It's funny how we never stop worrying about our kids, even though they have their own separate lives and have not lived under our roof in years. Our oldest son had his back problems and underwent surgery back in December, went through a painful rehab process and we worried that he would end up on disability as it took a long time for him to be able to even walk without a walker. He wasn't sure he would be able to go back to work again, especially since his employer at the time was moving out of state and he'd have to look for another job. It's not easy switching jobs once you turn 50 and have had health issues, but he lucked out and got a really good job. He's been training in Chicago and is now back home in Colorado while his wife is going through some serious health issues. She just underwent surgery on Friday after a routine colonoscopy revealed a malignant tumor. She's doing well after surgery but won't have results of latest biopsy till next week some time. If anyone can beat it, it would be her - - she's a tough cookie, but that doesn't mean we don't worry about her and our son. His new boss gave him the time off to be home with her through the surgery and some of the recovery, but I'm sure he'll have to head back to Chicago to finish his training. I'm feeling like I should be there to help out, but can't even make the trip to Colorado unless I have someone along to help with Gary - between a rock and hard place on that one! Our caregiver, Carmen was going to be away to CA for 3-4 weeks, and now it's going on more like 5 weeks and she's not coming back until around the 20th, which means I will have gone nearly six weeks without help...........ugh!!
June 1, 2004 Gary suffered his brain stem stroke at the local hospital, while awaiting tests to find out why he passed out at home that morning. A nightmare of mistakes followed and he was transferred to a larger hospital in Denver where he spent the next three weeks in a drug induced coma to reduce swelling on the brain and further damage. I was told he had very little chance of survival, and if he did survive he would never work again, let alone walk or talk. It was recommended that he be placed in a nursing home, which would have surely ended his life and was not going to be an option for us after checking them out. He spent 3 months in a rehab hospital in Boulder, CO and when insurance was slow in processing claims and I was complaining about the lack of proper care, they released him to go home. A lot of ups, downs and in betweens over the past 15 years, but he's still here, hasn't spent a single night in a hospital since he came home the end of September 2004, and aside from still sleeping a lot, not being able to sit up by himself, transfer without assistance, feed, shower or dress himself, he has many good days.
I'm trying to decide whether I should have a small party to celebrate his 15 years of survival.......any comments, or suggestions would be appreciated.
Still here, still surviving, sometimes by only a thread, but we're doing okay. We finally sold the Scottsdale mobile home the end of December, and were able to get Gary's bathroom redone for a roll-in shower. I put that job off way too long and was worried my back would not hold out much longer trying to get him in and out over that tub to shower him. A $3200 job ended up costing nearly six grand by the time I fired first contractor and had to replace him with a handyman to finish the job. Technically, I should have had him rip it all out and start over, but I really couldn't afford that and didn't have the time or patience to take the phony contractor to court for reimbursement.....I was lucky to get him to reimburse me $900 to pay the handyman, in order to get the job done. We had the doorway between bedroom and bathroom widened to 36 in. so it is much easier getting through with wheelchair and I can roll Gary right up to grab bar in shower to pull himself up, turn and sit on his shower chair. He's lost a lot of mobility and some cognitive ability through all this, but we make it work.
It's been nice having my youngest sister and her husband in AZ again this winter doing the snowbird thing with their motor home. They have been across the country and back over the past couple years with that new motor home, so are now planning on buying a house south of Tucson and moving down here by Fall. This week they will be in AZ City, which is only about 25 min. away from us, so we will meet up a few times next week and they offered to sit with Gary if I need to get out while our caregiver, Carmen is on vacation to visit her son in Colorado. I may take them up on the offer and go get some acupuncture in Casa Grande. I've had those free coupon offers laying here on my computer desk for months, but never had the time or opportunity to use them.
