Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fifty Shades of Red

My sweet, adorable husband knows I love to read.  So for my birthday he went to the bookstore and purchased my birthday present.  A young woman who asked him if I had read, “Fifty Shades of Grey” as it was on the best seller’s list and all the rage among the ladies assisted him.  Enough said, he bought the entire trilogy without ever reading the jacket.

So birthday comes and he presented his gifts, a new vacuum cleaner, which I had specifically requested, some flowers and 3 books of porn.  Yes.......that's what I said....you can call it erotica but I have another definition.  Poor Ron.............I was reading the first 3 chapters of the book when he asked so innocently, "Well, do you like the book?"  I said, "Well, let me read you this chapter......"  It was so funny.............he turned 50 shades of red.  My very prudish husband was mortified.  It was worth watching him almost choke.

Now, if you have read these books and enjoyed them that's great.  If you read the first 100 pages and decided to quit....I get it.  If you thought the book was written by an over experienced 15 year old I get that too.
The following was taken from an Amazon review:
"And oh, the repetition...and the repetition...and the repetition. I'm convinced the author has a computer macro that she hits to insert one of her limited repertoire of facial expressions whenever she needs one. According to my research, characters roll their eyes 41 times, Ana bites her lip 35 times, Christian's lips "quirk up" 16 times, Christian "cocks his head to one side" 17 times, characters "purse" their lips 15 times, and characters raise their eyebrows a whopping 50 times. Add to that 80 references to Ana's anthropomorphic "subconscious" (which also rolls its eyes and purses its lips, by the way), 58 references to Ana's "inner goddess," and 92 repetitions of Ana saying some form of "oh crap" (which, depending on the severity of the circumstances, can be intensified to "holy crap," "double crap," or the ultimate "triple crap"). And this is only part one of a trilogy..."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Another day older and.......still perkin

Today is my birthday!  I am 63 years old today.  As I drove to work this morning I started wondering when do women stop revealing their age?  I have no problem telling someone how old I am, it's the only explanation I have for looking this way.  Age is only a number but it can be useful.
Thanks to my co-workers!
 My poor husband is the one sensitive about age.  He gets annoyed with me.  Now that I'm 63 I will tell people I'm almost 64.  It doesn't matter that it is 364 days from now.  It helps me get used to the next number in advance. 

We have no plans for today.  I have physical therapy this afternoon and then a fast trip to the clinic to pick up medicine.  Ahhh this isn't how I spent birthdays in my youth!  

I remember as a kid I wished my birthday fell during the school year.  I always wanted to bring cupcakes to school on my birthday.  In the summer kids were always on vacation or otherwise engaged.  I had one birthday party as a kid and that was when I was seven.  I think it was a swim party.  I do remember the cake.  I always wanted a bakery cake with my name on it. So my mom got a cake and it said Happy Birthday Dannie......which was not how I spelled my name at the time.  At that time I spelled it Danny but my mom didn't like that because it was a boy's name.   Oh....the things we remember.

My sweet husband loves birthdays and always makes a fuss on someone's birthday.  He believes all birthdays should be celebrated on the exact day and not scheduled just for convenience.   So I'm sure he will surprise me with something today. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Caregiver Needs an Overhaul

My second round of therapy showed some improvement in movement.  The pain is still significant but I'm getting improved range of motion as we get the muscles stretched out and loosened up in my leg.  

Therapy is really up close and personal with someone pulling on your leg or massaging some other body part.  I've never really liked anyone being so invasive into my personal space but I'm just gonna suck it up because I want to get better. 

Twin #2 is in Scotland today and will leave for England tomorrow.  They are having a fantastic time on their trip and celebrating their 9th wedding anniversary today.

It's nice to have a little time to think about and do something for myself.  It's so easy to get lost when in the throws of caregiving.  I'm more grateful for this reprieve than anyone can imagine.  I need this time to get healthier in preparation for the next round of caregiving is needed. 

