Monday, November 19, 2018

Caregiving and meals

I've been preparing my brother's meals now for about 8 years.  I make 7 dinners and 5 lunches a week.  I've learned a few tricks that really help with this and one of them was purchasing a George Foreman indoor grill.  It is small and it says you can grill 4 servings at a time but the most I've been able to do is 3.  I love this little grill though.  It's perfect for two people or for one.
 This is one of the best purchases I've made.  It has removable grill plates and nothing, absolutely nothing sticks to them.  So easy to clean. I've had mine about two years and it still works like a champ.  It is so easy to grill on and really helps me prepare Mike's meals.  And it only cost about $27.00 at Walmart.

Another thing I discovered is single serve instant potato cups.  I get the Walmart brand because they are a little cheaper but you just add water stir and microwave for 1 minute.  Mike just loves them and I don't have to make a whole pot of mashed potatoes.  
This is the brand I started with and they have 3 flavors.  Garlic & butter, Loaded (with cheese) and buttery homestyle.  These are great for people living alone.

About once a month I will cook all day things like small meatloaves,spaghetti sauce, soups, chili anything I can put in single serve portions and freeze. I've also prepared several menus for each season.  Winter menus and summer menus that I then rotate.  That way I don't keep preparing him the same thing every week.  And I don't have to think about what to cook each week.  This has really made it easier especially when I go to the grocery store.  

I've really gotten it down to where it only takes me about two to three hours to put all the meals together.  I usually only have to cook twice a week for us as well.  

We purchased insulated bags to transport his meals. 

I purchased meal trays from Amazon and each meal is labeled with the day, contents and heating instructions.  I learned over time that Mike isn't able to make even small decisions like what he wants to eat.  So I prepare a calendar for him each week with the weekly menu on it.

Lunch –    Ham Sandwich        

Supper –       Salmon Patties
                      3 minutes                              


Lunch –   Bacon Cheeseburger

Supper -  Chili                                                                     
                     3 minutes


Lunch –   Bacon Cheeseburger

Supper -        Beef Pot Pies
                     3 minutes


Lunch -    Thanksgiving dinner 1pm

Supper -       Sandwich


Lunch –  Freddie's

  Supper -     Pulled Pork
                    3 minutes


Lunch –   Arbie’s

Supper -       Pork Chop
                    3 minutes


Lunch –  Bacon Cheeseburger

Supper         Brisket
                    3 minutes

Two days a week Ron takes Mike out to lunch.

Anyway, if you are a caregiver cooking meals for someone maybe this will give you some ideas. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Meal Train

This afternoon I prepared my brother's meals for next week.  On his menu was salmon patties, Mike's chili, beef pot pies, THANKSGIVING, pork chops, pulled pork and roast beef.  I prepared 5 lunches as well.  

Later I wrapped all my daughter's Christmas gifts for her.  I have always enjoyed wrapping gifts.  When I was in high school I would work at J.C. Penny's during the Christmas holiday wrapping gifts.  I've enjoyed wrapping them ever since.  I've already done all my shopping and wrapped them as well.  Early bird I guess!

Tomorrow I'm driving Mike to the doctor.  He has a rash from something he is allergic to and I think he will need a steroid pack in order to clear it up.  Thankfully it isn't causing him any discomfort.

We are planning a fairly low key Thanksgiving dinner this year.  There are only 7 of us for dinner this year but we will have about 20 for Christmas.  Can't wait.......should be lots of fun.  My daughter and son-in-law will have their four girls this year.  That is just one of the hard things about divorce.  The division of time and holidays.  Thankfully the girls live in Norman as well so it makes it so much easier to see them.  They are all 13 years old now.  The triplets turned 13 in July and Emma was 13 in April.  A houseful of teenage girls!  Yikes

I hope everyone has a safe and blessed holiday!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

It's all in a day!

I have the house to myself for awhile tonight.  Ron has gone to watch a football game with Mike and Ellie and I are home alone.

