Ongoing Care

As I was cleaning today, I ran across an envelope that I was about to toss. I opened it up (it was addressed to me) and the first page was The Caregiver Bill of Rights. Rights that I was supposed to hold to as best I could while caring for mom. While reading it over, I realized my caregiving isn’t over. I alluded to this in The Long Goodbye, but damn it! I am still taking care of mom at the cost of my own life. I leave Alaska in a bit over a month and, in a small way, I’m glad. I have a ton of crap to go thru once I get to the states, but at least it is crap I’ve already sorted once. Stuff I can decide to sell or keep or recycle into something else (like the sweatshirts made for mom and dad with handprints from the grandkids. Jake doesn’t want them and suggested garbage.). As much as I love and need to be here, I’m so sick of waiting for things to happen or opening up a closet and discovering I hadn’t emptied it yet. I am going to do that next week. Just empty closets and take stuff somewhere. I’ve been doing it slowly cuz there is such a clothing glut in the few stores we have. I have cookbooks I’m taking in and the most frustrating part is storing it to haul off! (I do not like clutter and piles for this and piles for that makes me want to just walk away! Note: That is an ELO song from ‘Xanadu’. Fun musical! Gene Kelly, ONJ, and some random dude that apparently roller skated in from somewhere.) I need to make some more cash before I leave in October. I am sure it will show up from somewhere. It is obviously NOT going to be made this fall from selling these things.

The lake is gorgeous this month. In between raindrops, it is frequently calm and often glassy. I haven’t seen the bulls lately. But, it is still moose season for a few more days. I wish the guys would just bed down in my yard and hide out! Others are scared of the critters, but if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. (Generally!) I had to laugh last week. The neighbor’s dogs ran to the lake edge barking like crazy. I figured there was a moose around and walked down with my camera. A cow was on my side, not very close, but I got her photo. The dogs continued barking and two of them were wagging their tails. I think they wanted to play! There are still loon, I hear them often and I just looked up to see a flotilla of mallards paddling past. Last night, I was out on the water and spied three golden eye. (Oh, I just noticed there is a single out there on the water! Poor baby. He doesn’t fit with the others, but there is probably safety in numbers. Picture is of golden eye diving-) 

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Bloop!

Speaking of mom and this incredible place, when her ashes were put in the lake after the sale, no one took photos and the single picture I thought I took, didn’t take. It is sunny at the moment, Jake isn’t due to be here til after one … I saw her briefly at a party we were both at, but otherwise I have not seen her since the sale. She called to say she needed her folding tables. Tables that when she left were covered in things that needed put away. Which I did. There is still a lot to tidy, but I’ll do it when the drive is getting dug up. (yes, it might really happen the end of this week!!!) BUT, the lake has been beautiful, so I am going to wait for someone to visit, do ashes again, and have the person take photos of the experience. (Hoping the whomever will visit when it is daylight, not raining, and the lake is calm!) I won’t do it when Jake is here, she’s too busy. (she has arrived and gone again. She’ll see me probably around the 24th when we take the rest of mum’s ashes down the inlet) I’d do the photos myself, but the swirl of ashes will look better from up high. Or at least, I was told it looked interesting when it was done the first time.

I keep wandering off into bunny trails in this post! And I completely forgot to mention my busy Sunday or that I made the scrumptious halibut! (I am sure you are all waiting on tenterhooks to find out what I did.—Tenterhooks sound extremely uncomfortable!) Sunday I did sell some rolling carts that were stashed in the rig. (They take up a lot of room, I needed to move the carts and so, and I put them in the vehicle!) After church, I dashed off to the store, met a gal and then TnT in the parking lot and chatted, high tailed it to my next engagement, realizing I was not going to have time to put gas in the Pacifica, and got to the church anniversary in time to miss most of the service. (yup, after church, another church had an anniversary party at 2pm.) I sat with some stellar older folks and the majority of us left around the same time to attend a retirement party at 5pm. Where I sat with some of the same people (Jake was at this one, she sat elsewhere)! I love the people in this area! I learned ‘Poor man’s lobster’ is a delicious old fashioned way to cook halibut (since I didn’t have any clean forks, I used chopsticks to dip it in a butter that definitely needed flavoring), the icing on the cake I sampled (I like tasting how different people bake!) was ridiculous, and the donuts had WAY too sweet toppings on heavy rings. The desserts were very pretty, though!

