Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

    Ron in the traditional Christmas Tree Hat!
       Mike and daughter Julie
             Daughter Jamie with her loot!

        Son-in-law Larry with funky lights!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Cycle was broken (Sort of)

No phone calls about suicide last night.  I was afraid Mike's pattern of every other night would continue but it didn't.  He did call this morning and said he had to take an "as needed" pill last night.  I don't know what was going on and frankly I didn't ask.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mental Illness Takes No Holiday

With all the merriment associated with the holidays having a family member who struggles to find merriment no matter what day of the year it is can be difficult.  Mental illness takes no holiday.  It is there 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  Often it intensifies during the time everyone else is at the height of merriment. 

As a caregiver for someone with mental illness it is not always easy to avoid being pulled into your loved one's depression.  Your work as a caregiver intensifies along with their anxiety.  I am still struggling to find a way to separate myself from my brother's illness.  Because it is an ongoing battle measured by phone calls, thoughts of suicide and delusional thinking I live as much with his schizophrenia at times as he does.  

At times I am acutely aware that I am in over my head but that doesn't seem to matter.  I'm here and that is where I will remain.  I'm in this until one of us has taken our last breath. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It Continues

We are still fighting demons.  Mike started the suicide talk again last night.  Only this time he called the suicide hot line and told them he was going to overdose on his pills.  They told him to flush all his pills down the toilet and so he did.  Afterwards he called me and told me what he had done.  I was so frustrated.  One or two of his prescriptions alone are $1,000 each.  Rough estimate he flushed about $4,000 dollars worth of medications down the toilet.  Because they are controlled substances we are having difficulty getting any medication.  Ron is dealing with the medicine and I'm trying to get hold of the mental health service here in Norman.

Last night Mike was ready to go to a nursing home, today he is fighting and saying no.  When he gets scared he can then escalate to psychotic and aggressive.  I'm just walking a tight rope trying to figure out what to do.

Mike has correlated a pattern to his suicide thoughts.  He thinks it is every other day.  He kept saying things like "consecutive" and just rambling mumbo jumbo and irrational thoughts.  I'm so frustrated.

I'm going to seek a therapist for myself.  I need someone to talk to about my own feelings.  I have suppressed everything but I need to talk to someone.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Suicide Threats

Unfortunately Mike had a rough weekend.  On Saturday night he called and told me he was going to commit suicide.  There was such a desperateness in his tone that it really scared me.  He said, "I can't do this anymore, I mean it, I'm going to kill myself."

I kept Mike on the phone while Ron drove over to get him.  When Ron got him to our house we sat up with him for several hours until the "as needed" medication had time to kick in.  Then Mike was able to sleep through the night at least from midnight to 8:00 am which was good.  Of course I didn't sleep worrying about what to do next.

Sunday morning was of course a whole new day.  We took Mike to church for the special Christmas service.  There was an orchestra and the choir and Christmas carrolls galore.  At one time Mike said, "I was moved by the Holy Spirit, but it made me dizzy."  

We then tried to bring him out to the hospital for the Christmas party but the minute we walked in he was overwhelmed by the number of people and said, "I can't do this."  So we immediately left the party and took him home.

Yesterday I talked to him about the suicide threat.  I told him I needed to tell him that I have decided that if he ever did such a thing I would not allow myself to feel guilty.  I cannot be with him every moment and that there is nothing I can do to prevent him from killing himself if he really wants to do it.  I would be heartbroken but I won't let myself feel guilty.  I also told him I hate that his is so unhappy and that his life is so difficult.  I told him it is his decision to live or not but that I would ask him to at least consider a nursing home so that I can have some peace of mind that he is safe.  That's about all I can do.  

I have had enough time to realize that having him in my home is only an option if there is absolutely nothing else we can do.  He has already taken over my life to a great extent but if he lived with me my life would be completely consumed.  Just as our parent's lives were consumed by his mental illness.  I just have to keep working on letting go of any feelings of guilt over things I cannot control.  I also have to remind myself that it is ok to be a little selfish and want a life for myself as well.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rain Man

Yesterday's trip to the behavior health clinic was an interesting one.  Mike was in good spirits and didn't seem too distressed over meeting yet another mental health worker.  I was prepared to meet the psychiatrist but not this trip.  This trip we met with a social worker named Ray.  He was clearly Native American when he met us in the waiting room with his long jet black braids.  

