Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Doctor

We have an ongoing family controversy regarding what doctor Dad should see. Dad is currently back seeing the doctor that Brother and I have questions about. I took Dad to see him today. I asked about having the home health care agency draw blood so we wouldn't have to take him to the doctor so often. The doctor is unhappy because we switched agencies. The one he wants us to use (my brother said the doctor is related to the owner) was not doing a good job. The physical therapist was prescribing exercises he couldn't do. They drew blood once, messed it up, and never drew it again. When the nurse heard he'd been admitted to the hospital, she said, "I'm not surprised, he looked awful the last time I was there." So why didn't she call the doctor?
Anyway, we chose to go back to the health care agency that most impressed us a year or so ago. So, the doctor didn't give orders for them to draw blood. He wants to see Dad again in 10 days. He also didn't like the medication they put him on for his low hemoglobin, so without even waiting to see if it is working, he ordered a different medication. He ordered a medication that his insurance won't cover without preauthorization, which could take 4-6 weeks. Each doctor's appointment means either Brother or Sister has to take half a day off work to take him. Each appointment means Dad has to pay a copay. The doctor checks his blood pressure and asks him about his weight, listens to his lung, and draws blood. All of those things could be done by a visiting nurse and reported to him. I can understand if he wanted to see him once a month or so, but every 10 days? Dad is on insulin, and needs to check his blood sugar before meals and at bedtime. The doctor refused to order testing supplies for more than 3 tests a day.
This doctor also will not refer Dad. Dad has a history of heart problems and kidney problems but doesn't think he needs to see any specialists. The last few hospitalizations have been because his medication was managed properly, so he became dehydrated or went into congestive heart failure. Dad is getting weaker. I'm watching him struggle more each time he tries to get out of his chair. I'm frustrated, to say the least.

A Big Decision

This morning I took Dad's car in to see about getting the rear windows fixed. I also asked them to check the brakes. So this afternoon we received the verdict: Dad was looking at about $2,000 worth of repairs. We had just finished at a doctor's appointment when I got the phone call. Dad thought for a minute, and then said, "Let's sell the car." The car is a 2002 with 28,000 miles on it. The problems were basically a result of not being used.

Sister called the service rep to ask about selling the car to the dealership. He said, "The dealership probably wouldn't pay much, but I'd be interested in buying it. Check out the blue book price on line and let me know what you want for it." Sister checked it out, and it looks like the car is worth about $6,000. Dad said, "I'll save money on car insurance and registration now." He seems very much at peace with the decision. We're going to look into getting him a scooter that he can use to go over the cottage and see Mom. He likes that idea, too.

I've been uncomfortable with the idea of him driving for some time. Fortunately, he's not been doing much driving. The most he's done lately is to drive it around the building and over to the cottage. I really don't see him being able to stay in the apartment much longer. He's going to need assisted living. It is getting increasingly difficult for him to get up out of his chair.

Daughter is at my Brother's for the night. She was really excited about the opportunity to go there, and delighted for a night away from Grandad. Dad wanted spaghetti, so I made spaghetti for him this evening. He was very pleased with the results.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Fun with Dad

This morning Dad had an appointment with the podiatrist at 10:30. Brother and Sister assured me that this doctor was so efficient we'd be out of there in no time. Wrong. When we left there, we stopped at an optician to get Mom's glasses fixed, and then went out to eat.

The the real fun began. I took Dad to Trader Joe's. He loves that store, and they have quite a few low sodium foods available, including soups. Sister had gone for him, but she couldn't find everything and it didn't allow him to touch the items and read labels, which is very important. Dad uses a walker. No usually when he goes into a store, he'll just use a shopping cart. But today he decided he wanted to use his walker. He also had a lot of empty bottles that needed to be returned, and I had insisted on bringing them back. We loaded them into a cart, Daughter grabbed another cart, and we started into the store.

Daughter has spatial issues. She's not aware of being in the way, or blocking the aisle. The aisles in Trader Joe's are narrow. So here are the three of us plus a walker and two carts trying to make our way through a crowded store. Dad has vision issues. So he picks up something interesting and then has to ask me if it has too much sodium in it, because he can't read the label. Last time I took him, we found some low sodium sausage. So our first stop was at the sausage. They didn't have any low sodium sausage today, I know, because I read the label on every variety (and there were lots of varieties) at least twice. I felt sorry for the others trying to shop in there today. At one point, Daughter asked for the keys so she could go wait in the car. I told her she was stuck just like I was.

