Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dear Dogs and Cats


The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats:

The dishes on the floor with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate does not mean that this is suddenly your food, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the top of the stairs is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space that you are taking up, is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom!   If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door.   I must exit through the same door I entered.  Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is:  Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt.


(1) They live don't.

(2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture.   That's why they call it “fur”-niture.
(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:
(1) eat less,
(2) don't ask for money all the time,
(3) are easier to train,
(4) normally come when called,
(5) never ask to drive the car,
(6) don't hang out with drug-using people;
(7) don't smoke or drink,
(8) don't want to wear your clothes,
(9) don't have to buy the latest fashions,
(10) don't need a gazillion dollars for college and
(11) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children.......


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Too many unknowns

Today I went to the new Absentee Shawnee Indian clinic and had my first appointment with my new doctor.  The new facility is beautiful and so far I'm quite impressed.  Of course my new doctor is youthful and probably right out of med school but then everyone is looking very youthful to me these days.  What my doctor and I were in agreement on was that I need to start making myself a priority.  I'm seriously going to give it a shot.  Just as soon as I have time:(

Ron got the new job which will start Sept. 17th.  Unfortunately the start date is after the CAT scan and results.  If he has to have lung surgery I suppose they could choose to not hire him after all.  It's just a gamble.  He is officially being furloughed from his current job so his health benefits will continue.  That was good news.  There will be no lag in health benefits.  So there is still much to be thankful about.

I can't even allow myself to think about the possibility of another surgery.  I'm on overload and that's how it is.  I just push all of this to the back of my mind and let it sit there.  I suppose that's best since worrying about it won't change anything.  I have to keep remembering that surgery may lead to remission or cure.  Since his cancer is surgical only it is the only option.

Ron is amazing.  He never dwells on his health.  He just lives each day and doesn't stress about tomorrow.  He makes it possible for me to put it in the back of my mind.   Now, if he has to have surgery again I know what kind of patient he will be.  We've been to this rodeo twice before.  The difference in this surgery is that there will be considerably more pain.  He doesn't handle pain well and he really gets mad.  I can't blame him but it sure makes it hard to play nursemaid.  That's why I have to get to feeling better myself in order to be of any help to him.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Knob Twisters

My dad owned and operated a pawn shop for many years.  When the twins were little we would sometimes go down to the shop to see my dad.  He nicknamed the girls "The Knob Twisters" because they would hit the floor and start pushing buttons and turning knobs on anything they could get their little hands on.
This is Julie working over an adding machine.  Of course her daddy put her on the counter so she had help.
 This is Jamie sporting a cool pair of shades.  There was just so much to see and touch in PaPa's store.
 Poor PaPa he knew when he was outnumbered!  Sometimes I watch Hardcore Pawn on TV and think about how he would have enjoyed watching that show.  He had a lot of colorful people in his store but nothing like on that show. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mixed Message

I watched a special over the weekend on the Mormon religion and it was very interesting.  I was so impressed by their commitment to assisting and helping the poor.  They had a warehouse that had everything you can possibly imagine from food to household items.  It made Sam’s Club look tiny in comparison.  All anyone has to do to receive help is ask.  They do not limit their generosity to just members of their faith either.  Wouldn’t it be great if this attitude of caring for others translated to the Republican party?

Friday, August 24, 2012

cautious optimism

Ron is interviewing for a new job this morning.  I am so grateful that something came up just as his current job was ending.  We talked a lot about just how much health information should he divulge.  He doesn't want to hide anything but at the same time he doesn't want to say too much for fear it will cost him the job.  So we decided he should tell them he was diagnosed and treated for renal cell carcinoma 3 years ago and that he has CAT scans every 3 months for follow-up.  He has one scheduled in Sept.  This way if the scan indicates he has to have surgery it won't be a big surprise to the employer.  It's really hard to know how to handle these situations.

My daughter struggled with whether to tell potential employers about her disability.  As a teacher she didn't know whether to tell a potential principal that she has severe dyslexia.  Of course it never takes long before people know about it but she does such a great job of compensating that they are usually impressed.   But you never know if a potential employer will give you that opportunity to prove yourself.