The thing I love about Native Americans is their quiet, soulful demeanor.  Mike instantly made a connection with Ray as we followed him to his office.  Mike stared intently at Ray and said, "I love Indians".  Ray smiled and answered, "Of course, they are the best."  Mike went on stating matter-of-factly "You are Kiowa".  Ray responded "Yes, I am, my last name is Kiowa also."  

While Ray was explaining the meaning of his last name to Mike I looked on in amazement.  How the heck did Mike know Ray was Kiowa just by looking at him?  I guess he's our own Rain Man!

I was appreciative that Ray allowed me to stay in the room during the interview.  I was able to assist Mike when he needed help and I shared all the information I had as well.  Ray seemed surprised to hear that my family never received a diagnosis from anyone concerning Mike in 40 years.  We didn't get a confirmed diagnosis although we all seemed to just know for years that Schizophrenia was definitely a component of Mike's illness but to what degree we didn't know.

I was just about to tell Ray that in my opinion his Schizophrenia was mild when Ray asked Mike about the first time he was treated at the age of nineteen.  He asked him if he was depressed and why.  Mike answered, "Because I didn't have a girlfriend."  

"Were you lonely?" asked Ray.

"Yes, and the trees were talking to me." 

Uhmmmmmmm maybe Schizophrenia played a bigger role than I realized.

We met with Ray for about two hours and then set up an appointment with the Psychiatrist on January 3rd.  Ray also gave me the name of the Benefits Specialist that might be able to assist me in applying for a home health aide.  Twenty hours a week would be ideal if we can get it.  

On our 45 minutes drive home Mike was trying to decide where he wanted to have lunch.  He changed his mind 4 times before we got back home.  At one point he got really quiet and told me he was sad.

Why, I asked?

"Because I'm thinking about when I have to tell you good-bye."

I told him not to worry, that by the time we had lunch and went Christmas shopping he would probably be happy to get rid of me.

So we ate lunch at Van's Pig Stand......... Then we went out to do Mike's Christmas shopping.  He has an animal theme going this year.  He purchased Christmas cards with dogs on them.  A singing penguin for one niece and a singing dog for another.  He topped off his shopping purchasing with cookies to hand out to his "Great" neighbors and friends.

I hope he had a great day!  He's a sweet and caring man!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And the hacking continues

Poor Ron, he's worse and I'm finally getting better.  It's been 2 weeks today for me and he's just ending week one.  I'm afraid he won't be seeing the other side of this crud for another week.  I think everyone in Oklahoma has this bronchial virus.  

Tomorrow I'm taking Mike to meet his new psychiatrist.  I sure hope it goes well and I can finally get someone to write the order for the psych. nurse to do Mike's meds.  I've had a devil of a time getting it renewed with the home health agency.  

Since Mike has been so isolated the last couple of weeks I promised him that when we are finished at the clinic we will go to lunch and maybe do a little Christmas shopping.  He's ready to get out!  We are also going to be greeters at church on Sunday and I KNOW he will love that.  He loves saying hello to people and shaking hands.  This is right up his alley!  Poor Ron may have to stay home in bed! 

If we don't get to feeling better soon we are going to look like the guy above!

My last day of work is December 22nd and then  I'm off until January 3rd.  I'm looking forward to having time off and just piddling around the house.  We have no big plans to do anything since Ron will still have to work.  He won't get any time off until the summer. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

The weekend was quiet except for all the coughing and hacking from Ron and I.  We didn't even make it to church Sunday which is not usual for us but we didn't want to spread our "good cheer" to the entire congregation.  A sacrifice that I hope God appreciates!  

One thing that is fun from this is Ron now has a sexy deep Sean Connery voice to match my deep Lauren Bacall imitation.  The only time I don't sound like an 8 year little girl is when I have a cold!  Now is the time to record my answering machine message.  There are times when I use my youthful sounding voice to my advantage.  Every time a solicitor calls I just tell them my mother isn't home.

We have been applying for assistance for my brother Mike.  He is already on Social Security Disability from which he draws $700/month.  Applying for state assistance was really hard but we wanted to try and do everything we could to help Mike.  After completing the application process we received 5 letters on the same day.  One said he was approved for food stamps, one said he was denied food stamps, one said he was approved for medical assistance, one said that since he didn't reply to the previous letter his approval was denied, and one said he would receive $16.00/month for food assistance.  Good grief...$16.00 doesn't even cover the administrative cost.   Ohhhhh well.........Government whether Federal or State level is such a mess.  No wonder we are in a recession.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired!