These last two pictures are ones The Craftsman took. He went to a car show this weekend with over 600 cars and found a 56 T Bird to match the 56 Mercury. How cool is that? A turquoise T Bird!!!!

I have been thankful to thread many golden pearls on my string of memories the last couple of days. I’m going to need them to roll in my fingers when things are less bright.

Trimmed Cat Nips

If you decide to become a veterinary surgeon you will never grow rich but you will have a life of endless interest and variety.” James Herriot

Mr. Maxwell T. Silverstone came back from his vet visit shorn and chilled and unhappy. In fact, the other two cats are also not impressed with this bizarre creature who came home in the box Max left in. If you look at the first sleeping cats photo, you can see a bit of the matting in Maxwell’s fur, I was told it had only started in the last couple of months and I wanted to get it taken care of now. He’s a short hair and could not groom himself at all!

The vet tech said this sort of thing is common in older felines. I’m so thankful they could take care of him! He now gets chilled and is as soft as suede. It was kind of them to leave the interesting foot and tail and head bits, but very odd. I didn’t realise how very thin Max was til they took off his fur! You can really see his markings, though.

It was expensive, but now he’s up to date on shots and even got his sharp nails trimmed. I didn’t ask for it, they didn’t charge me, but I bet it is cuz without fur, they didn’t want him to scratch himself. I was also told he’d be more comfortable now. He may freeze and catch cold, but he’ll be comfortable while doing it!

Hoping his fur grows back quickly. I purchased a small brush, we have one called a furminator (cool contraption, but sharp!), to help get him used to being brushed. For an 18  year old dapper feline, he looks a tad forlorn now!

A Friday Headache!

Mom is driving me absolutely crazy. I have a terrible headache (it might be from the ice cream I ate on the way home, probably not, though.). I went to town today, I had a few errands. I had barely left when I missed something and came back. Mom was found in the house on the couch panting. She’d gone outside after I’d left her sorting fabric and hurried back in. I (bet she took some out to the garage.) She was annoyed cuz I came back. When I finally got home after the errands, I realized she had also gone into the basement (there was something on one of my craft tables that wasn’t there when I left) and she’d vacuumed. I told her it was very hard to take care of her when she didn’t want to take care of herself. She then told me she didn’t want to sit around on her butt. I rolled my eyes. Mom never just sits around. She’s been sewing and knitting a great deal. But, she’s used to going full tilt 19 out of 24 hours.  I told her going outside was dangerous, and I’d fallen almost every time I’d been. Her response, ‘Well, I haven’t.’ (I almost wish she would!) I told her I’d leave after she gets her dentures in March and come back next winter, for as many years as necessary. She then said she wasn’t going to be around very long and I laughed. I reminded her she’d outlive all of us, even her unborn great grand kids. (only one of the 4 kids is thinking about offspring—and as one is not quite 13, I suppose she should be thinking of school!) She thought I said my brother in law’s name, too, and said something about how she doesn’t understand how he can drink with a heart problem. (I bit my tongue. I wanted to say, ‘I don’t know how you can eat not food with Diabetes). She says she feels really bad I’ve been here so long. I reminded her it was my choice/responsibility and she added, ‘you did tell your dad you’d take care of me.’ (I don’t remember telling dad that. I did say I’d take care of things. I guess that mum sort of falls under ‘things’!)

I’ve gotten a place up north for next week. Her doctor has said she can go home after they release her from the hospital on Tuesday. I think I’ll wait and see how things go before canceling the room. (I won’t be in it long. Maybe 8 hours at the most on Monday night.) We need to be in town by 1030 on Monday, flight lands at noon, and check in time at the hospital is at 330. So, we’ll have about 3 and a half hours to sit around and wait. Mom will not like that and I’m not sure if I’ll get to eat lunch. Probably another glucerna drink hidden in a corner. (she hates seeing people eat when she can’t!!!!  I’ll most likely have one for dinner, too, unless the cafeteria is still open.) Mum’s surgery is at 530 and should take a while. I’m taking at least one paper pages book to save the batteries on my iPad. I will also bring the little plug in pieces for that and my phone!

