We Have Witnessed A Miracle

I am on bended knee. This past week on Monday, the hospice informed me that every symptom of impending death that Addie had when she moved into our home is GONE! The chest fluid–gone. The cough–gone. Blood pressure normal, pulse normal, lungs clear, chest cavity clear, color good, no pain, no medication, appetite up and down, which is to be expected in a dementia patient. Generally she eats like a horse. She’s GAINED weight.

We have come together as a family and loved Addie back from death’s door WITHOUT ONE OUNCE OF MEDICAL CARE. NOT ONE, NOTHING. Since Addie walked through our door a little over 4 1/2 months ago, she has seen no doctors, had no tests, taken no medication except the occasional sleep aid.

At the hospital in Evansville, we began to flatly refuse all the things they wanted to do to her. We had educated ourselves enough on what these types of things do to a dementia patient. We decided, as a family, that it was best to make whatever was left of her life about QUALITY. When we did that, the medical professionals began to treat us like dirt. They literally refused to drain the bloody chest fluid anymore for the simple fact that we refused to let them cut her open to try to diagnose something that they could not cure or even relieve short-term, no matter what they found. They told us she would drown in chest fluid and it would be ugly and painful.

Before Ron ever passed, Addie was already well into dementia. Her whole life was taking care of Ron. After he died, Addie’s life became filled with loneliness, fear, & anxiety. She began immediately to have health problems when she had made it to 78 years old with literally NONE. This is the healthiest woman I’ve ever met in my life. Terrible things began to happen to her one after another after another. She feared most of all that we wouldn’t “let” her stay in her home of 42 years. She tried to hide how bad things were for her, even though we knew. We everything but set ourselves on fire trying keep her there, at her insistance. We believe she WAS, in fact, going to die had we not intervened.

All this time, what we thought were signs of getting closer to death were actually signs of her dementia getting worse. We can now get Addie to where she needs to be to get rehab services to keep her on her feet, which needs to happen fast because she is barely still walking. The rest is between Addie and God. Always has been…

Sadly, she will have to move to a nursing home. But those of you who know me well, know that I’m going to make that a good thing for her–as good as it can possibly be. Not saying much, I know. I generally try to speak softly and carry no stick. But go ahead, piss me off. Mess with someone I love. Dare ya. 🙂 A nursing home employee who mistreats that woman in any way will deal with me, and I promise they’ll be sorry for the rest of their lives.

When Addie left fear and loneliness and came to a place filled with love and life, with people who wanted to show her that her life has meant something–that we are all better for having had her, she healed. Love healed what medicine could only destroy. I am in awe, my life is changed forever.


Taking a Lesson from Erma :-)

I’ve been sitting here reading through old Erma Bombeck writings, and really laughing out loud. Though she and I are from two completely different generations, I share much of her philosophy on life. There are a couple of great quotes that really made me laugh:

Do you know what you call those who use towels and never wash them, eat meals and never do the dishes, sit in rooms they never clean, and are entertained till they drop? If you have just answered, “A house guest,” you’re wrong because I have just described my kids.

Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.

Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.

If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it. Erma Bombeck

Reading Erma tonight has made me laugh, and made me think. My mom was an avid Erma reader; her columns were always hanging on the frig. She made us laugh when there wasn’t much that seemed funny. I’ve read every book she’s ever written.

I want to look back on my life the way that she looked back on hers, even when she knew she may not survive. It is written that she kept her sense of humor right up until the end.

One of the things that Erma believed is that a humorist who takes herself too seriously commits suicide. Like Erma, I reign over a messy house and my sons are complete pigs. It isn’t because I don’t teach them otherwise, they just don’t care! Life is messy. I’m slowly learning to stop fighting that and just live it and laugh about it. Like Erma, I fully acknowledge that I am a wildly imperfect person. Knowing it is half the battle 🙂

There is nothing more fun that laughing at life. Thanks Erma…


The Wonderful Story of Laila & Ryan

Laila and Ryan met the first day of kindergarten. I wasn’t there, but apparently something just clicked. They again landed in the same class in first grade. By the middle of the year it was my understanding that girls were jealous of Ryan and boys were jealous of Laila because it was always “Ryan and Laila”.