I came back to work yesterday but I'm feeling punky at the end of the day.  I'm still hoarse and still coughing and still blowing my nose every ten minutes.  Rudolph has some competition with MY nose so bright!  What DO they make kleenex out of anyway, sandpaper?  I'm so glad it is Friday because I'm going straight home and to bed.  Poor Ron is now getting this creeping crud.  Poor Guy!  He's been kissing me on the top of my head for a week trying to avoid germicidal contact but you can't hide from those air-borne viruses.   I have to get better so I can finish my Christmas shopping!

Everyone......stay well!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year Wish

I was sent this email & thought I would share it with you.  It spoke to me in volumes in light of the Holidays that are upon us & the New Year to come.   As I read the list that the 90 year old woman wrote, I couldn’t help but think about how true her words rang clear.  With that I wish you & yours a Very Merry Christmas Season & a Happy, Blessed & Prosperous New Year.
Written by a woman on her 90th birthday

 This is something we should all read at least once a week!!!!! Make sure you read to the end!!!!!!
 Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

 "To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.
 My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

 1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
 2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.  
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
 4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
 5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
 6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
 7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
 8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
 9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
 10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
 11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
 12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
 13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
 14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
 15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
 16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
 17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
 18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
 19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
 20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
 21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
 22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
 23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
 24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
 25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
 26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
 27. Always choose life.
 28. Forgive everyone everything.
 29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
 30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
 31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
 32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
 33. Believe in miracles.
 34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
 35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
 36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
 37. Your children get only one childhood.
 38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
 39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
 40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
 41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
 42. The best is yet to come...
 43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
 44. Yield.
 45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Still sick!  YUK  This is the first cold I've had in ten years.  The last time I was sick with a cold was when the World Trade Center was attacked.  I'd be happy to go another 10 years before the next one.  I'm in the coughing, hacking, nose blowing stage right now.  My sweet husband is doing the grocery shopping for me and I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

CT Update

Happy Day! Ron's CT results were good.  Nothing new was found.  The 3 lung mets remain stable.  They haven't changed.  His kidney site was clean so we were told to repeat in 3 months.  Great news!

I woke up this morning with a sore throat and the start of a cold.  I had to take Mike to the Indian Clinic and we have to go back tomorrow.  All we were able to do today was fill out the paperwork for the behavior clinic.  Tomorrow he actually will be seen by someone. 

I'm feeling kind of punk so I'll just end this post with my good news!   Thanks for all the good vibes and prayers.......they are working!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fighting the healthcare maze

I'm having to make an executive decision today concerning Mike's care.  It all started when his doctor changed at the Indian Health Clinic.  His former doctor resigned and his new doctor is uncomfortable signing a physician's order for the home health nurse to come every week.  The order is required for Medicare to pay for the service.  His new doctor believes his psychiatrist should sign the order.  That's all good except the psychiatrist that sees him through Community Mental Health will not call me back.  It's a state run agency and they are pretty bad if you ask me.  But when you are desperate for help you take what you can get.

Well, the Indian Health Clinic also has a psychiatrist who can see Mike.  This would allow his care to be more comprehensive.  The down side is they are an hours drive away.  It will be disruptive for Mike initially but I think it would be better in the long run.  Right now it appears to be my only option.  Mike is OK with the idea right now but that can change in a flash.  Anything that disrupts his routine really shakes him up.  I will have to dispense his medications until we can get the psych. nurse back.  It always scares me to death because I'm afraid of making a mistake but I just have to do the best I can.  Ron usually double checks me and we somehow get it done together.

So, I'm trying to arrange all this from work and thank goodness our administrator is very understanding about my situation.  I probably wouldn't get the support I do if I worked anywhere but here.

I'm really taking a leap of faith switching Mike to a new psychiatrist. They are a strange breed of doctors and you just never know what their philosophy will be.  His present doctor never really talks to Mike.  He just rambles on about himself and says "I'll see you again in 6 weeks."  I hope the new doctor will at least spend some time with Mike.   

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Leftovers? Not at my house!

Well, once more I have tested the limits of my sweet husband's patience.  I volunteered us to animal sit all through the Thanksgiving holidays.  First we had my daughter Julie's dogs from Wednesday to Friday.  Now that's not too bad since they can come to our house and they are getting up in years and just lay around anyway.  But, Friday until this morning we have had to stay at my other daughter's house to take care of Bella La Grossy, Sophie, Olivia (AKA Stupid) and the scraggly no tail cat.  They are all sweet animals but they are a house full.  We haven't had any sleep because the entire zoo sleeps in bed with my daughter & son-in-law and we couldn't get them to stay anywhere else.  Ohhhhhhhhhh I'm tired!  Then you throw my brother on the mix and you really have a menagerie.

