Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hello Julia Childs

My goofy brother decided to call me at 5:30 am to ask a cooking question!  My first thought was to drive to his condo in my nightie and strangle him myself.  But he got a stay of execution.  In fact I didn't even try to explain to him that his question could have waited because he never would have understood anyway.  Mike operates from one thought to the next.  

Of course I set myself up for this.  I put something on his weekly menu that threw him a curve.  I made him a frozen pizza and it's on the menu for lunch today.  He needed to know (at 5:30 am) how to cook it.  Of course he needed 6 hours to prepare to it on a paper place and put it in the microwave.  

No worries though........I'll remember next time to write (do not call before 7 am on his menu board)

My saint of a husband is taking Mike out tonight for a rib dinner and then to a high school football game.  I'll have the whole evening to plan Mike's weekly menu and get my grocery list written.  I usually cook on Saturday and then we deliver meals Sunday afternoon. 

The sun is shining today and I am looking forward to a good day.  I was too tired yesterday afternoon to go see Piper so my daughter let her face time with me.  How fun!  Sometimes technology is the bomb!  I was told the little miss asked where "D D" was when they picked her up from daycare.  (Be still my heart) I think the little bugger likes me.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Having A Girl Day

Now I'm not what anyone would call a "religious" person.  But I have always felt and been aware that there is something or someone greater than myself working on my behalf.  I've had too many experiences in my life that confirm this so I don't doubt it for one second.  Many times I am in awe that I have been so blessed in my life and can't imagine that I've done anything to have deserved it.  Having my daughter's half-brother come into our lives is such a gift.  I have always wished to be a grandmother.  Actually I have longed to be a grandmother.  But I've tried to graciously accept the fact that it wasn't my decision to make.  Hard for someone like me who THINKS they have so much control....  I guess it's good to be reminded every now and then that we don't!

Anyway, with my new (son by another mother) a little girl has blessed my life and oh what a blessing she is just when I needed it most.  Again, that force working in my behalf.   

Last night I asked Ron to take me to see Piper before she had to go to bed.  Just playing with her and hearing her call me "D D" made my day!  What is it about a little child that just makes you forget every worry?  She is so precious and a surprise I wasn't expecting.  I guess some GOODNESS can come with the bad.  Once again I've been blessed!

Today I had lunch with a former work friend.  She is another blessing!  She's the little sister I never had.  Linda was diagnosed with MS over 25 years ago.  She did remarkably well for nearly 20 years and then her MS became progressive.  She now uses a can to walk and has a device that straps to her leg and helps with foot drop.  It sends a shock to the nerve in her leg that makes her foot lift up to walk.  It's really quite amazing what can be done to assist people with disabilities.

We went out for lunch and then to the mall to shop.  I really enjoyed spending time with her today and I then I needed it.  I did notice that I was very tired by the time we got home.  My voice sounds like I'm hoarse or just don't have enough air.  (No volume)  Talking makes me tired.  I decided to get the prescription changed in my glasses and hopefully it will help me navigate until I decide to have the cataract surgery.

I sure hope this feeling of being wired for sound will subside after I finish the steroids.  It really makes me feel quivery and nervous.  It's time for a quick nap.  I'm worn out!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Trembling Hands

I am wanting to write but my hands are not cooperating.  I'm using albuterol 3 times a day and it makes my hands shake and that makes it very difficult to type or write.  I don't even want to tell you how bad my makeup looks.  Thank goodness I gave up eyeliner years ago!

I am on day 4 of my Prednisone and hoping that once that is finished maybe the jitters won't be so bad.  I finished the antibiotic yesterday and I must say I feel better.

But all my little issues pale in comparison to what our friends south of us are experiencing.  I can't even imagine!  We have a few friends in Houston and the surrounding area and so far as of yesterday they were still dry but the water was approaching their home yesterday.  There has been no update since yesterday.

This afternoon I had my annual eye exam and I had been noticing a problem with my distant vision.  I see ok up close but can't see far away.  Last night we were in Walmart and I realized I couldn't read any of the aisle signs.  Faces were really fuzzy and I just couldn't see very well.  Well, the eye doctor informed me that my cataracts are ready to be removed.  WOW...wasn't expecting that.  They've been there for years but it seems like overnight they became a problem.   The doctor was able to improve my vision with a prescription change so that may buy me another year.  I'm not ready to have them removed until I get past all the upcoming tests etc.  I haven't wrapped my brain around the COPD yet.

