Sunday, December 23, 2012

More Christmas

Admin. Wing (Snapshots with Bumble)

Also part of Admin. display

Reception area (Polar Express)

Polar Express
Our hospital has a door decorating contest and of course we take it to the extreme. We don't just decorate the doors but incorporate the entire hallway.  This year the reception area,which is a huge circular reception area that sits in the center of the front entrance, became the Polar Express complete with train sounds. My pictures do not do it justice.  Our Psych/Social Work/Dietary hallway became a beautiful New England town scene.

I love Christmas at our can't get any more Christmas spirit than this! Hope everyone has a very merry Christmas! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Good News/Bad News

Well, the events of the past week have been, how do you say, eventful?  Ron called me Monday evening saying he thought he had just experienced a sudden onset of Alzheimers.  He went to get in his car to come home and couldn't find it.   It wasn't due to Alzheimers but to the fact that it had been stolen.  After notifying security personnel and the police he finally got home about 10:00 pm.  Of course the Good News was he wasn't carjacked while in the car!

But the week progressed on a higher note.  We saw Ron's oncologist on Tuesday and his CT scan results were good.  She said he is stable.  No change.  The spots in his lungs hadn't changed and she even said she is beginning to think they may merely be scar tissue.  So he's been stable over a year now and that's the best news of all. 

Then yesterday I spent the day in the city with my son-in-law while my daughter had surgery.  They were expecting the doctor would have to do a full fusion on her wrist but he was able to save some function.  She will still have some movement (she can still do the queen's wave) and that was much better than expected.  She was in a lot of pain afterwards but I'm hoping she's better today.  She has a titanium plate, screws and pins in her wrist so it's bound to hurt for awhile.  The pins will be removed later.

Then twin #1 had a chair dropped on her foot and she broke 4 toes.  The next day one of her students dropped another chair on it and then that evening her husband accidently stepped on her foot. But she managed to hobble herself to her sister's house last night to stay with her.  She was great and able to get Jamie's pain under control and the two of them cuddled up in bed together and watched movies.  That twin bond........I love it!

So, that was our week!  But we are all still here and life goes on.  Can't ask for more than that!

I guess we are going car shopping today. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Looking for common sense

Since the horrible events of last Friday there has been much talk about how change is needed in this country. No one seems to be sure of what changes except those who want guns are sure they don’t want their right to own them changed in any way. I respect that and have no desire to take guns away from responsible citizens. I just want to know who they are so I know whose house to stay away from. I realize I’m more likely to be hurt by one of their guns than I am the “bad guy’s”. My next-door neighbor and member of the United States Air Force, was outside two weeks ago after dark wielding his firearm because he heard a noise. My dear friend who took the necessary training and now has a concealed weapon’s permit almost shot her brother-in-law when he rang her doorbell after dark. So I just want the names and addresses of all those individuals licensed to carry guns as well as anyone owning weapons so I can protect myself from them.

I realize that people feel the need to protect themselves and their property. The problem is the bad guys have the element of surprise on their side. Unless you are sitting in front of the front door cocked and loaded the likelihood of you protecting yourself from anyone is pretty slim.

My nephew-in-law’s aunt and uncle returned home from church and decided to take a nap. The uncle fell asleep on the living room sofa and his wife in their bedroom. Uncle was an avid gun collector. He believed in owning a gun to protect himself and his family. However, the intruder who had hid in the kitchen pantry waited patiently until everyone was asleep and then preceded to enter the bedroom where he gagged and raped the sleeping 64-year-old woman. He then exited the bedroom window without a shot being fired.

But our country will always have guns. The good guys are armed and the bad guys are armed so I’m under no delusion that we will ever get rid of them.

What I would ask every single person who owns a gun to do is to go home and make sure your weapons are secured. Don’t be under a false sense of security that, “Your child knows not to touch a gun.” The day after the horrible event in Connecticut a three-year-old nephew of an Oklahoma Highway Patrolman was visiting his uncle and the child accidentally shot himself in the head with his uncle’s firearm. It happens every day all over the country. Invest in a locked gun case or better yet a gun safe. Make it at least a challenge for thieves to steel your guns. Most homes are burglarized when no one is at home.

Next, take a look at the video games your children are playing. Do any of them glamorize killing? Be objective when you do this because we have all become desensitized to violence. These war games are so realistic they are used by the armed forces to help train soldiers. What are you training your five-year old to be?

Then we need to thoughtfully examine all the incidences of mass shootings that have transpired in this country. Look for all the common denominators. If automatic weapons or mental illness are common denominators than those issues must be addressed. Are services readily available to the mentally ill? Are we so caught up in protecting the privacy of individuals that innocent individuals remain unprotected from the psychotic actions of the mentally ill? When teachers identify at risk children are services readily available for the child or family? Rather than more police officers or more metal detectors in school how about just making education the priority it should be. Schools need money in order to provide smaller classrooms, special education programs, the basic resources needed to address the needs of children.

We are asking way too much of our teachers. They no longer have the time or opportunity to teach. Every child with a disability does not necessarily belong in a mainstream classroom. But if they are then provide the additional support to make them successful. Don’t expect a teacher to give that child the extra attention they require and still focus on the needs of twenty-three other children.

Now a State Rep. Mark McCullough from Oklahoma announced his plans to file legislation that will, among other things, allow CLEET-certified teachers and principals to carry firearms at school and at school events. Really? Now my daughters are expected to be armed? If they had wanted to be in law enforcement they wouldn’t have gotten their degrees in education. I can’t think of anything safer than 24 four-year olds and a loaded gun. Why not use the money to hire off duty officers to patrol schools. Having a kindergaten teacher pack heat along with her lesson plans is not the answer.

