Friday, December 30, 2016

Big Changes

It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since I posted here.  It's been an interesting year, to say the least. 

The good news: 
  • My arm has finally healed, and since the radial head replacement, I haven't had the pain in my wrist, so apparently I won't need surgery to shorten my ulna.  I was able to work in my gardens this summer, and can once again mow my lawn, rake, and lift things.  I have occasional pain, but it doesn't stop me.  It took 3 years.
  • We went to New York for vacation for a celebration of my niece's wedding.  We stayed in a motel, and toured the city.  Daughter was overwhelmed.  She has decided she does like camping, and keeps asking for plans for this coming summer's vacation.  
The big news:

Daughter is back with me.  There is so much staff turnover, and all of the staff members come with issues.  The current one was emotionally abusive.  She denied it, of course, but I believe many of Daughter's stories (not all of them, though).  The stories she was telling Daughter were triggering her PTSD, and she was having difficulty sleeping.  At 4:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 9, I decided I could not take her back. 

I got up to go to the bathroom, and noticed the light was on in Daughter's room.  I went in to turn it off, as I have done many times.  This time, she woke up, and was clearly terrified.  She was shaking uncontrollably and crying.  I had not seen her PTSD that bad in years.  She is so grateful to be back with me.  She is also very concerned about the safety of the other women in the house.  I have encouraged her to talk to her Case Manager about her concerns next week, and assured her there are other people watching out for the other women. 

She has been referred for vocational services.  At this point, my goal is to give her the stability she needs to succeed at a job in the community.  Long term, I'm going to explore building an apartment in my basement.  That would give her independence, and I could pull her upstairs when she hits a bad spell. 

For now, I'm looking to hire the young women who deal with our children and youth at the church to stay with Daughter when I have to be away overnight.  I have a retreat with colleagues 5 times a year, and I don't want to give that up.  I'm going to need it now more than ever.

The  last few weeks have been very challenging, and Daughter did a good job of going with the flow.  The week before Christmas we had two deaths, and I had a funeral on Christmas Eve.  Administrative Assistant took Daughter home while I went to the cemetery for the committal service following the service and luncheon at the church.  I also had two female colleagues close to my age die unexpectedly that week.  One had been my closest friend while I was in Tiny Village.  I'm going to work on getting healthy. 

Daughter has shown great improvement since being back with me.  She is now sleeping through the night, and her blood sugars have improved tremendously.  We didn't move her furniture and stuff back until the 26th, which was very frustrating for her.  With everything that was going on at the church, I was wise enough to recognize that was a stress that could be postponed.  Her bedroom here is much smaller, so she has spent quite a bit of time figuring out how to organize things.  My sister pointed out that cozy and safe is better than large and scary, and she has decided that is true.  She is coming up with a series of affirmations she wants to hang in her room, and safety is one of the top concerns. 

I am going to have to carve out time for myself very carefully if this is going to work.  This is going to turn my schedule upside down in many ways.  Daughter has matured tremendously in the 5 years she has been in group homes.  I'm hoping we can make this work.  Daughter is determined that she will do whatever is necessary to make it work.  I hope she is capable of following up on that determination. 

I suspect I will be writing more here as I adjust to this change.  The church people have noticed how much better Daughter is doing since she's back with me.  I  no longer have the worry of what is going on at the house and if they are handling her health needs properly.  They really weren't too bright sometimes.  One morning I had multiple calls insisting I had not returned her thyroid medication when I took her back.  I searched the kitchen twice and at Home Owner's request, went out and searched the garage.  They finally found them, right where they were supposed to be.  They had been looking for the wrong color of pill.  It wasn't until the 4th or 5th time through that they thought to read the labels.  Daughter had called me in tears because they were accusing her of losing them.  I will spare you all the other stories of their incompetence.  There were so many med mistakes that I had insisted that Daughter count all her pills before taking them.  She caught numerous mistakes that way.  For now, I'm focusing on the positives on having her back here.  The negatives will be there, but for now the positives outweigh them.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


Three weeks ago I had surgery to replace the radial head in my left elbow.  This is the arm I originally broke almost 3 years ago.  In July, I tripped and fell coming out of my tent, breaking the radial head in the same arm.  It was not healing at all, thus the replacement.  This was the easiest of the three surgeries on the arm, as they did a nerve block, making it possible to use lighter anesthesia.  That has made the recovery much easier, as the anesthesia has been very hard on me in the past.  I had two pain pills, and didn't like the way they made me feel.  I cut back for a couple of weeks, but within 3 weeks was pretty much back to full speed. 