I couldn't help myself this time because my son-in-law found his biological father this year and they made a spur of the moment trip to meet him.  The reunion went well and I'm happy for my son-in-law.  He lost his mother on Thanksgiving day last year so this was a very big deal for him.

Ron gets the results of his CT scan this Wednesday.  He actually told me that I don't need to come with him "because everything is going to be OK anyway".  Like I would NOT go.  I may be scared senseless but I'll be there.  I really haven't had time to think about it until now and I don't know why I get so nervous because it's not like worrying will make a difference.  So, I'll just say my prayers and God will do the rest.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Am I Thankful For This Year?

1.    I am grateful for my husband who makes me feel special each and every day.

2.    I am grateful that each new day is filled with promise.

3.    I am grateful for my friends, the ones that I see each day and the ones that I have never met.

4.     I am grateful for all the experiences that have made me into the kind of person I am today.

5.     I am grateful for the joy and peace in my heart.

6.     I am grateful for the people who are journeying with me.

7.     I am grateful for knowing that I am where I need to be.

8.     I am grateful for opportunities to grow and learn.

9.     I am grateful for all of life and what it brings.

10.   I am grateful to the Divine who have given us all these and more.

Happy Thanksgiving to All

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

It was a great weekend!  Ron and I spent the entire weekend together just enjoying each others company.  Saturday Mike called Ron and said "Ronnie, I got hit in the head."  
Ron a little puzzled asked, "By what."  
Mike responded, "The trash can".
Now Ron is really tickled imagining Mike falling head first into his kitchen trashcan.  
Mike continued saying, "My glasses are all messed up, you gotta take me to get my glasses adjusted."
Well, I didn't want to miss out on this so we both drove over to get Mike and he met us at the door with a big ole goose egg on his head and a cut.  His glasses were all wopper jogged and he had a dazed look on his face.  Not from the bump, just his usual dazed look.
We asked him to explain again what had happened and it seems he was taking his trash outside and the city trash can lid blew up and hit him in the head.  It probably wasn't as funny as it struck us but he really did look a sight!  
Ron couldn't stop giggling as we drove him to the optical place to get his glasses adjusted.  Mike finally told Ron he was going to have to get even..........

The Vespers service went well last night.  I spoke and didn't even get too nervous.  It was well received and I can now scratch (public speaking) off my bucket list.

The Thanksgiving meal was absolute delicious.  So many dishes to try and we tried them all.  I had made a new recipe to take and if I must was sooooooooo good.  I've shared this easy recipe below.  Great to make ahead!  Ron asked for it again at Christmas.

So.  the world is good.  Life continues and I'm just so happy!

Layered Cranberry Jello Salad
Serves 12-18

1 - 6 serving size cherry jello
and 1 - 4 serving size cherry jello
3 c. boiling water
2 cans whole berry cranberry sauce
1 large can crushed pineapple - do not drain

1 cup chopped apples
1 cup diced cerely
and 1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix both packages cherry jello and boiling water together until dissolved.  Whisk in cranberry sauce and pineapple; stir in celery, apple and walnuts.  Pout into a 13x9 glass dish.  Chill until set.

Top Layer:

1 - 4 serving size lemon Jello
1 cup boiling water, or apple juice (I used apple juice)
1 cup sour cream
2 pkgs cream cheese, softened (really softened)
1 cup sugar

Dissolve lemon Jello in hot water (or juice) whisk in sugar, and stir until dissolved.  Stir in cream cheese and sour cream; whisk until smooth.  Pour over chilled cranberry layer and chill until set.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Good!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes

Whipped Butter Nut Squash
  • 2 butternut squash, halved and seeded
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Place squash halves cut side down in a medium baking dish with enough water to cover. Cover, and bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until tender.
  3. Scoop squash from skin into a medium bowl, and mix with margarine and light sour cream. Whip until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
                                                  Slow cooker sweet potatoes with applesauce
6          medium (2 pounds) sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2    cups applesauce
2/3       cup packed brown sugar
3          tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1          teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2      cup chopped nuts, toasted

Place sweet potatoes in 2- to 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Mix remaining ingredients except nuts; spoon over potatoes.
Cover and cook on low heat setting 6 to 8 hours or until potatoes are very tender.   Sprinkle with nuts.

These are a couple of recipes I plan to fix for Thanksgiving this year.  I especially love recipes I can cook in the crock pot, it frees my ovens for other dishes.  If you have any favorite recipes please share.  I love to try new things.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I have a pain in the @#$% literally!