Our daughter-in-law from Colorado was in the area for about 10 days in February for the grand opening of the new Ziggis Coffee in Chandler. She's an area manager in Colorado and travels to the new openings to help with set up and grand opening. Her original travel dates were pushed back by delay in opening, which turned out to be a good thing as she ended up being full time caregiver for our oldest son after his back surgery the end of December. He had two surgeries for spinal stenosis. I talked to him yesterday and he's very disappointed that progress is slow and he's still experiencing numbness all down left side from butt down to feet, and his right foot is numb. He's been on short-term disability for over 3 months and should have been cleared to go back to work this month, but the pharmaceutical company he works for is closing their Colorado operations, so he no longer has a job. He says he can't be on his feet more than an hour or two before his back spasms start and he has to sit again, so not sure if he'll even be able to work again. Since his wife returned home to Colorado she has also been sick with some sort of infection related to her colitis....so not doing well. Please keep them both in your prayers.
I'm hoping to get a new computer in the next few weeks, then can start adding people back on facebook. Had some problems with computer virus pop-ups, and lost a lot of contacts.
Ever since we got back from our Colorado trip in June, Misha (our little schnoodle) has been missing her playmate who visited often while we were away. The neighbor girl would bring her female shitzu mix over to play and Misha loved the company. So, for Gary's birthday I decided I'd try to find a new lap dog for him since Misha prefers sitting on my lap and hanging out with me. On Tuesday of this week we picked up a 6 month old chihuahua mix from a family who had too many dogs and were getting ready to move and couldn't take them all with them. They had named her Lala, but we changed her name to Leila (pronounced Lay-la) because I liked it better. lol
Wednesday morning, I took Leila to the vet for her first wellness exam and her rabies and distemper shots since the previous owners had not done any of the shots. The vet checked her out and said she appeared to be quite healthy and she was very cooperative during the exam. We go back in three weeks for the 2nd booster for the distemper and then again 3 weeks after that for her third in that series of shots, spaying, microchipping and removal of a dew claw on back left foot. Our biggest challenge will be keeping Misha away from her after her surgery so he doesn't accidentally cause her to tear open stitches. We may have to kennel him a couple times during that time.
Gary is enjoying the cuddle time with the new pup and when she's not on his lap, she makes him laugh when her and Misha are chasing each other around the living room stealing chew toys from each other. She sleeps on my bed at night while Misha sleeps in the kennel at the foot of my bed and she's been real good about going out to potty when he goes out, so that's a huge plus.
As much as I dreaded the long drive back to Colorado, I knew I had to take Gary after his sisters planned a family reunion for the day after the 2 yr. anniversary since our son's death. We also had not been back to Colorado since his memorial service so had not seen (in person) the headstone on his final resting place. Carmen, Gary's current caregiver, went on the trip with us as I can no longer travel any distance by plane or car without help. Gary has gotten more stubborn about doing his share to help with transfers or cooperating in any way when traveling. The whole trip, he absolutely refused to sleep in the car while Carmen and I did the driving. As a result, each time we had to get him out of the car, it was more difficult and more strain on us without his help. We made a lot of stops, leaving him in the car while we took turns making our pit stop or grabbing food on the go, and used a plastic cup for him to pee in and dumped it when one of us went to the bathroom. It was a real pain having to put the visor over windshield to block out any video monitoring equipment at gas stations or parking lots, so we wouldn't get arrested for exposing him as we tried discreetly to hold the cup for him to go.
We spent the first night in Santa Fe, NM at a Comfort Suites with less than adequate handicap bathroom...bathtub instead of roll-in shower and of course the grab bars and pull down bench were on the wrong side for him to be able to hold on with his left hand, so he got a wash up next morning instead of a shower. If it were just the right side paralysis that he had to deal with, it would not have been a problem, but the lack of trunk control as well as double vision, makes it impossible. We had five nights in Colorado at a Comfort Suites with the same problem, except they did give us a shower bench to put on opposite end of tub so he could hold on to left side grab bars. We still struggled to get his legs over the edge of tub and getting him out was equally as difficult - thank God there were two of us doing the work.
We went to visit Dan's final resting site on the 22nd - the 2 yr. anniversary of his death. We also stopped to visit Gary's parents grave sites and cleaned up the headstones and placed flowers on both sites. It was chilly and windy out so I did not get Gary out of the vehicle - he could watch Carmen and I from nearby in the warm car. We met up with friends afterward for lunch at the local Perkins and did some catching up with them. Our granddaughter came by the hotel later in the afternoon and I was able to give her some jewelry items I had been hanging on to for her and her brother, and we had a nice visit.