I cooked dinner for Mike last night.  He worried me a little because he was sounding so goofy.  He was going through his list of rituals and he had that glassy look in his eyes.  Basically he wasn't making a lot of sense.  His phone calls during the day have increased.  Usually he just calls and says, "Ask me how I'm doing" and then replies, "I'm doing GREAT" in a loud and booming voice.  So, I'm not sure what's going on.  It is enough to concern me and I may call the new psychiatrist to confirm his next appointment.  Just makes me nervous!  His behavior may just be a response to the fact that I haven't been with him much lately.  I just haven't felt good and with therapy I haven't had any extra time.  He's really dependent on me and when I'm out of reach he gets anxious.  


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I had a long session of physical therapy today.  It seems that I'm a twisted pretzel.  Everything is out of alignment from my hips to my pelvis.  I asked my therapist if I can ever expect to get things back in place and she said, "We hope so".  Not as affirmative as I would have liked.  I don't know how much longer I can afford to go to therapy.  This isn't cheap!

Ron had his annual colonoscopy yesterday and everything was good.  Now we wait for the next CAT scan in September.  That will determine whether he has another surgery or not.  I'm hoping everything looks good but we just have to wait and see.  I'm cautiously optimistic.

Mike is still doing great!  I almost feel like I've been neglecting him.  He calls me every morning and says, "Ask me how I'm doing" to which he responds "I'm doing GREAT".  

Can't ask for more than that!


Monday, August 20, 2012

The three R's

I have always been proud of my daughters for becoming teachers.  I remember how I loved many of my teachers as a child and I couldn't imagine a more satisfying occupation.  But something happened between the time I was in grade school and now.  My teachers were not expected to raise me.....that was my parent's job.  

Every year more and more people feel qualified to tell teachers how to teach.  They feel compelled to let them know what "they" think they are doing wrong.  Most of these people have never set foot in a classroom as a teacher.  When people like Oprah Winfrey host shows with all the "experts" there to voice what is wrong with education today there are notably a few "experts" missing.....the teachers.

The first educators in our country were only expected to teach reading, writing and arithmetic.  This didn't change much until the mid 50's when a little social studies was thrown in the mix.  I didn't get exposed to science or geography until I was in the 7th grade.

Today, teachers begin teaching science, social studies, foreign languages, reading, anti-bullying, writing, arithmetic in kindergarten all while playing counselor, health educator and remaining ever diligent for signs of possible child abuse and neglect.  Teachers are now expected to teach and to parent the Nation's children.  

Let me tell you a little about Oklahoma teachers and their classrooms. Many teachers at the high school level have more than 170-200 students in their classrooms. Do you think a student is worth 10 minutes a week from his/ her teacher? Outside of the classroom? Do you think a “good” teacher should spend that much time on weekly grading — 10 minutes a student? Please do the math: that would mean another 83+ hours weekly, outside of the classroom. If each student receives 10 minutes of attention on his or her work outside the classroom.

“Don’t they have plan periods?” I hear people ask. No, many don’t. “Plan periods” went the way of smaller classrooms — there are too many school duties: hall monitors, cafeteria duty, mandated professional development that has nothing to do with the school’s demographics. And even if they did, that’s less than five hours weekly…

And yes, good teachers work a lot of outside hours. Unfortunately, in Oklahoma (where our average teacher salary ranks 47th in the country), many teachers need to take part-time jobs. Does this impact their teaching? Certainly. It also impacts the ability for a single mother of two or three children to put food on the table and pay the rent. Do you want teachers to spend more time on students? Lower classroom size — hire more teachers. And pay them competitive salaries — competitive with other career paths requiring a minimum of a bachelor?s degree. Even nurses (another under-rated career) make more than teachers do.

You don’t want teachers to have tenure? Then figure out a way that a principal in a small town (like, say, Skiatook, Okla.) will be unable to fire teachers s/he doesn’t like. Not because the teacher is ‘bad,’ but because the teacher attends the wrong church. Or maybe doesn’t attend church at all. Small towns — and big ones, as well — have politics.  And surprise: they affect every decision in a school, even to the detriment of teachers.

My daughter's have decided that this will be their last year in the classroom.  They are just feeling defeated.  Even a year ago I would have tried to convince them to stay.  I would have told them how they are impacting the lives of their students and how much their students love them.  I would have told them that the enthusiasm and creativity they bring to their classrooms is contagious.  But today...I just can't think of any reason for them to stay!  They are exhausted.  They are weary from lack of support from administrators to parents.  They feel this way and school doesn't even start until Thursday.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Old Gray Mare......................