Daughter stayed with me for the first week.  The first 24 hours I couldn't move the arm at all because of the nerve block.  Of course, two women from the church were here the first night-- they didn't consider Daughter a responsible adult.  Daughter was helpful.  I had made and frozen meals ahead of time, so she didn't have to do too much.  The arm was in a sling and had a splint for the first five days.  The doctor suggested leaving the splint on for a week, but it was heavy and I couldn't type with it on, so I took it off, which she had said was okay.  The incision has healed well, and I'm working on range of motion.  The surgeon thinks I may not need PT.  That's my hope.  She was pleased with how much range of motion I had on my first recheck. 

The last x-rays on my original forearm fracture show that the radius is finally healing.  There is no longer a gap.  I'm thrilled.  I'm looking forward to being able to work in my yard without restrictions this spring and summer.  The doctor suggested I avoid falling.  I think that is good advice. 

As thrilled as I am with my physical healing, I'm more pleased with my emotional and spiritual healing.  I finally faced all my emotions regarding almost three years without the full use of my left arm.  I acknowledged all the things I had lost, and my anger about the entire situation.  I had been avoiding those emotions, which had taken a great deal of work, and led to depression.  Now that I've faced them, my energy is returning and I'm dealing with the things I had been avoiding.   I've been doing some deep cleaning  and organizing around the house, and that feels good.  It has been neglected for too long. 

Daughter continues to struggle.  She hasn't seen Psychiatrist since summer.  Her last two scheduled appointments were cancelled.  I have requested a new psychiatrist for her.   She is supposed to receive psychiatric services 1-2 times a quarter, so if the state were to come in and look at her file, the agency would be in big trouble.  Right now, her PTSD is being triggered by things going on at the house.  There are several staff members who have no boundaries, and they tell her things they shouldn't.  They go to her for advice.  One told her this week that she is leaving this weekend, then asked her if she'd miss her.  Then she asked Daughter to make a  list of everything the staff member had done wrong. 

I've had her at the house more, but given she's not stable that's not always good.  She's been getting into food, and we've had lots of conversations about why she can't live independently, and why she can't go out and just get a job.  She is no longer cleaning at my house on Tuesdays, and she has a difficult time handling the jobs I give her when she's here.  I remind her that the reason I give her jobs here is so she can develop the skills to get a job in the community. 

She is such a mixed bag-- she has so much insight about some things, and there are other things she just doesn't get.  For example, I told her recently that she was looking for easy answers, and sometimes there aren't easy answers.  She said, "Well, isn't everyone looking for easy answers?  Listen to the politicians."  I thought that was pretty insightful. 

I'm hoping the staff member who told Daughter she was moving out this weekend really is.  I hope the new staff member will be an improvement.  Daughter struggles with the change, and not only is she dealing with a potential staff change at the house, she has a new case manager and will be meeting a new psychiatrist at the end of March.  I keep reminding her that she's getting better at handling change all the time.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year!

I just got home from celebrating Christmas with Sister, Brother, and their families.  Sister has been seeing a man for a couple of years, and they are moving toward marriage and blending their families.  Between them, they have 3 girls (ranging in age from 8 to 15), who do very well together.  Brother now has two sons, and they are wonderful boys at age 4 1/2 and 18 months.  The little one loves Mickey Mouse, so he was delighted with the MM hoodie I gave him. 

Daughter has been here with me since the 23rd.  She has done well over all.  She continues to move very slowly, and I think much of that is a medication issue.  Her October and December appointments with Psychiatrist were both cancelled.  She now doesn't see her until the end of February, which is out of compliance with her service plan (which calls for psychiatry services 2x's a quarter).  I wrote a letter of complaint to the head of psychiatry, but did not receive any reply.  I haven't made time to follow up. 