Is common sense absent in this country?

Friday, December 7, 2012

more golf cart parade pictures

Our therapists as the Nutcracker

Univ of Okla. Mascot "Sooner"

I guess it is obvious I just loved our golf cart parade this year!  It really got everyone into the Christmas spirit.   Tomorrow Ron and I are going to the Christmas parade.  Our hospital has a float in the parade with some of the kids on it and the winning golf cart float will also be in the parade.

Should be fun!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Trees and Parades

We had the annual golf cart Christmas parade tonight and unfortunately not many of my pictures turned out but here are a few.  The theme was Christmas Characters.....
The Abominable Snowman

The Nutcracker Queen

Sweet Baby Jesus

The abominable Snowman Float

Nutcracker Float

The Nutcracker & The Rat King

We had a great turnout and the weather was perfect.  It must have been about 70 degrees.  Our staff outdid themselves this year and unfortunately the pictures I took just don't do the parade justice.

Here are some of our themed Christmas trees this year.

Cowboy/Cowgirl Tree

Super Hero Tree

Happy Meal Tree

Toy Story Tree
We also had a tree with green frogs and one covered in lollipops.....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Update on Socks

Socks found his forever home.  He was adopted yesterday by a woman who works at my daughter's school.  She is thrilled and Socks seems to love his new home.  She had another cat named Oscar and they all seem to be adjusting to the newcomer.

We got our Christmas shopping done yesterday and now we can coast until Christmas.  We decided not to put up the tree this year.  Just too tired to get it out and then have to take it all down in a few weeks.  We will just enjoy everyone else's decorations this year.

I'm going to make fudge next week and some other gifts from the kitchen but that should be fun!

Hope everyone had a restful weekend. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Home for Christmas

It was the first day of school and a new year had just begun. My daughter Julie welcomed 19 new kindergarten students to her classroom. She was happy to be greeted by such eager boys and girls, each ready to work and learn new things. What she didn’t know at the time was that there was another eager student just waiting to join the class.

A little black and white kitten had been born under the music building over the summer vacation. He started life as one of four kittens that were either abandoned by their mother or she had fallen victim to a car or other tragedy. Three of the kittens didn’t survive the loss of their mother but one did. One lonely little survivor had learned to hunt for his food and to maintain shelter under the music building.

Due to his inquisitive nature the little cat was unable to resist the laughter and squeals of the children. For days he just watched them from the safety of his underground home as they played nearby. But it wasn’t long before one of the students noticed the little kitten. As their squeals got louder the kitten hastily retreated to the safety of its’ den but not before his four white feet were spotted and the children had named him “Socks”.

The school year progressed. The children were learning so many new things. They were learning to obey the classroom rules and to follow instructions. When the children were at recess they were told to leave the kitten alone and not to touch him. Since he was a stray and had not had any vaccinations it was not safe to play with him.

Now, Socks knew of no such rules so each day as he bravery grew he came closer and closer to the playground until one day he was lying under the jungle gym playfully swatting at the children’s feet as they dangled above. Soon he was trying to play chase with the children. Finally, it was apparent that something would have to be done to protect both Socks and the children.

Two days before Thanksgiving break a call was placed to a local feline rescue organization called “Hands Helping Paws.” The young woman who answered was told about Socks the kindergarten kitty and the she agreed to come to the school. She and Julie tried to coax Socks out from under the music building but he wasn’t having it. Julie explained that the only time Socks would come out was when kindergarten was out for recess. So, the next day when the students went out for recess she was there. She placed a cat carrier down on the playground and waited for Socks. They didn’t have to wait long before Socks came bounding out to play with his friends. Miraculously he went straight to the cat carrier to check it out and stepped inside. The door was shut and Socks was quickly taken away to find a new forever home.

Since the children had been prepared ahead of time they were happy to see that Socks would not have to live outside in the cold this winter. They all decided they wanted to raise money for the rescue group and so they began their Pennies for Paws campaign. Today the class received some pictures of Socks and they were updated on how he is doing. He has received his vaccinations and was neutered yesterday and he will be available for adoption this weekend just in time for Christmas!

Friday, November 23, 2012

gobble gobble

What a great Thanksgiving!  Plenty to eat and lots of family to enjoy.  Mike is doing so great he's come such a long, long, way since his hospitalization.  I couldn't be happier!

I'm taking a day of rest today.  I really got worn out with all the cooking and celebrating.  Ron had to work today so I just vegged out in front of the television.

I hope everyone had a blessed holiday. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I had a nice day with my daughter.  We went for pedicures....only my second time for a pedi but it was fun to go with Jamie.  We got Thanksgiving plans solidified and the menu set.  Then we went Christmas shopping and out for lunch.  It was fun.  I haven't been shopping with her in a long time.

Ron stayed home and mowed our yard for the last time this year.  He's geared up to watch the football game this evening.  Alls well today and I'm heading for bed early tonight.  I have grocery shopping to do tomorrow after church! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I thought the election was over!  Yet, there is still so much hostility being thrown around.  States petitioning to susede from the Union?  Really?  Is there no end to stupidity?  Maybe the whole doomsday is for real.  Maybe the stupidity that seems to be so abundant in this country is really going to do us all in.  God I hope not!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The temperature is dropping and I'm going to have to turn on the heat.  I've managed to avoid it but I think 39 degrees is going to push me into it.  Of course it is supposed to warm back up next week.

Mike is still improving.  He is with Ron at a basketball game today.  I had planned on picking him up at 1/2 time but he told me he was going to stick it out for the whole game.  I'm staying by the phone just in case.

