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11/29/11

I Won't Lie

Yesterday evening was tough. All day I've been antsy, (along with itchy and prickly), just thinking about it.

I did go over Sunday. She had just "gone down for a nap" - it truly is aging in reverse. I sat with her for a bit and watched Gandhi while she slept. Then I took the clothes that weren't hers that someone had put BACK IN HER ROOM in the dresser that STILL ISN'T FIXED and dumped them in my backseat. Because it pissed me off. And carrying those clothes around with me in the car is going to fix that.
Heh.

Did I tell you about the dresser? I don't remember. You probably don't either. So here goes - possibly again.
When I went to get her some clothes for her return from the hospital in October, three of the four drawers had the fronts off. Two were off completely and propped up nicely on the side of the dresser. One is hanging lopsided. Those drawers opened really easy, so how in the world did the fronts got ripped off?! It's not a family heirloom, it's from Target, but still, WTH.
Housekeeping was supposed to take a look at it - last month. I can get over there with some Gorilla Glue, but dang it, I DON'T WANT TO.

So, yesterday.

I went over for supper. We're at a new table in the other dining room now. I don't like it. It's the table where people get fed. It's a sad table. No one talks.
No nonsensical conversations, no humming, no Myrtle saying, "Would it kill them to give us some dessert?!"


In between trying to interest Mom in something, I fed "Emily", the lady next to her; she doesn't speak, has beautiful porcelain skin. Sometimes she takes a spoon and TAP tap tap taptaptaptaps on the table. Or claps her hands.
What if she is one of those people who wants to eat all their beans, then all their stuffing? Sorry, no choice now. She opens her mouth for every bite.

Mom had one bite of chicken, several bites of chocolate ice cream, several of fruit cocktail. She nodded off between bites.
Her language is pretty much gone.
She makes noises. Every now and then an recognizable word breaks through. A yes or no. The occasional hey.
She's shrinking, turning in on herself, a little doodlebug.

Jesus. I thought it sucked before, but this, this...dissolving, like sugar in cold tea, is slow and fucked up.

11/27/11

What An Assessment Summary Report Looks Like

First - I haven't been to see Mom since Thanksgiving.

Here's a breakdown of the new charges, which are in addition to her monthly "rent" of $4500:

Medications - $427
- Order and coordinate medications between family, health care providers and pharmacy
- Provide attention while patient self-administers medications
- Provide physical assistance while taking medications
- Assist with medication storage

Chronic Condition Management - $598
- Resident has been diagnosed with diabetes
- Specific care and/or monitoring because of the chronic condition noted above
- Resident has insulin-dependent diabetes
- Supervise or perform blood sugar monitoring three or more times per week
- Administer insulin injections

Respiratory Equipment - $470
- Help with proper storage, supply and signage with the use of oxygen or respiratory equipment
- Staff attention or physical assistance with the use of oxygen or respiratory equipment

Dress and Groom - $342
- Help with the set-up, selection, or laying out of clothes or grooming toiletries
- Staff attention or assistance with dressing tasks
- Staff attention or assistance with grooming tasks

Bathroom Assist - $299
- Help because resident is unable to use the bathroom on their own

Total - $2136.00


In their defense, they are not charging for the nebulizer treatments, or helping her eat and they didn't charge for  many things (bathroom assistance) for many months.

She is in the hole $2480 a month.

11/25/11

Let's Take A Walk

At Booker Creek.

Park in the Home Team's parking lot, don't have to cross Franklin Street.

Headphones - check. Purse in trunk - check. Keys in hand - check.

First, start the music player...now....figure out the Cardio Trainer app...stop the apps music player because I already started the "real" one...okay...re-start the workout...now re-start the music playlist...put phone in pocket...pause the workout inadvertently...take phone out of pocket...restart the workout...lock phone...NOW put in pocket...
And we're off.

It's about noon and I'm regretting my wardrobe choice (a heavy long sleeved tee-shirt) because it's hot! All the leaves have fallen off the trees so the path, deliciously shaded in summer, is now exposed.

