Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Deja Vu, again

Well, here I am in KC - again. I was talking to my wife Sunday about how she's doing, when I should visit, etc. and she told me that she was thinking of me coming up next week. We started talking about her mom and how severely this latest stroke was and how she was handling it. My wife is taking this latest stroke hard. Her mom had been slowly gaining some little strength and things seemed to be progressing - and then this. I asked if she wanted me to come up sooner and she hesitated..... and so here I am. I went in to work on Monday and told my boss I needed to come up and then left. I had had not quite 2 hours sleep Sunday night and wasn't looking forward to a 14 hour drive. Jiminy - I was a caffein junky for a day. I stopped about every 1.5 hours to pee and get a new cup of coffee. I'm still tired. But I'm glad to be here. My wife seems to be happy to see me. I got here about 12:30 AM local and we talked for about 2 hours. We went to the hospital together today. I took her to a japanese steak house for lunch. Arthur Bryant's is on the list for this week, and I want to maybe treat her to a steak dinner sometime too. She's worked so hard taking care of her mother I want to try to do a few special things for her while I'm here. (not only food!) Maybe the Nelson, or the Liberty memorial - something not associated with nursing her mother.

Speaking of, MIL has moved her left arm, so maybe the stroke wasn't permanently disabling. She's coming home tomorrow under home hospice care. Back to square one on the home routine of medicines, turnings, etc. The hospice has their own equipment, so tomorrow morning new stuff arrives and the old stuff - hopefully - will go away. They pay for all medicines (related to her terminal diagnosis) as well as nurse visits, someone to come and bathe her a few times a week, councelling, 24 hour support, etc. Medicare pays for it all. Sounds like a good deal. The medicines that aren't directly related to her diagnosis should be picked up by their insurance.

Switching to hospice brings home the fact that this is really the beginning of the end. Rough times ahead.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Bad News

You know, it seems that all I write about here are the bad things that are happening to me - and here's another: It looks like MIL had another stroke. She wasn't acting herself late yesterday and today she cannot move her left arm at all, and she can hardly move her left leg. They're trying to get in touch with her doctor. They haven't taken her to the emergency room - what could they do for her? Just a few weeks ago, hospice was where she was headed.

She had been doing well (as well as could be expected), showing some improvement in being able to move and speak. I guess we had let our guard down and had started to be optimistic about her condition. My wife is really upset, it's been a reminder that her mother could go at any time. I really wish I could be there. I asked if she wanted me to come, she said no. It's frustrating that I cannot help her.

Monday, April 17, 2006

better late than never....

I owe myself an apology. I started this blog to record the events in my life and their effect on me, and then I let it go almost 2 weeks. This is partly due to my dead keyboard at home, restricting me to internet access at work - AFTER HOURS - and with my wife being gone not having much time to spend after hours, home time being more important. This is also due to the fact that, as indicated in my last post, I had prepared this huge post using my son's laptop at home and then losing it when publishing. So here are some odds and ends about the last two weeks.

I took the kids up to KC to see their grandma (and mom) two weekends ago. It takes 14 - 16 hours (depending on bladders and backsides) one way. Friday and Monday were trip days. I was exhausted, having driven the entire distance myself (my son forgot his wallet - and license - at home, my daughter has only her learner's permit and has had little interstate experience).

MIL is now at home, the care center discharged her only 4 days after checking in. There was a huge disagreement within the family about bringing her home, in short some (read one daughter) thought she should be admitted to an in-patient hospice - basically to die. However, since coming home she has gained some strength. She has sat up once or twice and has been able to roll herself onto her side - huge improvements from when she had the heart attacks/stroke last month. She's awake more (my wife thinks the hospital was fairly free with pain meds and tranquilizers) and, according to my wife, is bored. She kicks her pillows off of the bed and refuses tv, being read to, or even pictures - and she loves looking at family pictures. She is in a bed in the living room so she can see and be seen, which may help the boredom. My wife is the primary care giver and I worry about her. She sleeps on the couch to be near MIL and is up several times a night. And she gets VERY cranky when she doesn't get enough sleep! I wish I could be there to help, but someone needs to keep the home fires burning. I can't decide when to go up next. Daughter's college finals are over on May 6th, so maybe I should wait so they can go with me, but by then it'll have been 4 weeks since visiting. I can't really afford to go myself next weekend and then go again with the kids when school is out. If I wait and something happens between now and then......