I'm happy to have the day off tomorrow as we continue to celebrate Veteran's Day.  I am grateful to all those men and women who have served or are serving our country.  I just hope we can come together as a nation and make their sacrifice worth while.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The day after

Well, that's the last time I say my life is dull.  No more than the words hit the screen Mike started having trouble.  I was a mess last weekend.  He was really acting confused and exhibiting bazzar behavior.  Stuff I haven't seen in over a year.  I was scared to death trying to brace myself for a full blown psychotic episode.  I called the psychiatrist but was told he is only in the office on Thursdays.  I waited until Thursday for a return call that never came.  Then the reality of the situation was clear.  We were going to have to handle this on our own or take him to a hospital (where he would just get in the mental health revolving door).  I decided that was not an option. 

So, I tried to evaluate the situation with a clearer head.  He was acting and sounding crazy as a bitsy bug but he wasn't talking suicide or doing anything that indicated he was a danger to himself or others. 

Then I tried to figure out if there was anything new in his routine.  I knew he was under stress about his friend Lloyd so  I went to talk to Lloyd 's stepson to see how he was doing and found out that Lloyd's wife had died the day before.  OMG no wonder Mike was stressing out.  He was upset about Lloyd and now this. 

Then it dawned on me that they had just changed one of Mike's medications.  I realized that the change started when he started the new med.  The psychiatrist had said that if it was too strong he could eliminate the noon dose.  I immediately did just that.  It took a few days but Mike is now starting to sound more coherent and seems to be improving. 

I might add that I've never received that call from the psychiatrist.

What I learned through this week is that I had no idea just how much I've been living "on the edge."  I have been a mess.  I've cried and worried and felt just like we were back two years ago. 

I realize that things could change in an instant.  That I can not prevent a psychotic break no matter how hard I try.  That I'm not in control and that I can not "fix" my brother no matter how much I want to.

But as of today............I can take a breath.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Back To Basics

I went to the doctor last week and had x-rays taken of my hip and back.  I won't get the results until next week but I'm not expecting any surprises.  Arthritis and burcitis are my sworn enemies and I'm just dealing with both. 

Controlling my diabetes is my number one concern at the moment.  I had gotten away from my diet and it's time to get back to basics.  I am able to control my blood sugar pretty well when I follow my diet so I'm back on it.

Life is just pretty dull right now but that's OK.  With everything we  have going on all the time dull is good.  It means we have no immediate crisis on our hands.

Ron is watching the football game with Mike this afternoon so I'm trying to clean house.  It just takes me a lot longer than it used to.

Mike's friend and neighbor Lloyd has terminal colon cancer.  They have given him six months to a year.  Today his wife Pauline passed away with Alzheimers.  In a way that has relieved Lloyd's mind about what would happen to her after he's gone but it hasn't eased his sense of loss.  Lloyd has been so good to my brother and all we can offer him now is our condolences and our prayers.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Decorations

Ron and I decided to take a few pictures of the homes in our neighborhood that are decorated for Halloween.  We are going out tonight to take pictures after dark.  This an historic street in Norman around the corner from us.  It is called "Red Stocking Follies" and some of the homes are early Victorian. 

These are lit up at night!

This wagon is in the same yard as above.

This little house was turned into a beauty parlor!
More of the little beauty shop.
Another house on the block.
The next pictures were taken in the Vinyard just a few blocks from us.

Saturday, October 27, 2012



Yesterday I took Mike to meet his new psychiatrist.  Mike was anxious as usual but it went pretty well.  Dr. S. was about an hour behind schedule as he was trying to see all the former doctor's patients as well as his own.  We finally got in his office and had been seated about 5 seconds when I heard the awful rumbling omitting from Mike's stomach.  Mike's eyes bugged out and he suddenly jumped up and said "Doc, I need to go to the bathroom."  Dr. S. opened the door and pointed down the hall.  That's the last we saw of Mike for about 15 minutes.  I basically had the meet and greet with the doctor while we listened to the thunderous sounds coming from down the hall.  By the time Mike came back the appointment was over. 

When we got to the car to go homeI asked Mike if he was feeling alright and he said yes.  Then he told me that he drank about 16 ounces of prune juice before he left his house.  "WHAT"? I asked. 

I then told him to never do that when he knew he had an appointment to go to.  He said....."I'll try."

Thank goodness the prune juice didn't hit him while we were on the highway.  He'd have jumped out of the car like a ruptured duck.

Life with Mike is never dull!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


My parents had two families, the one in which I grew up and the other years before I was born.  You see my oldest brother is 13 years my senior.  He was an only child for 12 years and his life with our parents was considerably different than the one experienced by his younger siblings.  Our parents were only in their early twenties when he was born, newly married and just forging into adulthood. 

My brother was four years old the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.    WWII soon interrupted their lives and our mother followed our father to the west coast.  Dad was stationed with the Navy in San Diego while Mom and my brother were in Washington State where she was able to get a factory job.  My mother’s parents went with them and they all worked in the same factory on different shifts in order to have someone home with my brother.

Butch and an unidentified little girl.  Butch was wearing one of his many soldier uniforms!
On their train ride to the coast my brother was decked out in his sailor outfit and the soldiers on their way to the war played with him.  Partly to keep my brother entertained and most likely to distract themselves from thoughts of what was ahead for them.  For my brother it was simply a great adventure.  He and mother often talked about that experience on the train and remembered it fondly.  Mom said she thought about those young soldiers and often wondered if they made it back home safely.  My mother often referred to that time as one of the best and worst experiences of her life.  These were memories shared exclusively between my mother and brother.

