Six Word Saturday – Life Goes On

Life goes on…and on. Thankfully.

So, the week has continued since my mom’s death.  Nothing much has changed except for thinking I should call her when things happen, and me realizing that I can’t call her any longer.  She was always my go-to call when things happened or I found out information that I thought should be shared, etc.  Others in my extended family are having health issues too.  Three clogged arteries in one case, requiring stents to be placed this coming week.  A lump in a breast that needs removal, requiring a lumpectomy on Friday.  But, thankfully, neither of those are life threatening conditions and can be repaired.  I am also going to survive my “rash” just fine – it is Guttate Psoriasis, which arises after a strep infection.  So, I will have it for another three weeks or so, am using a topical steroid and will survive, albeit covered in blemishes for three weeks.

I am so thankful that modern medicine exists.  It is what kept my mom alive for the last 30 or so years (she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987).  It is what allowed my DD to survive her heart problems (heart transplant and valve repair and the medicines she now takes).  It is what will fix the heart of my family member.  It is what will take care of the lump early to prevent further spread in my other family member.  Thankfully, we have access to medicine and practitioners who can do amazing things for our loved ones.  For that reason, and that reason only in some cases, life does go on and on.  And for that, I am thankful.

Five Minute Friday – Try

I am participating in another Five Minute Friday over at Kate Montaug’s blog.  Join us for a quick writing exercise and tons of friendly readers!

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This week’s prompt is “try”.  So…here goes:

I am a big “trier” if there is such a word. I try a lot of things.  I try to change things.  I try to keep the house clean.  I try not to fall behind in getting things done.  I try to have routines.  The problem is that I am not a succeeder (again, is there such a word?).  I try to do things all the time, but I can’t quite succeed.  Or at least, not for very long.  I was talking to myself today about how much I want Fall to be different (yes, I talk to myself…hopefully that is not going to scare any of you away).  I want to be more on top of things.  And I admitted that we are a family that totally lacks discipline.  I don’t mean that my child is out of control – she’s actually pretty well behaved.  I mean that we have no self-discipline.  We don’t do things we should.  We say we’re going to do things and we don’t follow through.  I’m afraid we all have a bit of ADD – we are easily distracted.  We have problems finishing things we’ve started.  We like to pile things up rather than putting them away.  We are…well, lazy, for lack of a better word, about our family obligations.

So, I want to change all that.  I don’t want to try to change them.  I want to actually change them.  I figure I need a RIGID schedule with assigned time to things I want to get done everyday.  It sounds painful, but I feel like it is the only way to actually produce anything other than feeble attempts at change.  And I NEED change.  I know that if I actually got into a routine and got used to doing things on a schedule, I would be fine with it.  I would feel better about things.  I would get more done.  I would enjoy things with my family.  I would have time to do things with friends.  I would spend less money.

So, I’m letting go of the word “try” this Fall.  Instead, I’m going to do.  And do.  And do.  Self-discipline is my focus for Fall.

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That’s it.

A Healthy, Happy Life – What’s it Take?

These last few months have me pretty pensive.  I was sad for my mom.  She has lived the last few years in a pretty lonely and unsatisfying condition.  And now that her life has ended, I just wanted MORE for her.  More friends.  More fun and enjoyment.  More life.  When we are living, we should be LIVING!  So, it has me thinking.  Because I had my DD so late in life, I will be aging as she ages.  And I want to age well.  I want to be healthy enough to live.  I want to have friends and be social and have fun.  I want to have fun with my family and enjoy doing things with my DD.  But, that will require that I am healthy.  So, what’s it take?  What do we need to do to stay healthy and happy in our late 40s (where I am now), our 50s, our 60s and beyond.  After all, I will be pushing 60 when my DD graduates from high school (good Lord…) and I want to still be active and enjoying my life with her as she goes through college.  I realize I won’t be able to do what the 38 year olds are doing (and let’s be real, I probably won’t want to be doing what the 38 year olds are doing), but I want to be a good mom who is there for her and who can still do what needs/wants to be done.