Passed a small gaggle of coltish teenagers with mothers? aunts? followed by a mother and her young (5-6) year old daughter.  That's right, left them in the dust.

[Calories burned: twenty nine. Or so says the male vaguely British Cardio Trainer app voice]

You know what I've noticed? Runners rarely nod to walkers. Other runners - yes. Walkers mostly nod or acknowledge other walkers. Like RV campers and tent campers - two groups who think the other group is stupid. As a tent camper, I found RVer's to be rude and inconsiderate neighbors for the most part.

Know what else? If you see someone more than once, the greetings decline. About the third or fourth pass, you just politely look at the ground. Or up at the trees. Or pretend your phone/MP3 player is acting up.

Older men are all or nothing: a full good afternoon or the slight head bob.

[Calories burned: eighty six]

I thought about light poles and telephone poles and wondered why we don't put them underground. They make it hard to take pictures of trees holding their white hallelujah hands up to the Carolina blue sky.
Much cropping involved

Obviously good photo opps is not the only reason underground lines seem like a good idea. There are hurricane and ice storm reasons.

Thinking about the singer of the Video Games video and I wonder - What it would be like to go through life looking like that? I have never had that kind of beauty or power - that I was aware of anyway.
Reminded me of The April Witch by Ray Bradbury. The premise of the story, as I vaguely recall, was this: a witch possesses a girl to experience love.
What it would be like to go through life looking like that? I can't even imagine.

[Calories burned: one hundred twenty five]

I thought about this blog and what I would write about. Thought about the man with a Jack Russell and a poodle because it seemed like an odd dog combo.

Another Jack Russell was walking off leash and he came over to greet me. He was all white except for the left side of his head, which was black. They are cute dogs. Too smart (and active) for me though.

I thought about how the sidewalk was slippery with the crumbled brown carcasses of dead leaves, pine needles, and sweet gum balls.
Erv Evans, NC State University

I thought about my mother dying and all the things I'll need to do: call the VA, the Coast Guard, Social Security, TROSA, my siblings, my mother's friends (not necessarily in that order of course). I thought about death certificates and where do I get them. How many will I need? Ten? Fifteen? What about her taxes? What am I not thinking of? What don't I know that I don't know?

I thought about squirrels and birds and pondered on why the air smelled vaguely of the sea.

Then I had walked two miles.

[Calories burned: Two hundred and sixty six - the equivalent of  four oranges]




11/24/11

Thanksgiving 2011

Mom is the same - eating very little, sleeps a lot, rarely laughs anymore. I used to get her to laugh all the time. One of the few understandable things she said to me today was, "That's so weird."
I don't know what was weird, but that was clear as a bell.

A. told me Mom often doesn't sleep in her bed. She's agitated ("end of life agitation"), can't seem to get comfortable, wants to be around people, so they bring her out to the living room with her oxygen and settle her in a recliner for the night.

I took over some new clothes - cute little zip up jacket in pink, fuchsia tee-shirt and nice black sweatpants. While she slept off her two bites of turkey at the dining table, I took the opportunity to go through her closet. Got rid of clothes that weren't hers (there were quite a few), weeded out the too small stuff, hung up pants on pant hangers (!), and arranged shirts by color. (Shut up.)

A woman visiting her father brought her Landseer Newfoundland named Oreo. It was hilarious watching Avery and Oreo play - Oreo's head was bigger than the entire puppy! Someone said Avery had cattle dog in her and sure enough, she was nipping at Oreo's heels trying to herd him. That skill might come in handy, herding seniors to the dining room for instance.
Seriously though, what a great idea for a facility like CB to adopt their own dog. The administrator said they've received many emails and phone calls saying that very same thing. (now they need a cat!)

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Speaking of cats - here's a typical morning scenario:
The third one was just out of camera range. Can't a person pee in peace?!

I had turkey, cauliflower broccoli
au gratin, and chipotle cranberry sauce for dinner. The last item is kinda cheating, but I made it myself and there's very little sugar in it.
For dessert I had an obscene amount of whipped cream.
And I may have more later.