The war left a huge impression on my brother.  So much that he spent 30 years in the army reserve and retired as a full colonel.  In addition he was a law enforcement officer so he spent his entire life in uniforms

After the war ended my parents tried to have another child.  By this time Butch was about nine years old.  After a few years they finally had David but sadly he only lived a few days.  Once again my mother and brother shared yet another tragic event.  Together they grieved the loss of a little brother and a baby son.  Our mother suffered a deep depression after David’s death and Butch was there helping our dad care for our mother.

About two years later Mike was born and Butch was finally a big brother.  Thirteen months later he became a big brother once again.  It always amazed me that my older brother welcomed his younger siblings so whole-heartedly when he had been an only child for so long.  But he really was the best big brother any kid could have.  Mike was attached to his hip from the moment he left the hospital.

For Mike and I our big brother was like another parent.  He was one more person who made us feel safe and secure.  I really don’t have any memory of Butch until he was about sixteen years old and he was already an adult in my thinking.  He was out of the house by the time I was nine years old.  I cried at his wedding not because I didn’t like my new sister-in-law but because my older brother would not be living at our house anymore.

No matter how old we get Mike and I will always be Butch’s little brother and sister and for us Butch will always be our protector and big brother.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

In 1969 it was my first Thanksgiving as a newlywed and I was determined to cook a Thanksgiving feast for my new husband even though my culinary skills were lacking and to date I had only recently mastered grilled cheese sandwiches.  But that wasn’t going to discourage my optimism and the first thing I decided to make was a pumpkin pie from scratch.  
So the first thing I did was go to the store and pick out 3 stately looking pumpkins and brought them home.  I had already prepared 3 pie crusts and though they were a little burned around the edges they looked almost edible.

 Next I cut one of the pumpkins in half but to my dismay I found I had a defective pumpkin.  So I opened the second pumpkin only to find it was also defective.  After opening all 3 pumpkins and finding them all to be flawed I went back to the store to get more and to make the store management aware of their produce issue. 

When the helpful checker asked what was wrong with the previous pumpkins I advised her that upon opening none of the pumpkins contained pie filling just strings and seeds!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Good Fellows

Mike brought me a progress report he asked a member of his Silver Sneakers class to write for him.  The woman he requested to write the report is a retired psych. nurse.  It was so funny I thought I'd share........... (the report is written in stages from when Mike first joined the class to present)

Progress report for
Michael Gene Simpson
At the request of
Michael Gene Simpson
Prepared for
Danise Marie Simpson Phillips

Stage 1: fetal position on the chair of the back row...participation in class limited to 15 minutes before exit.
Stage 2: controlled by Norman traffic patterns--length of participation in class depended on what he thought traffic was doing on his route home.
Stage 3: moved to the front row--nonstop participation.  Traffic patters no longer a concern.  MGS (Mike) in cultlike control of traffic; traffic yields to MGS; stays away from his path.
Stage 4: Swartnigger preparation for class:  could be seen lifting increasingly heavy weights each a.m.
Stage 5: took over teacher role of class (teacher absent).  Accepted as leader by group.  Since MGS is excited about Christmas, group was forced to exercise to Christmas songs.  Group is also forced to remember the full names of each member of his family.  Even though it's a challenge to the groups' memory, group is grateful to know of the important people in their leader's life.
Stage 6:  MGS is seeking managerial position at the gym.
Expansion (almost completed with a few exception:
Suspender phobia:  MGS was fearful that his suspenders would "let him down."
Suspender confusion:  after the big Okla. Texas win, MGS wore the wrong suspenders (wrong color).  He unwittingly had hoped that Kansas would win, even though they weren't playing.
Suspender neglect:  MGS had one suspender badly twisted in the back, so it took the group to straighten him out.

Conclusion:  suspenders only variable standing in the way of MGS.----------------------- THE END

Now, I don't know any of these wonderful people but I am so grateful to them for accepting my brother and for their kindness towards him. I'm protective of my brother and have always worried about how people will react to him when I'm not with him.  Now I can relax for he has found himself among friends and I can assure you they will be his life long friends!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Productive Saturday

What a Saturday we had yesterday.  The girls came over and we had a whopalooza yard sale.  Ron and I got the barn cleaned out and the girls sold off some of their teaching stuff.  It went pretty well.  Gorgeous day for it and we actually enjoyed sitting outside and visiting with people.  My son-in-law has arranged for Goodwill to pick everything up tomorrow that was left over.  So we are really cleaning house.....getting rid of all that stuff you thought you needed but turns out uh "not so much".

I haven't decided whether I'll be donating my piano or not.  I can't play it any more because of arthritis but it's hard to let it go.  I really don't have the room to just store it.  I guess keyboards have just taken the place of big pianos because you can't even give them away.

Today we hope to just catch up and get ready for another week.  We are both tired from the sale yesterday but glad to have it done.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Embrace the moment!

You'd think getting new furniture would be fun and I'm sure it is for most people.  Me....I have a little problem embracing change.  It takes me a little while to feel at home again amongst new stuff.  Not to mention I have such a small house it is hard to find furniture to fit the scale.  I have a very tall husband and he doesn't fit the scale....but what are you gonna do.

For two years Ron has been sitting on a dainty red checked wing back chair but we finally purchased two matching recliners.  Ron's in heaven.  I told him I had to be sure the marriage was going to last before I could commit to furniture.  Of course now the sofa looks old but I'm not replacing anything else.

It has definitely been an adjustment having a man in the house.  My home was a feminine domain for the past 34 years.  But we are slowly transforming it into a gender neutral zone where we can both be comfortable.  Oh the sacrifices we will make for love! 

Now, this is going to sound morbid and morose but if I'm being honest here I think I've been afraid of change for more than one reason.  I've been afraid, of all things, of a chair that is just him.  The fear is that if his cancer takes him away from me then there will be this visual reminder that he isn't here anymore.  An empty chair.  If I left things the way they have always been then somehow it would lessen the reminder of what I've lost.  

