Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mischief

Saturday, I was sitting in my recliner after saying goodbye to Bill as he went to work.  He'd been gone for a few minutes when I heard the kitchen door slowly open and close.  The girls are always in and out, so I thought nothing of it.  But then the girls ran past me towards the kitchen and started squealing in excitement. 

"Mom! Mom!  There's a kitten in the kitchen!"

We don't have a kitten.  I don't know how old Killer is, but she's certainly well past kitten stage (I suspect she's pretty old, in fact).  But, sure enough, my kids were holding a TINY little kitten.

I ran outside, and Bill was still in the driveway.  He said the neighbor kids were walking by, followed by a tiny little kitten.  They asked if we knew anything about her, and said she'd been following them around all day.  They couldn't take her home because their mom was allergic.  So, Bill took the kitten and just put her in the house without a word.



Her name is Mischief Maker.  Killer has her moments with her.  She's been nice to her, and she's growled at her.  Mostly, she's just a grumpy old lady who has no patience for the young whippersnapper, though.  Ollie is in LOVE.  He thinks Mischief is the best thing that has ever happened.  It's so funny, because he's a big dog, and Mischief is so tiny.  She hides from him when he gets too hyper, but she's pretty fearless otherwise and they do play.  When he's crated while we're out of the house, we always come back to see her sitting by the crate.



In other news, I know I didn't even give it half a shot, but I canceled my Weight Watchers.  I went to a meeting and it just didn't feel right.  Plus, I had to not only count points, but I had to also look up carbs for what I was eating, so it was actually more work than counting calories because most calorie counting apps are going to show carbs....  WW doesn't.

And another reason.  Lantus is expensive and I needed to cut some corners.  Lantus.  Blah.  I went to the doctor Monday and am now on insulin. 

It's not THAT bad, I suppose.  Insulin needles are so small that you literally can't feel them and Lantus is a long-acting type of insulin that you only have to take once a day, as opposed to several times with some other types.  I'm really glad about all of that, but it's EXPENSIVE.  $250 a vial, which is all out of pocket for me until my stupidly high deductible has been met (which would be several months even with that expense going on). 

It's not helping yet.  It could take a few weeks to get the proper dosage, which is pretty frustrating.  I'm supposed to increase my dose by 5 units every 5 days until we start seeing normal numbers.  I get so angry when I check my blood sugar and it's still too high.  Especially when I've eaten something like a salad with only 30g of carbs.  If my blood sugar is over 200, I want to have eaten some ice cream or pasta or something to justify it, you know.  Ugh, it makes me so mad.

My nurse, though.... she's just the sweetest person ever.  I explained everything going on in my life the past month and she almost cried.  She said "and you wonder why you can't get your blood sugar down?"  I know stress is making it worse, I KNOW.  But it doesn't make it less frustrating.  We're getting my mom moved this weekend, and I'm hoping.... praying.... that things will settle and I can relax a bit.  I'm sure once we get into our new "normal", school will be out and that will just be another bout of chaos though.  C'est la vie, right?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Well, wonders never cease!

6 years ago, Bill and I packed up the girls and took a long vacation to visit his scattered family. We live in Arkansas, they live in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York (upstate, not NYC).  We haven't made the trip since.

I've tried. I would sit down to plan every summer for a few years, but Bill would veto the idea. We can't do it in just a week and 2 weeks at a time is too much to take off work. No one would come visit us, why should we go visit them? It's too hard with 3 small kids. He had excuses....

His Mom visited. His Dad and sister visited. His Grandma and Aunt visited. He really couldn't use that excuse any more. The other excuses, while somewhat valid, but not insurmountable, were still tossed my way when I would bring it up.

I eventually just stopped bringing it up.

And, to be honest, he just grew more and more distant from his family every year.  Months would go by without him talking to his parents. Again, I'd try to nudge him into calling, but I eventually just let it be. I do what I can to keep his family in the loop, but I can't force him to have a relationship with them.

It's been that way for a few years now.

But sometimes things happen that make you realize what you have, and I think my father's death was one of those things for Bill.

I noticed over the weekend he was Googling lodging in NY.  I asked what was up...

We're taking a vacation this summer. Two weeks have been requested and approved. An unexpected check even arrived to fund a good portion of the trip. We're headed East in August to visit Bill's family!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Beginnings

My Mom gets to leave the hospital today!  Finally!  It's been 2 1/2 weeks.  She's really got a very positive attitude about starting a new chapter in her life, but I know the next few days will be really hard on her.  She hasn't had to really face the reality of my father being gone yet because she's been in the hospital. 