Well, my conservative husband joined my liberal church last night.  I tried to tell him that this had to be his own decision and he said it was.  He's just such a black and white thinker that it really rocks his boat when everyone expresses their different views on religion.  He wants a definitive answer to everything and hey, I'm not sure there are any definitive answers.  Each person has to find their own path.  It's the difference between wanting others to think for you and wanting to think for yourself!

I'm having sciatic nerve pain in my left leg.  This is a first for me and all I can say is OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This hurts!  Anyone have any remedies they could pass on?  I can hardly walk.

I wrote a letter to a neuro psychologist in Oklahoma City about Mike.  I was seeking some guidance about his medications and what impact they are having on his cognitive ability.  I'm wondering if some of the psychotropic drugs could be reduced and still control his schizophrenia.  Now I have to wait to see if he answers my letter.  

Ron and I are going to go see "J. Edgar" this weekend.  We haven't been to a movie for some time.  This is going to be a busy weekend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Texting Seniors

Since more and more Seniors are texting and tweeting there appears to be a need for a
STC (Senior Texting Code). If you qualify for Senior Discounts this is the code for you.
Please pass this on to your children and grandchildren so they can understand your texts.
At The Doctor's
Best Friend Fainted
Bring The Wheelchair
Bring Your Own Teeth
Covered By Medicare
Can't get up
See You At The Senior Center
Driving While Incontinent
Friend With Beta Blockers
Forgot Where I Was
Found Your Insulin
Gotta Go Pacemaker Battery Low!
Got Heartburn Again
Had Good Bowel Movement
Is My Hearing-Aid On?
Laughing My Dentures Out
Living On Lipitor
Lawrence Welk's On
On My Massage Recliner
Oh My! Sorry Gas.
Rolling On The Floor Laughing... And Can't Get Up
Talk To You Louder
Who Am I Talking To?
Wet The Furniture Again
Where's The Prunes?
Walker Wheels Need Oil
(Gotta Go Laxative Kicking In)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Read the labels!

Poor Mike.....I fixed a lot of food for him this past weekend and made him some hamburgers with Lipton Onion Soup Mix mixed into the meat.  I wanted to spice them up a little for him.  Ohhh I spiced him up!  He ate one burger and broke out all over from an allergic reaction.  I didn't read the ingredients close enough.....Soybean oil, MSG, barley, to name just a few of the things he's deathly allergic to.  Poor Guy!  He already had Pink Eye for the second time and he really looked pitiful and then I just finished him off.  He's seeing the eye doctor today and he's doing better.  (No thanks to me)

There was excitement on our block this weekend as my neighbor and her fiance eloped to Eureka Springs, AK.  We were so excited for them.  Kristy is the daughter of my dear friend Barbara .  Kristy's parents have been dead for several years and she was all alone.  She had really been hurt in the past and had just about closed herself off to any hope of a relationship.  After attending our wedding in May she came over to talk to me about opening her heart again.  I just said it is impossible to find love if you are not willing to let yourself be vulnerable.  I guess she was ready and the next thing we knew she had started online dating.  After she had been dating different people for awhile she came over one day and said sarcastically, "I just went on a date with my dad."  She described him as bald like her dad and a little round in the tummy (like her dad) but I reminded her, "Yeah, well you loved your dad didn't you?" "Why don't you give the guy a chance....he just may be as great as your dad".  

AND guess what...........He is!  He's a police officer only 4 years older than Kristy.  He treats so sweetly.  He is a widower with one grown son and they are so, so, happy!  I'm happy because I love the girl and I loved her mom and dad.  Wonderful people. 

So now there are 3 newlywed couples on the block.  Kristy & James (48 and 52).  My neighbors next door who are in their 20's and then the two old newly weds (me and Ron in our 60's)  I think I'll have a block party!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Penn State

I am so saddened by the scandal at Penn State.  Of course I'm sickened by the alleged actions of Sandusky but it is the indifference that was shown by so many that really sickens me.  All the way from the coach who witnessed the molestation in the shower and didn't stop it to the administrators who were more interested in "saving the program" than saving children.   Children were expendable but the "football program" wasn't!  It just makes me so sad.  

Our country has been suffering from the consequences of greed for too long!  Do children also have to pay the price?  I guess that's not a new concept....remember what it was like before child labor laws?  We don't think much about our most precious commodity.  Just look at how we pay teachers!