Ron gets another CT scan the end of August and then results in Sept.  This will be the one that determines whether he will have lung surgery or not.  I need to get myself prepared.

We received great news yesterday from our contractor.  We've been waiting several weeks for the installation of our new carport.  Well, the contractor sent us a new invoice and deducted $1,000 because he had not met the installation date he had quoted. We didn't have a date set in stone either but it has been about two weeks longer than we expected.  I was just shocked that he was so gracious.  Obviously he really cares about his reputation. You don't see that much anymore.  It was like hitting the jackpot!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On my mind!

What really made me think about the Colorado incident was thinking about people who were around the shooter during the days, weeks and months before he acted.  I wondered if they were seeing any unusual behavior on his part.  Of course I know it's easier to recognize something after the fact.  But, it made me think about my own brother's psychotic break.  Looking back I realize there were signs that something was going to happen but I didn't recognize them at the time.  When someone is a little odd all the time its hard to recognize that they are acting stranger than usual.  That probably doesn't make any sense but that's the best way I know to put it.  I can't help but wonder what would have happened if Mike had hurt someone during that episode.  Would he have been considered legally competent?   Having been there at the time I can't imagine that he would have but I don't really understand the legal definition.

I'm just praying for all the victims of this horrible act!

Yesterday I started physical therapy.  OMG thought I was going to die.  I was pounded, stretched, shocked, and anything else they could think to do to me.  I'm sore as a boil today but I sure hope this helps.  I'm scheduled 3 times a week for 4 weeks.  That's a lot of stretching and pounding.  The PT tech who hooked me up to the vital stem machine was probably 19 years old and the PT around 24.  Gads everyone is looking so young to me. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sorrow in Colorado

The shooting in Colorado has really been on my mind.  My heart goes out to everyone impacted by the shooting.  I can't help but wonder if the shooter has some form of mental illness that has gone undiagnosed or untreated for some time.  I know that doesn't change anything as far as responsibility but it just makes me think something is wrong with this guy.  His mother did not sound surprised when she was contacted about the shooting.  I believe she said, "You have the right guy" or something like that.  I guess there were signs that something was wrong.  It's a miracle that more people were not killed with the amount of weapons and ammunition he had.  It was definitely a well planned attack.

So, when does someone have the right to step in if you suspect that someone may be going over the edge?  What can you do?  Where do you get help?  We've asked these questions before and there never seems to be any answers.  It seems that nothing can be done until AFTER someone gets hurt or killed.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hot here...........................

Well, some good news in my effort to help my niece.  She now has a place to live for six months rent free.  She has a job prospect at the University and she can work 9 months and still receive her disability benefits no matter how much she is earning.  They will extend it 36 months more if her salary falls below the limit.  Then she has 5 years to work and if for some reason during the 5 year period she finds herself unable to work because of her disability her benefits will be reinstated immediately.  Soooo that was good news.  I didn't want her to give up her disability because I wasn't sure whether she would be able to work or not.  This gives her time to find out.

So....that said, the rest is up to her.  I made a deal with her that in exchange for help she will attend AA meetings and continue seeing a psychiatrist here.    I know her goal is independence and I hope she achieves just that.

Mike is still doing great.  He's getting better every day.  His anxiety appears to be under control and no more suicide talk.

I saw my doctor last week and will start physical therapy next week.  I really hope they can help me with my hip pain.  I've been using crutches and that's not going very well.  I'm so uncoordinated with them I just get frustrated and leave them leaning against the wall.  The doctor put me on a steroid pack in an effort to reduce some of the inflammation.  This is day 2 but I haven't noticed any change.  Patience............ I'll see what therapy can do for me.

It is too hot here for man nor beast so we have just stayed inside all weekend.  We did meet Mike and my daughter and her husband for breakfast this morning and then high tailed it back home under the airconditioning.  106 is just too hot!

Friday, July 20, 2012

De Nile, Not just a river in Egypt

I am realizing that you can't fix anyone or their problems.  All you can do is support their effort to fix themselves.  That's it!  They have to do all the work.