We were able to steal my Mom away from the hospital a few hours to take her to look at the retirement community we liked so much.  Her face when she saw the apartment..... it just made my day.  She loved it.  She signed a lease!  We'll take her back to Hot Springs and figure out how quickly she can get out of her apartment there.  My parents, having had a house fire a few years ago, don't have a lot of things, so it's really not going to be a huge task packing up things. We might have to hire someone to actually move furniture, though.  We'll need to go through Daddy's things, but again, they kept things simple after the fire, so it won't be a huge (just emotional) task.  Hopefully, it will just be a couple of weeks until she's moved.  Then we can settle into a new normal around here. 

My doctor has been on vacation the past 2 weeks, so I probably will get some feedback on my blood sugar numbers from the past 3 weeks.  They haven't been good.  I faxed my numbers over on Friday and put a little note at the bottom that I'm ready to discuss insulin.  I wish I could just beg for more time, and I could argue that he gave me until June, but I know he's not going to want to wait and I'm just wanting to see normal numbers.  I know I shouldn't let the numbers on my meter effect my mood as much as they do, but I can't help it.  Insulin still scares the hell out of me, but I just don't know what else to do, to be honest.

I signed up for Weight Watchers the other day.  I never tried it in the past, because it just seemed like a slightly more complicated method of calorie counting.  But it just kept popping up in conversations and I thought, why not give it a try?  I decided to go all out, and sign up for the meetings as well as the online tools.  I've never had any kind of face-to-face group support so maybe it will help.  My first meeting is tonight, unless I can't make it because of my Mom, but I think I'll be able to make it.  I've been using the app the past few days, and it's been kind of shocking to see the Points value of some foods.  It's really not that much different than just plain ol' calorie counting, so I hope the meetings help, otherwise it's kind of a waste of money since I can calorie count for free.  Plus, I still am having to use my calorie counting app to check carb numbers on a lot of things. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Semi-normal

My Mom is still in the hospital, but last night the doctor told us that he'd be meeting with her physical and occupational therapists to discuss when she can go home.  Fingers crossed it will be within the next day or so.

My sister and I have been looking for a place for Mom to live closer to us.  We've visited 2 different retirement communities.  The first one is really close to where I live, but the feel of the building was very industrial.... the whole building is concrete and steel, so it lacked a bit of warmth.  The second one we visited is close to where my sister works, and where she's trying to find a house to move into herself.  This one was pretty much perfect.  The place had the same feel as the retirement community she lives in now, very warm and friendly.  My sister and I were there for almost 3 hours!  They invited us to bring Momma on Thursday so she can see it.  If she hasn't been released from the hospital, the doctor said he'll give her a pass to leave for a few hours.

My Mom has a really positive attitude about everything.  She knows how difficult it will be to go back to their apartment after she gets out of the hospital, but she's ready to move on and begin a new life.  It's sad, but I'm so relieved that she's able to look forward.

In the meantime, I have to regain my focus on my own health.  I was doing a fair job at getting my blood sugar numbers back to normal, although no matter how few carbs I ate, I just couldn't quite get it there.  But, the past 2 weeks I've just lost all control and they're back to being WAY too high.  The medication I'm on just isn't going to be the solution.  It's not that I don't expect to have to do my part with diet and exercise, but it's pretty obvious that my numbers were going down because of diet and exercise and not the meds.  I know the stress I've been under isn't helping, either, but I can't keep

I know the doctor is going to insist on insulin, it's just a matter of when.  On one hand I'm just ready to throw in the towel and say OK.  From the little bit I've learned about it, it would be much easier to correct my blood sugar if it went too high than it is now.  It will probably take me a week or two to get my numbers back where I had them, and that wasn't even where I needed them to be.  But there is still part of me that is scared.  I think I'm more afraid of what's happening to me while this is out of control, though.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Strength

My mother is doing much, much better. She was moved to rehab a few days ago, and will probably be there until later next week. They are working with her to build her strength back up. She's been in very good spirits.  She did tell my sister that she thinks she just gave up in the beginning, but as much as she really misses my Dad, she knows she's going to be OK.

As she got better and I didn't have to be consumed with worry about her, I've actually had to, you know, deal with other emotions. I've had so much support though. I really don't think I could have handled everything if I didn't have so many people rooting me on. And my little sister.... she's had to take on much more than I have. With our odd schedules and the girls, there just sometimes isn't time for me to do what I feel is my fair share, but she has taken care of things and never complained.