Other bits in today made it sweet mixed with sour. (I’m not fond of those candies and rarely have eaten them, however, I do appreciate the analogy.) After a frantic time, we’d found mum’s insurance card she’d moved. A special friend of mine called and made me smile. I visited my Smart Cookie friend and felt even better after hearing more wisdom. When I made reservations for Monday, the lady at the airport must have been a squire or something. She was great!!! At the store, I wasn’t able to find a turquoise flamingo, but did get a pink one to go with the purple, making a pair. I also picked up a cloak/cape I’d dropped off for cleaning a few days ago. It is an absolute love!!!! It needs lined since the wool is scratchy as straw, but it’s really wonderful. (I had no idea I’d like it so much, amazing what a cleaning will do to something!) I’ll take a picture of it Saturday when I’m outside. (I think I could probably find something to line it with at the Salvation Army, if I hired someone to do it, it might cost an arm and a leg!) I forgot to exchange keys at the shop where mom’s car is (the ones Sir Wrench has have house keys on it and I’d like to lock up before we leave.) and get the leash for Obi. He needs to go to the kennel again. At least he likes it there. (He’d better, it is an expensive vacation time for him!!) I broke down and had the aforementioned ice cream, napped, and then The Craftsman and I texted what might have been an actual conversation!

Now, I’m going to work on bookmarkers. I reckon my next post will be mostly photos! (and my headache is now close to gone. Typing and napping. Good things to do!) I’ll leave you with two I took last February of different sorts of ‘snow birds’!

The End of the Week…

It has been an interesting set of days with some glowing beads and some rather annoying dark ones. (remember, a while back I posted about how my days had moments like beads on a string? Just keeping you on task!) We’ll start just after midnight on Friday and wander around from that point.

On a normal night I turn off my phone for a short while, take a shower, turn it back on, and nap from there. I always sleep with one of the overhead lights on in my room (I have several switches for my larger room, two of them turn on single bulbs near the walls and one turns on four bulbs in the center. I usually leave one of the ‘outside’ lights on all night) and Thursday night, I didn’t have any on when I turned off my phone full of alarms to remind me to wake up. I turned off the phone and put my head on my pillow for just a minute. I woke up when I heard mum in the kitchen above me just before 8 am! Startled I turned on my phone and realized how much of the caregiving I’d missed and closed my eyes AGAIN!!! Thankfully, I was texted at 920am. My glucose was totally out of whack and all I could do was take my shot, shower, and wash a load of laundry. And feel horrible for being a terrible care giver. I ended up getting our tickets to ANC for a higher price than they were 15 days ago and was frustrated because the address of the office didn’t appear to be where google maps said it was.

I was still out of whack at lunch (it was on the lower side) but ate and rested (yes, again. Lows are awful.). I answered the house phone when it rang(mum had been resting all morning) and realized I’d not gotten mum’s paper yet. I went out and found it IN the box (twice this week!) and warmed up the car, cuz the temps had been in the negative numbers. I ran errands in town(mum was annoyed I hadn’t picked up a script while out, but that wasn’t the call I’d answered!), ended up with a terribly low blood sugar while shopping, saw a friend, and finished the afternoon with a stellar sunset. (those last two beads were almost diamonds in their shine)

Unfortunately, when I got home it was dinner time and my glucose had skyrocketed AGAIN. I took my shot and didn’t do much more til bedtime. I spoke to a friend (another crystalline bead) and got ready for bed. When I took one of my night medications, I realized after I swallowed it, I’d taken the WRONG one! I took the pill that is not going to be renewed, so now I have less and since I took it at totally the wrong time, it won’t be effective.

My doctor in the states won’t renew it til I see her. I am not going to see her on Monday like I’d hoped, so she suggested I see my regular doctor. Who is also in the states. (If I could see him, I’d be able to visit my endocrinologist!) I might just need to get the person I visited up here when I had the sinus infection for several months to see me for my Diabetes.

