to our marriage.
With "That Guy" gone, I realize that there have been tradeoffs. When "That Guy" and the bipolar were in full swing, and even before that, when we got married, DH was very ambitious. He kept the house spotless. He was always fixing something, or cutting the grass. There were days when he couldn't stop cleaning. My friends were HUGELY jealous. It's weird, when you recognize that there is something good in a mental illness, but that's the truth. Now that DH is on the "right" medications, the angry, irrational "That Guy" is gone, but the ambition is gone, too. DH no longer cares about how clean the house is. At all. It's hugely frustrating for me. And nothing gets fixed, either. I'm actually thinking about whether I can afford to pay someone to cut the grass this year, because last year it only got cut twice. And this year, unless something changes (with me), isn't looking any better.....I know it feels much better to me to come home and see the yard looking nice. So I'm trying to decide if there's money in the budget for that. I'm pretty sure there's not, because I can't think of anywhere else to cut corners. Oh well.
Now, the only time DH does something is if I bribe him with cigarettes ("I'll buy you cigarettes if you clean the kitchen.....") and then it might only be a half-a**ed job. Or if I get really angry about the situation. He has said several times to me: "I know the cleaning is up to me. You already do so much. And you don't have time to sleep, let alone clean. And I have three days off most weeks. I've got to be the one who does most of it..." but then he doesn't. A lot of times he doesn't even bother to put garbage into the waste basket, he just leaves it on the kitchen counter. And then I blow up. And then I feel bad, because I'm being mean. But I don't know how else to do this. I guess this is a learning part of "controlled" bipolar--adjusting to DH's abilities and determining what is "forgetfulness" and what is "laziness". I suspect that a lot of the time it's more of the latter. But he does truly forget a lot of stuff. And he seems to lack the ability to see the potential consequences of an action sometimes until I remind him. And that is "new" with the bipolar, too.
Since DD has been gone, he's once again been on more of an "even keel". It's very hard for me to know whether it is/was her issues that made things get worse, or if it is/was giving love and attention to a third person....or the responsibility of caring for her when she needed so much....? I'll be giving that a lot more thought before I come to a firm conclusion on that, if I ever do.
The hardest thing, though, is, that things really haven't changed much in some time. So I'm kind of losing my hope that someday he'll get "back to normal". I'm starting to recognize that this IS "normal" now. I love DH very much and don't want a divorce. Some days, though, I envision what it would be like to live by myself, where all the garbage made it into the trash, where I didn't have the disappointment--like when he SAYS he'll cut the grass, and then he doesn't. And sometimes I wish I could have a life mate who was able to work hard, have a job with more responsibility, more money, so that I could quit this second job. Someone who could see that the grass needed cutting, would go out and cut it, and take pride in how good a job he did.
But I try to continue to remind myself to count my blessings as much as possible. I have a life mate. Lots of people never find that. We speak the same "language"--he gets my jokes, I get his--we know what is important to each other, and we can talk to each other and know we will (usually) be understood and heard. We respect each other when we disagree. That's a big one. There are a lot of things that could be worse.
There was a story in the Minneapolis paper today, about a man who had once had a cocaine addiction. He met his wife in treatment, and cleaned up his act, had children, a job, a home....and then he secretly relapsed. He went to a house where he thought he could get some cocaine, and instead was severely beaten by gang members. Now he is in a nursing home. He's unable to string more than a few words together. He can't hold his head up, let alone cut the grass. His medical bills are astronomical. And while his wife still holds out hope, really all she has now are memories of how he (and her life) used to be. I read that story today and realized that even though "what used to be" may be gone, I'm still pretty darned lucky, and so is DH. It's that mindset I need to hang on to, and keep myself remembering all the things that I'm grateful for.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
DH has received notice (again) that he is not eligible for disability. Apparently somewhere in his psychiatrist's records, his psychiatrist had noted that DH was responding well to his medications. So then when the psychiatrist later stated that DH should not work, they said that was inconsistent information. His attorney is (once again) appealing the decision, stating that the decision does not reflect the record...but I think it's probably like the justice system, where appeals get harder and harder to win, the farther up the chain you go....
DH was upset, and did a little of the "I'm a worthless piece of ****"....but really, after 1 day of that, he was back to his "normal" self again. I think the fact that it took so long had already prepared him for the fact that he wasn't going to get it....so I guess it was easier for him to handle.
Me? Yeah, I'm disappointed. That money would've helped so much. And hoping that something like that will happen and solve a lot of problems, well, that hope is something, too. But I guess it's all going to have to be done the old fashioned way.....rats!