Nothing much else is going on, work is the same; my car is still in the shop, so still driving the caddy! I'm getting a little too used to driving it, but I still will be glad to get my volvo back. It looks like I'll be about $1000 poorer for it, though.

On a completely different subject, I read a blog post about women raising daughters. In general, it was about how much more difficult it is for women to raise daughters than sons. People write books about this subject, so I can't hope to do more here than a brief comment. I was surprised to hear about this. I would have thought it would have been the opposite - women challenged by sons, men challenged by daughters. I will admit that I do not spend a lot of time thinking about gender roles in our society, in fact I tend to resent predefined roles arbitrarily based on gender. In my own experience, a good many of the difficulties in growing up is living up to society's expectations of you. I don't like being excluded from something because of that damned chromosome. I tried to raise my children as gender neutral as I could - i.e. no pink vs. blue, none of this business that they couldn't do something because only boys/girls can do that, etc. Maybe I made things more difficult for them in that my kids didn't always share the same interests as other kids their age, I don't really know. I've always thought that there should be gender equality in everything. I had an essay I wrote published in the local newspaper when I was in high school regarding women being long overdue for equal rights. As long as someone has the skills necessary for a job, they should be eligible for it and be paid accordingly. I might be taking the wrong tack here, maybe the opinion expressed in the blog wasn't that it was harder for a woman to raise a daughter, maybe it was that it is harder for anyone to raise girls vs. boys. I didn't find it so raising our two, but maybe I should talk to my wife - I certainly didn't do it by myself. I think maybe I should read the book referred to in the blog. It is, I believe, a collection of essays about women raising their daughters. As far as I know, there isn't anything in there from men. I know that many (if not most) women feel that they still do the child rearing in our society, and they pretty much do. But men do too. I know plenty of conscientious fathers who share in the raising of their children and I'm curious what they would have to say. I only know that I had fairly equal trials/tribulations/problems/whatever raising both kids. In fact, my son has been more of the "problem child" - he's had more than his share of emotional issues the past 2 years. All in all, I can't say that one was more difficult than the other, they are individuals and each raised as such.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I wrote a huge post about this weekend, tried to publish, and..... no post. lost the damn thing.

I'm tired of this crap and I'm going to bed.


Saturday, April 08, 2006


Well. Wasn't that fun. Take 12 cd's plus random play. One hail storm. Two wrecks and one rush hour. Mix for 15 hours and you get yesterday. AND I've gotta do it again Monday.

Don't get me wrong. It's worth the difficulties to be here. The kids need to see their grandma, and I need to see my wife. I really miss her. She's got such a load of responsibility here taking care of her mother I wish I could be here for her. But, someone needs to keep things going at home. And she has her sisters here to help, so it isn't like she's going through this alone. But still.....

MIL is coming home Monday. I haven't heard the full scoop, but I expect that her condition is such that they can't (or the insurance won't) help her there. So, home she comes. I don't think this will be home hospice, I believe that she'll get home nursing. I think coming home is probably best. There've been a few episodes at the hospital and also where she's at now in which she hasn't had the best care. In her condition (and with one of her daughters being a nurse) she'll get as good care at home as she would anywhere else. FIL doesn't appear to be fully convinced of this, from what he's mentioned it looks like he's afraid that they'll do something wrong at home, or she'll have a crisis and it'll hasten her end. Personally I think that she won't survive another crisis, even if it happened in a facility. But he's got to do what's best for him as well as her.

I started this blog to give me a place to record my feelings thinking that it would help me when I had no one else to talk to. So far it reads like a series of events instead of how I feel about those events. That isn't really surprising as I've never been good at evaluating my feelings. I will try harder to do this. It's early yet but I am finding that it is forcing me to organize my thoughts somewhat, to think through how I really feel about something to the extent that I can write it down coherently. I can't imagine anyone on the internet is interested in what's happening to MIL - or me - so I might as well use this for what benefit I can get from it.

I've been worried about my wife and how our relationship is right now. She isn't much for expressing her feelings either. She doesn't do PDA very well (public displays of affection), its taken me years to get her to hold my hand or to kiss me in public. Since I left her in KC to help care for her mother, we've talked almost every night but it hasn't been very personal. I know this is an emotionally trying time for her and its selfish of me to expect her to address my emotional needs too, so I deal with it. It was nice when we got here she gave me a big hug and it's if we hadn't just spent two weeks apart. Being married for 21 years means that you pick things up where they left off, I guess, and don't make a big deal of it. We are years past the "I can't get along without you, yada yada yada." But I still think it, in a way. I miss her.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

And Theeeeyyyyy'rrreee off.