Now, on Saturday, I’m in the darker shades of blue again. I bought a bag of flavored popcorn to save til Thursday, but broke into it early. I ate most of my extra large Kit Kat. Changing fittings is definitely not one of those glowing bead moments! (Mum changed it around 4 am, I changed it about 8, and now it is leaking again at 130 in the afternoon) Nor is thinking about celebrations being celebrated alone. Christmas sucked. I’m pretty sure the next holiday will, too. I hope I’ll get to house elf soon. That always makes me feel better. I was going to a smidge of house elfing today, but it looks like I’m not going to be able to. I do have plans to write more and make a birthday card for a friend. (She’s going thru a bit of a rough patch) I’m also going to look for more beads. I know they are out there! (I got an email from a dear friend!!! Glowing bead alert!!)

 

World Pancreatic Cancer Day

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It appears I’m  not thinking properly. I’m the one who is delusional. After I posted my post yesterday and read several others who seemed to be responding to what I wrote in their own posts, I felt much better. I talked to a friend and could sleep. Today the fan was hit. With a lot of sh**.

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I should have seen it coming when mum walked out in the fresh snow to get the paper. I almost slipped yesterday, but she would be quite all right and she’d wear her ‘crap’ shoes (which are actually still fairly nice spendy things that I can’t pronounce).

This afternoon, Mum wanted the fleece. I had hoped to get some of the yarn totes back in the basement first, but she wanted the fleece now. So, I hauled up several boxes and containers of the fabric. After three plus, she did say it would be enough for now. (I also found she’s making them for something else. I would have laid cash down that she said it was for Sunday school, but it appears it is for a giving sort of thing at one of the other churches.)

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some of the boxes in my old bedroom..where I probably won’t sleep tonight cuz there are too many boxes all over and many are on my bed. There is not much room to move them again. (the duffle on the far side is mine)

She then decided she needed a pattern for a fleece prayer shawl jacket. Which was, as she remembers, in a tote of fleece fabric. I have looked everywhere.

I found dozens of patterns for scarves, hats, slippers, vests, pet clothes, dresses, aprons, costumes, and more. (the ones in these pattern drawers are just some of her patterns, I’ve also looked in boxes) Happily, I found a pattern she hadn’t made for me in my youth. (I put my name on it!!) She made a lot of dresses for me and I’m not grateful enough. I need to forgive myself for my anger towards her and realise she was very good to me while I was growing up. It isn’t every mom who makes Gunne Sax dresses for their daughters. (she did a lot of sewing when I was in my teen years. Much of it was a part of a business.) I did not find the pattern she was looking for, I need to keep looking. I do know she has often told me the names of things wrong, which inhibits my searches. This one she says is from Nancy’s Notions. I can’t find it anywhere online under what she said it was or even what it is supposed to be. I’ve searched Nancy’s Notions, too. Of course, mum said it has been discontinued. (I was hoping to find it online so I knew what I was looking for in the house!)

I got mad. I got really angry and should have just bitten my tongue and moved on. I always bite my tongue and it isn’t that hard to do. I told her she needed someone to live with her and she forgot things. She told me she was over 75 and it was her right to forget things. She said I forgot more things than she did and she wasn’t going to tell me, she didn’t need to get into that. Minutes later, she checked her blood and it was 549 (it has run higher since she’s been ‘on her own’). She said it was cuz she got pissed. And because the weather changed. She then told me she was afraid she was going to get into the same trouble my grandmother did.

OMG! My grandma had a daughter who stole from her, who drugged grandma til grandma didn’t know people and was  comatose, and who told grandma’s lawyers my mum was dead in Alaska and not to bother with looking for her. (that was a huge mess!) I was furious to hear her pair me with that awful aunt. I’m letting her take care of herself and today she’s done everything except haul totes up from the basement. I’m going to let her do whatever she damn well pleases and to hell with me taking care of her. If I am going to be dissed for negligence, I might as well make it worth something.

Tonight she made dinner. She fried pork chops and made macaroni and cheese and the upstairs is cluttered with fabric and boxes and you can hardly move.