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I've been watching The Monkees on Netflix. Too funny.



Itchy

Isn't that the name of the cat on The Simpsons? (Ah, no. That would be the mouse. Scratchy is the cat.)

I have pityriasis rosea on my neck and chest.
Don't worry, it's not contagious. It's caused by one of them there herpes viruses (maybe). Just how many of those stupid herpes things are there?! I think it's fair to say that none of them are good.

Guess what else? I'm in the lucky (heh) 2% who have a yearly re-occurrence. For the past four years it has appeared in the fall. Yes, there are scarves - except...dun dun dun...heat makes it worse.

It was first misdiagnosed as a yeast infection by a regular MD. At their suggestion, Vagisil was purchased to slather on my neck. It did nothing except cause embarrassment at check out. 

When I went for my annual cheap Irish complexioned visit to the dermatologist, it had just cropped up again. He kinda snorted when he heard the yeast infection diagnosis then prescribed some cortisone ointment. Which thankfully, (hey, a thanks giving!), blessedly, makes the itching stop.

Well another cup of coffee, then I'm off to Whole Foods for some turkey and to visit with Mom for a bit.


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson







11/23/11

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

I'm not going to hit that thankful thing right away, rather meander over to it - consider yourself forewarned.

Today at work it was slooooow, and I did a far amount of reading on the interwebz.

Here's a sampling:
First, Can the Bulldog Be Saved? Good question. After reading the article, I needed to see what a Leavitt bulldog looked like, and ended up here: http://leavittbulldogassociation.com/

Then I looked at an American Bulldog for comparison. http://www.bulldoginformation.com/american-bulldog.html

I'm pretty sure that's the kind of dog my dad had - he LOVED that dog. It killed snakes.

My favorite, the Bull Terrier (the Target dog). http://www.terrificpets.com/dog_breeds/bull_terrier.asp

Tired of dogs now, I read about Demi Moore's past relationships in the Huffington Post, and about porn that women like in Slate.
Also at Slate, I perused several Dear Prudence articles, the pictures of the day, an article about Joan Didion's new book, learned the difference between macarons, macaroons and macaroni, and in 20 pies for 19 guests, found out what a Ecclefechan tart and a funeral pie was. Erm...is. Mmmmm, mincemeaty. (seems people either love or hate mincemeat pie. No mince middle ground. I am firmly in the lover of mince category.)

Keeping on the food trail, there's sweet potatoes and greens in the Durham paper. Here's how to make gluten free gravy as well as a couple of GF desserts: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/23/health-tips-from-the-thankgiving-help-line/

BPA in canned goods possibly a cause of diabetes: http://www.wwlp.com/dpp/news/local/hampden/study%3A-bpa-in-canned-foods-harmful

Elephants dying from drought in Zimbabwe: http://allafrica.com/stories/201111180028.html

At the LA Times (Europe section): Hugh Grant becoming the spokesperson of sorts for the phone hacking scandal; most British critics are loving Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher - if not the movie.

The Shadow Wolves were also in the LA Times.

But I think the best thing I read all day was this story on prison hospice.

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Mom is about the same. Her care rate went up about $1000 - but if they cut out a lot of her meds it will be about $500 instead. She often refuses to take them and it really doesn't matter if she takes her Plavix anymore.
A bill from UNC hospital came, says she owes about $1200. I'm not sure they submitted it to Tricare though.
Fiddle dee dee. Will deal with that on Monday.

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Who do these guys sound like?



This video is slightly creepy, but I like the song.




When I watch the video below I wonder what it would be like to look like this girl (oh yeah, she is a girl).
I think of power - the power of youth and sex appeal.



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Finally, the thanks giving part. I told you it would be a meander. One final article on the health benefits of gratitude: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/science/a-serving-of-gratitude-brings-healthy-dividends.html

A few days ago, I received an email from Local Harvest. The last paragraph said:
"A few months ago someone sent me a quotation from a Native American prayer which says, "Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way." 
So may we express our gratitude around our Thanksgiving tables, for those blessings already manifest, and for the capacity to sustain the hope that what is needed is on its way."