While we are waiting for my Mom to be released, we're working on finding her a place closer to us. My parents have been living in a retirement community about an hour's drive away.  My Mom wants to move up here and be closer, and we certainly want that as well. My parents originally moved to Hot Springs to be close to my Grandpa, but he passed a few years ago.  They had actually been discussing moving back to Little Rock.  They just hadn't gotten around to it.

My Mom wants to live in a similar place when she moves up here, so my sister and I are going to check a few out to speed things up. We toured one today. It was really nice. The retirement communities are so great. You have an apartment, they provide meals for you in the dining room, they have all sorts of activities, housekeeping, utilities included.... I was always so happy to know my parents were happy and busy in Hot Springs. We definitely want to make sure she has that here.

I keep finding myself thinking that it will be nice for things to get back to normal. But I have to remind myself that "normal" is going to be evolving for a while. My Mom won't expect us to revolve our lives around her, but she will become more of a part of our daily lives. I'm a little sad we didn't make this happen while my Dad was still alive. I wish we all had had more time together.  But, as my Mom says, if wishes were horses, we all would ride....

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cliché

You know that saying that goes "you never know how strong you can be until you have no other choice"?  Something like that anyway.  That's been this week.

I had been so terrified of losing my father for years, yet the Earth didn't stop spinning. I have a hole in my heart that will ache forever, I'm sure, but he lived literally years with near constant chest pain, so I can live with this.

Wednesday night was the visitation at the funeral home. My older sister and her husband and my nephew arrived early in the morning from North Carolina. We spent the morning at my younger sister's house.  I dreaded the visitation. I knew that would be the moment it became really real. I don't like seeing the body and just couldn't imagine seeing my Daddy like that.

But I had to. We actually were the first ones there, which meant I could do it alone. Then my girls wanted to see. They have been so confused by everything.  They remember my Grandpa passing away, but they didn't get to see him often, so it wasn't as real as this. And they didn't go to the memorial service.

I did look at him. I even touched him. I had never touched a dead body before, but I just wanted to rub his bristley balding head again. I could never do that with anyone else, but it's different when it's someone close. You'll do anything for one more touch.

The hardest part was when my Mom arrived and seeing her. My heart is so broken for her. They were married almost 48 years. They married 2 days after she graduated high school. She's never been alone before.

After the visitation and dinner with family, my sister took her home with her. My sister and I spent a while texting back and forth talking about Mom staying with her for a while before we find her a place closer to us (she's about an hour away now and we are adamant she has to be closer for several reasons). 

My mother was so wiped out by the day that she couldn't even get up to turn out the light to go to bed. But just out of the blue, she got a drastic case of diarrhea and fell trying to get to the bathroom. My sister ended up calling 911. 

My older sister and I spent the night in the ER waiting room while my little sister was with my Mom inside. They determined she had some sort of infection from her blood work, and she was so fatigued that they admitted her to the ICU.  I left the hospital about 4am, my little sister about 5:30am.

My mother was not able to go to my father's funeral.

We tried. She wasn't in any shape to leave the hospital. We brainstormed ways to allow her to see it televised somehow, but she couldn't stay awake. It broke or hearts all over again, knowing she couldn't go, but there just was no way.

The funeral was nice. He had a military burial, which was just perfect. Since my Mom wasn't there, we asked that they present the flag to my father's last remaining sibling, my uncle. He did give us the flag for Momma afterwards. My cousin recorded it so we can show my Mom when she's ready.

My Mom really wouldn't wake up all day Wednesday. We asked the nurses why and there really was no medical reason.  Yes, she's sick, but it was alarming. I think it was the only way she could cope, to be honest.

Friday I spent the day with my sisters on a road trip to my parents' apartment to get anything valuable out  (long story I'll talk about another time ).  I searched for things with my father's handwriting. Looked at his blood sugar log just to study how he wrote his numbers. My sister wished one of us had a saved voice mail so we could hear his voice again. It was bitter sweet, being there without my parents. I know we'll never all be there again together.

Friday my Mom was more alert. Easy to wake, talking to us. We caught glimpses of her personality through the sleepy haze. We were so relieved. Honestly, we were afraid she'd die. Those stories about a husband and wife dying within a short time of each other because they couldn't bear to be apart sound romantic until you're faced with it as their children.