(her dog came in all snowy and she had a fit!) Her hands hurt as well as a tooth (she has been bitching about this all afternoon), the chops were charred (which I don’t mind that much), and I bet tomorrow will be bad.  Hoping it is ok enough for me to go to town and do errands. She’ll bitch about me driving on the snowy roads, it needs done. (by the by, the container of cookies in the first photo? I bought those on Monday. She normally buys them and wanted me to get some for her….she says they are ok to eat at one carb per cookie)

The oven may or may not be messed up, but that isn’t going to be able to be addressed for a while. She says it is fine and will be better when she’s done cleaning it. She said she is doing things cuz I told her she needs to. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care if I get arrested for negligent care giving. I don’t care if she hurts herself (ok, that isn’t true. But, I won’t be surprised!). She wants her basement back and her life back.

Every day I check my emails and see ads from two different airlines for tickets. Granted, I can’t remember my passwords (the ones I have written down don’t work!), but gods…I want to leave! Am not even sure I can afford to leave. The Craftsman says I should use mum’s cash to do it since I’m not getting paid. After her comment, I’m not sure I want to touch her money for anything beyond what she needs! (and diet Pepsi and Jr Mints.…)

Cancer is horrible, the fallout is worse. I know this last cancer, the pancreatic one, she has been with us for almost 6 years after diagnosis. This is amazing, but it is also mum. I get frustrated with people who tell me my mum can’t have this particular disease as she’s still alive. I’m tired of care giving and wish she would be ok to leave alone. But, I’ve whined about that before and probably will again!

A simple bow-

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Mum’s bad moments are closer together than the good ones. I woke her to get her to the bathroom, let out the dog, got her meds, and waited. I ached to help her, but I stayed my offer. She had tied the bow on her sagging polar fleece jammies and it knotted or something. She spent quite a few minutes, it seemed, getting it back to single ribbons. Then, she had to tie it again. Over and over she tried to tie a simple bow. Finally, she made large loops and got it done. It hurt so much to watch her reach this tiny success. She is so thin, tightening the ribbon did little to hold up her jammies. She keeps insisting she’s got too big of a butt (she is also quick to remind me of my larger shape!) and mum doesn’t…she is wasting away and every time she tries for normalcy, it makes my heart  cry.

We’ll see

WIN_20170717_034517 I joined a couple of groups for this today. I hope they help me learn more from people who are inside this. I have a couple of very special friends who have walked the cancer road, but I can’t keep bothering them. I have learned a lot from this little booklet and anticipate learning more. Today, I have to contact people to come out and tell mum she might need more time to get well. That she might  not be 100% by September. Tuesday is that scan. I don’t know what that will hold. Hoping it is nothing. But, in this book I read pancreatic cancers can show up in many places. The lungs and the peritoneum (thin wall lining the cavity of the abdomen) are a couple of them. The places getting scanned…

This is a big deal. For me to want to talk to people about this particular cancer. Mum has had so many kinds and I have accepted it. Cancer is like one of those gifts that gets passed around all the time. It happens in our family. You just deal with it and hope the fire gets beat down one more time. She may win out again. She’s done it before. But, I don’t know. Only time will tell.

And if I am getting tired, I know she is, as well.

Taking Care

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Coming up to my Alaskan home to care for my mum has been an education. I have so many people tell me how lucky I am that my spouse lets me do this. If he said I couldn’t, I’d have been VERY upset. I do try to do some of the things he likes, staying away from home wouldn’t have been acceptable.  We moved from the Or coast to take care of his family, it is only right I can take care of mine. Granted, I didn’t expect it to last for months (one of my friends thought it might….).

I’ve learned so much. Lots of nursing sorts of things, of course, but also patience. From my rants on here, that might seem ludicrous, but it is true. I thought my youngest taught me patience, mum has taught me more (On second thought, my son taught me not to be surprised at anything. ‘Mom, the blow dart broke a window on the little house door, bounced off, and stuck in the hose….’). I honestly think my marriage gave me skills I have needed while here, too.

I have needed to stop depending on someone else all the time (helping mom is something my boys have always done!) and at the same time, I’ve learned to ask for help on big things. I have learned how to do math…somewhat,  I have always been good at being invisible while in plain sight, and I am better at keeping my mouth closed (except on WP!).