The 23rd was the family reunion picnic, and also Gary's oldest brother and his wife's 56th anniversary. This is the brother who was diagnosed a year ago with mesothelioma, and the first time we had seen him since he has been through several rounds of chemo. He is doing as well as can be expected with the type of cancer he has, and doesn't look like someone who has cancer. All three brothers and their wives attended as well as all three sisters and two of their spouses. The oldest sister was there, but her husband no longer likes to travel so did not attend. Many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews were also there. Our oldest son showed up with a wonderful pork tenderloin that he had smoked on his grill, so we had to try some of it. Overall, I believe there were 75 in attendance - an amazing turnout for such short-term notice. A few hours into the picnic and Gary was already showing signs of exhaustion, so we lasted until about 4 p.m. - that was a good day for him since he had been up since 9 a.m.
On Sunday we went up to the casino with our son - it was the casino where our youngest had worked for over 9 years, but I didn't recognize any of the employees and we had not been there in over six years, so things had changed somewhat. The only thing not changed was the machines being as tight as ever. lol We also had a chance while in Colorado to visit with our oldest grandson and his girlfriend and a couple cousins, one who has pancreatic cancer is going through a rough time right now and hopefully will start chemo soon. We headed back home on Monday morning around 7 a.m. and bypassed Denver using E-470 - almost 9-10 miles out of our way but avoided the rush hour bumper to bumper, stop and go through I-25 to get to the south end of Denver. We made great time to the border of Colorado/New Mexico and stopped only once for gas and another for a quick picture for Carmen at the border, and she drove the majority of the day until we finally stopped in Payson, AZ that night around 8...long day for all of us and Gary was totally exhausted. We stayed at a Quality Inn and headed out early the next morning to Scottsdale to check on our mobile home that is listed for sale, and then back home to Coolidge, AZ. Misha was more than excited to see us home again - and his dog sitter was anxious to get her money and get out. lol
I was just thinking earlier in the week how quiet it would be again this Mother's Day. Our youngest son is gone, he passed away nearly two years ago.....he was the one who always made sure he did something for Mom on Mother's Day and his Dad on Father's Day. The other two sons are married and have wives who are Mother's so the day is usually spent with their own families. Then Saturday came, and I made my usual short ride to the mailbox, taking Misha (our 1 yr. old schnoodle) along for the ride - it's his big thrill for the day! lol I grabbed the hand full of mail out of the locked mailbox and headed back home.
As I sifted through the mail, I saw an envelope from the Donor Organization of AZ and didn't think too much of it, aside from the fact it was in a thicker 5x7 envelope. I assumed they were doing an annual campaign to get people to sign up for organ donations. Upon opening the envelope, I found a letter, a brochure and another smaller sealed envelope inside. There was a note that said "please read letter before opening smaller envelope." I began reading the letter and it explained the process of putting organ and tissue recipients together with their donor families. The letter also explained that if I was not yet ready to read correspondence from the recipient, that I could hold onto the letter and wait till I was ready. or send it back. The brochure had suggestions as to how to correspond with the recipient if we wished to do so, taking into account privacy issues.
I proceeded to open the smaller envelope and inside was a thank you card from the recipient of some of Dan's tissue. The person explained that they had surgery and had to rely on tissue donation to complete the process in order to be able to get back to being physically active. They thanked us for the gift of tissue donation and said they would keep our loved one in their thoughts. Wow, I couldn't hold back the tears.......Dan is still doing for others and helping others, even though he is no longer here with us......I couldn't have asked for a better Mother's Day gift.