Well said.

Thanks ya'll for the known and the unknown blessings.





11/20/11

I Thought Yesterday

was going to be the BIG ONE. You know - the one where Mom dies.

CB called around 7:30 AM and said Mom had "taken a turn".
In near superhuman fashion - twenty minutes - I was dressed, make-uped, had fed the cats, scooped litter boxes and at CB.
A., (one of Mom's favorite aides, mine too), said her heart rate had gone down, she was having trouble breathing. They had called hospice and given her two morphine doses (5:30 and 7:30). She was sleeping.

I settled in, read some Frankenstein on my kick-ass phone, texted some folks (please bring coffee!) and threw away some stuff. (just getting a head start on what I'll have to do anyway - don't begrudge me small pleasures)
D. came with coffee. To kill some time, we looked through Dad's war and peace medals and other military paraphernalia, where she noticed an awesome walrus head tie tack - which now lives on my jacket.



Mom continued to sleep...well, like the dead.

Then sometime in the afternoon she woke up, was agitated. Had another dose of the big M., had her mouth wiped out with nitroglycerin swabs (encourages saliva).
We called my brother; she perked up so much after that she drank some sweet tea, ate a graham cracker, and a few tiny bites of peach yogurt. She talked, in her way.

Laughed when D. imitated Donald Duck,  then called her a "shit hound".
Yes, exactly that.

She drifted back to sleep after a few hours. I met Anon CP at Whole Foods for brisket and salad.
Went home, changed clothes (it was hotter than Hades in her room), fed cats, and washed my face twice -something had irritated the crap out of it. It was bright red and felt like it was on fire. Could have been the coconut lotion I put on Mom's hands.

 When I returned, Mom was sitting in the living room! talking about puppies and who knows what else.
We went back to her room and alternated between watching Up and Splendor in the Grass - quite the combo, I know. She was more talkative during Splendor. We discussed whether that was Sandy Dennis or Tuesday Weld (Sandy), how handsome Warren was, what a cad he was, how pretty Natalie was, etc. I left around 9-9:30, sat in my driveway talking to my sister. Remembered I needed darn cat food and had to go to Kroger.
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Today, after the Gals Second Annual Mutiny Anniversary Lunch, I went over. Was just in time for sing-a-long - my favorite! (I'll let you decide if I'm being sarcastic or not.)

CB has adopted a puppy, their very own live-in therapy dog - which is a great idea. Her name is Avery and she is adorable (all the more so because she's not piddling on my carpet).



I didn't stay long, I had a raging headache.
Surely brought on by the roller coaster ride of "My mother's dying - oh wait. Never mind."


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11/15/11

A Veritable Plethora of Stuff

Maybe.

I am prickly. That's what the ex-BF said about his family - they were a prickly bunch (he included himself in that description, just so you know).

That's an apt description of how I feel lately.

Yesterday the cashier at Kohl's kept my 15% discount card after swiping it, saying that it was for one time use only. She gave it back when I asked for it, but only reluctantly.
I wanted to call a manager and have the poor girl flogged or something else Nathaniel Hawthorne-y. Because she was wrong.
Instead, as I signed the credit card receipt, I muttered "that's BS" under my breath. Passive-aggressive is my middle name ya'll.

Today at the pharmacy in Kroger my eye rolling and heavy sighing  was JUST BARELY contained when I was chided - yes, chided - for not picking up an order, then a big deal was made about them having to ring up two avocados and take a coupon.
All the while someone was standing INSIDE MY PERSONAL BUBBLE (granted I have large sphere). It took TWO "looks" for her to step back. RESPECT THE BUBBLE! 
Especially the prickly ones.

Then I come home to zero Netflix movies because the mail person at our building is a doofus and for some reason is not picking up the outgoing mail. Erg.

So yeah. Prickly.