I don't know why I haven't written anything in so long.  Retirement sure takes up a lot of time.  I go from one doctor's appointment to another and not much in between it seems.  Nothing new to report on that front.  Lung specialist hasn't cracked the code to my well being yet.  If anything I cough more and harder.  The coughing has gotten so bad that I'm too embarrassed to go to church.  The last time I went I started coughing and at least 5 people started passing me cough drops and mints.  I finally had to leave the sanctuary before I disrupted the entire service.  Since then I just volunteer for things.  We are doing the recycling and communion preparation.  Neither requiring me to sit quietly............

Piper had her 3rd birthday.  We spoiled her to death with princess dresses.  She was so cute!  I just don't know where the time has gone.  I've been so lucky to be in her life.  Her daddy told me the other day that by all accounts I am her grandmother.  That touched me so much.  I am blessed!

Ron is doing pretty good.  He has had his seizure med adjusted several times but he still falls asleep every time he sits down.  Yesterday he had Mike with him and they were driving on highway 9 to the Indian clinic. Ron fell asleep at the wheel but fortunately Mike saw him doze off and tapped  him on the shoulder.  Ron slightly over-corrected and hit a hole that bent the hubcap and messed up the struts.  About $800.00 to repair but thank goodness they are both alive.  Ron has agreed that he should limit his driving to town only and preferably with a passenger.  I'll be doing the majority of the driving from now on.
I know it frustrates Ron but it's for his safety as well as anyone on the streets! 

Aging is not for the faint of heart!

Friday, August 17, 2018


                The most fearless woman I've ever known!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Surgery #2

Well, Mike now has two good eyes.  He had his second cataract surgery this morning and it went fine.  Now 4 more weeks of eye drops and maybe things will get back to normal.  I know Ron will be glad since he's the one that has been going over and putting drops in Mike's eyes every day.

Yesterday Ron and I drove to the Ikea in Frisco, TX to pick up some things for my daughters and some of their co-workers. We hired someone to sit with Mike and the trip let us see how that would go. We were gone from 8am until 6pm  and it seemed to go fine.  We didn't get a call all day and that was a first.  Mike enjoyed the company and this gives us some hope that maybe we can try to get away for the weekend or over night.  We've both decided that we absolutely need a break or we are going to burn out.  It's good for Mike as well.

We are sure tired though.  The fast trip yesterday and then up this morning at 4 am.  I'm about to crash!  

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

One Week Post-op

My patient is doing pretty good.  Considering his entire routine has been turned upside down he's doing real good!  

Yesterday I took him to the mall so he could walk inside.  He really misses his gym and exercising.  I was able to slip into Hallmark and purchase my daughters Christmas ornaments for this year.  Mike walked about 20 minutes and was then ready to go home.

Today Ron picked him up and they went to the church to do the recycling.  Then they went to Walmart and filled Mike's list.  Tomorrow I take Mike for his 2nd post-op visit and we will know if he is still a go for his 2nd cataract surgery.  That is tentatively in two weeks.  I sure hope everything looks good tomorrow.  The only issue I can foresee is that his eyes are very dry.  He's still using lubricating eye drops and I hope it is enough.

This whole ordeal won't be over until the first of Oct.  By then he should be healed and have his new glasses.  We will all do a happy dance at that time!!!

I've been trying to get a leg up on Christmas shopping.  I usually have everything purchased by September 1st.  I don't know if I'll make it this year.  Too much going on but I've already purchased several gifts.  Going to sew curtains and a dust ruffle for Julie's room.  I have the material now I need to get the sewing machine out and get going.  I've got several ideas for everybody else.  I really want to sew Piper's Halloween costume this year.  I want to make her a princess dress.  She is so enamored over princesses.   That may be a little too industrious a goal but I haven't given up the idea yet.

Well, this is just a quick update.  I've got to start supper.


