Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lately it just seems so hard....(pity party ahead!)

I must have "the winter blues" because suddenly everything feels hopeless, like no matter how hard I try, things keep getting worse, instead of improving.

I got my car back, and now (for DH's truck + my car) owe $3000 to my brother.  And that's really really embarrassing to me.  And I was very happy to drive my own car to work this morning, but now I keep imagining(?) that there are other things wrong--a funny noise here, a funny smell there...I'm probably just paranoid because the car seemed to respond better and use less gas than before....but....

And I really do have to make that appointment for Sarah (dog).  This morning when I went to let her out, she couldn't find the front door, even with me calling her over there.  And the accidents have been getting worse, if you can imagine that...but it's breaking my heart....

And my mom.  She may or may not be stable.  Everything she says now makes sense, but she keeps telling me she "doesn't feel good" but when I or the nurses try to figure out what's going on, she can't tell us.  Her bloodwork seems fine.  But she's sleeping nearly all day and back to not eating.

Winter.  Need I say more?  It's been relentless.  All it does is snow and when the snow mercifully stops, it's 20 below zero.  I fell the other day when I was bringing in firewood and that could have been really bad, because DH was at work....but luckily I was ok....I'm just so tired of clouds, snow and cold....

And I'm worried about money.  After DH driving his truck for nearly 2 weeks, I'm worried that I won't have enough money for gas to get to work next week.

It just feels like "one step forward, three steps back".  And I hope I "get over" this feeling soon.....spring would probably be a good cure...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pride Goeth Before a Fall...

Well.....things were umm....stable(?), at least temporarily....but....Thursday morning on my way to the bus stop, my car started having "issues".  About five miles away from the bus stop, the "check engine" light started flashing.  I've had the light come on before--usually it's the gas cap put on funny or something like that.  But I didn't even know it could flash!  So at the same time, I noticed my car was not driving right, it was kind of sluggish and running much rougher than usual.  But I made it to the bus stop (whew!), caught the bus, made it to work on time, although more than a little concerned.  I called DH and told him what happened, and he called and set up an appointment at the mechanic's for Monday (I'm off work on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. day).  Neither of us knew what was going on with the car.  (Yes, the same car I was so very proud of, the car I got in July, the "most luxurious car I've ever owned", the same car I told EVERYONE, including you folks, about).

So I got to the bus stop on my way home, and got in my car and it started right up.  That was a relief....I got on my way, and when I had driven about ten miles (40 more to go), the car was really slowing down and I could only go 40 on the freeway, so I decided to exit.  I got to the top of the exit ramp and the car quit.  I had just enough warning of that to pull off to the side.  I called DH (who had just gone to pick up DD for a home visit) to help me out....so he called the mechanic guy who was coming to tow it, and DH and DD came and got me.  I was actually a little relieved, surprisingly, at this point, because now I wasn't worried about whether I was going to make it home or not--I was, my car wasn't.

Anyhow, the mechanic called yesterday morning.  One of the cylinders blew out(?) and I need a new engine.  O. M. G.  Where am I going to get this money?????  I have no idea whatsoever....but somehow things always work out.....still not completely sure that putting an engine into that car is the best plan, but not a lot of time for car shopping, and I'm not sure if I"d get a loan with the high debt load I've got.....so....

So I've been driving DH's car and (since he has fewer miles to get to work) he dug out his pickup truck, which was kind of parked for the winter with not-working-very-well brakes and drove that to work.  So that went ok, and except for the fact that his truck only gets about 10 miles to the gallon, everything except the financial part seems very doable.

Then he woke up today and went to start the truck and it wouldn't start.  The starter's dead--can you believe the timing????  He did give it a few knocks with a crowbar and was able to get it started so that he could get to work (he gets major bad marks if he calls in on a weekend, so I was glad of that), but he couldn't get it started again when it was time to leave.  He got a ride from a coworker, but now we have to get it towed, too!!!!  And now we're down to one vehicle between the two of us who work overlapping shifts.  And no money to get these things done....I'm going to have to ask my brother to loan me some money until our taxes come back (hopefully we'll get a refund of some type).