I was so disillusioned seeing the Penn State students rioting in the streets because their football coach was fired.  Really?  That's what drives you to protest?  Football?  We have young men being blown up in Afghanistan, children were raped on their campus and they are upset that "The Coach" got fired?  Why that may scar them for life.

It's all just sad!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oklahoma Weather Safety Precautions

    • Tornados are coming so seek shelter in the interior of your house.
    • Earthquakes are expected so avoid the interior of your home.  Go outside if possible.  
    • Thunder Storms are producing lighting along with hail so avoid high ground and open areas. 
    • There is a flash flood warning so avoid low ground. 
    • Parts of the state have already received over 5" of rain in the past three hours.  
In closing, we are still under a burn ban.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What next? Locust and Frogs!

Well, between earthquakes, tornadoes and floods it's been a busy time here in Oklahoma.  Fortunately we have suffered no damage other than one broken picture frame.  It's just a bit unsettling since earthquakes are something we are not accustomed to at all.  I remember my dad telling me when I was a kid that one had caused a crack in our living room ceiling but I never believed that story.  He was such a big teaser you didn't know what to believe.  He also told me it was snowing in August.......

I've been worried about Mike since last year's earthquake is what set off his psychotic break but we've been keeping a close eye on him and so far so good.  I had a neurological exam lined up for him and the Indian nation had made a referral but when I checked out the doctor he had nothing but horrible reviews.  Out of 25 reviews not one was favorable.  Words like arrogant, rude, condescending were used a lot not to mention quack and incompetent.  I canceled the appointment!  I was afraid of someone causing more harm than good and I don't need that.  So I'll look for another neurologist on my own that I feel more comfortable about.

Ron's CAT scan is coming up in about a week.  Please send positive vibes our way.  I always get a little crazy just before he has a scan.  I'm afraid to be optimistic and afraid not to be.  I have to talk myself through it and just take a deep breath.  The average life expectancy for his type of cancer is 5 years.  We have made it 3 years now.  The only sign of anything are the 3 spots on his left lung.  It's still a cliff hanger whether the original cancer will come back.  It has been 7 months since the last surgery.  It was 6 months after the first surgery that it came back.   I'm literally holding my breath!  He's everything to me.

Yesterday's Safety Committee meeting turned into a "remember when" session as the meeting came to a close.  In the committee there are 3 individuals over 60 and one in her 50's and the rest are 30 and under.  Interesting mix of individuals.  The walk down memory lane began when one of the 50's mentioned that she had been in her attic the other day and retrieved some old albums.  Her kids 15 and 9 had no idea what these relics were.  This led to a discussion on party lines, drive-in movies and 8 track tapes and the days before cell phones.  The young ones were aghast hearing about the archaic conditions in which we lived.  If they only knew!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Oklahoma's largest quake in decades buckles highway; rattles residents


November 06, 2011|By the CNN Wire Staff
Central Oklahoma continued to experience dozens of aftershocks Sunday, nearly 24 hours since the state's strongest earthquake since 1952 was felt throughout the region.
More than ten aftershocks measuring at east 3.0 magnitude were reported Sunday, in the hours after a 5.6-magnitude earthquake took residents by surprise Saturday night. The temblor rattled homes and structures, causing belongings to scatter in houses and sending strident, booming sounds through the area.

This is what was reported on CNN but on Saturday night I had already gone to bed and was dead asleep when the bed started jumping all over the floor.  I was so confused and had a heck of a time getting my wits about me.  Ron came in the room and said. "Don't worry, it's just an earthquake".  I said, well I hope California is getting out tornadoes then.  Us Okie's aren't used to this kind of commotion.  Not the kind under your feet.......we're used to the kind that blow down the street and we just get out of the way!

I was immediately worried about Mike.  Because last year's earthquake is what set of his psychotic break.  He called almost immediately after the quake.  We talked to him awhile and then decided to just go get him and bring him to the house to be sure he was OK.  All seems to be going well.

So how's it shakin where you are?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bumper Stickers

Honk If Anything Falls Off.

Cover Me, I’m Changing Lanes.

I Refuse To Have A Battle Of Wits With An Unarmed

You! Out Of The Gene Pool – Now!

I Do Whatever My R ice Krispies Tell Me To.

Fight Crime: Shoot Back!

If You Can Read This, Please Flip Me Back Over…
(Seen Upside Down On A Jeep)

Stop Lights Timed For 35 mph
Also Are Timed For 70 mph

Guys: No Shirt, No Service
Gals: No Shirt, No Charge

Body By Nautilus; Brain By Mattel.

Boldly Going Nowhere.