I didn't have my cell phone with me, but Brother and Sister finally realized that they could reach me on Daughter's cell phone. So in addition to pushing a cart, reading labels, and trying to stay out of the way, I was often on the phone with one of them. At one point Daughter announced she was going to go wait in the car. I informed her she would stay in the store to help. Brother asked me to get a gift card for Dad while I was there, so I went to a different check out line while Daughter tried to help Dad. I checked out, put my stuff in the car, and came back to find Dad trying to enter his PIN to pay with his debit card. He couldn't get it entered right. By the time I entered it for him, he was locked out because of too many attempts.

We bought all sorts of wonderful goodies, including lots of sweet snacks for Mom. Dad always buys lots of treats for Mom. I think it's how he deals with his guilt over having her in the nursing home. When we got home, the challenge became to find space for the $260 worth of food he bought. He was stocking up because he doesn't get there very often. We were all exhausted. Dad and Daughter both took naps, and I refused to wake Dad up for our evening plans. I let him sleep until he woke up on his own.

This evening we finally had our family Christmas celebration. With some arm twisting, Sister brought Mom and Dad home so I could stay and play cards and Daughter could watch DVDs. It was an enjoyable evening. It's been a long time since I've been able to play cards, so I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Brother has invited Daughter to spend the night at his house tomorrow. She's very excited. She needs the break, and so do I. As much as she loves her grandparents, staying in Dad's one bedroom apartment and dealing with all their various needs is exhausting for her. It's exhausting for me.

The Car

Dad's car had not been driven for at least two months, so when Brother tried to start it, the battery was dead. He tried jumping it, but still couldn't get it to start. He told me I could deal with it when I got here. Brother-in-law agreed to put in a new battery, so Saturday morning he came over and took care of that. Brother-in-law hadn't been able to secure the battery properly, so we decided I would bring the car over that evening when we went over to their house for supper, and he would finish securing it.

While I was waiting for Dad to come out of the apartment, I noticed that one of the rear windows was down a bit, so I decided to make sure they were all up all the way. I pushed the buttons to raise the rear windows, and they fell to the bottom. I tried putting them down, since putting them up and had lowered them. I could here the motors running, but the windows didn't budge. So, we drove over to Sister's with the rear windows down. Fortunately it wasn't very cold. Daughter and Mom were in the back seat, and Mom was not happy. She kept babbling. I'd explain that the windows didn't work, and she'd be quiet for a couple of minutes, then she'd start in again.

Fortunately, we were able to pull them up with our hands, and we secured them with duct tape. Brother-in-law announced we now have a hillbilly car. We have an appointment to take the car in at 9:30 tomorrow morning. We took the car to church yesterday, and I avoided rolling down the front windows. I opened the door to talk to Sister. I walked into the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. When we got to Brother's today to celebrate Christmas, I think will take my car.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


This morning I was preaching in my home church. Brother had asked me to do it (he's chair of the worship committee), and we decided it would be a good opportunity to make a video and audio recording of a sermon that I could send out to search committees as I seek a new church. I finalized the sermon this morning, and Brother had told me I could print it out at the church. We were having strong winds this morning. Before I even left the apartment, Brother called. "How important are the hymns you picked?"
"Well, the organist doesn't have power so he won't make it. I've recruited someone to play guitar, but I don't know if he'll be able to do these hymns."
I told him we'd deal with it when I got there. As I drove towards the church, I passed some signal lights that were out. It was spotty, and I wasn't too worried, until the signal light at the major intersection a mile from the church was out. I wondered how I would print out my sermon if the power was out at the church, but a quick call to brother assured me that wouldn't be a problem.
We changed the hymns, the lapel mike wouldn't work, and it was a wonderful service. The kids were great and very talkative during the time with the children. Niece came running up and snuggled in next to me, which was great. There were three people there from a church I have had a phone interview with. When the guitar player got up after the sermon to lead the next hymn, he turned and thanked me for a great sermon. It was a great congregation in which to preach, because they know my family and me, and so are prepared to listen and be positive. Because of that, they listened much more intently. I thought it was good that there were problems, because it demonstrated how flexible I am and how hard it is to fluster me.
Sister, Brother, Mom, and Dad were all there, which was nice. Everyone was really pleased to see Mom and Dad. They hadn't been there in quite a while. We all went out to eat after the service, and it was nice. By the time I got Mom and Dad back here, Dad was exhausted and headed straight to bed for a nap. Daughter and I headed over to Sister's, where my closest friend and her husband came and met us. We had a wonderful visit, and Brother-in-law fixed us a wonderful meal, even though I told him it wasn't necessary, we'd just order a pizza.
Sister and Brother are very anxious for me to move closer to them. I am at peace. I know that the right place will come along at the right time. If it's not this church, it will be another one. I am content to wait on God's time. For now, I am enjoying the memories of a wonderful Sunday, and a supportive family.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Christmas Gift