Sounds crazy I know.  But the fear of losing someone can make you a little crazy. It's amazing what lengths we will go to in order to protect the heart.  Loss is inevitable so we have to embrace the moment while we have it. 

But now.....we are just two old married people with matching recliners.  It's nice to look across the room and see him sprawled out in his lazy boy!  He finally looks permanent.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

3rd grade retention

Oklahoma recently joined other states in adopting a measure that holds back 3rd graders who fail to demonstrate sufficient reading ability on a state standardized test.  All of this in a effort to end social promotion.

Hmmm what do I think about this.  Well, not that my opinion is worth a plug nickel or that I am a teacher with years of experience, my head just tells me there are problems with this policy.  My first concern is for kids like my daughter who has a learning disability.  If Julie was faced with passing a test in third grade before she could be promoted she would have crumbled from the anxiety.  The exceptions in Oklahoma for taking this test are few and far between and nothing addresses learning disabilities.

Now, this is just a thought.  If it is expected to cost approximately $10,000 for each child to be retained then why not spend that money in early childhood education instead.  Hire more reading specialists.  In my head 3rd grade is kind of late to identify a reading problem.  Talk about make a child feel like a failure.

One other thought.  We have many excellent teachers who are more than capable of identifying children at risk.  Back them up and give them the support to address the child's needs.  That's why they are there. 

All I know is I feel so sorry for those 3rd grade teachers.  They'll have to wear bullet proof vests when they give the bad news to those parents whose children will not be promoted to 4th grade.

I just got a call from twin #2 and it appears she will have to have another operation on her arm.  She has Kienbocks disease where the lunate bone doesn't get an adequate blood supply and eventually dies.  She had surgery about 18 months ago but it didn't work.  Now they will have to fuse her wrist.  Don't know when she will be having it done but I imagine soon since the doctor said it will only get worse and require more surgery.

So that's now twin 1 and twin 2 in need of surgery.  One wrist and one knee.  I guess they can have it done together and then compare misery.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

a brother's laughter....priceless

The 60 tips I posted yesterday really resonated with me and I've read them several times.  Just realizing that I can't "fix" my brother has liberated me.  You'd think I would have already realized that but somewhere inside I didn't.  We never stop learning.

Yesterday he called me and told me that our older brother was mad at him.  He said Butch left a message on his answering machine and he was angry.  Mike was so upset and then said he was afraid to call Butch because he was going to yell at him.

I first just talked too I usually do....then remembered that trying to talk him out of it was just a waste of time.  So I volunteered to intercede.  I was pretty sure Butch was trying to tease Mike but sounded serious to Mike.
I was right.  I wanted to tell my older brother that teasing a schizophrenic probably isn't the wisest choice but decided not to....that's for him to figure out. 

I called Mike back and explained that Butch was only teasing.  Our older brother is an ex-law enforcement officer from LA so you can imagine how gruff he can sound.   Mike and I both came to the conclusion that Butch is crazy and we shouldn't take him too seriously.  Mike was belly laughing.  Then he started crying........"I don't know what I'd do without you."  

"Well, I'm still here so let's check that worry off your list."

"OK, CHECK".......more laughter!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I found this on the web today. If you have a family member with neurobiological disorder ("NBD", formerly known as mental illness), remember these points:

1. You cannot cure a mental disorder for a family member.
2. Despite your efforts, symptoms may get worse, or may improve.
3. If you feel much resentment, you are giving too much.

