Friday, May 1, 2015

Tough Conversations

Daughter is having a tough time right now.  I think she needs a change in her anti psychoticShe is desperately trying to escape the chaos going on in her own head.  Last weekend she tried to convince me that she should move back to Tiny Village.  She thought she could live on her own there and be happy.  I pointed out that she still wasn't managing to stay out of food.  I explained my theory to her, saying she was trying to get away from her thoughts.

"Mom, they aren't even thoughts.  It's a tangled mess in my brain.  I can't figure it out."  

I told her she had an appointment with Psychiatrist on Monday.  She was furious.  She said Psychiatrist was trying to kill her and was using her as a lab rat for her experiments.  She said the medication was poisoning her, and she needed to get off of all of it.  I asked if she remembered why she had started on medication.  She didn't.  I explained to her that she was afraid of the bathroom.  She thought her brothers were down the drain waiting to suck her in.  The only way she could bathe was if she took a shower with me.  I had to stand between the drain and Daughter to keep her safe.  The only  way she could sleep was if she was on top of me.  I mean full body contact.  Even at 8 she was a big girl, and so I wasn't getting much sleep.  She was terrified of school, as she saw snakes in her desk.  She started her first anti psychotic and I found out how wonderful it was to shower alone.

She listened carefully, and then informed me that we should never have changed her medication.  I told her why we changed it for the first time:  she thought bugs were crawling all over her body.  It was also her first hospitalization.  She was 10.  I suggested she write what she wanted to say to Psychiatrist, so she did.   

Monday she called me.  "Mom, did you know that my appointment is cancelled?  Case Manager is on vacation."  To say I wasn't happy would be an understatement.  I hadn't been notified.  Her program worker had been notified last Thursday.  Her appointment is now May 28.  She is struggling.  She told me yesterday, "Mom, I get upset at little things.  I can't control it.  I'm afraid I'm going to hurt someone."  

Last weekend she told me my voice sounded like I was giving up on her.  I reassured her I will never give up on her, I was just tired.  I am discouraged and frustrated, though.  

Administrative Assistant leaves for vacation tomorrow morning.  She will be gone two weeks.  I will be alone in the office.  I'm not looking forward to that.  

The good stuff:  Easter was wonderful.  Worship attendance is up, and giving is strong.  Daughter has been cooperative and grateful when she's with me.  Last weekend I bought and assembled a new desk that I'm putting in the family room.  I don't do well with paper, so I bought a Scan Snap and am now scanning the piles of paper around the house.  I'm trying to bring some order to my chaos, in the hopes that will reduce my stress.  

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Holy Week

I was in the office again today-- 4th day off I've worked in a row.  In addition to finishing Sunday's sermon, we also managed to finalize the bulletin for Maundy Thursday.  We feel like we're in pretty good shape going into Holy Week.  I think we could handle a funeral-- though I certainly hope we don't have to do that.  My goal is always to be far enough ahead on the work we can handle a big funeral. 

Administrative Assistant was actually able to leave a little early today.  She's been working a lot of extra hours.  I'm glad we're closing the office for 2 days after Easter.  We both are looking forward to that time off.  

Daughter is still struggling with the staff changes at her house.  Home Owner laid into one of the staff members about the way she was treating the residents.  Daughter was shocked and pleased.  Her concerns were heard.  She survived her birthday.  She saw Psychiatrist this week, and her lithium was increased again.  She goes back in a month.  I hope the increase will help.  Psychiatrist said that spring causes cycling in many people with bipolar.  She also asked me directly what medication changes I wanted.  I'm not sure if that's good news or bad news.  I'm grateful she respects me, but wish there was a better way to determine needs.   

I'm through the third week of my therapy for my arm.  I'm spending 40 minutes a day attached to the bone stimulator.  My next x-ray is April 13.  I know my hand and wrist is getting stronger.  I hope the bone is also healing. 

Monday, March 23, 2015


Daughter has a birthday this week.  She will be 28.  Birthdays prompt an existential crisis for her.  "I'm going to be 28 years old.  I should be able to live in my own apartment."  We go through this every year.  I keep reminding her of what needs to happen for her to live independently.  She keeps telling me she's doing better and can handle it. 

Of course, it doesn't help that once again their is changing going on at her group home.  One staff member quit after creating much chaos.  The continuing staff member yells, triggering Daughter's PTSD.  There is also a new staff member, and a new resident moved in this weekend.  Change and Daughter do not get along very well. 