I know there are so many worse situations I could have right now.  Ron's cancer was certainly one of those situations.  But I have to admit that COPD scares me.  I am afraid of becoming tethered to an oxygen tank.  I hope this fear finally dissipates but right now I'm just kind of scared.  I don't think anyone wants to believe they could become a burden for someone else.  I certainly don't want to be one for my children or for Ron.  I know things will get better and I know I can handle challenges that come my way.  I've been doing it a long time.  It is that usually my challenges have been as a caregiver not the one in need of care.

Friday, August 25, 2017

New Day New Challenges

I saw the pulmonoligist  yesterday and was diagnosed with  COPD.  After a year of wheezing and coughing it came as no surprise but I was sad none the less.  I am embarrassed by the diagnosis because I associate it with smoking.  Even though I know a lot of people with COPD who have never smoked.  But I'm one of those former smokers.  I quit over 30 years ago but I have regretted every day that I did smoke.  I got started in college just messing around with girlfriends.  Out of probably 10 of us I was the only one who continued to smoke.  I was addicted almost immediately! The questionaire yesterday asked if you had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in your lifetime. Ron has never been a smoker but he thought he might have smoked 100 in his lifetime.  I only marked yes on 2 questions but it was enough to put me in the COPD category.  The doctor just confirmed it.

Now some of the discussion after that went over my head but from what I understand he thinks I have an infection.  (explains the chills and fevers I have been getting)  He increased the strength of my inhaler.  Ordered me to use my nebulizer 3 x daily.  Put me on an antibiotic and steroid pack.  Ordered a pulmonary function test and a CT scan.  He is trying to identify the type of infection and if it caused by a certain bacteria he will do a lung biopsy and possibly go in and clean out lung infection. (that is the part where it flew over my head which was reeling at that point. 

I will say he seemed very nice and as personable as any doctor is today.   I'll be ok once I adjust to my new normal.  

My concern always is Mike.  If I get sick who will take care of him?  I got the name of an organization that provides assistance to people with mental illness.  It is not income based only by diagnosis.  I'm going to go and talk to them.  They have a social worker, psychiatrist, aides who help and their mission is to help people with mental illness live as healthy and independently as possible.   Keep fingers crossed that they can help me or direct me to the next possibility.

Anyone living with COPD I'd love to hear from you.  I'm trying to wrap my brain around it and any advise is welcomed!


Monday, August 21, 2017


Well, we have only received one additional attempt to get a credit card in Mike's name but we got it stopped.  Someone tried to get an HSN credit card.  They could have done some damage with that one.  We haven't seen anything else in the past couple of weeks.

Ron and I attended our 50th high school reunion a week ago.  Had a lot of fun and a really good turnout.  Ron was disappointed it shut down at 10:00 pm but I reminded him that we are all at an age when we want to go to bed by 9:00.  Out of a graduating class of 400 we have lot 69 class members.  I'm afraid that number could increase significantly by the time we have our 60th reunion.

I babysat my daughter's little niece last Friday.  Piper is almost 2 and I was exhausted at the end of the day.  It's been a long time since I kept a two year old.  James, my ex-husband's son and his wife, put an offer on a house and found a daycare.  They will be moving here permanently in about a week.  It looks like I am going to get to play grandma to Piper.  I never thought I'd get to be a grandmother this way but I'll take it.   Piper came up with her own name for me, it's "D D".  She couldn't quite say Dani so it came out "D D".  She's just the cutest thing.  She weighs about 26 pounds and I was lifting her all day.  Now I have a pinched nerve in my back.

This Thursday I see the lung specialist.  I guess I'll be taking a pulmonary function test and possibly a CT scan to see what is going on with me.  It's been a year of coughing and wheezing so it's time to see what's up.

Mike was scared of the eclipse today.  He was just sure he was going to go blind if he went outside.  We took him to the doctor so we took an umbrella  and put it over his head.  He still closed his eyes and we had to lead him everywhere.  When he gets paranoid there is no talking him out of it.   Last week he got it in his head that a man in his health club was going to come to his condo and cut his head off.  We had to increase one of his meds. temporarily until we could get him settled down.  Sometimes I wish I could get inside his head.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Identity Theft

As if our lives weren't busy enough taking care of my disabled brother we find out that his identity has been stolen.  Someone has obtained his social security number and has either opened or attempted to open accounts in his name.  We filed a police report locally and notified all other agencies such as credit bureaus, government agencies etc.  

What surprised me was I thought he was pretty safe from identity theft since he doesn't use the internet or use credit cards but what the officer told us is that disabled people are particularly vulnerable.  He said that usually caregivers are not as vigilant about checking the mail or watching for suspicious financial activity.  He said that Mike is just the kind of person thieves want and that there are unfortunately a million ways to obtain someones personal information.