What a mess.  I always say (and have posted about it) that "when it rains, it pours".....but it's getting a little ridiculous at Carol's house.....

The only "silver lining" is that DH seems remarkably unruffled, considering the circumstances.  Usually, in a crisis like this, "That Guy" would be certain that the world was ending and not be able to make any decisions relating to the crisis.  But DH had the foresight to arrange a ride to work tomorrow, so that at least that day's covered....then I'm off on Monday, so that day's covered....I'm thinking it must be the Pristiq that's changing how stressed out he gets (or doesn't get) over things like this.  I told him I was proud of him.

I know the situation could have been a lot worse than it was, even though it's bad enough.  I'm trying to count my blessings, but it's tough right now.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bipolar and TBI

DH consistently refers to his Bipolar Disorder as a "Brain Injury", mostly because the psychiatrist, when DH was hospitalized in 2006/07 did a CT scan and found abnormalities (click here for more on that).  And, of course, a "Brain Injury" carries less stigma than a "Mental Illness".  I was searching Google to see if there really was any way that a TBI (traumatic brain injury) could manifest as a mental illness, and I found this extremely interesting article on braininjury.com:

There is substantial psychological and neuro-behavioral evidence available to support the fact that traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a risk factor for subsequent psychiatric disorders. In the Journal of Brain Injury (van Reekum R, 1996). The study revealed high rates for post-TBI patients of major depression, bipolar affective disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, borderline and avoidant personality disorders....."

(Click here to read the rest of this article)

Anyhow, this kind of blew me away, so I figured I'd post a link to the full article for all of you!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Disability--an option I thought was "done for"....

DH got a letter from his disability attorney(s) stating that his court date is Feb. 22.  I made him call the attorney because they were not aware that he was working.  When DH told them about his job, they did not seem concerned.  They asked him how many hours he works and "It's part-time, right?" (of course).  Then they asked him if he thought that his psychiatrist would sign a paper stating that DH cannot work full time.  (Of course he will, because all this time the psychiatrist has been telling DH that he should not be working at all, not even part time [but me getting laid off last year made him feel like he needed to work and I am glad most of the time]).

The thing is, I have never heard of anyone getting disability and working....?  I guess I knew that he could work a day or two, but I didn't know that he might still qualify for something--don't worry, my hopes aren't up....I'm not convinced that DH gave them all the right information.  But I've been thinking about it anyhow....wouldn't that be nice??!!

My mom seems to be mentally a little more stable.  There's currently no "weirdness", and we can talk about the weather and what she had for supper, etc...so in that sense, things have "stabilized".  However, she's still not eating much and yesterday she "didn't feel good" to the point where she slept ALL day and the aides couldn't get her to wake up to take her pills or change into her nightgown.  When I visited, I couldn't get her to wake up either.  The nurses were concerned about this and also that my mom has been emitting a "foul" odor, kind of like really bad diarrhea, but she is clean and things seem to be functioning in that department.  I've never heard of that before, either, so I'm worrying about what's going on inside her.

And to make things even more uplifting where my mom is concerned, well, in the last year or so, when I've been visiting every day, I've gotten to know a lot of the residents.  And over the weekend this past weekend, two long-time residents passed away, and that made me sad.  I know it's a part of life but I'm sad for their families and missing them (the residents) myself.  Sometimes I wonder, because I'm so very fond of some of the residents there, if/when something happens to my mom, whether I would keep going back to visit....and my answer changes every day. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mom update

Well, it's 2011.  Officially.  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Me, well, DH had to work, so I took a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne to my mom's nursing home room and we chatted and drank the bottle of "champagne".  She really liked it, which made me feel good, because she needs all the fluids and calories that she can get.  At about 9pm we wished each other a Happy New Year, and I went home to bed.