By the Grace of God we made it to our 50th wedding anniversary....nothing fancy, no big celebrations, not even acknowledgement from some of our closest relatives or friends, but we survived. Gary had his stroke in 2004 at the age of 56, going on 57, and a secondary bleed on his 57th birthday. Not a single doctor who worked with him during that time would give him a life expectancy of more than six weeks or at best six months - nearly 14 years later he is still here, and we made it to the 50th anniversary. What do doctors know???? lol
Gary's two youngest sisters and one brother-in-law flew out last weekend and were here till Monday. We met them in Scottsdale and they followed us back to our home in Coolidge, AZ. On Saturday Gary slept late (too much brain over stimulation from all the chatter), and after he got up and ate breakfast they all wanted to go to a casino, so we headed out to Harrah's Ak-Chin in Maricopa. I hit a nice sized jackpot, we ate a light lunch and headed back home again. On Sunday, we drove to Phoenix to our son Joel's place where he had prepared a couple smoked turkeys and a fine meal for all of us. It was a fun day, but a lot of over stimulation for Gary again. He went straight to bed when we got home (around 5:30 p.m.) and slept till I got him up around 10:30 on Monday morning. I wanted him to get up and eat before they all had to take off to the airport for their return flights home. Monday afternoon after they all left and it was once again quiet in the house, he napped a full five hours and went to bed by 8 that night. That has been the story of our life for nearly 14 years.....which is why I have caregivers come in a couple days a week so I can get out before I go stir crazy sitting in the house while he sleeps.
It's still a bit chilly to start swimming, but I need to hit the pool again to take off the pounds. I had set a goal to lose 50 lb. before our 50th, but only managed to get 40 lb. off, so now working toward my next goal of losing a total of 70 lb. It has not been easy with all the crap I've had to deal with these past few weeks with our former caregiver, who is renting our mobile home in Scottsdale, and refusing to allow realtors to show the place after she had agreed that she would be cooperative when I had to re-list it this spring. I need to get it sold so I can do a roll-in shower here before my back goes completely out trying to get Gary in and out of that bathroom with a tub. I already have areas of the back that feel like something is out of place and need to schedule an appointment to get an MRI, but finding the time is a real challenge as I would likely have to go to Casa Grande to get it done. I have enough problems in my life without her drama and will be glad when I finally get her out of there.
I need to hit the shower and try to find a place to schedule a pedicure today before I start tripping over the long toenails. lol
I can't wait for the warmer temperatures. February was too cold for me with temps dropping into the 50's and 60's and night temps in the high 30's and 40's ........brrrrrrr.....I'm such a wimp since moving to Arizona. :) I will be glad when it's hot enough to hit the pool again ....I sooooooo need the exercise.
February may have been a short month, but it was not a good month for me - thankfully, it's over. I pretty much blew off the diet most of the month of Feb., likely because I was stuck inside too much with the colder temps (ha, good excuse)! I also lost one of my helpers since she always needed to take too much time off (last minute) with a daughter in high school and a grandchild she seemed to have most of the time. I had to put my foot down and insist that if she still wanted to work two days a week for 4 hr. at a time, she needed to plan her other activities around that or I couldn't use her when I couldn't depend on her. Carmen is still coming one day a week, but drives from Scottsdale (an hr. each way), and it's costing me too much for her drive time, so we're back between a rock and a hard place. I'm researching adult day care places, but running into a problem with the numerous deficits that Gary has and them not wanting to deal with it. Nursing homes that are somewhat affordable are way too far away, so options are limited.
Gary is sleeping in this morning, and I am not in any hurry to wake him. He's going to want to go out for pancakes as he's been cooped up in here long enough, but I dread taking him out because it's so much work for me and hard on my back these days. Plus, I don't want to be tempted to eat out and start off the month of March with blowing the diet again. I still have March and half of April to lose 20 lb. to reach my goal of minus 50 by our 50th anniversary in April. I'll get there, it's just a matter of getting over the hurdles that pop up along the way. Think spring....think warmer temps.....think swimming for exercise....think bikini (omg, did I really say that at my age)? lol
Happy New Year to all.....may 2018 bring you happiness, much love and peace. We closed out 2017 by sitting home and watching old movies, went to bed early, awakened at midnight with the sound of fireworks (and probably a few guns shots in the air). Fell back to sleep and didn't get up till late Monday morning. We drove to Scottsdale and met up with our old caregiver, Kelly, at the casino and had the brunch buffet......wasn't sure that was a good way to start the year, but Gary really was dying to go to a casino. lol Since we moved about 45 min. from where we used to live, it's not a weekly nor monthly thing to do any more.