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I am addicted to La Croix sparkling water, mainly the grapefruit (pamplemousse in French) and the lime. When I saw the coconut flavor in Target, I thought - okay, sure, I'll try it.
Oh friends. As it turns out, I do not like drinking what suntan lotion smells like.


*****************************************************************************
My nephew called me last night, to check on his Nana. Awww. Sorry the report is so crappy.

I took over some size eleven (that's MY size!) slippers last night - hoping they might fit when the edema is bad. She had some TED hose on and was wearing her normal slippers. She fell asleep in the dining room so I took my leave.
But not before Miss Myrtle almost made me cry by asking me what she could do that was the right thing. She just wanted to do the right thing so she didn't have to be in there. Sigh.

The hospice social worker called today and said she was sleeping (still?) and her feet were elevated. She asked me how I was doing. Of course I said fine.
************************************************************
Speaking of shoes (well awhile back we were)  - how cute are these:
Pretty f*&^ing cute right? That's what I thought too, so I ordered them. They look like just the cure for pricklyitus.






















11/13/11

So Far (continued)

I've taken a walk:
 When I started walking again after taking the above picture, my right knee got all stupid and wonky. It seems mostly better now.
Yea, that's my shadow

After the walk, it was Walmart for cat litter, cat food, whipped cream, (one rule on this crazy diet - DO NOT run out of whipped cream), and in spite of not being not on the "need" list - Elf.
I HATE Christmas, but I LOVE that stupid movie.

Off to CB to visit Mom, the hospice volunteer was there. Mom's feet and legs were so swollen; they had alerted hospice. Nothing else to do.

Afterward, I returned slippers to Target that won't fit her sausage-like feet, then the Post Office to mail a package.

Now I'm going to eat salad and whipped cream - not at the same time - and watch Elf.







So Far

today I have re-arranged a couple of shelves in the pantry, washed dishes, cleaned out the frig (old cauliflower - ewwww), a load of clothes, and vacuumed. (Can you ever remember how to spell vacuum? I always start with two c's then switch to two u's. It doesn't look right either way.)

***************************************************************

Last week at Twig, a great local store that carries sustainable fair traded goods, I saw these little treats:



Aren't they cute? Silicon lids that stretch to fit just about anything (they come in about five different sizes from tiny to cover-a-watermelon. These are the second size up). There's also a ziploc type bag you can cook or freeze in, but it was very small and expensive.
Don't they look like they're from the land of IKEA? They are in fact, Spanish.

************************************************************************
Fawn sent me this hilarious commercial.


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11/9/11

Dwindling

 


That's the word the doctor used yesterday when describing Mom's health.

She is not eating much, but still up and around.

Yesterday evening I went over during supper.

"Hello darlin'", said She Who Scrapes Her Robe With Her Butter Knife While Humming, (see The Supper Club).
Myrtle came to the table late, having been to the eye doctor. Her daughter sat for a few minutes; she's pretty stressed out by it all. Still in the I Can't Believe This Is Happening stage.
Really it's more like the I Can't Believe This Is Happening.
Been there, done that sister.

Mom was in a great mood,  having a laughing spell every five minutes. Talkative and fairly understandable. She ate most of her carrot raisin salad and a couple of bites of chocolate ice cream. Lips clinched shut at pork chop and baked potato (even with cheese and bacon!).

Tonight was a different story. She sat slumped in a wheelchair, mostly incoherent, ate all of three bites of pie. We lingered in the middle of the dining room for a half hour afterward.
Just sitting, holding hands.

************************************************************************
I missed the end of a promotional period for a dental credit card the end of October and they added the $600 worth of deferred interest to my bill.
OMG does not even begin to cover it. The kicked-in-the-solar-plexus-I-can't-breathe-and-I'm-going-to-throw-up feeling as the realization of the missed deadline sunk in.
I called them tonight sitting in front of CB and played the [very real] "mother was in hospital and now in hospice" card. They told me that if I paid the previous balance in full by midnight tonight - they would waive the finance charges.
I cried with gratitude.

