Sunday, June 26, 2011

Here we go again (?)

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

Funding for new mental health and dementia drugs dries up

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

Researchers warn of 'withdrawal of hope' as funding shrivels.
Patients face a "withdrawal of hope" as neuropsychopharmacology funding falters.SOVEREIGN, ISM/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Many people affected by mental illness are facing a bleak future as drug companies abandon research into the area and other funding providers fail to take up the slack, according to a new report.
Produced for the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP), the report warns that "research in new treatments for brain disorders is under threat". With current treatments inadequate for many patients, it says, "withdrawal of research resources is a withdrawal of hope for patients and their families"1.

Here is the link to the entire article....

I always comfort myself, when I look at my mom and wonder if that's my destiny, too, by telling myself "well, if it is, the treatments will be much better by then...."  so this article was an unwelcome eye-opener.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The new normal.

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

Well, it's official....

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!

DD says she loves the group home....

I've asked her a few times now, and she says she loves it there.  She's (so far) getting along with everyone.  She's excited that she'll get to cook for her housemates.  She says the staff is nice, and the housemates are nice, too.  It's a huge relief.

I, as Mom, am having some trepidation, of course.  Since DD is so immature, I kind of feel like I just sent my 11-year-old out to live as an adult.  And I'm hoping and praying that she learned enough at the RTC to get along in a household without a parent....I'm so glad I'm her guardian!  Today the group home called me to ask me if DD could get her hair cut.  I said yes, of course, and was excited that they called me to ask first.....then I remembered that DD did not have any money.  I decided that was not currently my problem, so I didn't call them back.

Surprise, DD called me back to ask me if I could take her to get her hair cut.  Apparently she is realizing that the group home doesn't pay for a lot of stuff.  I really really didn't want to drive 30 miles to the group home just because she wants something, so I told her some other day.  I think what I'll do is make out a check to the hair place and drop it off at the group home on my way home from work on Monday.  Then a staff can take her.  Sunday (as you might remember) is the day I get off work at 8am, take a little nap and then go to "church" at the nursing home with my mom.  And today (Sunday) since I've been told that she is not eating well, I'll be staying for supper, too--just in case I can help.

All in all, DD seems to be adjusting.  And I am adjusting, and so is DH.  I know, though, that she is still in the "honeymoon" stage--after all, it took her a month to have an outburst at the foster care home....so the real test will be the first tantrum......  I'll keep you all posted...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The past two weeks....

I'm very sorry I haven't written in the last two weeks--it's been a whirlwind of activity and I just got overwhelmed with it all....I'll try to sum it up for all of you...

We left off with DD in jail.  We had the guardianship hearing, and I am now her legal guardian, which will help the court recognize that she may not be responsible for her actions in the future, which my keep her out of jail next time....or at least keep another assault from turning into a conviction....I'm still not exactly sure how the guardianship protects DD beyond the decisions I am allowed to make on her behalf, but it sounds like if you are going to commit a violent crime, having a guardian is a good thing (rolling eyes)....

DD also had her first court appearance on the two counts of domestic assault and one count of disorderly conduct.  Her court-appointed attorney requested a continuance so that they/we could see if the fact that the guardianship was pending at the time will help DD keep this off of her record.  Her next court appearance is on June 28.

After court, as I expected, DD had no place to go.  The foster care lady of course would not take her back, and there was no plan in place for an alternative placement......so we allowed DD to come back home with us but made it clear to everyone in the courtroom that it could only be temporary, because we did not have the skills to keep her/us safe in the long run.   At that point, there was still no funding available for a traditional group home.  However, fortune smiled (for once) and it turned out that a funding recipient in the county had passed away over the weekend, and so DD was able to receive the funding that had previously been allocated to that person.  So her social worker started to get things moving for DD to move into a group home.

They found a group home that was willing to take DD, but after the director read DD's file, the price went up--apparently she has more behaviors than their standard funding provides for...hopefully that'll all work out, though...

DD was at our house for two weeks, and she did very well.  Of course, neither DH nor I confronted her on anything at all that might have been likely to provoke a tantrum....if it didn't involve safety, we let it slide....I think DD was very much hoping that if she was really, really good, then she could come back home to stay--but I saw enough of her attitude to know that the violence and tantrums were just lurking beneath the surface, and no way was I going to deal with that....

Telling DD on the last night that she was moving in the morning was a real challenge.  Nobody was sure how to do it without provoking a tantrum.  It turned out that it was left to me, because DH was at work that night, and I was home.  So I kind of put DD in a spot by saying "Well, your social worker thinks you probably aren't mature enough to handle this information, but Dad and I told her you were mature enough...."  so of course then she had to be mature!  I saw her face get red, and the pout come on, and I thought "Uh-oh, here we go...." but then she caught herself (because she wanted to be mature) and just got really quiet.  Then she asked if I would take her to Subway (I did--anything to keep the peace at that point).....

She moved on Thursday morning.  And the week has been a blur of meetings with her therapist, social worker, school, the people who help with funding, doctors (for physical and mantoux)....one day we had FOUR appointments in the same day!!!  But it's over now.  And I feel better than I have in a long time.  Hopefully, this IS where she will be for quite some time.  Hopefully, they will be able to get her tantrums under control after they experience them.  Hopefully she won't do enough harm to be kicked out.

In the meantime, DH had a kind of regression.  Things had been, while not back to how they were when we were first married, mostly stable and predictable--he's been doing at least one or two chores that I assign him per week, and things have been comparatively smooth.  However, it seemed that when DD came back, he was so worried about being the "cool dad" again, that he kind of lost his stability.  He started spending all of his "allowance" on taking her out to eat, renting her movies, etc, then got very stressed when he was out of money.  He once again started to make decisions regarding her without consulting me, even though neither he nor she is skilled at recognizing possible consequences of a decision.  It made for a lot of tension between DH and I, and additional back pain for DH.  I guess I didn't realize how much DD played into some of the troubles that DH has had.

That kind of shocked me and made me nervous, because I still would like to adopt a child (someday) who maybe doesn't have as many special needs as DD.  I know that statistically speaking, and lifestyle-wise, DH will probably pass on long before I will--after all, he's 200 lbs overweight, smokes more than a pack a day, and does not manage any aspect of his health beyond his bipolar medications.  And if that were to happen, I would be alone.  I don't particularly like my brother.  My mom is already kind of gone, as I can't really talk to her much about my life any more.....and even the stuff I do tell her, she forgets by the next day....it would be nice to have family at some point......so the fact that DD exacerbates DH's symptoms/issues is a little bit alarming.....but I guess in the long run, things will turn out the way fate has planned.....I suppose I'm still not really completely too old to have a child of my own, but the odds get slimmer and slimmer every day.....I guess time will tell what the future holds....