Thursday, June 28, 2012

You tell me whose crazy!

Mike had another anxious evening.  He called me and told me again he was having suicidal thoughts.  This medication change has really thrown him into panic mode.  I suggested calling Dr. T but Mike is afraid to because he said, "Last time he sounded mad".  Mike also thought his friend Loyd was being mean to him yesterday.  This really surprised me because Loyd is Mike's buddy.  When I asked him about it Mike said, "Loyd hates Obama and he even said the "F" word."

Poor Mike, he's paranoid about Republicans...........but I'm not sure if that's crazy.

I reminded Mike that Loyd is his good friend even if they feel differently about politics.  I told him we can't be paranoid about everyone who hates Obama or we'd never be able to leave the house.  I don't know if Mike bought it but I tried. 

I'm going to call his psychiatrist today because I'm really worried that his symptoms are increasing and I really don't want another hospital stay.  They do more harm in the psychiatric hospital than good. 

I just called the clinic and they will see Mike tomorrow at 10:30.....hooray!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Child's Pose, Bridge Pose

I know I've been talking a lot about Mike's obsessive thoughts and suicidal thoughts.  What I've been most distressed about is I have felt like I'm running out of ideas on how to re-direct his thinking.  I told him that we need new language to describe his feelings.  Suicide isn't really what he is considering he says that in order to convey how anxious he is.  So I suggested he simply tell me he is anxious and that he needs to talk awhile.  I told him this because I'm afraid he will say suicide to the wrong person and they will immediately send him to the hospital.

What I see occurring is this.  His day is fairly structured for most of the day.   

7:00 am - Up and eats breakfast.
8:00 - 9:00 - Goes to Subway for his lunch sandwich or the grocery store.
10:00-11:00  (Monday Wednesday Friday) to the gym 
11:00 - 12:00  Lunch at home or out with his friend.
12:00 - 4:00  He will take a 30 minute walk or visit the next door neighbor.  Usually takes his shower.  He may watch tv or do some household chore.  
4:30 - He eats dinner.

So I'm coming up with a schedule of things to do between 4:30 - 8:00

5:00 - 6:00  Straighten up the kitchen. Watch tv, listen to music or read.  Basically let his food digest.  

6:00 - 7:00  Do yoga (He has done some yoga at his gym) So I created a yoga manual for beginners of poses that are good for anxiety complete with pictures so he can do them at home.

7:00 - Take medications

7:00 - 8:00 - Drink his hot Sprite and write in his journal about his positive thoughts.  All the things that are good in his life. (He's been doing this for awhile now in an effort to distract him from his negative thoughts)

This all sounds pretty basic but he follows the clock.  He's very regimented and it is time that he doesn't know how to fill that gets his anxiety up.  

I told him the other day about how the right side of our brain is our creative side and the left is analytical.  I told him he has given my right brain such a work out that my head now tilts to the right.  I'm always trying to think of something new to try.

8:00 - Go to bed!
I just finished making him a yoga manual of simple basic yoga poses that are supposed to be good for anxiety.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Ron and I attended our 45th high school class reunion Saturday night.  Ron is much more of a social butterfly than myself and he had a great time.  It is surprising how well attended the event was though not as well as in past years.  Fifty-four of our classmates have died since graduation.  Five of them in Vietnam at the ripe old age of 18.  Sad to think they never had the chance to fulfill their dreams.

The remainder of our weekend was spent purchasing a new lawnmower after weighing the pros and cons of repairing the deceased one.  Fortunately we found a good sale and I think we made the right choice to purchase a new one.  It costs a fortune anymore to get anything repaired.

Mike called me 10 minutes before Ron and I were to leave for the reunion to tell me he was thinking about suicide.  I talked to him for awhile and got him settled down.  I then called my other brother to have him check on him.  But of course I couldn't relax most of the evening because I can't help but worry about him.  I'm fairly confident that his suicidal thoughts are just that....thoughts but you never know for sure.   By Sunday morning he was fine.  He dressed up in his new clothes for church and looked so good.    I guess his mental state is a roller coaster ride that will never end.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If I had known I'd be playing psychiatrist I wouldn't have majored in journalism

When you are knee deep in care giving you don't have time to question why me or even ask if you are doing a good job or not.  You just do what you have to do because who else is going to do it?  Of course that's not the only reason  We do it out of love and a big factor is that simply as a human being we want to ease suffering.  All of that said we also get tired and weary.  That's how I felt yesterday....just plain weary.  But like my brother, after a good night's sleep I'm up and ready to keep going.  