This evening we were invited to Sister's for supper. We got Dad in the car and headed over and picked up Mom. She was delighted to see me, which was nice. She was also pleased to see Dad. She did really well. She even used her fork to eat. I think she had a good time. There weren't as many of us as at Thanksgiving, and Dad was there. When we brought her home, I told her that Sister would be picking her up in the morning to take her to church. She doesn't get to church very often anymore, because it's hard on her and whoever takes her. As I told her Sister would pick her up, I wasn't at all sure she was understanding what I was saying. So I told her there would be a guest peracher tomorrow, so we wanted her to go.

She looked mildly interested. "Who?" she asked.


Her whole face lit up. "Oh, ______!"

It's been well over a year since she has called me by name. I called Sister and told her. She was amazed. She simply said, "Merry Christmas!" It was the best Christmas gift I've received.

The First Project

Yesterday I informed Dad that our first project today will be to tackle the dining area. That is the table you see in the picture. Daughter has already told me she's ready to go home. I'll put her to work in the kitchen today while Dad and I work in the dining area. I turned the thermostat back from 78 to 60 after Dad went to bed. I also opened the sliding glass door for a while last night.

When we come here, I get a recliner and Daughter gets the couch. Last night she chose to sleep on the floor, instead. We leave our sleeping bags in the attic, so Daughter climbs up and gets them down whenever we visit. I think Daughter slept on the floor last night because she didn't want to both to clear off the couch. That's another thing we'll have to tackle today. I told Dad I thought we needed to get him cleaning help. He insists he can manage things-- once things are caught up. Daughter and I spent quite a bit of time cleaning the kitchen when we were here last time-- and he hasn't managed to keep that clean.

Visiting nurses are supposed to be coming out for an assessment at some point. Hopefully I will be here and can see what other services are available. I'm back to questioning how much longer we can leave him in this apartment alone.

Friday, December 26, 2008

It Takes Skill

I'm sitting in my Dad's apartment, which feels like a sauna. He's sitting in the recliner next to me wrapped in a warm blanket, cold. Daughter has changed into a t-shirt, as she was roasting in her sweatshirt. When he goes to bed, I'll turn down the thermostat in the great room and open the window so I can sleep.
I forgot some books I was going to bring-- they were rather important, so I'm frustrated with myself. Hopefully we didn't forget anything else.
Daughter was super cooperative all day. While we out running errands, she said, "I can't believe I've been this cooperative all day!"
I said, "It makes things much easier, when you're so cooperative."
She agreed. I said, "It's hard work, being so difficult."
She grinned, and said, "It takes skill."
I love it when she's able to laugh at herself. I wish she would apply the skill she uses on being so difficult to more constructive pursuits. Hopefully she will be able to maintain the cooperative attitude and her sense of humor under the stress of time with her grandparents.

It Hits

All the stress and the crud I've been battling caught up with me last night. I had difficulty falling asleep for the first time, in part because I was thinking about the brewing family crisis, and in part because I was coughing and couldn't breath. I did, eventually, fall asleep, but did not get up as early as I had planned this morning. When I did get up, Daughter had already cleaned out the car. Now she's in the kitchen singing as she does something or other. It's wonderful to have her in a cooperative, upbeat mood. I also woke up this morning with a recommendation for Dad on the family crisis. I had been praying about it last night. Sister called me to see if I could take Dad to a rescheduled doctor's appointment, and I ran it by her. She liked the idea, too.