11/6/11

The Cleaning Frenzy Continues

Maybe it's the extra hour of sleep. It's like the new year - wait it IS the new year according to the Celtic calendar.

I even had an epiphany about my bowls that have been on the second shelf for seven and a half years. They are always hard to reach, especially when they're all clean and stacked high.

PUT. THEM. ON. THE. FIRST. SHELF. 

Whaaaaaa??????
Before

After
All I can say is - Duh!
And now I see the glasses and mugs order should be reversed on the second shelf because the mugs are used more. Talk about a creature of habit - the mugs went right back where they have been for seven and a half years.

Cleaned the ceiling fan and reversed the spin cycle using this ladder, a birthday present  last year from employers, even though they were not my employers at the time.

Very sturdy with wide steps and a handle

Fits in tiny space when folded
Having a small house I am NUTS about stuff that collapses (colanders, measuring cups) and fits into a small space.

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Debra over at As I See It Now posed the question "What's On Your Refrigerator" a few days ago. Intriguing.
Here's what's on mine:

Front
The bowl postcard was sent to me by my friend E. who lives in New Mexico. The potter on the postcard is Betsy Williams. Her work is exquisite. E. is also an excellent potter and I have quite a few of her pieces.

The other is for a local artist I like a lot. There's a link to her website at the bottom of this blog.

Right side
That Paint Guest Room decree has been up there for about a year. Guess I'm ignoring it.

In case I forget

That is a picture of me from the Steve's BBQ days about a hundred years ago. I like it even though my left eye looks wonky. (and hello - pleated pants are not our friend!) The haircut was by a guy named Cedric who would come to your house.
 
See the ring on my right hand? That's so I'd know which hand was my right. Now I wear rings on both hands so I have to say in my head, I write with my right
Takes time and is why I need driving directives early in the game. 

***********************************************************************

Okay, I am fired up from caffeine and off to switch the glasses and mugs. 

D'oh!




11/5/11

You're Purdy

Well that's what Mom said the other night.
The hospice social worker had called to say that Mom had a headache while she was there and they gave her some morphine...(maybe that's why I was purdy!), and it just seemed like I should stop by.
Her verbal skills are deteriorating fast. Really fast. "Hey" is still clear as a bell though. We sat in the dining room and she folded a Kleenex over and over. That was pretty much it for about an hour.

CB called last night to say that Mom was sitting on the floor in her room. (they have to tell you everything)
No injuries, everything was fine; they bundled her back into bed.

******************************************************************

This was the sky today:

Walked, talked, and saw "Puss N' Boots" with a couple of the Gals (there is a small select group of us who like animation).







There was a chicken in the theatre...a chicken purse that is! It's Anon CP's. Dear me, that is a good fun time.

Cluck! 

Settling in for the movie - hence the blurriness.












CP could be a bit broody (ahahaha) because she is getting real chickens (not purse ones) that will live in one of these adorable houses from Omlet (UK of course). They have cute beehives and houses for bunnies and hamsters too. Beekeeping kinda fascinates and scares me at the same time. Hmmm.





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I read somewhere that if you want to be productive - don't take off your shoes when you get home.
That is the first thing I do. The second thing is feed the cats. (Because there is no peace otherwise) Third thing is put on my pajamas.

Today when I got home, I did not take my shoes off. The pantry got cleaned out and organized. (Maybe there's something to that)
I discovered there were at least twenty glass jars that were holding stuff I don't want around now - dangerous carby things like pasta and croutons.

All this must go.

Except the cat.

Eleven jars! need a good home. Made in France. Every single one of them. (they don't come home unless they're from Italy or France)







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I just finished watching Sons of Anarchy Season Three, which was mostly set in Belfast, Northern Ireland. There was a lot of talk about Orangemen, Provos, The Army, the UVF, and a song about the "big fellah" (Michael Collins) I wondered if most people got all that.

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And finally, some music. This is my favorite version of Amazing Grace as sung by Tim Eriksen. The part at the end - sounds just like Mongolian throat singing.