Caution – Driver Legally Blonde.

Heart Attacks: God’s Revenge
For Eating His Animal Friends

Horn broken – watch for finger

Man who walks thru airport turnstile sideways is going to Bangkok

People who say “nothing is impossible” have never tried slamming a revolving door.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Indian Wanting Coffee:

An Indian walks into a cafe with a shotgun in one hand and the other hand pulling a male buffalo. He says to the waiter:
"Want coffee."

The waiter says, "Sure, Chief. Coming right up."

He gets the Indian a tall mug of coffee.....
The Indian drinks the coffee down in one gulp, turns and blasts the buffalo with the shotgun, causing parts of the animal to splatter everywhere and then just walks out.

The next morning the Indian returns. He has his shotgun in one hand, pulling another male buffalo with the other. He walks up to the counter and says to the waiter:
"Want coffee."

The waiter says, "Whoa, Tonto!
We're still cleaning up your mess from yesterday. What was all that about, anyway?"

The Indian smiles and proudly says,

"Training for position in United States Congress.

Come in, drink coffee, shoot the bull, leave mess for others to clean up, disappear for rest of day."



I'm very anxious to get Mike to the neurologist in two weeks.  I just don't understand what's going on with him.  He's so different now, not like he was before the psychotic break a year ago.  He was a very independent man before this happened.  He drove, he handled his own financial affairs, he had a fantastic memory and was very different than now.  Now he can't put 8 words together to make a sentence.  He can't drive.  His thoughts get all scrambled up in his head and he is very anxious all the time.  They said he didn't have a stroke but they didn't say what is causing all this.  Is it the price he has to pay for sanity?  Because if it is all the psychotropic drugs that are causing him to be almost helpless than what a price?  A price we are all paying.

Mike has a doctor's appointment this morning at the Indian Clinic which is about a 45 minute drive from here.  My older brother is taking him but Mike has developed some kind of fear of our older brother.  He was up all night stressed about having to go with him this morning.  Butch was a police officer for years and he talks the gruff cop scares Mike and he doesn't want to be with him.

My problem is that I'm working and I just can't take off every time he has to go to a doctor or to get his meds.  Butch is the only help I have with Mike and losing his help would do me in I think.  However, I can't have Mike flipping out when he has to go with him either.  One more problem to try and work out.  Sometimes I wonder how I became in charge!  I guess I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Grandpa and The Monkey-Faced Boy

I always knew that my place on the family tree carried with it certain advantages.  I had the distinction of being the youngest child, the only daughter and the only sister.  I was also the only grand daughter of my mother’s parents, Marie and Rosser Lessel.
            The only grandfather I ever knew was not related to me by blood.  He was the man who married my grandmother when my mother was only five years old.  Granddad Lessel’s first wife died leaving behind a husband and young son.   He then married my Grandmother who also shared the same name as his first wife, Ida .
            Granddad was an immensely proud but gentle man.  I never thought of him as anything other than a real grandfather.  I never remember him laughing out loud but he always seemed to have a chuckle in his eyes.  He would often spend hours sitting in his rocker playing the dot game, hangman or tic-tac-toe with my brother and I.  In the warm, summer evenings Mike and I would run around in the yard while Granddad watched from the porch swing.  He would sit with one knee bent resting his foot on the swing and gently pushing it back and forth with his other foot.  As darkness encircled us we could only tell he was there by the soft orange glow of his Camel cigarette.  He held his cigarette pinched between his thumb and index finger permanently staining them orange from the tobacco.  In those summer evenings my brother and I would catch fire flies under Granddad’s direction and put them in jars with little air holes punched in the lid.  In the morning the jars would be on the table where we had left them the night before but the lightening bugs would have mysteriously disappeared.  So the next evening we would begin our lightening bug round up all over again.
            Granddad Lessel had a dry sense of humor and he would tease without so much as a grin.  When I was about nine years old he began telling me the story of the monkey-faced boy.  It seems there was a boy who lived in Poteau who, according to Granddad, had the face of a monkey.  Granddad said the boy had lured some unsuspecting children to the top of Cavanaugh Hill and they were never seen again.  No one could prove the monkey-faced boy was responsible for their disappearance so he continued to roam about the town.  
            Well, this tale of the monkey-faced boy scared the be-jeebers out of me.  Granddad told the story every time we came to visit.  Then one summer while visiting my Grandparents I was sent to the corner market to purchase a loaf of bread.  The walk to the market was uneventful but on the return trip as I leisurely strolled along swinging the bread back and forth, I suddenly felt someone approaching me from behind.  I came to a sudden stop and stood frozen in my tracks.  I felt the air stir slightly as a bicycle suddenly stopped beside me and a boy leaned down and with his face close to mine said, “Hello.”  Everything turned to slow motion as I found myself looking straight into the eyes of the monkey-faced boy.  I let out a blood-curdling
 scream as the bread flew out of my hands and through the air.  I ran straight to my grandparent’s house and never looked back.  Hysterically I told my mother and grandmother of my frightening encounter with the monkey-faced boy while my granddad tried to dodge the piercing glares of the two women who were feverishly trying to calm me.  That was the last time I ever heard about the monkey-face boy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dale Carnegie I am Not