I'm drinking tea, hoping to cut the crud and regain my voice. I'm tempted to call and say we're not coming until tomorrow, but I hope that once I get showered and finish packing, I'll be ready to hit the road. I suspect Daughter's cheery mood wouldn't last through a postponement in our plans. She wants to go see family, and rightfully so.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Tomorrow we will head out to visit family. Sunday I will preach in my home church. Dad is home, and told me today he can't get warm. He's got the apartment at 75. I keep the house at 60 or 62. I think I'll pack shorts. I suggested he put on a hat. He thinks he's getting a cold. I think we're going to have lots of fun staying in his one bedroom apartment with him.
I had a long conversation with Sister this evening. She was stressing about a situation in the family, and decided to share the stress with me. There are a number of changes going on in the family right now, and it creates stress and can strain relationships. We could have a very interesting time while we're up there. Hopefully we'll all enjoy one another's company and set aside the stress.
Daughter wants to leave bright and early in the morning, but I still need to pack, and we need to drop Cat and Kitten at the kennel and stop by the pharmacy. Daughter doesn't have enough of two medications to make it through the week. I had all of her prescriptions on a schedule where I could pick them all up at once and fill pill boxes for 4 weeks. Her last psychotic episode and the resulting medication change messed all that up. I'm having to deal with pill boxes much more frequently than I did. Hopefully I'll be able to get refills timed right again soon....
I will have my computer and access to Dad's wireless network, but I don't know that I'll be on as regularly while I'm up there. I'll be visiting everyone and taking care of all the things Dad can't do on his own, plus finalizing a sermon for Sunday. I'm looking forward to seeing Niece, who is the world's smartest and most amazing 4 year old. Hopefully Mom will recognize me this trip....


We've enjoyed breakfast, unwrapped presents, and cleaned up the kitchen. Daughter is now ready to watch a movie. She gave me a new outfit this year! I was very impressed and touched. I promised her I'd wear it tomorrow when we go see family.
Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve Service

Well, it's now Christmas morning. Daughter is in bed, hopefully asleep. I'm still winding down. I made it through the service with the help of my two commuter mugs of hot tea. My voice was not at its best, but I managed. When I went down to light the first advent candle, I sent the Christ candle flying. At least it wasn't lit yet. Ours is a singing congregation, and so the music was wonderful. I was frustrated that I couldn't participate in that more tonight.

In addition to my voice, there were other little things to remind me I wasn't at my best. I went in and realized I hadn't put the Christ child in the nativity scene. I recruited the woman at the end of the first pew to go find it and put it in the manger. I also forget to tell the ushers to turn off the light when we lit the candles. Someone finally went back and showed them how to turn off the lights. All of our ushers were young tonight-- the oldest was 21, I think. It's wonderful to have young men who are willing to step up and serve. Beginning in January, revolution hits the church-- we'll have women sharing the ushering duties....

The egg strata for breakfast is in the refrigerator, as are two fruit parfaits. Daughter had decided we needed strawberries with our breakfast in the morning and she was quite disappointed when we got to the grocery store and they were out of fresh strawberries. I took her to the frozen food section and showed her the frozen strawberries. We already had some frozen blueberries, and I picked up some lite vanilla yogurt. We will unwrap gifts while the egg strata bakes, and then we'll be lazy most of the day. We'll watch some movies. I may take a nap. We'll get ready to leave Friday to go see family. We may stay in our pj's all day.

Now I'm going to go wrap Daughter's gifts, and then I'll head to bed. I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Blood Sugars, Again

I reduced Daughter's Lantus from 20 to 18 in response to the lows she'd been having. She was then running high, so I went up to 19 units. For a few days, things were perfect. Then she started running high. I quizzed and questioned her, and she swore she hadn't been into any food. I finally decided that maybe the Lantus had gone bad, and started a new vial. She continued to run high, and continued to swear she hadn't been into anything. Yesterday she was high in the morning, but her blood sugars were good the rest of the day. I thought we were getting back on track.

This morning her blood sugar was sky high again. I also discovered some cookies were missing. Thinking I had the explanation, I confronted her this morning. Yes, she'd been into the cookies, but she hadn't done anything last night, she swore to it. I told her that I'd thrown out an expensive vial of insulin, trying to get her blood sugars down, and had been about to dispose of another one. She then stormed up to her room because I was so mean as to not trust her, leaving her french toast and sausage to get cold on the table. When she came back down she continued to insist she hadn't done anything last night. I finally got out of her that she'd taken more of the spinach and artichoke dip and crackers than I told her she could have for her snack. Of course, she didn't tell me this until after I asked her specifically if she'd done it.

