Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
We have now set things up so that DD comes home every other weekend for a visit. However, since I'm still working 2 jobs, I haven't been all that involved in the visits--it's been mostly DH. DD had an exceptionally good visit two weeks ago, where she was like the kid that she was before the worst of this stupid stuff happened. Both DH and I enjoyed the visit tremendously, and were hoping for more.
This week, however, I'm seeing/feeling things I don't know how to describe. First off, when we were scheduling the visit, DD got angry with me when I wouldn't do things her way. She hung up on me. I imposed a consequence. That was all normal and as good as can be expected. But I think since DH had so much fun during the last visit, he's really jumping the gun with this one. DD's consequence still has not been performed, I think DH has forgotten about it completely. He consulted with me after we got her home for the visit and asked if I thought it would be ok if she had her friend over for a sleepover. I said "we should wait and see how she does tonite and tomorrow morning before we decide." To me that sounded like a "let's evaluate this together when we get to tomorrow." But to DH it sounded like "if you think she's been good enough, go ahead." So he decided it was ok. And I'm pretty frustrated about that. But maybe it was my fault for not communicating clearly what I was expecting. I know that when my "gut" feeling is that I'm mad, and I can't put into words why that is, there's still probably a legitimate reason.
Then, Friday was payday for both DH and me. It's the day when I give DH his "fun money" allowance for the week. I normally get home from work at 6:45pm. He had already called me on my drive home to see where I was and did I have his money? But I had to stop at a place to pet-sit (it's kind of my intermittent 3rd job) for some people before I got home. So....while I was still driving to the pet-sitting, he called again asking where I was. And then after I had been there for 10 minutes, he called AGAIN. Then, when I turned on to our road, DH apparently got both girls in the car and drove up the road to intercept me on the way so that he could get his stupid money as fast as possible. I'm irritated about this, to say the least.
This was a remnant of one of our/my problems when DD was living at our house--DH is not a dad to her a lot of the time, he's like another kid. He just wants to have fun as much as DD and he does not make being a parent or setting a good example a priority. And she takes full advantage of it. So it makes me angry with both of them, although I realize intellectually, DD is just doing what kids do: taking advantage of a lack of limits wherever she can find them. There's no excuse for DH not to step up to the "dad" plate. But then I fall into the "how much is he capable of, am I expecting too much with his mental health issues?"
On a better (for my sanity) note: The residential treatment center where DD is staying is going to petition to have her stay there past her 18th birthday. This is a big relief to me, because they were really pressuring me to decide if she was going to come home or not and, while I don't think it's realistic to think that she's "better" enough to come home, I also don't want to be the meanie who basically (in DD's mind anyhow) says "we don't want you any more." We've already had some set-to's on that issue, because DD now knows that if she cannot improve her behavior, there is a group home placement in her future, and she is hurt and angry about it. So the fact that the RTC does not think she is ready to go anywhere is a big relief to me. Maybe a miracle will happen and she will be able to turn things around to where we could make it work. And if she can't, maybe we can procrastinate that decision to where there is less stress and drama in my life at the time (I know--how likely is that?)
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The nurse practitioner called me and let me know that my mom's hemoglobin was at 8.2. 8.0 is usually the cut-off for when someone needs a transfusion. She offered me some options--1) do nothing, let nature take its course (since I was already agonizing about life and death decisions with Sarah, this one was tough to entertain.... and 2) do the transfusion and see how long her hemoglobin improves for and reconsider...and 3) do a whole bunch of tests to see if we can figure out where the bleeding is coming from. That one isn't under serious consideration, because first of all, my mom has been anemic for years and has had CT scans, MRIs, colonoscopies, esophageal scopes and other tests to find the source and nothing has ever turned up and also....my mom is so frail right now, even if we did find something, there probably wouldn't be much we could do about it--it's not like if we found colon cancer, for example, that we could do surgery or chemo or radiation, so what's really the point of putting her through all those tests that are so stressful....?
After looking online and talking to some people, I had pretty much decided that a transfusion (at least the very first one ever) would be minimally invasive and with very little risk of side effects, so I was pretty set to go ahead....