What alerted us was when we received a bill from T-Mobile stating that $140.00 was billed to a credit card in Mike's name in order to open a T-Mobile account.  Then the "thief" ordered 7 I-phones and had them shipped to my brother's old address.  The house was still vacant at the time.  I guess the thief just watched the house and picked up the phones after they were delivered. 

According to the police this is a common occurrence  with T-Mobile because they will open an account over the phone or on the internet not requiring proof of identity.

Anyway, we are knee deep in trying to control the damage.  Of course we don't want Mike to know anything about this because it would just set of his paranoia.  

We put a freeze on his credit to stop any further attempts to obtain credit in his name.  We have closed any accounts that were open.  The police dept. assured us that he would not be responsible for any fraudulent charges as long as we report it and provide them a case #. 

The positive side (if there is any) is that Mike's credit rating is not a concern.  He will not be using credit to purchase anything.  In fact he doesn't need credit at all.  What does worry me is that someone could use his information to receive medical care etc.  That kind of fraud maybe harder to correct and I don't want Mike's Medicare or SS payments compromised.

So, I guess you need to stay vigilant.  Open all your mail.  I would often just tear up anything from a Credit Card Company because I knew Mike wasn't using any credit cards.  I assumed they were all those applications they send offering 0% if you open an account.  You can't assume anything.    Read everything!   If I had assumed that the T-Mobile letter was just another advertisement we wouldn't have learned what happened.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Remembrance of my sister-in-law

Yesterday was my sister-in-law's memorial service and my niece asked me to give the eulogy.  This is the third time I've given one and it never gets any easier.  One of the stories that came to mind about Dottie was when she and my brother lived in Ventura, California with their two children.  The kids were about 5 and 7 at the time.  Well, they had a beautiful orange tree in their backyard but the kids wouldn't eat the oranges because they didn't have any writing on them.  So my sister-in-law took a flashlight and a ladder to the back yard one night and with a magic marker she wrote Sunkist on every orange she could reach!  

She was inventive!

The thing about funerals is they are often a reunion of old friends.  Yesterday was no exception.  I saw old neighbors I haven't seen in probably 15 years.  I saw relatives I haven't seen in years as well.  People always say, "We shouldn't wait until someone dies to get together."  But we seem to do just that.

When you write a eulogy for someone you sit down and really try to think about how to describe them in a way that friends and family will recognize.  When I thought about Dottie the first thing that came to mind was that she was probably the happiest person you could ever meet.  This was in spite of the fact that her mother was a severe alcoholic and when she was born her mother didn't know who the father was so when she saw a street sign she decided to use it as her child's last name.  So Culver Street became part of Dorothy Lee's legacy. 

A few years later her mother had two more girls by a different father.  But those little girls went with their father when he decided to leave their mother.  Dottie told me once that she remembered wondering why he didn't take her as well.  But her mother placed her in an orphanage instead.  It was probably unfortunate that her mother returned for her about a year later.

After the orphanage she was shuffled around from couch-to-couch and home-to-home.  She never had anything of her own and when she was older and did get money from working somewhere her mother would take it from her to buy alcohol.   

That was pretty much the theme of  Dorothy Lee Culver's life until she graduated from high school.  

When she was twenty she married my brother.  I was six years old.  I'd like to say that she then lived happily ever after but that wasn't the case.  Infidelity plagued her marriage and they divorced about 10 years later.  She could have become a bitter and angry person.  It would certainly have been justified.  But instead she made a conscious decision to be happy and happy she was!  She was one of those rare individuals that could find joy in the simplest of things.  I guess when you grow up with absolutely nothing but the clothes on your back you learn to appreciate even the smallest of things. 

When she married her second husband he built her a new house in a small town on an acreage.   She had already retired by that time and life was looking good.  It was the first new home she had ever had and it was completely furnished with brand new furniture.  She loved it.  But unfortunately it was again short lived. One summer a huge Oklahoma grass fire spread across the state burning thousands of acres of land and hundreds of homes.  Hers was one of the casualties.  She lost everything she owned.   

I called her the day after the fire and the first thing she said with a laugh was, "Well, I'm glad it burned before I washed the windows!"  

She always found the bright side!

Eventually they replaced the house with a single wide mobile home.  Her husband built a wrap around porch for her and even when it snowed he would shovel a path to her chair and  she would sit outside and look at the sky while taking cloud pictures with her Kindle. 

It really didn't take much to make her happy! 

Since her life was often hard it was with God's grace that her 
her passing was a peaceful whisper.  Though we will miss her dearly I know her memory and laughter will ring on.