Our minister called me last night and asked if I would speak at our November 20th evening service just before Thanksgiving.  It is usually a well attended service with approximately 200 people.  Now, I'm not a public speaker.  The only speaking I've ever done were the eulogies for my parents and a close friend.  I'm a shy person.......I write but I don't talk!  But what did I say.........why yes of course.  She asked that I talk about my journey of faith and the blessings I have received this past year.  So pardon me while I stress out for awhile.  I've just got to remember to picture everyone in their underwear.  Is that OK in church?

This is what I have written so far..................any feedback will be appreciated!

When Pam asked me if I would share my blessings from this past year with all of you tonight I was immediately reminded of something my mother told me a few weeks before she passed away at the age of 91.  One evening I was sitting with her in her hospital room when suddenly, out of nowhere, she said, “Every age has its blessings”.   “ Really? I asked, even now at 91 when your body is so sick and frail?”  And without a moment’s hesitation she replied, “Why yes, because I’m surrounded by people who love me and whom I love in return.”

You know, it’s easy to see the blessings that come with great fanfare such as our first love, marriage, or the birth of a child.   But we don’t always see the blessings that come from hardship or personal struggle?  This past year I have learned much about the blessings we never see coming. 

In Luke chapter 2, there's a story about a man named Simeon. God had promised him that he would not die until he had seen the coming Messiah. Jesus was born, and eight days later when Mary and Joseph took Him into the temple, Simeon was waiting there. He recognized immediately that this was the Christ-Child, the One for whom he had waited, and he rejoiced. He took the baby into his arms, and he praised God saying, "Lord, now you are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word."

Simeon was waiting, looking expectantly, for that Child - for that blessing. I wonder how many times we have missed blessings because we were not looking with the right expectations; we were not waiting to see what God had in store for us; or perhaps we were not looking with eyes that were seeing things from God's perspective.
In 1956 I met my first love.  We were six years old and in the first grade.  He was the cute little boy with the shy smile sitting on the back row.  One day he gave me a Cracker-Jack ring and I gave him my heart.  Although we grew up together and graduated from high school we never spoke a word to each other the entire 12 years. 

After graduation we went on to different colleges and separate lives.  We each married and started families of our own.  Unfortunately, my marriage ended when I was 27 and despite my mother’s best efforts, which included telling me to look for a widower since according to her they tend to re-marry quickly.  Unsure as to whether I really wanted to hang out at cemeteries in order to race other divorcees back to the family car, I elected to remain single in spite of my mother’s encouragement. I didn’t find another Mr. Right but after 25 years I did find myself content if not a bit set in my ways. 

I had long since given up the idea of remarriage when the wonderful world of information technology brought me the email addresses of all my former classmates in preparation of our 35th high school reunion.  From that a correspondence began with my first love, the boy with the Cracker Jack ring.  After 22 years of marriage he too had experienced the devastation of divorce and with this experience in common we began a correspondence.  Thinking he was still living in another state I felt comfortable with our communication until one night when he divulged the fact that he was living right here in Norman.  Insecurity soon gave way to curiosity and we finally met in person and thus began a 10-year courtship.  Remember, I said I was set in my ways.  I truly believed that I was too old for love let alone marriage. 

But like all good plans that changed when my love was diagnosed with cancer.  After what we hoped would be a successful surgery we both realized that we could no longer protect our hearts from the possibility of hurt or loss.  We could however, spend the time we have now loving one another and enjoying our lives together.  We realized that the only way to experience love is by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.  So this past May, only 4 weeks after his second surgery, we were married in my daughter’s backyard.  He exchanged a Cracker Jack Ring for a wedding ring and I became Mrs. Ronald Phillips.

So yes, my mother was right, every age DOES have its’ blessings!
Enjoy God’s blessings. Count them one by one.  Then pass them on wherever they are needed.