I ask myself at times how much do I have in me?  My niece is bipolar and schizophrenic (very much like my brother).  She has basically been homeless for the past 6 months.  She is currently living with a friend in Kansas and has recently started working part-time.  She wrote to me today and wants to come back here where her two daughters are living.  She wants me to ask my daughter if she can live with her for 3 months.  As bad as it makes me feel I had to tell her no.  Her parents don't want to take her in either (which I'm not sure I understand completely but that's not for me to judge).  Part of me wants to help her but I don't think I have anything left in reserve.  I just can't take care of two mentally ill people.   I still have a new marriage and I want some time with my husband.  Time I cannot afford to waste.

So, here I am, caught between my limitations and my desire to ease suffering.  If I could fix all the problems and hurts in the world I would do it in a heartbeat.  Unfortunately I do not have that power.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I'm exhausted!  Every day I give the same pep talks to my brother and every other day he threatens suicide.  His doctor didn't respond to it so I guess I'm not supposed to respond either.  I'm as sure as I can be with what I know that he isn't going to do it.  But it is exhausting all the same.  He's so tired of not being able to turn his brain off and I'm so sad for him.

His psychiatrist has been working to get him off some of the really potent anti-psychotic drugs he has been on.  Mike wants to get off because they have such awful side effects.  His hands now tremble all the time and I doubt that will go away.  But Mike thinks that without the Thorazine he won't be able to sleep.  So he psychs himself out and the first night he didn't sleep.  Of course he goes to bed at 7pm and I can't imagine how he sleeps anyway.  

I'm just tired.  Living with his mental illness is exhausting and I'm not sure which of us will be done in by it first.  The sad thing is there are just no options for him.  He has to be raving crazy to be committed to a psychiatric facility and nursing homes don't want him.  So........tag, I'm it!

Don't get me wrong, I love my brother and my heart aches every day for what he goes through.  I'm just running out of ideas on how to cope.  99% of the time I'm just as patient as Jobe with him but that doesn't seem to be working.  Last night I just tried tough love.  I just don't know if he has the ability to control his behavior.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flag Day

It's Flag Day once again and my brother's 64th birthday.  Happy birthday flag boy!  Since Mike has lost 100 pounds over the past 18 months we purchased him some new threads, shirts and slacks.  Some new Sunday go to meetin clothes!  We are going to take him to dinner Saturday and celebrate birthday and Father's Day all at once.

Ron and I are fighting another round of bronchitis and asthma.  My 4th go around since December and Ron's 3rd.  We seem to be hazardous to each other's health.

Today is also Olga's birthday from Confessions of a Grandma . 
Happy Birthday Olga........the flag is flying high for you and my brother!

Tonight is game 2 of the NBA finals.  Our OKC Thunder team is doing well and all of Oklahoma has Thunder Fever. Even the kids here at the Center have Thundered Up!

 I don't know if I'll be able to stay up to watch the game tonight but I'm pulling for the Thunder.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Girl's PE

In the early 60’s America was all about fitness.  It was mandated by the President that all kids take a physical education class and I was no exception.  However, I really, really, didn’t want to take this class.  Not because I didn’t want my hair to get messed up but because I was really, really uncoordinated.  I had never been good at any kind of sport and was actually told by my softball coach to, “Just let the ball hit you”.  I was no fool, I knew my limitations and I respected them.

But, the President’s fitness program now required all of us to take physical education so, myself along with all the other 7th grade girls in my junior high purchased our gym clothes and gym shoes and showed up for P.E.  There were so many things I hated about PE starting with the mandatory blue jumpsuit that depending on your stage of puberty either made you look like a pinup girl or a drowned rat.  But the absolute worse thing about PE was the communal shower. There was a lot of peer pressure in the girl's locker room -- you knew who wore a bra, who did not, and who was well endowed.  I remember trying to hold a towel up in front of myself with one hand while showering with the other.  Maintaining modesty in the 7th grade locker room was almost impossible but I gave it my best effort.