Daughter is no longer cleaning for me on Tuesdays.  She wasn't getting much done.  I would come home every Tuesday to get her her lunch and insulin, and then, after I left, she'd call and order pizza, paying for it with money she stole from my purse.  We are no longer eating out, as I told her we had to make up for all the money she took from me.

The result is the house has been very neglected as I've been working very long hours at the church.  We have worked on it over this break. I tackled the paper monster, and I beat it into submission.  I had purchased a ScanSnap last year in recognition of the reality that I don't do well with paper.  I have done a ton of scanning and shredding, and it really feels good to have it done.

I worked in the church's concession booth for the last home football game at the university.  The team did well this year, and it was a very busy day.  I ended the day in a great deal of pain in my troublesome left arm.  The issue is the radial head I broke in July.  Apparently, it tends to form a fibrous union.  Repetitive motion can cause it to tear, creating pain.  I can feel the bone moving at times, and I've already lost enough bone length in the radius that it is causing problems in my wrist.  On January 14, I'm going to have surgery to replace the radial head.  It's outpatient surgery.  I'll have it on a Thursday, and plan to lead worship on Sunday.  We'll see how that works out.  I will cut back some in the days following, but it is a busy time of year, and it is too hard to reschedule things like the board planning retreat, which begins on the Monday night following the surgery and continues on the following Saturday.  Fortunately, I have someone who helps lead the retreat, so he will take the lead on Monday and Saturday, if necessary.

I went out and purchased some elastic waist slacks, as I anticipate they will be easier for me to handle in the days immediately following the surgery.  I'll start range of motion exercises almost immediately.  I'll be in a sling for a couple of weeks, and it will be 6-8 weeks before I can do any lifting with my left arm.  It will be challenging, and I'll get through.  This will be surgery number 3 on that arm.  The ulna has now healed from the original fracture (May 11, 2013).  The original fracture in the radius is healing.  I broke the radial head when I tripped coming out of the tent on July 22, 2015.  It has shown no sign of healing in the x-rays. Daughter is going to stay with me to help me for a few days following the surgery.  We'll see how that goes.  As of now, Sister is planning to come for the surgery, which will be nice.

It has been an intense time.  There has been a great deal going on at the church.  Daughter has not been stable.  I lost my cleaning help at home.  I'm facing another surgery.  My hope is that I'll be able to work in my garden without restrictions this summer.     I know that the arm will never be right and I'll always struggle with some pain.  I just want to be able to get out and work in the yard.  The last 3 summers I haven't had that freedom.  I could do some things, but I continually ran into things I could not do, and that was so frustrating....

My hope is that 2016 will be a year when we are able to put some of the challenges behind us and move forward.  I wish all of you many blessings in this new year.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Blessings Amid the Stress

It has been a busy time, which seems to be an ongoing refrain.  We just lost another member to cancer shortly after diagnosis.  We've had 3 healthy, active men go through this this year, and it's taking a toll on the congregation.  Today's funeral was another big one-- as in almost 300 people.  Our guys were going downstairs for extra chairs as the sanctuary filled up.  I really liked this man.  He and his wife brought me home and spent the night with me after my second arm surgery.  We also had dinner and went to shows with them when we were on vacation, as they had a cottage they had built not too far away.  His family was wonderful to work with.  I was there when he died.  His wife had asked me where she thought I should take him for hospice care, and I suggested they take him home, so they did.  I had gone over to visit, and had a prayer with all of them around his bed.  His wife took me downstairs to show me something, and his breathing changed.  We went back upstairs, and his wife and all of his children stood around his bed as he drew his last breath.  He had told me last week that he was at peace, and we could see it in the way he died. 

Tomorrow is our bazaar, so that complicated things.  We had to call all the vendors to let them know they wouldn't be able to set up until this evening.  Administrative Assistant and I were both pretty much fried when we finally left the church today.  While our folks had done a wonderful job taking care of many of the necessities, Daughter, AA, and I emptied trash and replenished supplies in all the bathrooms.  We ran the vacuum to get rid of leaves and mud.  Of course, we had to bring up the vacuum cleaner from the basement, as we wait for a new belt for the upstairs one.  We all skipped bazaar set-up this evening.  We left that in good hands. 