My brother has been successful in his attempt to conquer his mental illness because he finally (1) embraced it, owned it and (2) he is doing everything asked of him.  That's it........he's better not because of anything I've done but because he was willing to do the work and I was willing to support his effort.

My niece has a long way to go.  She hasn't fully owned her illness.  She is an alcoholic and she hasn't fully accepted that problem and she is bipolar.  She feels ashamed of both and thereby tries to hide it from herself and others.  That won't work.  You have to bare yourself to the world......ask for help and then do everything that is asked of you.   I'm not sure she is ready to do that.  Denial is destructive.  

I have quickly realized I can't fix her problems or even begin to support her effort until she gets help for the alcoholism.  Drinking while taking drugs for Bipolar disorder is futile.  She's just a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.  "You can't change what you don't acknowledge." 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Now that Mike is doing better and Ron seems to be OK for now.  I decided that it is now time for me to focus on getting myself healthy.  I've ignored myself for so long I'm kinda in a mess.  I can barely walk because of hip, back and knee pain.  The joy of arthritis and bursitis !  I am taking the first painful step by seeing the Reumatologist this week and will probably start physical therapy ASAP.  My diet is just horrible so that has to be addressed as well.  So I'm ready to start my overhaul! 

My poor daughter got bad news last Friday.  Her ACL has torn again and will require surgery.  This will be the third surgery to repair that knee.  This time she has more damage than before.  And then to top it all off she got poison ivy on both legs and in her eye.  She's leaving for Ireland tomorrow.  Poor girl!  She will be going with a leg brace and a rash.  She's going to try and put off the surgery for as long as possible but the doctor is a little pessimistic as to how long she will be able to wait.  He's afraid she will damage her good knee if she waits too long.

This is day one of getting healthier!

I did tell Ron that I want to retire and move to a community that only uses golf carts to get around town.  I want to get this one!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What a difference a week can make!

Wow, what a difference a week can make.  Mike is doing amazingly well.  He told me he can't control his thoughts but he can control how he reacts to them.  That was said with such clarity.

He saw Dr. T. on Thursday and told him good-bye.  He was just as calm about it as could be.  Yesterday he went to the gym in the morning and felt so good he drove to the clinic by himself and picked up his prescriptions.  That's an hour round trip.  Something he hasn't been able to do in two years.  WOW.  I do wish he had told me he was going before he did it but alls well in the end. 

I think the last bit of Thorazine is now out of his system and perhaps that explains the sudden clarity and ability to think.  Whatever the cause I am grateful.  Life has felt so near normal this week and it reminds me I have much to be thankful for.  Now maybe I can help my niece get back on her feet.  I'll not get in over my head though.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How I taught my kids the value of money

As a single mom with six-year old twins I was always pinching pennies.  It was hard to have to say no when the girls asked for the latest Barbie or wanted to go to the movies but sometimes the pennies just didn’t stretch far enough.  I quickly realized that the girls had no concept of money the day they instructed me to, “Just write a check” for the desired item.  I decided to teach them some math skills along with a basic life skills lesson.  I went to the store and purchased several packs of play money.  When payday rolled around I gathered the girls at the kitchen table along with the stack of monthly bills.  I told them we were going to play a game called PAY DAY.  

I showed them my paycheck and then we proceeded to go to the bank to cash it in.  I counted out the exact amount in play money and put it on the table.  They were so excited about the wad of money and were already planning how to spend it until I showed them the stack of bills.  I explained what each bill was for and said, “Now, if we want to take a bath and have water to drink we have to pay the city bill.  After we all agreed that water was a good thing to have I had them count out the money to pay the bill.  It was then put in a jar with a picture of a water faucet on it.  We did this for every bill we had.  Play money went into each jar with the appropriate label.  After all the bills were paid I then told them we had to set money aside for things like food and gas for the automobile so we could get to work and to school.  Finally, all the money had been dispersed and we all sat at the table looking at the pitiful pile we had left.  We put the meager remains in a clear glass jar and left it in the middle of the table.