Holy Week is approaching, and I have been in the office the last three Fridays (supposedly my day off).  So Daughter is having an existential crisis and I am lacking in patience.  It is not a good combination, and I have been lacking in patience with her.  Yesterday I tried to remind her of the conversations we had when she turned 18 and when she graduated from high school.  Both times I explained to her that age was just a number, and it didn't mean she was suddenly all grown up.  That's something else that annoys me.  I don't like the word grown-up, as it implies that we reach a point and no longer need to learn and grow.  For people like Daughter, that idea makes accepting limits harder. 

Administrative Assistant and I have been talking recently about how much she has grown and matured in the 4 1/2 years we've been here.  Daughter doesn't recognize that, which is unfortunate.  I keep reminding her, and I continue to hope.  She has now been with me for 25 years.  Next month we'll celebrate the 20th anniversary of the adoption.  I never thought I'd still be parenting this intensely at this point.  Despite the challenges, I'm grateful to be her mom.  It would be nice, though, if her existential crises came during less busy times in the church year. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A New One

This morning I received a phone call at 3:45.  When the phone rings at that hour, I have mentally run through the sick list before I answer, anticipating news of a death.  This morning, though, I was informed that there was a broken water main in front of the church, which had created a huge sink hole in the middle of the street, which was closed.  We would have to cancel worship.  So we did.  It was the first time I've had to cancel worship for that reason.  I had several more phone calls over the next several hours as we figured out logistics, so I didn't get up until late.  Daughter and I went out to lunch.  It has been warm today, so I spent some time working in the yard today.  I wore my brace and was very careful. 

I'm working on all my exercises from physical therapy, trying to strengthen the wrist.  I'm getting the bone stimulator tomorrow, and I hope that when I go back to the orthopedist after Easter, the bones will be healed.

Daughter has been very cooperative this weekend, which has been nice.  It's been a good weekend.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Daughter's Heart

A couple of weeks ago we had our Sunday evening prayer service, which Daughter has come to love.  We got into the car following it, and she became to sob.  When I asked what was wrong, she told me she must be praying wrong, because the man who had just been diagnosed with cancer wasn't improving.  "Mom, that family has been through so much.  They just lost someone they loved.  His grandchildren love him so much and are so young.  They need him."  I was touched.  We talked about prayer all the way home, and by the time I dropped her off, she recognized that it wasn't her fault. She wrote some lovely thoughts she gave to the widow.  

Yesterday evening was our monthly children's ministry.  She was so happy following it.  "The time with the children is just so good for my spirit."  She was dancing through the store when we stopped to pick up a few things-- and it was late.  It is fun spending time with the kids.  I enjoyed it, too.  We made some changes this month and it improved it.  We had the kids suggesting verses to one song, and it was just a fun time.  I told Administrative Assistant that one of the things I love about ministry is that while I'm writing a memorial service I'm also planning music for the children's ministry.  That variety is wonderful. 

I've spent time in the office my last two Fridays, which are supposed to be my day off.  While it doesn't thrill me, it's okay, as long as it doesn't happen too often.  We have been working ahead, and overall we are caught up.  It's just a matter of having too many major events to prepare for in one week.  By going in on Friday, I can finish the sermon and truly enjoy my Saturday, so I consider it time well spent. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015


There have been hints of spring in the air this past week, and it is much appreciated.  The snow and ice are beginning to melt, and I have determined it is now safe to make the journey to the end of my driveway to retrieve my mail. 

There has been lots going on, and some of it has been stressful, to say the least.  Highlights: 
  • Daughter continues to cycle, and is often manic.  She has two men she is seeing right now, and the one she is going to marry changes daily.  Earlier this week she wanted to move into an apartment with one.  We had a series of conversations that day, and she was not happy with me, to say the least.  At one point, I told her I loved her and the conversation wasn't going anywhere, so I hung up.  She called back so she could hang up on me. 
  • While I was meeting with a family to plan a funeral, Administrative Assistant interrupted to tell me a man from adult protective services was at the church to talk to Daughter and me.  It seems that they are establishing a pattern of having adult protective services involved with staff changes.  ..This time, the old staff didn't like the new woman, so was convincing the women to report that the new staff member was physically abusing them.  
  • Our new treasurer was having difficulty getting the January financial statement to balance.  He is now on a quest to find mistakes in past reports.  At one point, he wanted all the records since 2007.  We still haven't received a January financial statement from him.  He comes into the office several days a week to ask Administrative Assistant to print him more reports.  
  • I finally went for a second opinion on my broken arm.  I'm back wearing my brace (and Administrative Assistant and I worked together to create sleeves to wear under it to reduce irritation.  I'm getting physical therapy and will be getting a bone stimulator.  I go back to the new doctor after Easter.  
  • A man came by to talk about his struggles with his adult children.  I made a suggestion, and received a text from his wife that evening thanking me.  My suggestion had helped.  
  • Two of our staff members were in to tell me they are resigning.  We have a plan to fill one position, but have to figure something out for the other.  
 Today we had a memorial service for a member.  We buried his son several years ago, and he was diagnosed with the same cancer about a month before his death.  It was a big service.  Most of our members who aren't retired took time off work to be there.  Both the memorial service and the visitation yesterday were  at the church.  We did it this way for his son, and people complained that it was too much work.  They weren't sure we should do it this way again, as most of our members are older and we couldn't count on them.  The congregation has changed.  One woman said yesterday that we've become more caring as I've worked with our pastoral care team-- and it's not just that team, it's the entire congregation.  There were no complaints, and more than enough help.