My youngest sister and her hubby were around the end of November and most of December, before moving on with their RV to Tucson. We spent Thanksgiving with them at our middle son's home in the Phoenix area, and they came here for Christmas Day dinner. We drove over to the RV park where they were staying in San Tan Valley and saw their new motor home and had a bbq with them one day, and another day I took them out to a local biker restaurant (The Gallopin Goose) for their anniversary. We also met up one night at the Tumbleweed in Eloy, where our good friend CC Collier was entertaining, and his wife Pat got Gary out on the dance floor in his wheelchair. He really enjoyed that evening, as he got to dance with Pat, my sister, me and even with his caregiver, Carmen. He thought he was the life of the party that night. lol My brother-in-law did some repairs for us around the house and we enjoyed the time we were able to spend with them. December went by really fast for us.
Hoping everyone made it through the holidays okay and looking forward to a bright new year.
This past week has been the week from Hell. I believe it started on Sunday when we had two Eucharistic Ministers stop by to give us communion. We had to lock the puppy in the kennel while they were here because he gets so excited when anyone comes to visit, that he just doesn't calm down. He sat in that kennel and yipped the whole time, which was very distracting and Gary had a hard time swallowing and began choking. Monday didn't go much better. I waited for Kelly to get Gary in the shower before I took off to run my errands and get a few groceries. I decided to stop for breakfast at the local family owned restaurant first and take a little "me" time. I came out of the restaurant, started up the car and noticed that a "low tire" light was on, so on my way to the grocery store I spotted a tire shop and pulled in to see if they could check my tires. Most places can pull the air hose right outside and fill them, but the guy at this older garage asked me to pull inside the garage to do it. I had to carefully pull in on one of those stupid ramps that I hate, he checked my tires and filled them all equally as they were all low. When I went to back out, I had to step on gas harder to get over the end of that ramp and down the back side of it, and I ended up backing into a car that was just outside the door of the garage. I had looked out side view mirror and back window but didn't see him. The backup camera had a glare from the morning sun as I exited the garage, so I couldn't use it. I got a nice ding in my back fender just below the tail light, but the other guys car was worse. His driver's side door crunched in and he lost his side view mirror (I believe that's what made the ding in my vehicle). I was so lucky he wasn't in his car or standing near it, but I sure wished I could have seen it before I heard it hit. arrrrgggh.
The next couple of days was dealing with insurance and repair shop. I had to take it to Casa Grande on Wednesday for estimate and leave it there, and drive home in a rental car. The tech at the repair shop kept trying to convince me I needed a new bumper as well as the ding repaired, and I told him I not only didn't want or need a new bumper (only a few minor scratches, barely visible) but I didn't want my car tied up in the shop waiting for parts when the ding could be fixed without having to order parts. I had a heck of a time trying to explain to him that with a disabled spouse in Gary's condition, I would not be able to get him in and out of a another vehicle if I had to get him out, so being without my vehicle for a long period of time would not be good for us. All he cared about was $$$$ from insurance, I was wasting my breath. I stopped at the grocery store on the way home with the rental car and had a difficult time getting out and back in it myself - can't imagine trying to get Gary in it, as it sits pretty low to the ground. I could have asked for a SUV but then I'd have had to pay the extra that insurance didn't cover. By the next morning I was still upset about the tech insisting that I needed a new bumper, so I called to talk to him. I tried again explaining our situation and how it would be difficult having my car tied up that long, but was pretty sure it fell on deaf ears, even though he said he would try to push it ahead of schedule.
Friday morning I got up early and had planned to get out for a couple hours. Shortly before 8 a.m. I let the dog out to potty, and when he didn't come back to the door within a few min. while I was cooking Gary's breakfast, I went to check on him. I saw him standing on the side of the yard, staring into space and falling sideways like he couldn't control his legs. I ran to get my shoes so I could walk across the rocks to get him, and he was down on his side staring up at me when I reached down to pick him up. I carried him over to the shaded area of the patio and laid him on a rug next to his water dish and tried to get him to sip some water off my fingers. His head dropped and he just wanted to lay down....he was totally lethargic. I ran in to the house to call the vet and had to wait on hold till they checked to see if they could get him in. I told the receptionist I couldn't bring him over until I had a caregiver here to sit with Gary, as I could not leave my husband alone. She scheduled us for 9:15 and as soon as Kelly arrived to care for Gary, I headed over to the vet with the dog. He checked him over carefully after I explained what had happened and he said from all indications, it appeared he had a seizure, but that they don't give meds for seizures to dogs that young. He said keep an eye on him, keep him comfortable and if it happens again in next few days, call them. I brought the dog back home and left him with Kelly and Gary so I could get a few groceries. He was back to his normal ornery self within 24 hours.