I explained to the girls that for the remainder of the month we would have to make choices concerning the things we wanted to purchase or do.  Every time they would ask to go do something or purchase a toy I would have them go to the jar on the table and count out how much money would be needed.  Often they would change their minds when they realized that nothing would be left for the rest of the month.  Then I introduced the jar marked (SAVINGS).  I told them that if we put a little money in this jar each month eventually we would have enough for something special or an emergency.  They caught on immediately. My efforts had paid off.

We continued the PAYDAY game for several years.   When they were old enough to babysit and earn money of their own they continued to use the strategies they had acquired.  The girls learned a very basic life lesson, you don’t spend more than you earn and it is a lesson that has served them well.  They managed to get through college debt free, a feat not accomplished by many of their friends.  They are good financial managers.  They purchased a car (1977 VW Super Beetle Convertible) for $3,700.00 and shared it for 13 years.  When they sold it they made an additional $1000 over the purchase price.  They used that money toward their first trip to England. 

And to think it all started with a few mason jars and some play money!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shhhhhhh quiet in the library.

Yesterday I went back to November 2010 and read my posts to date.  Mike's psychotic episode took place Nov. 7th.  If ever I doubt how far we've come since that day all I have to do is go back and read.  It helps me keep a perspective about where we are now.

Mike had another milestone day yesterday.  We had been brainstorming ideas for things for him to do during the day.  One idea that came up some time ago was taking the bus to the city library.   Yesterday was his big day and he did it on his own.  He got a library card and checked out a book on tape about Bill Clinton and a book on dog training. (Guess he's still thinking about getting a dog)  He said he had a great time and the library is cool and quiet  HOORAY FOR MIKE!  

When Ron and I took him grocery shopping Sunday I took him to the deli and we picked out several things he could eat. (We have to be careful because of his allergies)  I introduced Mike to the lady behind the counter and told him he can always ask what ingredients are in something before he buys it.  Well, yesterday he went to the store on his own and to the deli.  He bought some baked beans and then had them with his tuna salad (which he made) and pears for supper.

I didn't hear from him after I got home from work so I called and he was doing great.  He was listening to his cd and relaxing with his dog training book.  (4 days and no suicide threats)  I'm so proud of him.  I know our parents are looking down in amazement that Mike is living with his schizophrenia and living independently for the first time in his life.  It was a very rocky road to get here but things are finally looking hopeful.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The power of the flute!

My brother is doing so well right now.  We have had three evenings in a row and he hasn't felt the need to call me and tell me he's going to kill himself.  THAT'S HUGE!  We tried several new strategies to help him cope with his anxiety and they seem to be working.  The one that really seems to have made a difference is the cd I got called Canyon Trilogy.   It is Native American flute and it is so tranquil and relaxing.  I told Mike to play it when he feels anxious and to concentrate on each note of the flute.  He does all this while draped over a huge exercise ball that lets him relax his shoulders and just roll from side to side with the music.  He loves it!  I'm so proud of him and his effort to get better.  If you go to Amazon.com you can hear the cd, it really is beautiful.

Another big accomplishment for Mike is he is learning to cook a few things.  I taught him how to make tuna salad (which he loves) and he can now fix his own breakfast.  We are working on pork chops next.  He really feels empowered that he can fix something he likes by himself.  He doesn't have to wait on someone else.   

I just want him to regain as much of his independence as possible.  He's such a sweet man and I want him to feel good about himself.  Mental illness is just a horrible disease and we are so lucky to be able to help Mike live as normal a life as possible.

I got a glimpse of a touch of green in the yard this morning.  I just have to laugh.  I'm sure it will all come back in time but it really looks pitiful right now. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Best of Intentions

A month ago we had our front yard re-sodded.  It was an unexpected expense brought on by the shoddy job done on the driveway.  So, for the past 5 weeks Ron has been working tirelessly to get the new grass to take hold.  We were told to stick to a strict watering schedule (which we did) and to not mow for 4 weeks, which we didn't.  Ron mowed it on a high setting the first time and we were ready to lower the mower just a tad this weekend.   The grass really looked great.....all thick and green.  All Ron's hard work had paid off............ 