6:00 AM comes EARLY. We're leaving for KC tomorrow morning. Oh my.

I'm taking the kids to see their grandma. I'm afraid that this will be their last chance to see her.

I dunno how to follow that.

MIL has been moved from the hospital and into an advanced care facility. From what I understand she will be here for a few weeks and then home. Think positive thoughts.

I'm fried, I can't come up with anything more coherent, so I'm off to bed.

See ya' in KC.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Comin' Home - NOT.

I had this post all ready to go - my mother-in-law was going home. My wife told me this last night. MIL is as stable as they can make her, so no more need for hospital. They were calling around to get a hospital bed for the house and making all of the arrangements.

BUT - my wife called again this morning to tell me her dad had changed his mind. He's putting MIL into a care center for a few weeks, THEN bringing her home. My wife was slack-jawed at the sudden change in plans. All we can figure is that he's scared to have sole care of her at home. He's mentioned in the past few weeks that if he brought her home he's worried that he'd do something wrong and kill her. I'm worried that she'll die in the care center. I don't know this, but i think she'd rather die at home. I don't really know what she wants, but she'll agree to whatever FIL decides.

So, the rollercoaster continues.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Fun Fact

I have been told (reliably?) that when a man is embalmed, a rod is inserted into his, uh, thang so that the preservatives can get into ALL of his tissue - preventing it from rotting (before the rest of him) and falling off. I can't really understand why it matters. I mean, who is going to exhume a man and need to find his thang intact?

Maybe that's why the coffin's lid is curved.


I was feeling sorry for myself yesterday. I was sad about my best friend's mother dying, its effect on him and its effect on me too. I realized that I had noone that I can turn to right now to assuage my grief, or just to bitch to. My best friend is out - duh - and my closest bestest friend (my wife) is out too - her mom is dying by degrees. She called last night and after she told me about her day and her mom she was finished with the conversation. I had kinda hoped that I could talk about it a little, but nope. I can't talk to her about how I feel about her mom's condition anyway. I was having a pity party, feeling all put out about how I didn't get my turn. I knew intellectually that she has all she can handle dealing with her mom, but emotionally I was upset that she wasn't there for me. UNFAIR! boo hoo for me. I'm over it today. I fully understand that her needs are so much more than mine right now and she deserves my full support. Just like she would give me if it were my mom or dad. I'll be okay. I hope she will.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Just another day in the life of.....

Well. I've had an exciting weekend. NOT. We buried my best friend's mother Saturday. He is having a tough time (goes without saying, but I did anyway). He and I have been friends since college and the entire time I've known him, with the exception of a brief period, he has lived with his parents. (no, the movie isn't based on his life and no, he doesn't look anything like Matthew McConaughey). I mention this only to emphasize how close he was to his parents. Two years ago his father got pneumonia and never really recovered. My friend nursed his dad all of the time since, visiting him every day that he was in the hospital or in rehab. He took care of him when they took him home, fed him, bathed him, etc. until he died last December. While he loved his dad, was in the family business with him, his mom was his buddy. Her condition gradually worsened over this same time frame and he wound up having to care for both of them. When his dad died I thought that it was a blessing. His dad wasn't really there towards the end and his suffering was at an end. My friend was exhausted and I hoped that he could recoup his strength. We all prayed that his mom would improve, her loss on top of his dad would kill him. Well, she only lasted 3 months. Last Thursday I went to stay with my friend. At first he wasn't sure he wanted the company but when I walked in the door, we hugged and broke up for a few minutes and he said he was glad I came. When he wasn't with his brother and sister making arrangements for the funeral he and I hung out. We had a series of long talks about this and that, sometimes just shooting the breeze, sometimes about his folks. Between his girlfriend and myself we made sure that he got where he needed to be at the right times. Visitation was on Friday and lots of family & friends were there. He said that he felt guilty for enjoying himself getting to see everyone. The funeral was Saturday. (I found out that being the middle pallbearer means not seeing where you're going, small steps and tree limbs in the face. Just like in the cartoons, I swear.) Somehow we got through the afternoon and that evening he and I hosted friends and family at his house. He had a few too many and managed to have a good time. We puttered around the house Sunday and that evening I came home. Last night was the first night he spent alone in the house. Her presence is still strong there, the entire time I was there It felt like she was just in the next room. I'm sure its much more so for him and I'm worried about how he's handling it.

I think I'll give him a call.