Friday, July 27, 2018

Frustration & pity parties

Frustration overtook me yesterday and try as I might I hit my limit with my brother.  No matter how hard I tried to explain how to take a shower without getting water in your eyes the poor guy just didn't get it.  I kept asking myself how hard of a concept is "just turn around"...keep the water at your back!  My Lord he just kept making it harder than it needed to be and my dam burst.  He had decided that he wanted Ron or I standing outside the bathroom every time he showers.  It was just too much.  The more we do for him the more he demands.  I told him he needs to be as independent as he can be and that when we reach the point that Ron and I have to bathe him then other arrangements need to be made.  (As if "other arrangements" will even be an option.

Finally after tears from both sides I convinced him to go to bed.  That all would look better tomorrow.  And sure enough today he is better.  Even took a shower by himself (wearing goggles) but whatever works!  

Our lives are completely consumed by my brother's needs.  We can't go anywhere or do anything without constant phone calls.  I'm not resentful but I'm very tired.  When he is hateful or demanding I just want to thunk him on the head.  I have to constantly remind myself that he is functioning at a very self-centered 9 year old level.  

Without Ron this would all be impossible.  There is absolutely no way that I could do this by myself.  Between preparing his meals and keeping track of his meds and doctor appointments that by itself would overwhelm me.  I will say that being so focused on Mike sure keeps me from focusing on my own health issues.  

Last night I got to thinking about my feet....they are completely numb up past the ankle.  Worse on right foot.  I feel some nerve discomfort, I wouldn't call it pain.  My right foot and leg swell and turn red.  I have no idea if this is related to my diabetes but my fear is that it may be.  My blood sugar is well controlled.  Fasting this morning was 90 and has remained low all day as usual.   But none of this kept me from worrying a little last night.  I would definitely like to keep both my feet until I die of some other affliction.  But while I was completely filling up on self-pity I started thinking about my friend Maria. 

She was 19 and standing by her prized Mustang car when she was hit by a semi and both legs were severed on the spot.  She survived with the loss of both legs and a crushed pelvis.  Her right leg was severed at the hip and her left below the knee.  She's considered a bilateral amputee.  When she awoke in the hospital her first words were, and in this order...."How's my car and Will I be able to have children?"  The car was totaled but she went on to  marry and have 2 children.  Both things the average person would have thought impossible.  She also became an Occupational Therapist and I can't think of anything she can't do with the exception of bowling...  She's a certified scuba instructor, a therapist, a wife, mother and soon to be grandmother.  I've never heard her complain.  The only thing that gets to her are people who question whether she deserves a handicap parking sticker. 

So I decided to squash my pity party and went to sleep instead!  

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Seeing clearly

Day 3 and everything is going good so far.  Mike's vision is improving in his post operative eye and it will continue to improve as the swelling subsides.  He can't manage his eye drops but since they only have to be administered twice a day it isn't a big problem for Ron and I to do it.  I've been going over by 8 am and staying until lunch time.  Ron goes over about 6 and stays until Mike's bed time.  Mike does fine by himself for a few hours.  I think we are going to make it!

Our weather is about to improve big time.  We had over 110 last week and we are dropping into the low 80's all next week.  Thank goodness, that extreme heat can be brutal.

Ron will be getting a CPAP machine soon.  After his sleep study they said he was borderline but with his involuntary leg movements all night he is just exhausted all day.  Hopefully the CPAP machine will help.

This update is short and sweet.  My brain is tired!


Monday, July 23, 2018


Mike had the cataract in his right eye removed this morning.  He did great!  Fortunately today is one of his good days and he was very alert and cooperative.  It went without a hitch.  He is home with us and resting.  Ron took his glasses to Eye Masters to have the right lens removed so maybe he will be able to see a little better through his glasses.  Right now his eyes are mismatched and his operative eye can't see through the old prescription but he still needs it for his left eye.  He will have his other eye done in 3 weeks.  So one down and one to go.