Both of my daughters are teachers and anyone who has been a teacher knows the amount of "stuff" a teacher has in her classroom, especially early childhood teachers.  For the past 15 years I have helped hang posters, alphabet trains, move furniture, sort, cut and paste more times than I can count.  Ron and I have helped them move to new classrooms four times each and then there was the great mice invasion of 2002.  Well, this year they are moving once again to a brand new early childhood building.  For some reason this has been the hardest and most overwhelming move of all.

I received a frantic call from the girls when I got home last night.  They had just gained occupancy of their new classrooms and school starts on Monday.  So I went right over and started helping unpack boxes and move furniture.  (BIG MISTAKE)  All the therapy I've had for the last four weeks just went out the window.  I'm in pain!
By the time I got home I could hardly walk and then I just melted into tears.  My poor husband had no idea what to do.  I think the tears were more about the fact that I just can't do the things I used to do.  I've always been a work horse and ready and willing to help whenever asked.  I just can't do it anymore.  Sixty-three isn't that old but arthritis doesn't pay attention to age.  Because it is in my back and has progressed so rapidly it really is limiting what I can do.  So I had a pity party and went to bed.  I guess I just have to modify what I can do but it is hard to resist picking up a box or moving a table when you see it needs to be done.  Ron and I have been enlisted to help this weekend but I'm going to have to really watch what I do


Monday, August 13, 2012

Hope springs but my joints......not so much!

I haven't been inspired to write much lately.  All this concentrating on myself hasn't led to anything inspirational.  I'm into my third week of physical therapy and right now I'm feeling a bit discouraged.  I had one great day (last Thursday) but it was fleeting.  After therapy on Friday I was back where I started, or so it felt.  My hip pain had returned and walking was painful.  I talked to my therapist this morning and she removed some of the exercises I was doing because they appear to have flared up the problem.  So we will see how it goes from here.

Although there is a lot going on right now.  Ron's job ending, his next CT scan, my physical issues yet none of them seem worthy of elaboration.

Ron and I saw the movie "Hope Springs" over the weekend and it was really good.  It was much sadder than I expected but the funny parts were really funny.  Highly recommended movie.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My daughters met their 1/2 brother for the first time last weekend.  They all met for lunch in Ft. Worth, Texas which was about 1/2 way for all of them.  The girls were really excited to meet Jay and his wife and I was happy for them too.  

They shared pictures from their meeting and Jay is a very handsome young man.  He's 28 years old and a police officer in College Station, Texas.  His wife is an occupational therapist.  They are already planning their next visit.

I had mentioned before when the girls first got in contact with their 1/2 brother that I was surprised by the feelings it provoked in me.  I have absolutely no ill feelings for my ex's children but it did bring up a lot of sad memories for me.  I'll never understand why my ex literally abandoned our daughters.  It's hard to hear about how he has been a father to these two younger children and not again wonder how he was able to walk away from our daughters.  It still hurts.

Thankfully my daughters are OK with it all.  They have no desire to see their father but they want to know their 1/2 siblings. 

Maybe I feel some sadness because this is something I can't be a part of or at least not at this time.  I hope I get to meet Jay some day and that it wouldn't make him feel awkward  or uncomfortable.

It's amazing how much divorce can affect a person.  Even if it was 37 years ago.  The pain experienced from one person's rejection changes you forever. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Knock Knock - whose there? Unemployment

Well, Well, I guess I forgot to knock on wood before I announced that Ron's job had been saved.  They no more got a contract signed than ComCast backed out.  Looks like Ron's job will end August 29th unless they are able to solicit a new contract.  Bye Bye health insurance....thank goodness I have him covered under my plan.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

News from NAMNI

While other illnesses have seen vast improvements in their recovery rates, for individuals living with mental illness, the recovery rate has not improved dramatically. Twenty years ago AIDS was essentially a death sentence. If you contracted AIDS you measured your life expectancy in months. However, the most recent figures find that if someone contracts HIV and develop AIDS by age 19 or 20 he or she will probably die of heart disease in their 60s or 70s.

Unfortunately for mental illness, the current reality is not as optimistic. These illnesses are still being diagnosed by observations rather than using biomarkers, the method the rest of the medicine world uses to identify illnesses. Consequently, treatment often doesn’t arrive until late in the course of the illness. This lack of timely treatment has led neuropsychiatric disorders to become the leading cause of disability in the world, more than heart disease, cancer or injuries.