So, it has me thinking…what do I need to do RIGHT NOW to make this happen?  What can I do EACH DAY to make sure that I am ready for that future life I want to lead?  Let’s see:

Start building a stronger network of friends.  I am working on that.  I have three friends currently who I feel like are THERE for me.  Two have children close to my DD’s age and I’m hoping we can all stay friends throughout their childhoods and on up to see them as grownups.  But, I need more than that.  I want a wide network of friends.  I have friends but I feel like I’m not very good at making time to spend time with them (especially those who don’t live here where I live).  I’m not good at setting aside time to really enjoy them.  So, that is something I need and want to work on.  Girls weekends.  Family trips together. In addition, I want to be more active in my church.  I want to establish better friendships there as well.  I want a community.  So, that is one thing that I need to continue working on as I go through this year and beyond.

Be more healthy.  I am not talking about losing weight (although that would probably be a good idea as well), but just exercising and eating better (more regular meals, less coffee, more water, etc.) and taking better care of myself over all.  I need to make a doctor’s appointment to get an annual exam (which I haven’t had the last couple of annuals – I use my DD as an excuse, but it really is just something I dread…I don’t want/can’t take any more bad news health-wise for anyone, but especially ME, so I avoid it).  I need to get into the dentist and get my broken tooth fixed and my teeth cleaned.  I want to start doing yoga regularly.  I want to do the a 21 Day Fix challenge to get my sugar and carb levels under control and start developing some muscle mass again.  I am currently suffering from what I am pretty sure is a Guttate Psoriasis.  My strep throat a couple of weeks ago must have triggered it.  And I know that not eating healthy is a contributing factor to these maladies.  I also need to model healthier behaviors and habits for my DD.  She is going to need to eat healthy with her heart issues.

Live it up!  I often turn down opportunities to go out and do things and have fun.  I’m not sure why.  I want to spend time with my DH doing fun things.  I want to do fun things as a family.  I want to enjoy each other and our lives to the fullest extent possible.  We have a bad habit of sitting around when we have time with each other.  On our computers or iPad.  When we should be out and about doing fun activities with each other.  So, that is what I want to focus on – making memories.  And lots of them.

Those three will be my main focus to start this focus on the future me by focusing on the present me.  I will do these things in honor of my mom who often said she wished she had done more when she had the chance, who longed to have a community of people around her and who was constantly telling me to take care of myself.  I love you Mamma!

Losing a Mother…

Well, my mom has passed away.  Those who follow this blog know that this has been coming for a long time, so it isn’t totally unexpected.  Although, she was doing pretty well up until a few days ago when she fell.  After that, she never really recovered.  They think she may have had a stroke.  She has been pretty non-responsive for the past two days.  We knew it was coming.  But, it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier.  I feel a bit numb.  I am sad about my mom not being here anymore, but I am relieved that she is out of pain and suffering, which made up a lot of her life in the last three or four years.  Sometimes it was dull pain and suffering that was in the background, but sometimes it was overbearing pain and suffering that was tough to watch and I can only imagine how difficult it was to experience.  I am glad that it was relatively quick after she took a downward turn, rather than stretching out for months like with my dad.

I am not driving down to my sister’s tonight.  I would have to load up my 6 yo and my dog and drive down and there wouldn’t be much for me to do.  Hospice will come out and deal with the logistics.  And then, my sister will probably need to sleep, since she probably has not slept much for the past four days.  At least not slept well.  It is a lot to deal with and I’m sure she is exhausted.  But, at least she will now have a bit of a rest.  There will be a lot to do with my parent’s house and such, but that can all wait a bit.

I’m not sure what to do.  My mom, like my dad, did not want any services.  Although I know why she chose that, I do feel that it would be easier with a service.  Some closure would be helpful for those of us still here.  With it being this way, it is left so open…

I think I’ve mourned for my mom as she’s gone through these illnesses and lost a bit of herself here and there.  I also have felt bad for her as she had said repeatedly that she was ready for it to be over, that she was tired.  So, I feel, in a way, this is something to celebrate.  I know that she had been reading the Bible and I think she was comfortable with leaving this earth and her broken body.  I believe that she is in a better place and she is relieved and happy.  I just hope that my sister can also feel relief and happiness.  And I hope that I can find a way to find some closure without services and without any real action of closure.

But, I am glad that we had the time we did with her.  Especially the time we spent this summer.  I don’t have pictures of that recent visit, but here are a few from the past few years:

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Christmas_Eve_puzzle_with_Grandma.

 

 

When Life is a Roller Coaster Ride

Everyone’s lives are full of ups and downs, but sometimes I feel like I got on this one:

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and now I can’t get off.  It is up and down and upside down and no real flat spots to speak of.