Tomorrow I'm having dinner with a couple of my former co-workers.  Haven't seen Sheri in over a year.  It will be nice to get out with the "girls".  I don't do it often enough.

I've been trying not to talk politics too much but today I received my t-shirt   
It showed up a little late but I wore it to Walmart anyway.   I'm sure Ron wasn't thrilled with me but he didn't say anything. I think he's just tired of listening to me go on and on about the fiasco in Washington.

The woman whose campaign I volunteered on, Claudia Griffith, tragically died suddenly of a heart attack.  She was 67 years old and had been a state representative and was now running for the state senate.  She was a huge supporter of education and was at the Capitol meeting with teachers every day during the strike.   She was in a run-off for the Democratic nomination.  Fortunately the other candidate is also a supporter of education but just doesn't have the name recognition Claudia had.  I was just so shocked at the news of Claudia's death and it sure reminded me that we are all on borrowed time.  I don't dwell on that fact but I sure try to live one day at a time.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Time Stands Still For No One

Before I could turn around twice it was July!  Our puppy is now 5 months old.  She is the light of my life.  She has entertained us and kept us hopping now for over 3 months.  Where did the time go?   We had her spayed two weeks ago and for the first week she was just a big baby.  Only wanted to lay in my arms and rock.  Now she is romping and stomping like nothing ever happened.  At her last weigh in she weighed 4.8 pounds.  Her sister only weighs 3.8.

Ellie 10 weeks

Ellie 5 months
We have no regrets about getting a puppy and it has been great that we are home all the time.  Our next adventure will be obedience training. Mine or hers!

Mike was supposed to have had cataract surgery this past Monday but after arriving at the surgery center at 5:30 am we were told they didn't have him scheduled.  So he has now been rescheduled for this Monday.  Overall he is handling it pretty good.  Ron has been driving him everywhere since he no longer drives.  That has been trying at times.  He will be staying with us after his surgery for about 6 weeks.  I sure hope God sends me an extra dose of patience!

We had a great 4th of July.  We first went to see a neighborhood parade in Piper's neighborhood.  She was in the parade!
Me and Piper before the parade!

Parade Pic

It was a cute parade.  They even had a fire truck lead the parade!  We then had a cookout at my daughter's house and swam.  It was very relaxing!  Just my kind of 4th!

Next Friday I will be 69 years old!  Now that has a ring to it.  Like everyone else I have a few health issues to battle but all in all I'm very fortunate!  There are always things we would like to be a little better....I'd like to be able to walk father than I can right now.  I'd like to erase a wrinkle or two...but those are such minor things compared to some.  

Ron is doing pretty good.  His seizure medication is hard on him.  Makes him tired and he has trouble sleeping.  It also makes him agitated.  We told the neurologist and he changed the medication and gave Ron some samples. It was working so much better but when Ron went to get the prescription filled the co-pay was $600.00 for a 30 day supply.  We tried using discount coupons and tried to sign up for assistance with the cost but we make too much to qualify but not enough to afford a $600.00 a month co-pay so he's back on Keppra.  Thank you big pharma!  

I'm not going to mention the great orange one!  I have no words anymore.  If he can say and do the things he does with no consequence than I have nothing left to say!  But come November I will have a LOT to say!

Hope everyone's summer is going well and that your temperatures are lower than ours.  Today 109 and humid.  It's miserable!  But as fast as time is going right now this is very temporary!  I've already started my Christmas shopping!

Saturday, April 21, 2018


Oh what a cutie patootie we have staying in our house.  I'll post pictures when I find my camera!

The puppy (Winnie Cooper) was great last night.  She slept all night with no crying or whimpering.  Amazingly adaptable.

My daughter hasn't met her new girl yet.  She had to go out of town this weekend so I'm sure she is just dying to get back home.  She's going to be instantly in love.  Nothing like puppy breath!

Ron is already having a ball with the pup.  They wrestled on the floor last night for about an hour and when she was completely wrung out we put her in her crate and that it was it for the rest of the night.  She was awake about 6 am and ready to eat and play!  