The two are really polar opposite. Ryan is very intense, VERY dramatic–gee, wonder who he inherited that from <= Laila is very quiet and soft-spoken. She can get to a place in Ryan I can't get to. When she's around, he's a better version of himself. How very wonderful! She's been with us since Thursday morning. It's Saturday night, she's reluctantly leaving in the morning.

It’s now time for 2nd great. At this point Laila’s mom and I are proactively trying to keep them together in school because they actually bring out the best in each other. They have made it to 2nd grade, still together.

Laila now comes to our house on a fairly regular basis. The girls in the neighborhood are all in snit about the whole thing. As far as Ryan’s concerned, if you’re not nice to Laila you are persona non grata.

There is an air between them. Something there isn’t really a word to describe. The greatest part about this story is that they get to reap all the benefits of “just clicking” without all the grown-up stuff tainted with sexual, cynical, situational problems that complicate everything. In my absolute belief that every single moment of our life has meaning, I believe God put those two in the same place at the same time.

This is not a marriage plan in the works! NEVER! I would never do that to my children! I’m very all about giving our children the tools to make their own (hopefully very good) choices. This is just about something special that is blessed with innocence. It’s really great to watch. Even our hosts this weekend were very intrigued and amused at how wonderful they are.

It happens sometimes, two people click. The rest is all about the journey…


A Little Something I Learned From The Military

Going back generations in my family, so many of my relatives and friends have served in every branch of the US Military. My father-in-law immigrated from Canada to serve in our military. He did Korea while enlisted, and Vietnam as a journalist. My father served in the Marines in Korea. I have such a deep respect for those who volunteer to serve. In part, because I would not survive in the military! They would toss me! : ) Not because I couldn’t do the work or make the sacrifice; but because my personality just wouldn’t be a good fit.

My husband was an MP in the Army-Ft. Bragg, NC. He strongly considered making it a career. What I’ve asked of him, and he totally agrees, is not to make our sons feel that because he was military, they have to be military. It’s not for everyone. It’s life-altering for some! It’s a very personal choice.

For those of you who volunteer to serve in the United States Military, God bless and keep you. I know you’re protecting my life and the lives of those I love. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

One thing I’ve learned from my exposure to the military is that when a person is under intense pressure and stress, it brings out the flaws in their character. It’s a large part of why the military operates and trains the way they do. They have to know what kind of person they’re giving enormous responsibility regarding national and world security. It isn’t how I’d want to live, but I get it.

We all have flaws. How much they matter depends upon each individual and the depth and scope of the flaws. Most importantly, it becomes a matter of whether or not a person is willing to recognize their flaws, own them, and work on them.

These thoughts are rooted in the whole “family dynamic” thing. Adeline Wormald has provided me with the opportunity to take a good hard look at what I’m doing wrong in my life. The next natural step for me, personally, is “how do I change it”. I will be grateful beyond words for that gift for the rest of my life.

I’m now getting to know a person who has been in my life literally my whole life, but whom I’ve never really known. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve reconnected with old friends, and made very special new friends I never want to lose! In the sadness of death has come the gift of life. A life worth truly living and sharing.


Beginning To Let Go

Hospice care is THE SINGLE MOST AMAZING care I have ever seen in my life! I am coming to realize that there are many people eligible for it that have no idea. Medicare Covers Hospice at 100%. (from medicare.gov)

We adore our nurse, Linda Dolan, our aid, Lori, our social worker, John Newland. From the guys who have delivered furniture and equipment, to the med delivery folks, our respite volunteer Diana Kowalski–I have yet to meet anyone who was anything less than fabulous.

With Medicare picking up the tab, there are guidelines, and this is really meant to be done mostly at home. Medicare does provide for 5 days of “respite time” every couple of months or so. The patient goes to St. Vincent’s beautiful, peaceful hospice facility for 5 days so the family can catch their breath. They have been encouraging me for months to do it, but again with the family dynamics, I just couldn’t get there. It’s way past time…

Tomorrow she goes in the St Vincent Hospice “for a 5 day visit with Linda”. We pick her up Sunday morning. Linda handled the whole thing for/with us and did so flawlessly.