4. It is as hard for the individual to accept the disorder as it is for other family members.
5. Acceptance of the disorder by all concerned may be helpful, but not necessary.
6. A delusion will not go away by reasoning and therefore needs no discussion.
7. You may learn something about yourself as you learn about a family member's mental disorder.
8. Separate the person from the disorder. Love the person, even if you hate the disorder.
9. Separate medication side effects from the disorder/person.
10. It is not OK for you to be neglected. You have needs & wants too.
11. Your chances of getting mental illness as a sibling or adult child of someone with NBD are 10-14%. If you are older than 30, they are negligible for schizophrenia.
12. Your children's chances are approximately 2-4%, compared to the general population of 1%.
13. The illness of a family member is nothing to be ashamed of. Reality is that you may encounter discrimination from an apprehensive public.
14. No one is to blame.
15. Don't forget your sense of humor.
16. It may be necessary to renegotiate your emotional relationship.
17. It may be necessary to revise your expectations.
18. Success for each individual may be different.
19. Acknowledge the remarkable courage your family member may show dealing with a mental disorder.
20.Your family member is entitled to his own life journey, as you are.
21. Survival-oriented response is often to shut down your emotional life. Resist this.
22. Inability to talk about feelings may leave you stuck or frozen.
23. The family relationships may be in disarray in the confusion around the mental disorder.
24. Generally, those closest in sibling order and gender become emotionally enmeshed, while those further out become estranged.
25. Grief issues for siblings are about what you had and lost. For adult children the issues are about what you never had.
26. After denial, sadness, and anger comes acceptance. The addition of understanding yields compassion.
27. The mental illnesses, like other diseases, are a part of the varied fabric of life.
28. Shed neurotic suffering and embrace real suffering.
29. The mental illnesses are not on a continuum with mental health. Mental illness is a biological brain disease.
30. It is absurd to believe you may correct a physical illness such as diabetes, the schizophrenias, or manic-depression with talk, although addressing social complications may be helpful.
31. Symptoms may change over time while the underlying disorder remains.
32. The disorder may be periodic, with times of improvement and deterioration, independent of your hopes or actions.
33. You should request the diagnosis and its explanation from professionals.
34. Schizophrenia may be a class of disorders rather than a single disorder.
35. Identical diagnoses does not mean identical causes, courses, or symptoms.
36. Strange behavior is symptom of the disorder. Don't take it personally.
37. You have a right to assure your personal safety.
38. Don't shoulder the whole responsibility for your mentally disordered relative.
39. You are not a paid professional case worker. Work with them about your concerns.
Maintain your role as the sibling, child, or parent of the individual. Don't change your role.
40. Mental health professionals, family members, & the disordered all have ups and downs when dealing with a mental disorder.
41. Forgive yourself and others for mistakes made.
42. Mental health professionals have varied degrees of competence.
43. If you can't care for yourself, you can't care for another.
44. You may eventually forgive your member for having MI.
45. The needs of the ill person do not necessarily always come first.
46. It is important to have boundaries and set clear limits.
47. Most modern researchers favor a genetic, biochemical (perhaps interuteral), or viral basis. Each individual case may be one, a combination, or none of the above.
Genetic predisposition may result from a varied single gene or a combination.
48. Learn more about mental disorders.
50. It may be therapeutic to you to help others if you cannot help your family member.
51. Recognizing that a person has limited capabilities should not mean that you expect nothing of them.
52. Don't be afraid to ask your family member if he is thinking about hurting himself.
A suicide rate of 10% is based on it happening to real people. Your own relative could be one. Discuss it to avoid it.
53. Mental disorders affect more than the afflicted.
54. Your conflicted relationship may spill over into your relationships with others. You may unconsciously reenact the conflicted relationship.
55. It is natural to experience a cauldron of emotions such as grief, guilt, fear, anger, sadness, hurt, confusion, etc. You, not the ill member, are responsible for your own feelings.
56. Eventually you may see the silver lining in the storm clouds: increased awareness, sensitivity, receptivity, compassion, maturity and become less judgmental, self-centered.
57. Allow family members to maintain denial of the illness if they need it. Seek out others whom you can talk to.
58. You are not alone. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with others in a support group is helpful and enlightening for many.
59. The mental disorder of a family member is an emotional trauma for you. You pay a price if you do not receive support and help.
60. Support AMI/FAMI and the search for a cure!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rituals and Obsessive Compulsions

We had a pretty good weekend.  I did get a little alarmed Friday night during a conversation with Mike.  He had been looking forward to Ron coming to his house Saturday to watch the OU/Texas game but he told me Friday that Ron couldn't come.  I asked why and he replied, "Because it will interfere with my bedtime routine."

Now, the game started at 11:00 am so I was having trouble understanding what the conflict was.  Mike proceeded to give me a lengthy and detailed account of his routine.  Most of which didn't make a lick of sense.  So my alarm bells started ringing loud.  So I reminded him that the game started at 11:00 am and he doesn't go to bed until 9:00 pm.  Plenty of time for his ritual.  

Finally he said Ron could come over and that I should tell his psychiatrist about his rituals. 

After I had time to think about the situation a while I decided that I have to learn that normal for me isn't the same as Mike's normal.  I have to stop trying to "fix" him and determine only if his actions are a danger to himself or others.  That's when I need to sound the alarm bells. 

So on Saturday we discussed the whole routine.  He told me how he gets up in the morning and blesses everything on his kitchen table (salt & pepper shakers, etc) before he takes his pills which he must count 7 times because 7 is a lucky number.  Then he says his guardian prayer for me 3 times because I was the third child and I'm important to him.

I listened to all this kind of wide eyed but realized this is normal in his world.  I just told him that routines and schedules are very helpful as long as we control them and they don't control us.  I suggested he try to be flexible so that he won't miss out on fun things like Ron watching a game with him.  The weekend proceeded and all was well.

I just realize I still have much to learn about schizophrenia and mental illness.  It's just hard sometimes to know when something is a potential crisis or just his normal.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Watch out San Diego Chicken

As I have mentioned in the past my brother Mike has a lot of food allergies.  He's allergic to dairy (milk, cheese, etc) tomatoes and grains, MSG and a few others.  This has made cooking for him a challenge.  Then you throw in his chicken paranoia or phobia or whatever it is and that limits the culinary quest even more.   So, I'm always looking for new and creative things to cook for Mike. 

I can't remember when the chicken phobia started because it was there when we were kids.  I don't remember a time when he wasn't paranoid about chickens.  But yesterday all was revealed when we met Mike's new psych. counselor.  

I went with Mike to his appointment and thirty-year old Elizabeth seemed quite taken with my brother.  I could tell she was fascinated by his story by the questions she was asking him.  She was trying to determine when he began exhibiting signs of schizophrenia and I had always thought it was around age nineteen.  That was the first  time he received psychiatric treatment.  But as she talked to him he revealed that he was about eight years old when he first saw "The Big Giant Chicken" and he told him to do bad things.

All at once I remembered when we were kids and my mother talked about Mike's hallucinations.  She always explained them as being a side affect of his asthma medication.  I never knew the specifics of his hallucinations and never thought much of it.  Of course I was only seven at the time myself. wonder he was afraid of chickens!  Now, he's decided to just eat them and not listen to them.  Wow, what an amazing man!

I made him homemade chicken noodle soup last night.  He ate it with gusto!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Frost on the pumpkin

The frost was on the pumpkin this morning.  The first frost.  Sweater weather has officially arrived and I couldn't be happier.