I'm really sad about 2011.  When I stop to think, I realize that this will likely be the last time I drink "champagne" with my mom for New Year's.  That although I'm happy that she was well enough to do that, she's really not doing very well at all.  She seems to have "leveled out", though, with these super-antibiotics.  There's no more weirdness about getting shot or being hung, no more evil family members, etc....and our conversations, as simple as they are, tend to be based in the "here and now".  So that was an amazing Christmas present, for sure.  Of course, there's a tradeoff:  She's been having horrible diarrhea.  I suspect it's from the Macrobid (the antibiotic for the superbug UTI that she's been having) and I wasn't too terribly concerned until tonite, when I did a search for "Macrobid diarrhea" and found that it can actually be a "rare but life threatening" side effect, leading to a different type of infection.  Holy cow.  It's like Alzheimer's whack-a-mole :-(  Get rid of one problem and something potentially worse crops up.  I hope I'm wrong.  I hope it's just the sheer strength of the Macrobid that is causing the diarrhea.  The notes I read online said that if there is diarrhea, to stop treatment immediately.  I don't think anyone at the nursing home (or I) really thought it was any more of a big deal than regular diarrhea, where the patient could get dehydrated or lose certain electrolytes....and now that I know it could be a big deal, the Macrobid is all done.  She had the last dose yesterday.  So I guess now we just wait and see what happens.

I know what the end result will be.  And my tendency is to deny it and fight it tooth and nail.  But not much will probably be changed by me doing that, except that maybe I'll have fewer regrets down the line.

I'm also considering the possibility of contacting Hospice.  But even though I know that this is not a good situation, and Alzheimer's does not improve, I feel like if I bring in Hospice, I'll be a) jinxing things and b) giving up and I don't want to do either because I really need my mom.  And I know it's silly but I keep comparing her to some of the other late-stage Alzheimer's patients in the nursing home and saying "She's not that bad yet...." but I know that those patients probably aren't dealing with this UTI stuff, either.

My friend Brenda, who was DD's PCA (personal care attendant) when DD was living at home, lost both of her parents in a 6-month timespan, one to an aggressive cancer, and one to a stroke.  I know I'm "only" losing my mom, so I can't really draw a parallel to her pain, but sometimes I have a tough time deciding if losing a parent quickly like that would be worse than this "long goodbye" or not.

And to top things off, I think my brother is detaching himself from my mom.  I call him every night with an update, but he rarely comes to see her and when he does, it's for a very short time.....I'm kind of glad she's not remembering him so clearly these days (I think it's a case of "out of sight, out of mind") because then I don't have to answer so many questions about that....

The whole situation just crunches up my heart.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


It turns out, our new insurance from my new job, won't pay for DH's Effexor XR, and won't pay for the generic version.  The pdoc appealed and they still said "no way".  So.....that left DH without an antidepressant, and I could tell very clearly that something was missing--he was talking in slow motion again, getting mad about things that usually don't bother him, being even lazier than usual.....

So he called the pdoc and asked for them to prescribe something to replace the Effexor, at least until they can talk the insurance company into cooperating....

The pdoc did not prescribe anything, really.  But what he did do was give DH a month's supply of Pristiq, which, according to what I've found on line, is kind of a super-charged Effexor.  Of course it's new, so I doubt that insurance will cover it, but if the pdoc can give it to him for free, I'm all for that....

Anyhow, I noticed that DH started doing little things, like calling me just to say "Hi".  And making sure the dogs all got pottied at the right times.  And cleaning up after Sarah (yes, she's still there) because there is no amount of pottying for her that will avoid an accident, unless she goes out every hour or so....

Anyhow, at first I was just so thrilled with these little changes, I didn't even think about the Pristiq--since I'd read that it was similar to Effexor, I wasn't expecting any changes.  Then I realized that the only thing that had changed (besides DH's behavior) was the Pristiq.  I like it.  Yay!