What I needed to have happen before I agreed to this has now finally happened. Everyone who needs to say good-bye, who needs to let her know that “it’s OK” has come from all over North America to do so. We all feel at peace with what we know is coming. We’re gearing up for the last leg of the journey. But I now know that if, by some small chance, she should pass while on this 5 day respite, everyone will be OK.

We have a great weekend of family fun planned. I will do only a limited amount of housework–maybe 2 hours! We are going to a private lake/weekend home of 50+ years, that belongs to dear friends of over a decade. It is fondly known as Hoot N Holler. : ) We can walk around in our jammies, or a bathing suit, read, eat, sleep, float, swim, fish–maybe I’ll join my sons on the rope swing–that would be new! We will be among those who know everything, require no explanations, and who love us. We’re really looking forward to it.

God, please watch over Addie and may your will be done.


Political Views Notwithstanding

Just a short message about what we, as a nation, are celebrating this weekend.

While this holiday is deeply rooted in American tradition, I believe what we are celebrating today, July 4, 2009, is the thousands of women and men who are serving our country right now in the largest military crisis of my generation.

Today, it doesn’t matter how we got to where we are. What matters is that we’re here, and there are amazing people in America doing their part in serving our country, along with all of the brave ones doing multiple tours overseas. I have a nephew who has done 2 tours in Iraq and is finishing up his 4 year tour in the Marines. The last months are hell…

Lance Corporal Sellers had some pretty substantial damage to the back of his truck. He’s been out in the desert for a month and a half; left his truck at the body shop to be repaired. When the Marines finally cut him loose for his “96” (leave after deployment) he went to pick up his truck.

The body shop owner had done fabulous work on the truck! Replaced the whole tailgate he was only supposed to repair, and replaced the DODGE emblem beautifully. Clearly great care was taken in repairing Chris’s truck. The insurance deductible was $500. The guy told Chris not worry about the $500, and thanks for serving our country; and I believe he also gave him a certificate he can use to get it cleaned and waxed.

I hope somehow that guy reads this post. Maybe God will get him here. I believe he is in the Jacksonville, NC area near Camp Lejeune. Thank you, sir, for what you did for Chris and his wife, and their children. Thanks for what you did for America. I’m proud to be one of you.


Necessity, As Always, Remains The Mother of Invention

My brother-in-law has been here for 3 weeks helping me care for his mom. His plane lifted off about an hour and a half ago. He’s going home to Nevada for 2 weeks to deal with his own life so that he can come back and help me for another 3 weeks. When you face down the owner of your company (in this economy!) with your union rep and contract in hand to get home to help out with your mom, you’re truly special.

When we find ourselves in this type of situation, if we’re blessed we discover many wonderful people who are willing to do whatever they can to help make things a little better; even if only for a couple of hours. Again, I am truly blessed. Yesterday my next door neighbor took my younger son to the Childrens’ Museum–one less kid for Robbie to watch. I got to work all day again and it was FABULOUS! I came home exhausted. Those who help out for hours or a day are SO INCREDIBLE! They tend to feel like they’re not doing enough when, in fact, ANYTHING is enough and so greatly appreciated.

So it’s back to the 5 of us for a couple of weeks. Like the last 3 weeks, I’m sure these will fly by. The freedom has been incredible! My husband has come to fully understand that he must do as much as possible to make sure I get some freedom EVERY DAY. I don’t do so well with the “pigeon holed” thing. It’s just me. It’s why I dumped corporate America for the economical ups and downs of self employment.

I fully accept my commitment to my mother-in-law and that she needs someone with her at all times now. I’m learning to appreciate whatever amount of time I can get, whenever I can get it–GROWTH, CHANGE, GOOD 🙂

This is going to be fine. I can do this. I’ve been doing it for 4 months and I’m still standing. I’ll be standing when it’s over…