Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

    Ron in the traditional Christmas Tree Hat!
       Mike and daughter Julie
             Daughter Jamie with her loot!

        Son-in-law Larry with funky lights!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Cycle was broken (Sort of)

No phone calls about suicide last night.  I was afraid Mike's pattern of every other night would continue but it didn't.  He did call this morning and said he had to take an "as needed" pill last night.  I don't know what was going on and frankly I didn't ask.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mental Illness Takes No Holiday

With all the merriment associated with the holidays having a family member who struggles to find merriment no matter what day of the year it is can be difficult.  Mental illness takes no holiday.  It is there 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  Often it intensifies during the time everyone else is at the height of merriment. 

As a caregiver for someone with mental illness it is not always easy to avoid being pulled into your loved one's depression.  Your work as a caregiver intensifies along with their anxiety.  I am still struggling to find a way to separate myself from my brother's illness.  Because it is an ongoing battle measured by phone calls, thoughts of suicide and delusional thinking I live as much with his schizophrenia at times as he does.  

At times I am acutely aware that I am in over my head but that doesn't seem to matter.  I'm here and that is where I will remain.  I'm in this until one of us has taken our last breath. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It Continues

We are still fighting demons.  Mike started the suicide talk again last night.  Only this time he called the suicide hot line and told them he was going to overdose on his pills.  They told him to flush all his pills down the toilet and so he did.  Afterwards he called me and told me what he had done.  I was so frustrated.  One or two of his prescriptions alone are $1,000 each.  Rough estimate he flushed about $4,000 dollars worth of medications down the toilet.  Because they are controlled substances we are having difficulty getting any medication.  Ron is dealing with the medicine and I'm trying to get hold of the mental health service here in Norman.

Last night Mike was ready to go to a nursing home, today he is fighting and saying no.  When he gets scared he can then escalate to psychotic and aggressive.  I'm just walking a tight rope trying to figure out what to do.

Mike has correlated a pattern to his suicide thoughts.  He thinks it is every other day.  He kept saying things like "consecutive" and just rambling mumbo jumbo and irrational thoughts.  I'm so frustrated.

I'm going to seek a therapist for myself.  I need someone to talk to about my own feelings.  I have suppressed everything but I need to talk to someone.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Suicide Threats

Unfortunately Mike had a rough weekend.  On Saturday night he called and told me he was going to commit suicide.  There was such a desperateness in his tone that it really scared me.  He said, "I can't do this anymore, I mean it, I'm going to kill myself."

I kept Mike on the phone while Ron drove over to get him.  When Ron got him to our house we sat up with him for several hours until the "as needed" medication had time to kick in.  Then Mike was able to sleep through the night at least from midnight to 8:00 am which was good.  Of course I didn't sleep worrying about what to do next.

Sunday morning was of course a whole new day.  We took Mike to church for the special Christmas service.  There was an orchestra and the choir and Christmas carrolls galore.  At one time Mike said, "I was moved by the Holy Spirit, but it made me dizzy."  

We then tried to bring him out to the hospital for the Christmas party but the minute we walked in he was overwhelmed by the number of people and said, "I can't do this."  So we immediately left the party and took him home.

Yesterday I talked to him about the suicide threat.  I told him I needed to tell him that I have decided that if he ever did such a thing I would not allow myself to feel guilty.  I cannot be with him every moment and that there is nothing I can do to prevent him from killing himself if he really wants to do it.  I would be heartbroken but I won't let myself feel guilty.  I also told him I hate that his is so unhappy and that his life is so difficult.  I told him it is his decision to live or not but that I would ask him to at least consider a nursing home so that I can have some peace of mind that he is safe.  That's about all I can do.  

I have had enough time to realize that having him in my home is only an option if there is absolutely nothing else we can do.  He has already taken over my life to a great extent but if he lived with me my life would be completely consumed.  Just as our parent's lives were consumed by his mental illness.  I just have to keep working on letting go of any feelings of guilt over things I cannot control.  I also have to remind myself that it is ok to be a little selfish and want a life for myself as well.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rain Man

Yesterday's trip to the behavior health clinic was an interesting one.  Mike was in good spirits and didn't seem too distressed over meeting yet another mental health worker.  I was prepared to meet the psychiatrist but not this trip.  This trip we met with a social worker named Ray.  He was clearly Native American when he met us in the waiting room with his long jet black braids.  

The thing I love about Native Americans is their quiet, soulful demeanor.  Mike instantly made a connection with Ray as we followed him to his office.  Mike stared intently at Ray and said, "I love Indians".  Ray smiled and answered, "Of course, they are the best."  Mike went on stating matter-of-factly "You are Kiowa".  Ray responded "Yes, I am, my last name is Kiowa also."  

While Ray was explaining the meaning of his last name to Mike I looked on in amazement.  How the heck did Mike know Ray was Kiowa just by looking at him?  I guess he's our own Rain Man!

I was appreciative that Ray allowed me to stay in the room during the interview.  I was able to assist Mike when he needed help and I shared all the information I had as well.  Ray seemed surprised to hear that my family never received a diagnosis from anyone concerning Mike in 40 years.  We didn't get a confirmed diagnosis although we all seemed to just know for years that Schizophrenia was definitely a component of Mike's illness but to what degree we didn't know.

I was just about to tell Ray that in my opinion his Schizophrenia was mild when Ray asked Mike about the first time he was treated at the age of nineteen.  He asked him if he was depressed and why.  Mike answered, "Because I didn't have a girlfriend."  

"Were you lonely?" asked Ray.

"Yes, and the trees were talking to me." 

Uhmmmmmmm maybe Schizophrenia played a bigger role than I realized.