“But it’s not just morbidity, it’s mortality,” says Dr. Tom Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). and served as the Chair of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee  The latest data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that nearly 36,000 Americans die by suicide each year, virtually all are thought to be a result of mental illness, more than twice the number of homicides and more than number of traffic fatalities.

In the military, suicide has become a true crisis. Since 2009, more soldiers have been lost to suicide than combat. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), depression and suicide are quickly becoming the signature wounds of the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
So why haven’t we done better? Why with all the treatments, such as psychotherapy and medication, have recovery rates not improved?

Many reasons have been put forward but the most loudly stated and often cited is the lack of access to services; people simply don’t have the ability to get the best treatments. New data from Great Britain seems to suggest otherwise. Although everyone has access to healthcare is in the U.K, the outcomes for individuals living with mental illness, however, are almost exactly the same. 

According to Dr. Insel the reason we have not seen better results is that we simply do not know enough. Mental illnesses are complicated problems and we are still at a very early stage in trying to understand them. “In many ways we are about where cancer was 35 or 40 years ago or where heart disease was 45 or 50 years ago,” claims Dr. Insel. “We are still learning to navigate around a new area of research.
We have just now begun to look at mental disorders at the initial onset of symptoms in hopes to provide more effective treatments.
New techniques such as diffusion spectrum imaging have allowed scientists to begin to map the neural fiber pathways of the brain. While these methods are still in their infancy they show promise. They allow us to decode the “bowl of spaghetti” as Dr. Insel puts it. With the new technologies we can now begin to see into that mass in the middle. Dr. Insel hopes that by the end of this year we will be able to tell what the actual connectivity is between two parts of the brain. Ultimately being able to discover what is exactly different between individuals with depression and individuals with schizophrenia, what part of the brain changes with treatment.

“For the first time we can begin to say, ‘So this is what depression looks like… these are the parts of the brain that are involved in PTSD or the parts that are involved in OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder] or schizophrenia,’” says Dr. Insel. 

New forms of treatment, such as the use of video games, are now being used to target specific processes and ultimately change the neural circuitry of the brain. With the new technology we can finally begin to move past merely describing mental illness by its physical descriptions and instead begin to identify particular circuits in the brain that aren’t working the way they should be. Ultimately, as Dr. Insel notes, we will probably discover that depression is not just depression. Rather, we might discover that it is a collection of many disorders that affects distinct parts of the brain.

For Insel, the understanding of mental illness as a neurodevelopmental disorder is key. Continued research on the early stages of the development of mental illness will result in treatments that can truly begin to address the core of the problem rather than focusing on mitigating the visible expressions of the illness.
Research into the circuits of the brain is not the only thing to be done, Dr. Insel notes. It’s not just a matter of getting clearer pictures of the brain, identifying the neurons, cells and structures in the brain. Evidence has continued to show one thing, over and over: “If you look at those things that help to build resilience… one of the best is simply by getting families involved.” It’s not just all the brain talk that’s important, it’s the human talk too.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ever Changing

The Absentee Shawnee Nation opened a new Indian health clinic just 20 miles from us which is about 20 miles closer than the Pottawatomie clinic we’ve been going to for years.  Since my doctor just left and Mike’s psychiatrist left I thought this might be a good time to check out this new clinic. 

Mike will see the new psychiatrist on the 9th of August.  He’s excited and happy the clinic is so much closer to home.  So we will see how things go.

Mike is doing great.  He’s getting better every day and seems genuinely content if not down right happy.  His dependence on me has greatly decreased and that’s definitely better for him.

I feel like I’m in a marathon to get myself well before Ron’s next CT scan.  I’m going to physical therapy for about 9 hours/week.  The progress is very, very, slow but I’m hoping by the end of the month I see a marked improvement.

We were worried that Ron might be losing his job but fortunately they were able to acquire a new contract to take the place of the one they lost.  So that’s good.  His health insurance will remain intact.

So if we can just be blessed one more time and dodge the surgery bullet things will be better than they’ve been in a very long time.  I might even get to take the trip to N. Carolina that we’ve been hoping to take in October. 

So please keep those fingers crossed!  I’m praying the spot on his lung is shrinking…………..