Puberty had been good to me and I filled out my gym jumper like a WW II pin-up girl with adolescent acne.  I had assets that I later learned to appreciate but were not so appreciated in the 7th grade shower stalls.  I just wanted to blend in unnoticed but with my curvy 36 B chest it just wasn’t happening.

As if my physical attributes weren’t enough I was a total clutz on the gym floor.  I had never played sports and certainly didn’t know the first thing about dribbling a ball down a basketball court.  By the time the 1st six weeks of school came to a close I had been injured more times than anyone else in the entire 7th grade girl’s gym classes.  Fearing permanent disability those in charge called my mother and suggested I be removed from P.E. for my own safety.  I never took another P.E. class until college and by then my 36B chest was unremarkable.

Monday, June 11, 2012

We had a fairly uneventful weekend.  Our new contractor met with us Saturday and will start building the carport in about 3 weeks.  What a different experience we are having this time around.  This company has been great and the owner has been involved every step of the way.  Can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Ron was ordained yesterday at church as a Deacon.  He's such a quiet person I could tell he was very uncomfortable with the whole ritual.  All the new officers and Deacons had to come to the alter and kneel.  Mike offered to go with him but Ron thoughtfully declined Mike's offer.  How cute is that?  Mike was offering a little brotherly love to Ron...............

Ron and I talked yesterday about all the recent test results.  He was a little upset with me because I "seem" to be planning for the worse. Which is very pessimistic in his opinion.  I don't mean to make him feel like I'm a pessimist but I just know there are certain financial things that need to be in place in case surgery is required in Oct.  I guess I just have to be careful what I say in front of him.  

The other interesting thing is how differently we interpret what the doctor is saying.  Sometimes I question whether Ron was even there because he seems to hear something entirely different.  I always request a copy of any reports so I can go over them again to make sure I have the right information.  I'm trying to learn what Ron needs from me but it's hard.  Right now I think he needs me to learn how to keep my big mouth shut.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lessons I am still learning

If I summed up everything I have learned so far during my almost 63 years of existence it would still be a short list.  I believe I have much yet to learn.  Most of what I have come to realize is that most of what my parents told me was true.  My father's sage advice to never take myself or life too seriously was spot on and to learn to laugh at myself.  He also told me that life is about change and that it is constantly occurring  so don't get too comfortable.  Be pliable or you will break.

I've also learned that patience, if not acquired naturally should be learned.  It will serve you in ways that you can't imagine.  Patience not only with others but with yourself.  We aren't born knowing everything we need to know to navigate through life.  It takes time, patience and practice to come close to acquiring enough skill just to get by.

When I was young my expectations got the best of me.  I expected love to be perfect.  I expected perfection from myself as a mother.  I expected everyone to be happy all the time.  I expected too much!

I've now learned to appreciate imperfection and all its individuality.  It's our imperfections that make us unique and interesting.

I've learned that life isn't nearly as complicated as we make it.  Treat others as you wish to be treated.  That's pretty simple. When you leave a room make sure those you left behind are glad you came and not happy to see you leave. 

 The mouse trap
A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. "What food might this contain?" the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.
Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said "Mr.Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."
The mouse turned to the pig and told him "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The pig sympathized, but said "I am so very sorry, Mr.Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."
The mouse turned to the cow and said "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The cow said "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."
So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house - like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever.
Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient. But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many! people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.
The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, remember: when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another. Each of us is a vital thread in another person's tapestry.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What's in a name?

My maternal grandfather wasn't related to me by blood but he was the only grandfather I ever knew.  He married my grandmother when my mother was five-years old. His first wife died of breast cancer when their son was about 7 years old.  My grandfather married my grandmother when his son was about ten.

My mother adored her new father and brother.  She would follow her stepfather everywhere he went.  He built her a beautiful little kitchen set for their first Christmas together as a family and she cherished it all her life.

My grandfather was a very quiet man but was always willing to play a game of tic-tac-toe or hangman with my brother and I.  Sometimes he would just sit and tell us tall tales about his days as a prison guard often scaring the bejeebers out of us.