The good thing about this arrangement is that even if we get attached we will still see her anytime we like and will be available for dog sitting!  It's the best of both worlds and we don't have any of the expense!

Since my weight loss there have been several things I've struggled with a bit.  Every time I see my reflection I see a stranger.  My face has aged so much I don't recognize myself. Another issue is that my brain and body image haven't reconciled.  When I go shopping I always go to the larger sizes.  Seems I have to start with extra large and work my way down.  It just doesn't feel natural yet.  I would say the last 10 pounds brought the biggest changes.  It felt gradual until then and I seemed to adjust more easily.  Now I just feel like a stranger in my own body.  It's weird!  

I once lost a 100 pounds in a year.  It was the year after the twins were born.  I was so busy I hardly noticed it happening and when the weight was gone it was more of, "Oh there you are! I remember you"!  But the biggest difference between then and now is the skin.  When I was heavy I really didn't have any wrinkles.....they were well stretched out.  Now I'm a deflated balloon.  Nothing and I mean nothing bounces back!  Oh the advantages of maintaining your weight when you are young!   

But I wouldn't change a thing!  I am exactly who I was meant to be.

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Senior Moment

As if life wasn't complicated enough....we are picking up an 8 week old puppy this evening.  Now she isn't ours but will be my daughter's new puppy.  She will however be staying with us for an undetermined amount of time because Julie's elderly dog Lucy won't tolerate a puppy just yet.  We know Lucy's time is getting short so when this puppy became available Julie fell in love because she looks like her dog Chloe who passed away last year.  So what could I say?  Ron and I thought we were ready for another dog but I said why don't we keep the puppy for awhile and see if we REALLY want to go through dog ownership again. we are.  This should be interesting!

I told Ron if we ever get a dog we should  name it Alexa.  That would sure make life interesting.  Ron calls our Alexa by a dozen different names...the last one was Alisa.  Then he gets upset cause the thing won't answer him.  I think it is a hoot!

I went to the allergy clinic yesterday and am going to have allergy testing done.  I really don't think we will discover anything earth shattering to explain the chronic bronchitis but we will see.  Right now I'm just wheezing and coughing all the time but haven't had an infection in 3 months.  That's really good for me.  I'm trying to stay on top of it with the breathing treatments and two inhalers.  So far so good!

I actually feel good over all.  I haven't had to take any arthritis medicine for about 6 months.  I attribute it to the weight loss and I'm thrilled.  My A1C was 5.8, the lowest since I was diagnosed with diabetes so I'm thrilled with that as well.  I still have to take Metformin but who knows, maybe I'll be able to get off that soon as well.

I only have 5 more days of eye drops and then hopefully get fitted for my new prescription.  Glad this is almost behind me.

We scheduled Mike for a colonoscopy next Monday.  This should be an adventure.  He has to have only a liquid diet on Sunday and I know that will be a real trip.  The man loves to eat!  His cognitive issues have worsened but we think he can still live alone for now.  He's also had some incontinence issues every now and then and the gym where he loves to go called me and said they have noticed he is getting worse.  He had an "accident" there but seem unaware of it so they called.  When they talked to him he started crying and begged them not to "kick him out".  He said it was all he has.  Of course they reassured him that was not going to happen but he was so upset they felt they needed to call us.  I'm glad they did.  We were able to reassure him that all was well and that everyone has had an accident at one time or another in their lives.  We then bought him a backpack to put a change of clothes and personal hygiene items in so he can take it to the gym with him.  He was OK with that and thought I was a genius for thinking of it.

Today we had some safety rails installed in the condo.  He's stumbled around a few times and we wanted to take some extra precautions.  We put one outside by the door and an extra one in the bathroom.