I’ll speak below about how I deal with these roller coaster rides, so you can skip the explanation of why I’m feeling this way if you’re just looking for ways to deal with the roller coaster ride.

I had a good last week.  Things were moving along fine (so, perhaps there was a flat spot…or it could have just been the long uphill pull before the drop…when you can enjoy the surrounding view and relax a bit while still anticipating the coming drop).  I called my mom tonight expecting to chat about where we should go to lunch tomorrow for my birthday and my sister answered.  It seems that my mom fell last night, then again this morning.  They called my sister’s cell last night and left a message that it happened, but didn’t bother calling my sister’s home phone or my phone to actually speak with someone.  They did call the paramedics, even though they aren’t supposed to do that – they are supposed to call hospice.  So, the paramedics came and then left when they realized she was a hospice patient.  So, my mom probably was upset and no one stayed with her or checked on her until this morning.  She had fallen again.  This time, she had hit her head on something and had bruises.  My sister went over, was told they had called hospice and so she waited and waited and waited…and almost two hours later she went to check on who they had spoken to and found out they had not actually called hospice.  In addition, when things started to be sorted out, they realized no one had given my mom one of her important drugs in four days because they did not have a “doctor’s order” on it.  There was a note on the bottle to speak with the hospice nurse about getting that order, but no one bothered doing that or telling anyone they weren’t giving the drugs – just didn’t do it.  Cost for one month of them overseeing medications to avoid mistakes – $700.  Per month.  And they not only didn’t give her this one because of doctor’s orders, they also just “made a mistake” and didn’t give her the right amount of Senna, which she takes to deal with chronic constipation.  So, she won’t be going back to this place – $6000 per month doesn’t get you much in care I guess.

So, now I feel guilty.  Because I pushed for this move.  Along with everyone else, but I did push for it.  I really thought it would be better for her.  And she did seem to be doing well.  She had talked to people.  She was eating meals with people.  She seemed happier.  Less stressed.  Less depressed.  But, all that has ended up not being worth this.  Now, she could have easily fallen at home (she had a few times before – once when I was there even).  But, someone would have been there with her for the rest of the night.  She probably would not have fallen again because someone would have been watching her closely.  But, we couldn’t find caregivers who were consistent or who cost less than $200 per day and that was without any consistency (e.g. they could just say, “can’t make it” and there was no backup).  So, what is there to do?  Right now she is at my sister’s in a hospital bed in her living room, basically.  We will revisit board and cares where my sister lives (giving her a lot more attention hopefully). It just sucks that care for the elderly sucks and is so expensive…even the expensive care sucks.

My mom has been relatively non-repsonsive all day.  She slept all day, did not seem to recognize my sister, refused to drink water or take anything.  So, this may all be moot.  Although, my dad had a lot of these episodes.  So, she may wake up tomorrow feeling better.  It may be high doses of morphine they gave her to deal with the pain from the fall.  But, the nurse said it could also be ammonia building up in her system from her liver cancer.  So, right now, I’m planning to head to my sister’s tomorrow for my birthday “celebration” and I have no idea what I’m going to find there.  It is really disconcerting and sad and guilt-inducing.

I also found out that my MIL has to have a lumpectomy (possible mastectomy, but it sounds like a lumpectomy at this point – prior to meeting with surgeon).  She had a tumor that was Stage Zero.  I had never heard of Stage Zero, as my mom’s was always quite a bit more progressed by the time they found it.  So, it looks like it isn’t too threatening at this point, but may be an early indicator.  Just another drop on the roller coaster.  This one, a relatively short drop without any upside down, but still a drop.

So, after a relatively flat ride for the week, I’m back on top of the scary roller coaster, anxious about the drop that is coming and wondering if it will include turning my world upside down or not.

I’ve been here before, many times.  When my DD was sick in the hospital, there were days, sometimes weeks, when I would feel this way.  Anxiously dreading what I would wake up to.  But, you have to go on.  So, here are the ways I deal with riding the roller coaster:

(1) I hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.  It is an old adage, but it stands true.  Hoping for the best allows me to get through the day/night.  Preparing for the worst makes me think ahead about how to deal with things if they don’t go the way I would like them to.  Sometimes it means you have to deal with something you’ve been putting off or you might have to seek out help from someone (so, for example, there were a lot of times we were told we “might” get released from the hospital, but I always had to prepare for it not to happen).  Whatever it is, being prepared allows you to deal with the worst better when it happens.  It is not pessimistic, it is simply realistic.