While I was out I checked my messages just in case Kelly discovered something else I needed that I might have forgot to put on grocery list. I had a text from the repair shop that my vehicle would be ready 10/10/17.....that's 2 weeks after the date I took it in for a small ding.........are you kidding me??? I was really upset but figured the more I complained, the longer they would drag it out and I was pretty sure he was determined to go ahead and put a bumper on it in spite of what I wanted. Then I got a call around 12:30 from the tech who told me they were pushing to get it done by late that afternoon and might have it ready by 6 p.m. I asked Gary's caregiver to stay a couple extra hours and when I didn't hear back from him by 4 p.m., figured it would be too late anyhow as I would still have to return the rental car before 6 p.m. if I drove over to get my car. He called around 6:30 to say they were still working hard to get it done but don't come on Sat. as they won't have it painted yet, so Monday was looking like a better day to pick it up. They had already cost me another $75 for Kelly's extra three hours, so I was glad I didn't have to hire her to come on Sat. and then find out it wasn't ready. Who knows what Monday will bring?!? Insurance will pay for the rental car till Tuesday, but after that it's out of my pocket, so hopefully Monday is the day............keeping fingers and toes crossed.
Yepp, I guess you could say this was a pretty crappy week overall......here's hoping for a better week and month ahead.
I'm back on the board after several months of getting settled in new location, computer updates knocking out all my saved passwords, and not being able to get a link to reset them. I had to re-register in order to get back on here, so for those of you who knew me as srademacher, I'm now SarahR. :) It's taken some time to get Gary used to the new location and the different setup in bathroom, and I still have days where it's easier for me to shower him on a patio chair on the back patio using the garden hose. Getting into a tight bathroom and lifting his affected leg into a bathtub is not an easy task. We had the doors widened, we added grab bars where we could, and still it doesn't work well for either of us. I will eventually have to break down and spend a fortune to change out the tub to a roll-in shower in order to save my back. Getting him comfortable with anything different than his normal routine has been a real challenge, and oftentimes exhausting for both of us.
We still have Kelly coming to help with Gary on Mondays and Fridays and have had another caregiver, Carmen who comes on Wednesdays and stays overnight. Both are driving from our old neighborhood in Scottsdale, so I'm paying for some drive time and getting less hours of hands-on help as a result. The commute for them is about 50 min. to an hour each way, but both are very attached to Gary and wanted the job. At some point, I will have to search for local hospice help, as conditions have changed recently to the point I am not sure I can keep this up, both physically and financially.
Gary has been dealing with more depression lately, and I know I will likely have to increase his antidepressant dose, but have been stalling it off because he already sleeps too many hours a day, and with a higher dosage, comes more sleep time for him, which keeps me confined to home when I don't have a caregiver here. He seems to have more and more dreams (nightmares) where he wakes up crying for our youngest son, Dan, who we lost last year in June. He also is very upset about hearing that his brothers cancer surgery did not go as hoped, and the cancer is too far advanced to the point they can try chemo but it's not really effective for the type of cancer he has, but might buy him a little more time. He has always admired and respected his oldest brother and was very close to him.
Not much else has changed here. We did get a new puppy a few weeks ago and he is adjusting very well. We were lucky that the previous owner had him housebroken before we got him. He is a 7-month old schnoodle (schnauzer/poodle mix), and a very sweet little boy. We got him neutered on Thursday of this week, and aside from running into things with that silly collar on his head, he is doing well. We go back in a week to get his stitches out, and then start training him to sit and stay as we plan to take him out with us whenever we go out, and I've already ordered a "companion dog" tag for him.
I hope our friends in the TX area are all doing well. It breaks our hearts to see the devastation in the area.