Our weekend was uneventful.  Ron and Mike enjoyed the OU/Texas Tech game on Saturday.  Fortunately OU won so I was spared the after game shock that followed the last game. We had the usual weekend chores in preparation of another work week which always arrives way too soon.  Church on Sunday and lunch with Mike.  That pretty much sums up a typical weekend for me these days.  I guess I have to accept the fact that my life is just pretty boring these days.  (I'm not complaining, boring is good for awhile, I needed a rest from chaos)

I've decided that December 31st will be my last post.  I've just run out of steam.  When I started writing this blog it was originally a private journal in AOL.  When the AOL blog site ended I transferred to blogger but didn't know how to make it a private journal.  So for the past four years I've completely put my life out there for the world to see never really thinking anyone would ever see it. saw and you responded and my life was richer for it.  I feel as if I know many of you personally.  It's amazing how friendships begin.  I shared the death of my mother with all of you, my wedding and marriage to a wonderful man and the pain of caring for my schizophrenic brother.  You have responded with kind words, listened with a sympathetic ear and sent your well wishes and it has all been so greatly appreciated and received. But in fear of wearing out my welcome I've decided to stop writing here and go back to my old fashioned pen and paper journal.  I'll occasionally post until the end of the year so don't say good-bye yet. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

One door closes....

My daughter wants to get her realtor's license through an online course.  Since she is dyslexic I usually assist with typing and studying.  So I've been thinking that I will just take the course with her and get my license as well.  It might just be an avenue for extra income when I retire or better yet facilitate an earlier retirement.  Who knows?  

I worked part-time at a real estate office for about eleven years.  I wrote the ads for property listings and took pictures of properties.  It was a great part-time job but it was 7 days a week and that was a grind on top of a full-time job.  But still I enjoyed it.  

Julie probably won't be ready to start the class until after Christmas break.  We may do it while she is home recovering from her 3rd knee surgery.  Poor kid!  She has a great group of students this year so she isn't wanting to have to miss any of the school year but her doctor says it can't wait.

So, I just may leave one career and start another.  Might be fun especially working with my daughter.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Did Mitt Wake Up on the Left Side of the Bed?

Well, I gotta say I was surprised when Mitt didn't swallow his foot last night.  However, he still didn't give specifics on how he plans to do anything.  But based on theatrical performance  he was a good performer.  I'm just not sure which Mitt is the real Mitt.....the one that showed up for the debate or the one that says he doesn't care about 47% of Americans.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bad memory or just creative problem solving

I have a young friend who has a two-year old son and is just about to give birth to twin boys.  OH MY!  There lives are about to change dramatically but how exciting for them!  I've been thinking about her so much and remembering my days with newborn twins.  I can't imagine having a two year old to boot though. 

Looking back got me to thinking that my memory didn't just get bad when I got always sucked!

When my girls were little I sent them off to a dance recital but forgot to put their panties on them. 

I left one of them at the doctor's office.  But in my defense the other one made enough noise for two.  I didn't notice her sister wasn't with us until we got home.

I don't know if my memory was bad or I just had mom fog!

So, how do I explain it now or what do I blame it on?  I'm 63 years old and I keep leaving the remote control in the refrigerator.  I'm either spending a lot of time foraging for food or I'm just looking for a safe place to put the darn thing or better yet, I'm just hiding it from my husband so he won't change the channel while I'm gone.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tony the Tiger

It seemed like the weekend just flew by.  Didn't seem to get much done other than the usual weekend chores.  Of course our Sunday's are devoted to church and Mike.  I finally got Mike to pose for a picture but now I can't download it.  I used my Iphone camera and I guess I don't know how to get it from there to my computer.  At least my computer isn't recognizing it.  Mike really looks good.  He walks every day in his neighborhood and goes to his gym 3 days a week.  Like everything in his life it is now imprinted into his "routine".  

We got him a stationery recumbent bike so he will have it when the weather is bad and he can't go walking.  I tried to show him how to select a program on it but I'm not sure he understood.  I also told him not to get obsessive about using it but that may have just been white noise to him.  He really is doing great (Tony The Tiger Great) as he puts it.  I think all those endorphins from exercising not to mention his slew of psych. pills are really working.  His total weight loss over the past two years is 110 pounds.  That's amazing!  Most of that was the first year.  He did it simply by eating less and exercising 3 days a week and all the while taking medications that are notorious for causing huge weight gain.  That's what caused him to balloon to 310 pounds in the first place.  He's my inspiration!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Wretches and Jabberers

During our leadership luncheon today we saw a powerful film called "Wretches and Jabberers".  The film is about 
two men with autism and how they embarked on a global quest to change prevailing attitudes about disability and intelligence.  Both men faced lives of mute isolation in mental institutions or adult disability centers until they learned as adults to communicate by typing.  The message they wanted to impart on the world tour was that the same possibility exists for others like themselves.  At each stop, they dissect public attitudes about autism and issue a hopeful challenge to reconsider competency and the future.  

This was a very powerful film.  It touched me on so many levels.  Larry reminded me a lot of my brother Mike in many ways.   The isolation these men had lived in before they found their voices was heartbreaking.  The autistic children we treat here at the hospital are still finding their voices but I will be more aware of the thoughts and emotions that may be locked away just looking for a way out.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Go Thunder

Today is Thunder Day here at the hospital.  The Oklahoma City Thunder mascot, Rumble, and a few cheerleaders are coming out this afternoon for a carnival with our patients.  

Rumble & Cheerleaders
This should be interesting.  I know when I was a kid a big hairy buffalo would have scared the bejeebers our of me.  It was really great of the Thunder to do this for our kids though.  Everyone is wearing their Thunder gear (t-shirts) and gearing up for the visit.