(2) I try to do what I can to take care of myself.  This is hard sometimes when the roller coaster is going fast and furious.  Who has time to eat meals or go home to sleep.  But, I took to heart what one of the nurses told me when my DD was in the hospital – she told me that leaving the hospital and getting a good night’s sleep and a shower at the Ronald McDonald House would make me a better mom/advocate when I was there.  And the nurses were there to watch her and I was only a few minutes away.  Its like the flight directions – put your own oxygen mask on first, then deal with your caree’s.  Because if you don’t, neither of you will be in any shape to deal with things.

(3) Take precautions.  If you are someone who gets sick on roller coasters, you probably want to take some precautions before going for a ride.  You don’t have the choice to avoid the ride, but you can take some motion sickness meds (which to me is doing the two things above), you can take a barf bag so you don’t throw up on everyone else, and you can make sure you aren’t riding alone (establish a support system and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it).  Let people know what is happening instead of “toughing it out” or “not bothering them”.  People like to help.  Let them.  It can help you survive the ride.

(4) Look outside of yourself.  I am a believer, so I pray.  A lot.  Sometimes I feel like I’m not even sure what to ask for, but I just place it in God’s hands and take a rest from carrying the burden.  Sometimes I know exactly what to ask for and I ask for it and sometimes what I ask for isn’t given, but something else that is better or more appropriate is given.  If you aren’t a believer, you might consider meditation or simple breathing techniques.  Anything that allows you to concentrate on something other than the ride itself and what might be coming.

So, there are my three things I try to do when the scary roller coaster starts raging.  It seems that I may need to start working on making sure these things are in place in the upcoming weeks.

What about you?  What do you do when the roller coaster of life starts getting a little out of control and won’t let you off?

Six Word Saturday – Happy Birthday

Birthdays should be celebrated not denied.

As someone who is reaching an age (okay, is probably well past the age) where people want to start “forgetting” their birthdays or lying about the number of birthdays they’ve had or whatever it is we do as we age, I’m going to buck the system.  I’m 47 as of yesterday.  I celebrated with dinner out and then froyo (we’re a wild bunch, us girls).  I’m happy to see my 47th birthday as a relatively healthy individual with a happy marriage, a great little girl, strong family connections, etc.  Not everyone gets 47 birthdays.  None of us are promised a certain number and we don’t know what number will be our last.  But, every year brings something new, something exciting, something fun, something hard, something boring, something old…and I don’t want to miss any of that.

So, I’m celebrating, not denying it.  I had another birthday.  My 47th.  And life is pretty good and hopefully getting better.  And I hope that those around me will have more birthdays to celebrate as well.

Here’s to your next birthday.  May it be celebrated!

Five Minute Friday – Ten (on a Saturday)

Participating in another Five Minute Friday this Friday.  I’m a bit late because yesterday was my birthday and I went out with friends.  I started this blog two years ago and its been a bit of a chaotic mess of ideas on here, but I think I’ve finally found some focus and hope to get that going in this new year of mine.  But, Five Minute Friday will stay as I love this weekly focused writing exercise and reading other blogger’s posts on the subject matter.  So, without further ado:

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 This week’s prompt is a little different.  The number “ten”.  So, here goes:

Ten.  It is probably one of the most popular numbers in the first 100 to be sure.  Everyone loves a good “Top Ten” list.  But, it is also a milestone marker.  Making it to ten years – in a job, in a marriage, past a diagnosis, etc. are all to be celebrated.  But, in the grand scheme of things, ten is not all that big of a number.  Especially when you’re approaching five of them in your lifetime.  Ten years seems like such a significant amount of time, but its only 20% of my life to this point (almost).  It is only 1/5 of all the time I’ve spent on this earth.  That’s a bit striking.

But, ten becomes almost more meaningful at this point because I am approaching an age where every additional 10 years is not a guarantee (not that any of them are guarantees, but at some point, the likelihood starts to diminish from what it used to be).  So, it seems particularly important to make every year count.  Ten years from now, my DD will be sixteen.  With her health history, even at the ripe age of six, there are no guarantees.  So, it has made me only more aware of the importance of time spent in quality and meaningful activity and togetherness and enjoyment.  Not that I want her to feel the pressure, but I feel it.

Ten.  It is a small number in the grand scheme of things, but it can be a big deal when there are no guarantees.

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