Then I went to visit her, and the first thing she said was "I'm not sure how to tell you this, but I'm going to be coming into a lot of money tomorrow. More than a hundred dollars! I'm in shock! The caretaker here (NH?) is going to give it to me."....so right away I ran into the hallway, caught the charge nurse and asked her to order a UA--sure enough, hazy urine with "many" bacteria I'm losing count of how many UTIs this makes. They're starting her on a CEPHA antibiotic until they get the culture back. I'm suspecting, since the NP warned me that it could happen, that this is the VRE again....sigh....
But wait! There's more! The charge nurse examined her and there was a small amount of bloody fluid coming from her left ear. Then, a few hours later, there was bloody fluid coming from her right ear, also. NP will be officially checking this today, but general consensus is ear infection(s) in both ears. My mom says she has no pain, thank goodness...
They say the CEPHA antibiotic will also help the ear infection(s)....but this is very scary to me, as I cannot remember the last time my mom had one ear infection (maybe 30 years ago?) let alone two (never?)...
It's like an old car where more and more parts wear out until you just can't fix it any more.
And I'm not ready for this.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Well, that part of my saga is over. I made the appointment and brought her in. And though I "pottied" her twice in the fifteen minutes preceding her appointment, she still had an "accident" when we got to the vets. I'm not sure why, but I saw that as some kind of sign that I was doing the right thing.
The vet, whom I've known for several years, was awesome. I've had a number of animals "put to sleep", but this time, with Sarah, it was really like she did just go to sleep. She was even snoring. I still had some doubts and trepidation right up until the last minute.
When the vet announced that she was "gone", I was sitting on the floor with her, rubbing her ears. It was so peaceful, it was hard for me to believe she wasn't just taking a nap. The vet sat down on the floor with me and asked me how we got her, how old was at the time, and I shared some stories. Then he told me that he thought I did the right thing and he talked briefly about old age and lingering, as he knows about my mom (he was the vet who put my mom's cat to sleep not too long ago, too) and the Alzheimer's, and he shared that his father had recently passed away at age 85. "He was just walking along and he dropped. And that was it." And we talked about that for a little.
I left, feeling comforted and at peace with the decision. Of course, every time I come home and there's no mess on the floor, it hits me again--isn't that pathetic? I cry because nobody peed on the floor.
That dog was one of a kind. I'm going to miss her. Sometimes I'm still not sure if maybe I should have waited a while longer, but there were some very direct parallels to my mom's illness--Sarah had "good" days and "bad" days, and on the "bad" days, I was very certain that it was her time. It was the "good" days that made me doubt myself. However, I can't change it now, so I just need to revisit all the "bad" days and convince myself that it was right. Most of the time I can do that.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
I participated in a clinical study for caregivers recently. Yesterday I received this in my email:
"......Hope you are having a good week!
We have been looking at caregivers' responses to the first set of questionnaires that you completed. One set of questions asked about caregiver burden and stress, and the other set asked about feelings of depression. I wanted to share your score on each questionnaire. Note that this information is and will remain confidential. These questionnaires are used by health care providers in many settings.
Zarit Caregiver Burden Inventory
The Zarit questionnaire measures feelings of stress and burden. Possible scores on this scale range from 0 to 48. A higher score means a higher level of stress and burden.
0 – 11 = little or no burden
12 – 23 = mild to moderate burden
24 – 35 = moderate to severe burden
36 – 48 = severe burden
YOUR Zarit Caregiver Burden Inventory score: 35
If your score is 24 or above, I strongly encourage you to bring this up with your doctor as soon as you can.
Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale
This scale, called the CES-D, measures feelings of depression. Possible scores range from 0 to 30. A high score means a higher level of depressive symptoms or feelings.
7 or lower = few or no depressive symptoms are present
8 or higher = some depressive symptoms are present
If your score is 8 or above, I strongly encourage you to bring this up with your doctor as soon as you can.
YOUR Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression score: 20
These questionnaires do not provide a diagnosis, but may indicate an area of concern. You may want to talk about your feelings with your doctor or a counselor since your scores on both assessments were on the higher end. I have also attached two documents for you that discuss caregiver stress and depression, which may be of some help."
I know I've been stressed out, and suspected I was depressed but...jeesh! I'll be making an appointment as soon as I have time (it will have to be on a Saturday, but I can do it....it can only help, right?)