We have reduced Daughter's new anti psychotic, and she is doing better in terms of side effects.  She is no longer having as much trouble with tremors, back pain, and bed wetting.  However, she is back to hearing the voices and having disturbing thoughts.  I suspect we'll have to look at other alternatives.  Her house continues to struggle with staff issues.  The newest live-in staff member is not recording her blood sugars and insulin, which makes it harder for me to  manage her diabetes.  She is also smoking in her bedroom, which isn't allowed, and since her bedroom is right below Daughter's, Daughter gets the smoke up in her room, and has complained to Home Owner.  From the sounds of things, I don't think this staff member will last very long.  Of course, with each staff change, it is harder for Daughter to trust.

I had told AA to come in later today, as she came back to the church last night to shut things down and lock up after the visitation.  Daughter and I arrived a little after 8, and she was there at her normal time of 9.  She said she figured she'd better get to the church so she could keep me together.  I told her that was probably wise.  Actually, the service went very well.  The sister-in-law was impressed with my ministry the day he died.  Today she was very happy with the service.  She expected it to be hard, but thought I had said exactly what the needed to hear.  That's the kind of thing I love to hear. 

Last week we had celebrated the church's anniversary.  The man we buried today was a charter member.  Daughter wanted to go to the funeral today, so she spent the night with me last night and will be with me through Sunday.  She was a good helper today. 

AA found time today to start on the bulletin for next Sunday.  She emailed it to me.  When I opened it, it said, "Do not look at this until Monday afternoon!!!!!!"  I had told her I thought I'd take Monday morning off.  Monday is her normal day off.  My normal day off is Friday, but obviously that didn't work today.  Tomorrow I will be at the church much of the day for the bazaar, so it will be nice to sleep in Monday morning. 

Next Friday night is our children's ministry, so I won't get all of that day off, either.  That's the way it is sometimes in ministry.  Fortunately, I continue to love what I'm doing. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Daughter continues to struggle.  We are going to have to cut her anti psychotic, as the side effects are devastating.  We did have her best planning meeting ever.  Her new case manager is wonderful with her.  Her psychologist is going to do an assessment on her when she returns from medical leave.  She is struggling with bed wetting, which I suspect is connected with the anti psychotic.

My arm is still broken, and I may have to have surgery for the broken elbow.  It's been broken for almost 3 months.  I am really paranoid about falling.  I am very discouraged with the situation.  I'm wearing a sling now, to see if that will help it heal.  I also continue to use the bone stimulator. 

Things continue to be busy at the church.  Tomorrow we are doing a drama.  We decided on it Monday night, and I wrote it Tuesday.  I asked 6 people to be in it, and they all agreed.  We ran through it Thursday night, and I'm pleased.  It's mostly directly from Scripture, and is the story of Gideon.  There is a little bit of commentary and some challenges interspersed with it.  One of the participants has been talking it up at the coffee shop.

That's the news for now. 

Friday, October 2, 2015


I'm alive.  This fall has been extremely busy, with more than a little stress.  Some of the highlights:

Daughter continues to struggle.  The medication is not right, and the side effects are such that we're going to have to change it.  She had an appointment for this month, but it has been cancelled and rescheduled for February.  Our mental health system is broken.  This state significantly cut support for mental health this year.  I just read an article about how the local mental health service is cutting people off because they don't have the funding to treat them.  People with serious mental illness, in a community where there was recently a high profile murder by someone who had serious mental illness. 

One of the residents in Daughter's house has developed mental health issues and had some issues with violence.  They tried to hospitalize her but there wasn't a hospital in the state that would take her.  She has been creating problems at the house, and after she became violent with a staff member, there was a staff change.  All of this has triggered Daughter's PTSD.  She has been wetting the bed, something she hadn't done since she moved out.  She is begging me to bring her home.  She is desperate to get out of the house.  I think her case manager is planning to move the woman who is causing the problems out. 