I often thought I was alone before. These last months, in the wheel of mum, I am truly alone. Most of my existence surrounds her. I get away some, but by and large, mum is what my whole life has lessoned me for. Few face time friends seek me out. If I want someone, I need to go to them.  I am learning to adapt to this. I only hope as I get back to a real life, I don’t decide to be a recluse. It is an easy pattern to stay in.

I have always careful with finances, now I am super very careful. If I had not learned that previously, it might be harder to do. I can manage mum’s appointments, her bills, her medicines, her choices (she says she wants to do something, I attempt to make it happen), I took her way delayed taxes in, and have put things back on track. A year ago, when I was here, I wasn’t a POA and things were a MESS!!!!! I drove her car for more than a month last summer without insurance because it had lapsed. She often tells me she wants to be back in charge of her life and I inwardly shudder.

The life motto I’ve adopted ‘Que sera, sera’ has been so important. To know things will happen as they will no matter what. Good advice, Doris! I am glad I am home, but this is something I never imagined.

And I have a pretty good imagination!

Ducks

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Mallard family on lake a couple of years ago

It isn’t quite time for ducks, the lake is still covered in ice. The swans are back on what we call ‘the flats’ by the Kenai river, but our lake is duck free. The house? Not so much.

 Mum is considered a risk for falling. She stumbles and wavers in her walk like a drunk on the 4th of July. But, it isn’t summer and she isn’t partying. She has a tendency to walk from the bathroom to her bedroom dressed like a toddler. She doesn’t pull up her britches and duck walks from room to room. I have mentioned it to her, but she doesn’t seem to care. I reckon I’ll just pull up her britches when she falls and hope nothing is broken so I need to call 911.

And like a duck, I need to let it roll off my back.  The IT of not sleeping, of trying to keep mom safe by dashing upstairs when I hear her moving at night (how on EARTH can she take 3 different sleeping drugs and still wake up fairly thoroughly less than 4 hours later?!), and making sure she has her meds on time. And letting that dog out. Like now, I need to let it roll away. She had 2 Oxycontin about 6 hours ago and is ‘fine’ and she just went down the drive to get the paper.  I guess it is normal, but I’d be out like a light on a Christmas string, taking everyone with me. 

Follow the Trail

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If you are a caregiver, please find out about EVERYTHING before it is too late! Sometimes, finding things out when it is almost too late is bad enough. Although, then they make a darn good ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ story! Let me explain.

Daddy set up some sort of life insurance policy for less than $20 a month. My daddy died more than a decade ago. Zing forward to today. It appears that there was a bank account which seemed to have the sole purpose of paying out funds to two different places (and the fees for having the account). Money went in and money went out, just a little bit, like a pin prick in an air mattress. It was discovered one of those pin pricks was this life insurance policy. Apparently, the company didn’t cancel it when my mom called to tell them daddy had died. I got it cancelled this month and sent them a death certificate with my Power of Attorney papers. I got a call the other day from a lady who works at the company. It turns out they need to pay us back. I am not exactly sure how much, no one has said and the conversation was so bizarre, I forgot to ask. I don’t even know what the policy was worth!!! Anyway, they wanted to send it back to the account it came from. Which makes sense, except, since the two odd things on it were cancelled, it was sitting there drawing fees. The three tiny leaks were stopped when I closed the account. So, then, the lady said they’d have to send a check to the address of the policy in my dad’s name. Yes, you read that right. They were sending my dad, the person they had a death certificate for, a check. I reminded them he was dead. They said they could reissue it to my mom if we had POA papers with her name on them for my dad OR if we had executor of the will papers for mom.

I went to a lawyer. It is too late for those kinds of papers to be valid, so it appears the thing to do will be to reopen the estate and close it again once the check is in our possession!!!! The lawyer was pretty surprised and dug through his books to decide what to do. We’ll probably have to use up the spare cash in fees to prove mom can really have the thing!

So, please find out what you can about your parentals and loved ones you might be taking care of. Paper chases are a pain, especially when they go across the continent!