Grand dad was 17 years older than our grandmother.  He died when I was 15 years old.  He had been sick for awhile when he asked my grandmother to promise that he would be buried next to his first wife.  Now he and my grandmother had been married 42 years by this time and I can only imagine how my grandmother must have felt to hear this request.  My grandmother had lost a child when she was married to her first husband and had always planned to be buried next to her little girl.  When my grand dad told her where he wanted to be buried he also requested that my grandmother be buried on the other side of him when she died.  It was hard but my grandmother promised to fulfill both his wishes.

I didn't remember much about his funeral or noticing the marker next to his.  But when my grandmother died I was twenty-two years old.  I was standing at her grave site and looked at my grandfather's grave next to hers.  Then I noticed the grave on the other side of him.  I was astonished.  I had never known his first wife's name until that day.  It was Ida Marie Lessel!  On my grandmother's grave it was marked......Ida Marie Lessel!  They had the exact same name.  

Now what are the chances of that?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oh what a beautiful morning (inspite of the dark clouds)

I feel better today than I have for some time.  Life is good again and I feel hopeful about Ron.  I know that lung surgery will be no picnic but it's a chance to beat this thing and that's way more than was offered to us two years ago.

Our little house guest is doing well.  I think she is really enjoying being an only dog.  She was playing chase with Ron this morning and I don't think I remember ever seeing Bella play.  She's too busy being surly at her house.  Having her around has made we wish we had a dog.  I really think Ron really enjoys having one around.  Animals are drawn to him like a magnet.   I would want one small enough to travel with us but big enough not worry about her getting under foot.  

I saw a cute breed "Havanese" but they evidently don't do well alone.  We don't need two dogs so I think that breed is out.
But that's for consideration another day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

CT Results

The test results were two-fold.  The kidney looks good but the spot in Ron's lung had grown some more.  The surgeon cannot do a needle biopsy so the only way to check it is to open him up.  The oncologist and the radiologist recommended waiting 3 more months and do another CT scan and if their is more growth go in and take it out.  The growth was so minimal they don't want to do such an invasive surgery until they are a little more convinced it is necessary.  There is a chance it is benign but with Ron's cancer history it isn't worth risking. 

So this gives Ron 3 months to get himself psyched up for surgery.  I was just so relieved his remaining kidney looked good and I see this as a positive.  His oncologist says there is still a chance for a cure no matter how slim.  That's music to my ears.  As long as there is hope!

Ron is such as easy going person but when he gets this kind of news he gets angry.  I think it takes him a while to process what they are saying.  He gets mad because they can't give him a definitive answer.  The oncologist said he would be in intensive care for about 4 days following surgery at that shook him up.  He knows there will be a lot more paid associated with this surgery than there was with the kidney surgery.  So it doesn't look like we will be taking a trip in October if he has surgery.  We will just have to plan it for the following Spring.

The Instigator

Ron and I have the pleasure of keeping the "Instigator" for the next 3 weeks.  Bella is my daughter Jamie's dog and she is one of 3 dogs that live in her abode.  Jamie and her husband Chris are traveling through Europe and hired a house sitter to care for their animals.  But Bella was sent to stay at Grandma's because she is the instigator of all the fights.  She really should have been an "only" dog.  She was weaned way too early and never socialized so now  she hates the other animals.  But as you can see she is a queen at our house and she absolutely adores Ron.  She's such a ratty mess.  She was "expelled" from her last groomers because she wouldn't behave.  She's definitely the problem child:)

I'm meeting Ron at the oncologist's office at 3:00 pm today.  Of course I didn't sleep much but that is typical.  I'm always anxious before we get the results of scans.  You'd think after 3 years of this I'd get used to it but the fear of losing someone you love is something we never get used to.  I can't believe I was so lucky to have this wonderful man in my life.  I'll take every minute God sees fit to give us.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Work continues

The retaining wall

We finally got the lawn re-sodded and the retaining wall installed.  We are pleased with the results.  Now we are waiting for the carport.  Work never ends.

We get the results of Ron's CT scan tomorrow.  I'm holding my breath.  Hopefully the news will be "Continue to watch".  I can deal with that.  

We are wanting to take a trip in October to see Ron's daughter in N. Carolina.  We need good news.