I went to see her first thing Saturday and was crushed to discover her back in the state she was in Thursday. Difficult to awaken. She was mumbling nonsense about trunks and people we didn't know. My older sister suspected when she was there that she was talking to Daddy, asking about his sisters, who are both deceased. It was scary. I made a second trip to see her that evening and she was complaining about the hallucinations, and grabbed me, asking me not to go. I stayed until my sister could come, and then she stayed until visiting hours were over. She slept better with us there, so we agreed to make sure she wasn't alone for long today.

Today she's better again. She asked for breakfast and got annoyed when I tried to help her too much. She's still sleeping most of the time, but she's easily awakened and lucid. She asked me what day it was, how long she'd been in the hospital. She told me the hallucinations were gone and she'd stopped dreaming about Daddy. That part made her sad, I think she enjoyed that part.

Crystal finally told me that she thought Mom had been talking to Daddy in the ER Wednesday night, that it was like they were either arguing over him dying or over her staying. I might sound crazy, but I don't really think it was a dream. I believe he really was there, still trying to take care of her and comfort her through the hard parts. I think he'll always be there, holding her hand. I think she wanted to go with him and he convinced her to stay.

They've determined that what they thought was a minor UTI at first was more than minor and she became septic, which happened about a month ago as well. I'm concerned that both tines she got very sick very quickly, so we'll have to talk to the doctors to figure out how to deal with that. They hope to get her well enough to be in a regular room in the next day or so, then we will figure out where to go from there. We're beginning to question if independent living would be a good idea, but we'll cross that bridge after getting her over this one.

It's been tough, but my husband and my sister's husband have been Godsends. My brother-in-law has volunteered to babysit several times so I can go to the hospital. Bill has taken all the time he could off of work, and he rarely takes time off for anything. They've definitely been our rocks.

God willing, this week will be a healing week.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The day I've been afraid of for years

Sunday was Easter and our plans were to spend the day with my parents and sister. Then my mom called to tell me that they had taken my Dad to the hospital. He's been in the hospital a few times already this year, it's a call I'm honestly used to getting. I dread answering the phone anytime my mom pops up on the caller ID, because my Dad usually calls for anything else.

But the call was a little different. My Mom usually sounds fine, if not a little exasperated  (because he'd always wait and suffer before admitting to her he was in pain). But she sounded upset. And that bothered me.

We spent Easter at home by ourselves. I was bummed. I hated that my Dad was in the hospital again and genuinely worried.

Monday, I went to work. My sister let me know that she was going to go see my Dad after work, and she talked to my Mom and had decided Mom must have just been really tired on Sunday. She didn't act like this was any different than any other time he'd been in the hospital and that he'd be home in no time.

So, after work and getting Bill and the girls situated for an evening without me, I headed out to see my Dad. I expected to walk in and see him sitting up in bed, tired but ready to just get out of there, like normal. I was literally shocked when I came in. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, hunched over the tray table panting for breath. I looked at my Mom and she was acting like it was nothing. That was the only way he could breathe. He couldn't lay back without hyperventilating. It freaked me out, but I kept my composure for their sake. I had never seen him like that. Never in ask the times I've seen him in a hospital bed.

He had a kidney and bladder ultrasound while I was there. They had already determined that his kidneys were shutting down. He's had congestive heart failure, so they were trying to control the fluid he was retaining, but it wasn't working. They weren't exactly sure why he was having so much trouble breathing. My sister and I suspected that it was more of a panic attack sort of thing. He was in so much pain, and so scared of dying that he couldn't breathe.

My Mom admitted that it was just a matter of time, that they'd done everything they could, but she really believed, and had us believing, that they'd fix him up so he could go home and he'd probably be on dialysis.  He'd go home. Part of me felt like she was wrong, but part of me wanted to believe that. I went home and prayed he would get relief.

At 3:30am, my phone rang. My Daddy was gone. He had sat up on the edge of his bed to try to catch his breath and had a massive coronary. They couldn't revive him.

He's been sick for years. He had an impressive collection of stents in his arteries. This was a day we knew would inevitably come sooner than later. But there's no way to prepare for how much it hurts.

I adore my Daddy.  He was genuinely the best guy you could know. EVERYONE loved him.  A gentle giant, but you knew you didn't want to test that gentle part. Funny. He was such a smart ass. He gave the best hugs. He would give you the shirt off of his back, even if it was the only shirt he owned. He loved to tease people and if there was a baby in the room, it was magnetically drawn to him.

Every time I talked to him on the phone, I'd ask, "what are you doing? " and his reply was always, "I'm talking to you. "

I don't want to go through the next 2 days.

I want my Daddy.

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