The daughter called to tell me he had just died.  I asked where they were, and told her I was on my way.  I asked Administrative Assistant for  the address, and wrote a note giving the password for my computer and the key instructions for the Bible study I was supposed to lead in 3 hours.  I asked AA to call someone to fill in if I wasn't back in time.  The fire department was still there when I arrived, and I stayed with them through the coroner and the funeral home coming.  A member showed up to be with the family, and I left, arriving back at the church in time to lead the Bible study, which the potential sub had set up for me. 

We had more help than we needed for everything.  A member took care of recruiting readers for the  service.  Someone else coordinated food and had hosts here for the visitation.  Someone else prepared a meal for the family last night during visitation, meeting their special dietary needs.  AA and I were amazed today.  People were seeing needs and taking care of them.  A man came up and asked if they should go get more chairs to set up.  I suggested they move some of the choir chairs down into the congregation.  The next thing I knew, he had six men over there taking care of it.  Not only that, but they put them back following the service without being asked.  A number of friends of the family commented on how wonderful the congregation had been and the support they'd provided the family.  "There's a lot of love in this church." 

Last night the choir director said he would be at the service today.  I said if I'd known he was taking time off to be there, I'd have asked him to sing a solo.  I mentioned what I had in mind.  He said he had the music at home and would be glad to sing it.  He scanned the music and emailed it to our pianist last night.  He did a beautiful job with it today, and it fit perfectly.  We decided it was a God thing.  

It truly was a gift to see the congregation pull together to surround this family with love, especially when I think about how many of our members are hiding in southern states right now.  I was able to come home this evening, since a member agreed to take Daughter home after choir tonight. 

Tomorrow evening is our children's ministry, and Saturday is a 90th birthday celebration, so it was nice to have an evening at home alone.  I continue to love being in ministry with this particular congregation.  Daughter continues to have moments when she drives me crazy.  She also continues to grow and impress me with her compassion for others.  I'd like to say things are slowing down and I will post more frequently, however, with Lent in full swing and Easter right around the corner, that seems unlikely....

Friday, February 20, 2015

21 Months

I went to get the "final x-ray" on the arm I broke 21 months ago last Friday.  There has been some healing, and it needs to do more.  Most concerning, there is a "halo" around one screw, which indicates the bone has been moving and is now loose in the bone.  He wants me to come in for another x-ray in the fall. 

I spoke to my nurse practitioner on Monday.  She's referring me to someone who specializes in the forearm for a second opinion.  She also thought it was a good idea to start wearing my brace again.  So, I'm back in the brace.  I bought some socks yesterday and am cutting off the toes to make a sleeve to go under the brace.  The skin was getting very irritated.

I think Daughter is still slightly manic.  Her program was closed today, so she called and wanted to come over here this morning.  She helped me with some cleaning.  A friend came over to play Scrabble this afternoon.  Yesterday she had a plan to buy a house, build a house, save money to pay for insurance for the truck she wants to buy.  She's going to finance this with her workshop paychecks.  $1.98 for the last two weeks.  When I suggest her plans might not be realistic, she accuses me of not supporting her.  I suggested she start by controlling her eating.  She really doesn't want to hear that. 

I'm pondering rearranging part of the house.  We have a living room we rarely use.  I have a sewing machine downstairs, and I don't like going down the basement stairs.  I'm thinking about bringing it upstairs and turning the living room into an office/craft space.  Daughter thinks it's a great idea.  We'll see. 

Lent has begun, so life is busy at the church right now.  We have a board meeting Monday evening, which will be interesting.  It's the first one after our big planning meeting, so we will be planning how to move forward with the goals we've set.