Now, jump ahead to Friday evening.  We were leaving to go out to eat when Ron engaged in some chatter with our young neighbor.  She is 21 years old and cute as a bug.  She was out mowing her yard and Ron teasingly said...."You can just keep on mowing over to this side".  Ha Ha we all laughed. 

We went on out to eat and about an hour and half later returned home to find our little neighbor and her mom frantically raking up the hay field in our yard.  Yes.........Our Yard.  She mowed it (thinking of course that she was helping the old folks next door) but she mowed on the lowest setting of her mower.  She scalped our new lawn.  I mean scalped it bald, down to the dirt!  It looks deader that a doorknob.  But......how can you get mad at a sweet girl trying to help.  Our $3,000 lawn just bit the dust.

Ron is watering the dickens out of it but I swear I can't imagine it ever coming back from this.

We were sick for awhile but then just had to tell ourselves people are more important than grass..........

I've been talking to my niece who wants to move back to be near her daughters.  Ron and I talked and we are going to go look at the possibility of purchasing a condo for her to live in.  I don't know if we can pull it off but we just feel that it is the right thing to do.  She needs so much help and if we can at least put a roof over her head then maybe she can manage on her disability income.  It's worth trying.  I just wish I could do more.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th

We are looking forward to celebrating with my daughters and their husbands this evening.  Ron started out his celebration by mowing the backyard.  Poor Guy!

Mike called me last night and didn't start his conversation with "I'm thinking about suicide"  he just said he was feeling a little anxious and could we talk.  PERFECT....... His anxiety was mild and after we talked about 10 minutes he was fine.   On top of his doctor leaving his psych nurse will be on vacation for two weeks.  He was worried about his meds and I just assured him that we can take care of it ourselves.  He was good after that.

So, hope everyone has a 4th of July BLAST.  Don't blow up anything you don't want gone.  Have a safe holiday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Life's the biggest test we ever take.

Mike is handling the doctor fiasco pretty well.  He didn't call me last night so I finally called him and all was well.  No mention of the Thorazine so that's two days in a row.  Making progress.  He was excited to be going to my daughter's house for a cookout on the 4th.  

I guess we have no choice but to wait and see if the Indian Nation Clinic gets a new psychiatrist.  I talked to Mike's primary care physician and he assured me that he will continue to get Mike's meds. filled.  Thank goodness we have this as an option.  So far it has been better than any private clinic we have gone to on our own.

To add to our frustration Ron was informed that his company may be shutting down the end of August if they are unable to get a new contract to replace the one they had with Chase.  What that means to us is a drastic cut in income and the loss of Ron's health insurance.  Thank goodness he is still covered under my plan but it will be a lot of out-of-pocket expenses we haven't had to pay.  So, we are just praying that something works out and he can continue to work. 

Faith is tested every day.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Continuity of care

I took Mike to see Dr. T last Friday to try and get some advice on how to deal with his increased anxiety.  Dr. T. told Mike he doesn't need the Thorazine and that his dependency is just a habit.  He told Mike to be patient and he will adjust.  Then he dropped a bomb on us.......Dr. T. is leaving.  They do not have a psychiatrist to replace him either.

Mike just cried and was so pitiful.  He looked scared to death.  Dr. T. did say that they will continue to fill Mike's prescriptions for awhile until I can find another psychiatrist on my own or they hire a new one at the clinic.  

We had Dr. T for 6 months and now we are back to square one.  So frustrating and so hard on Mike.

Going through the directory I found a psychiatrist here in Norman (female) that is taking new patients and also takes Medicare/Medicaid.  I may give her a call.  She's only 51 so maybe she won't retire or die any time soon. 

Update:  Just called five local psychiatrists and none of them will see patients with Medicare/Medicaid.  They told me they don't know of any that would see Mike.