My older brother is healing but experiencing some depression which the heart doctor said is common after open heart surgery.  Of course this had also worried Mike and he cries a lot when he talks about Butch.  I think everyone is looking at their own mortality.  Mike has every reason in the world to be fearful of losing family.  He understands he would be all alone if something were to happen to Ron or I especially.  That's why I'm trying so hard to take care of myself!

Well that's my update.  Not exciting but it's life!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Bye Bye cataracts

I am now a graduated member of the cataract club.  I had my second surgery this morning.  Everything went fine and I'm just taking it easy the rest of the day.  Today's surgery was on my good eye.  I lost all central vision in my right eye when I was 8 years old.  With both eyes open it doesn't even bother me but with the eye patch on my "good" eye I'm having quite a bit of trouble navigating.  So if this post is riddled with typos please forgive!  

Tomorrow I can remove the eye shield and then things will be back to normal.

Monday, March 26, 2018

I'm still here....

Well, a lot has been going on since I last posted.  My doctor seems to have given up or at least that's how it seemed to Ron and I when I saw him last.  He appears to have no idea what is making me sick.  He ordered allergy testing and said "I'll see you in 4 months."  So I've been doing 3 breathing treatments a day.  Using two inhalers twice a day. And just keeping on keeping on.  Fortunately I feel fine except for the wheezing and coughing.  I finally heard from the allergy clinic and I see them in April.

In the mean time I decided to get my cataracts removed since I was getting where it was dangerous for me to drive.  Ron of course still can't drive and so I had to do something.  I had one eye done 2 weeks ago and the other will be done Wednesday.  Talk about a cake walk!  It was sooooooo easy.  I had never had Valium before and I thought it wouldn't have any affect on me.  Wrong!  They could have removed a kidney and I wouldn't have cared.  That was the best two hour escape from all worries I've ever had!  Other than the eye drops schedule it has just been so easy.

We decided we will get Mike's eyes done in September.  He will have to come stay with us for 6 weeks because he wouldn't be able to manage the eye drops schedule.  We picked September so that there will be college football on then and that will keep him occupied.  It should be a trip for sure!  He's getting more helpless by the day.  Yesterday he couldn't unlock his condo door and absolutely lost it.  I had to talk him down enough to tell him what to do. his door has two locks, the deadbolt and the door knob.  He was getting one opened while locking the other.  Because of his total panic he couldn't figure it out.  So today we went over and changed the doorknob with one without a lock.  Now he only has to use the deadbolt.

Mike can't keep his condo clean anymore.  He doesn't wipe off counters or sweep the floor like he used to do so we are going over twice a week and cleaning for him.  I have to be sneaky about it and have Ron take him somewhere then I slip in a clean up.  He doesn't even notice!  But if he sees me cleaning he gets really aggressive and defensive.

My older brother had open heart surgery two weeks ago today.  He's in a rehab hospital now.  That really shook Mike up and we kept it from him until we know  Butch was out of surgery and could talk to Mike on the phone.  We took Mike to see him a couple of times and it was the first time I'd seen Butch in a year.  I've been too scared to contact them after the ordeal we went through over the house.  But the visit was fine and he is recovering well.  

Ron and I reached our weight loss goals!  Ron is a slender handsome devil! He lost over 60 pounds and I still can't believe I achieved my own goal.  I have lost 95 pounds from my very highest weight before my hip replacement.  I'm actually smaller than my daughters now which I thought I'd never be.  I'm between a size 9 and 10.  I had to purchase a completely new summer wardrobe.  What a terrible problem to have......ha ha. It took us 2 1/2 years but hey I wasn't doing anything anyway!  I had the time!

I'm still hanging out with my favorite two year-old!  She came over while her parents went out and Ron and I had so  much fun with her.  We played hide and go seek in the back yard and that was a hoot.  She thinks if she covers her eyes we can't see her.  Two year old logic!  She has been so good for our diet.  Every time we have her we lose 2 pounds!  It's been a long long time since I chased a little one.

Well, that's about all I have.  Just going along taking each day as it comes.  Thursday I will have two good eyeballs!  Hooray!