Well, Rumble just left and he was a "BIG" hit with the kids.  I only saw one child crying but the rest of them just loved the big ole hairy fella.  It was really great of the Thunder team to send Rumble out to visit us.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Today I received a recognition pin for 30 years of state service.  I have worked for the State of Oklahoma for 30 years.  Where did the time go?  If I counted the time I worked at the University of Oklahoma it would be 34 years of state service but then who's counting.

I honestly don't know where the time has gone.  Oh, there are days when I feel every minute of it but for the most part it has been a smooth ride.  

I've been thinking a lot about retirement though and I probably started thinking about it a little too soon.  My plan is to work until January 1, 2016 but that honestly seems like an eternity away.  My body and spirit are telling me it needs to be sooner but my pocketbook is in complete disagreement.  Guess I will have to give myself a mental pep talk if I'm going to make it.  

Thirty years down and thirty months to go.

Monday, September 24, 2012

It takes 60 minutes to eat your foot!

OK….It’s starting to be uncomfortable now when Mitt speaks.  His 60 minutes interview when asked "Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the fifty million Americans who don't have it today?"

Romney's response ,"Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance, people -- we -- if someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and -- and die. We -- we pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care."

OMG Mitt, what do you think has been contributing to the rising cost of health care?  Is he from another planet?
Oh, and he's blaming Obama for his failing campaign?

Really?  It wasn't anything you might have said Mitt? 

The first official presidential debate isn't until Oct. 3 in Denver.  I can't wait!

Friday, September 21, 2012

FOX News is Scary

OMG I hope this election is over soon or my marriage may not survive.  Just kidding but there are moments when I think it won't.  Last night we were watching something on tv and it was interviews with some of the right wing extremists and the left.  One of the conservatives made the statement that liberals are trying to force everyone into Mosques  REALLY?    I've never been in a Mosque in my life and I sure don't remember trying to force anyone else to go to one.  Are these people crazy?  Don't answer, that was a rhetorical question. 

I can't believe my husband listens to this kind of crazy talk and believes it.  I just had to go to bed to avoid an argument.  I know I sound just an intolerant but I can't help but wonder what sane person listens to someone like Anne Coulter or Rush Limbaugh?  I start looking around to see if we're on Candid Camera.  It's got to be a joke.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What would you ask?

Last weekend during one of our outings I noticed a bumper sticker that read "If you could ask God one question.."  A rather thought provoking bumper sticker.  So it started a conversation between Ron and I.   If you had the chance to sit down with God and ask him just one question what would it be?  Ron's question is, "Why are you so confusing?"

I typed the question on Google and was just amazed at how many websites are devoted to this question.  I'm interested in what you might ask as well.

My question would be "Are you pleased with me?"  What would you ask?  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hmmmmmm glad Mitt cleared this up!

“The only way Romney can win,” a pained Republican strategist suggested, “is to have his mouth wired shut.”

Thanks Mitt..............................

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.....

I don't know about anyone else but I had never heard of this before,
cremation diamonds.  Companies can take some of your loved ones ashes and turn it in to a diamond.
Now how cool is that? case your loved one doesn't want a fire lit under them you can also use a lock of hair.  They extract the carbon from either the ashes or hair to make the stone.
If they use hair it is a blue diamond.  I don't know why the color is blue but that's what they said.

I told my daughters that I wanted to be turned into a diamond for each of them and I asked them if they would wear me.  They affirmed yes and Julie said she wanted to make me into a nose stud.

Hey, it beats sitting around in an urn!  Well, why not....a gem in life and a precious gem for eternity.  This little light of mine.......

Monday, September 17, 2012

I got the Joy, Joy, Joy Joy....down in my heart!

I had a wonderful and extraordinary weekend in spite of the fact that we were unable to go anywhere but it no small part due to the wonderful news we received yesterday.  I spent three days enjoying the company of the most important person in my life.

On Friday we took Mike to an appointment so we made a day of it and took him to breakfast and then for a short drive in the country.  He loved it and so did Ron and I.  Later the same day we went to the funeral home to make sure they will honor Ron’s burial policy since the original funeral home (where it was purchased) is no longer in business.   

While we were there I took care of my own pre-arrangements.  It may sound morbid but we really had fun with it.  Our little sales guy was all funerally and serious and I kept reminding him that we aren’t dead yet.  I told him he could “lighten” up even chuckle a little since nobody there could hear us anyway.  I paid $1,990.00 for a basic cremation package.  Since I do not want to be embalmed and I don’t want a viewing it was much cheaper.  I didn’t want a fancy urn if my ashes are going to be buried in fact a cigar box would have been fine with me.  I did say that even for $1,990.00 if would be nice if he sang or something but he said he can’t carry a tune.

We spent the rest of the weekend just hanging out together and eating our way through town.  I had one emotional overflow Friday night when I was suddenly overcome with gratitude to have this wonderful man in my life.  I sometimes can’t understand what I did to deserve such a gift but I am so very thankful.  Every day we share is such a blessing.

Mike's favorite thing to do right now is sing.  He sings at his "Silver Sneakers" class and entertains everyone I'm sure.  He sings as loud as he can "I've Got The Joy Joy Joy Joy Down In My Heart, Down, In My Heart, Down in my Heart, TODAY"  He even calls me everyday to sing to me.  This is so much better than the suicidal thoughts..................God IS GOOD!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blessings Abound

One day after receiving good news from the doctor Ron got a call and will begin a new job on Monday.  Wow, we have surely been blessed.  He was only on furlough two weeks before starting this new job.  We have no idea whether his former company will ever get a new contract but if they do Ron can decide if he wants to go back or stay at the new job.  We decided we are going to take 3 days and go on a little trip to celebrate.  First we have to tend to Mike then we can figure out where to go. Once we get to our destination I can assure you we will refrain from talking about the election.