We met with Ray for about two hours and then set up an appointment with the Psychiatrist on January 3rd.  Ray also gave me the name of the Benefits Specialist that might be able to assist me in applying for a home health aide.  Twenty hours a week would be ideal if we can get it.  

On our 45 minutes drive home Mike was trying to decide where he wanted to have lunch.  He changed his mind 4 times before we got back home.  At one point he got really quiet and told me he was sad.

Why, I asked?

"Because I'm thinking about when I have to tell you good-bye."

I told him not to worry, that by the time we had lunch and went Christmas shopping he would probably be happy to get rid of me.

So we ate lunch at Van's Pig Stand......... Then we went out to do Mike's Christmas shopping.  He has an animal theme going this year.  He purchased Christmas cards with dogs on them.  A singing penguin for one niece and a singing dog for another.  He topped off his shopping purchasing with cookies to hand out to his "Great" neighbors and friends.

I hope he had a great day!  He's a sweet and caring man!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And the hacking continues

Poor Ron, he's worse and I'm finally getting better.  It's been 2 weeks today for me and he's just ending week one.  I'm afraid he won't be seeing the other side of this crud for another week.  I think everyone in Oklahoma has this bronchial virus.  

Tomorrow I'm taking Mike to meet his new psychiatrist.  I sure hope it goes well and I can finally get someone to write the order for the psych. nurse to do Mike's meds.  I've had a devil of a time getting it renewed with the home health agency.  

Since Mike has been so isolated the last couple of weeks I promised him that when we are finished at the clinic we will go to lunch and maybe do a little Christmas shopping.  He's ready to get out!  We are also going to be greeters at church on Sunday and I KNOW he will love that.  He loves saying hello to people and shaking hands.  This is right up his alley!  Poor Ron may have to stay home in bed! 

If we don't get to feeling better soon we are going to look like the guy above!

My last day of work is December 22nd and then  I'm off until January 3rd.  I'm looking forward to having time off and just piddling around the house.  We have no big plans to do anything since Ron will still have to work.  He won't get any time off until the summer. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

The weekend was quiet except for all the coughing and hacking from Ron and I.  We didn't even make it to church Sunday which is not usual for us but we didn't want to spread our "good cheer" to the entire congregation.  A sacrifice that I hope God appreciates!  

One thing that is fun from this is Ron now has a sexy deep Sean Connery voice to match my deep Lauren Bacall imitation.  The only time I don't sound like an 8 year little girl is when I have a cold!  Now is the time to record my answering machine message.  There are times when I use my youthful sounding voice to my advantage.  Every time a solicitor calls I just tell them my mother isn't home.

We have been applying for assistance for my brother Mike.  He is already on Social Security Disability from which he draws $700/month.  Applying for state assistance was really hard but we wanted to try and do everything we could to help Mike.  After completing the application process we received 5 letters on the same day.  One said he was approved for food stamps, one said he was denied food stamps, one said he was approved for medical assistance, one said that since he didn't reply to the previous letter his approval was denied, and one said he would receive $16.00/month for food assistance.  Good grief...$16.00 doesn't even cover the administrative cost.   Ohhhhh well.........Government whether Federal or State level is such a mess.  No wonder we are in a recession.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired!

I came back to work yesterday but I'm feeling punky at the end of the day.  I'm still hoarse and still coughing and still blowing my nose every ten minutes.  Rudolph has some competition with MY nose so bright!  What DO they make kleenex out of anyway, sandpaper?  I'm so glad it is Friday because I'm going straight home and to bed.  Poor Ron is now getting this creeping crud.  Poor Guy!  He's been kissing me on the top of my head for a week trying to avoid germicidal contact but you can't hide from those air-borne viruses.   I have to get better so I can finish my Christmas shopping!

Everyone......stay well!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year Wish

I was sent this email & thought I would share it with you.  It spoke to me in volumes in light of the Holidays that are upon us & the New Year to come.   As I read the list that the 90 year old woman wrote, I couldn’t help but think about how true her words rang clear.  With that I wish you & yours a Very Merry Christmas Season & a Happy, Blessed & Prosperous New Year.
Written by a woman on her 90th birthday

 This is something we should all read at least once a week!!!!! Make sure you read to the end!!!!!!
 Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

 "To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.
 My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

 1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
 2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.  
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
 4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
 5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
 6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
 7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
 8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
 9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
 10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
 11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
 12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
 13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
 14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
 15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
 16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
 17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
 18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
 19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
 20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
 21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
 22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
 23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
 24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
 25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
 26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
 27. Always choose life.
 28. Forgive everyone everything.
 29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
 30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
 31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
 32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
 33. Believe in miracles.
 34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
 35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
 36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
 37. Your children get only one childhood.
 38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
 39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
 40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
 41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
 42. The best is yet to come...
 43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
 44. Yield.
 45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Still sick!  YUK  This is the first cold I've had in ten years.  The last time I was sick with a cold was when the World Trade Center was attacked.  I'd be happy to go another 10 years before the next one.  I'm in the coughing, hacking, nose blowing stage right now.  My sweet husband is doing the grocery shopping for me and I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

CT Update

Happy Day! Ron's CT results were good.  Nothing new was found.  The 3 lung mets remain stable.  They haven't changed.  His kidney site was clean so we were told to repeat in 3 months.  Great news!

I woke up this morning with a sore throat and the start of a cold.  I had to take Mike to the Indian Clinic and we have to go back tomorrow.  All we were able to do today was fill out the paperwork for the behavior clinic.  Tomorrow he actually will be seen by someone. 

I'm feeling kind of punk so I'll just end this post with my good news!   Thanks for all the good vibes and prayers.......they are working!