The psychologist she's been seeing sent an email a couple of weeks ago saying that since Daughter is stable, she thought she'd close her case.  Case Manager and I were not happy, since there  is no way you can describe Daughter as stable right now.  I have requested a different psychologist to work with her, but given all the budget cuts, I'm not optimistic. 

The arm is now broken in two places.  The ulna has healed, but I broke the radius near the elbow when I fell on vacation.  For 8 weeks I thought it was tennis elbow, but the most recent x-rays show  the fracture.  The doctor told me they treat fractures like this with a sling for a couple of weeks.  He didn't do anything for it t this point.  Last week I shook a bell during bell choir, and the next day was in a lot of pain.  I believe that the bones are moving.  I scheduled an appointment for this coming Wednesday.  I'm hoping there is a brace that will work.  I really don't want a cast, and I'm not willing to have another surgery on it.  I'm really frustrated.  It's been well over 2 years since I originally broke it. 

The Church has been blessed with good health the past few years.  That has ended.  I've had a number of funerals, and we have had a number of people dealing with joint replacements or cancer (and in one case, both).  I have 2 people who have struggled hip dislocations following joint replacement.  Both have had multiple surgeries, including one who has 3 in the last 6 weeks.  He's also been diagnosed with cancer.

We've had a lot of people traveling this fall, making it hard to get volunteers to work concessions at the local university football games.  It takes over 20 people to fully staff the booth.  I've worked as a cashier twice.  Last week Administrative Assistant and I were both working.  In fact, we went together.  Right before halftime, she passed out.  Her coworker got her into the storage shed after she said she was feeling funny.  The paramedics arrived, blocking our access to our supplies.  We had to get ice from another stand.  AA husband is one of the managers, so he accompanied her to the hospital, leaving us down two key staff members.  We got through it, and it was challenging.  After the game, I went up to the hospital.  The couldn't find the cause of her problem, but they kept her overnight and did a stress test the next day.  After they moved her to the floor, I took her husband to pick up their car from the university.  She passed her stress test with flying colors.  I told her it was a pretty dramatic way to get out of being drafted to work in the booth.  Daughter was not happy with me working concessions, because it meant I didn't pick her up until Saturday evening.

Computer has been replaced.  I was having a growing number of problems with the old one, and decided I was flirting with disaster.  So, I bought a new computer.  Then the power  button stopped working after 2 weeks.  I took it in and they replaced the computer.  I tried to hook it up to an external monitor without success.  The retired head of IT at a major company here in town spent 5 hours over 2 days trying to figure it out.  He finally took it in.  I told him he was vindicated because they had trouble figuring it out, too.  He said they had access to resources he didn't, and finally figured out it was  a driver issue. 

Family Time this weekend is focused on Daughter and getting caught up on stuff at home.  We had our annual eye exams this morning, so she spent the night last night.  We then spent most of the day running taking care of various things.  Daughter is obsessed with escaping her pain, so she wants to leave her program and her house.  It is exhausting to deal with her right now.  We have her annual planning meeting on Monday, and she is super stressed over that.  I finally reminded her that I would be there and that Mama Bear would look out for her.  I could see her relax.  She wants to find Mama Bear and Baby Bear shirts for us to wear.  I hope once we get through the appointment she will calm down. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Productive Week

I took most of Monday off this week, to make up for all the work last week with two funerals.  It really is feeling like crunch time now, as fall program approaches.  To complicate things, Administrative Assistant is going to be taking two weeks off to go to her reunion.  So, we're trying to work ahead and get things in place for fall.  We are making major changes to some of our children's ministries this year, which means extra meetings. 

When I left yesterday evening, I felt good about what we had accomplished.  I still have some work to do before Sunday, but that's okay.  This morning I went back to the orthopedic doctor.  My bones continue to heal (slowly).  He also diagnosed me with tennis elbow, which is the result of tripping and falling coming out of the tent.  He offered me a cortisone shot to the elbow, but I preferred to try a brace first.  So, I now have a band on my forearm.  The pain lessened immediately, so I know his diagnosis was correct. 

He's still talking about the possibility of surgery, but I'm not going to worry about that now. 

Daughter has had some challenges this week.  One of the other residents at her house is being very disruptive and abusive.  Hopefully they can get her needs addressed soon.  Very soon.