I get so tired of this. She begs me to trust her. I want to trust her. I can't follow her around 24 hours a day to monitor her eating. I also can't safely figure her insulin needs when she is lying to me. She has apologized several times today. She is sincere in her apologies. Tomorrow she may do the same thing, and tell me the same lies. Therapist and I keep telling her we need to be a team to manage her diabetes, and pointing out that lying hurts the team. She knows that. She gets it. She does it anyway. I think it is the part of her illnesses I hate the most.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Advantages of Rural America

I've written before about the disadvantages of living in rural America. There are also advantages. This morning I called about my malfunctioning washing machine. This afternoon the servicemen were here (yes, plural-- the old guy sold out so he could retire, but still goes on all the service calls). They replaced the pulley and the belt, charged me $85, and I'm now finishing the load that was in the washing machine when it quit. Quick, relatively inexpensive service is an advantage to living here. Of course, When I went in to check on the load I'd put back in, and the machine once again didn't spin or pump the water out. It did fine when they tried it when it was empty. They told me that meant the transmission was going. So, I went to Town and bought a new machine. They weren't planning to do any deliveries tomorrow, but I looked pathetic, and it will arrive tomorrow afternoon. I'm grateful. We planned to stay here Christmas Day, so I'll have time to get the laundry done then.

Daughter has called me twice from her adventure. She's having fun. She was worried, because the respite company sent someone new today. She's getting better at handling new people, which is good. Maybe eventually she'll be able to go City for shopping, lunch, and a movie without calling to check in with me.

I've been drinking lots of tea, listening to Christmas music from pandora.com, and working on worship for tomorrow night and Sunday. I'm making progress. I'm also eating far too many of the nuts that were delivered yesterday from a local funeral home. Yes, each variety has some kind of sweet coating on them.

Divine Intervention

I woke up this morning coughing and suffering from a post-nasal run (it was much more than a drip). My voice is down in the bass range (but at least I have a voice). I was still struggling with what to do about shut-in communion, so I called the elder who was scheduled to go with me. She thought I sounded horrible, and she had forgotten she had volunteered and made plans to go buy groceries for her mother, who isn't coping well. We decided it was divine intervention, and I'd cancel communion for today.

Yesterday I noticed that Daughter's light pink winter jacket was gray approaching black, and told her to give it to me when we got home so I could wash it. She did, and I used about half a bottle of Shout pretreating it and through it into the washing machine. I then went upstairs and settled myself in the den. Daughter was on the computer researching nutrition information on lunch options for her day out today. Suddenly she said, "What's burning?" I couldn't smell anything. I suggested she follow the smell.

She headed downstairs and was back very quickly with the report that something was burning on the back porch, though she couldn't see any flames. I pryed myself out of the recliner and headed down. Once I was in the hall, I could smell something, too. It smelled like the vacuum cleaner after Daughter runs over something she shouldn't, like fringe on a rug or the pulls on the blinds. I opened the washer with sinking feeling. There was Daughter's jacket and the various other clothes I'd put in sitting in a tub full of gray water. I moved it to spin, and heard and awful noise and the odor got worse.

I called the appliance repairman. He may get here in an hour or so. I hope he has whatever parts he needs. I think it is all a conspiracy on the part of my major appliances. The refrigerator is in on it, too. The freezer isn't keeping things frozen while the refrigerator is freezing things. I'm beginning to suspect that the reason Daughter's blood sugars are suddenly in the 200's most of the time is because her Lantus got too cold. So my crud and a forgetful elder will keep me from going out and visiting shut-ins, and the dryer will keep me home waiting for the repairman.

I could get frustrated and stressed, or view it all as a gift-- assuring that I stay here and focus on worship plans and the other details that need attending. Maybe I'll even get time for a nap this afternoon. For now, though, I'll work here at my desk, where Cat is either guarding me or letting me know he's mad at me, as you can see from the picture above.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Traditions

I have my traditional Christmas sinus infection. I spoke to Dad today, and he was quite concerned, and suggested I do something about it. I'm not sure if he's concerned about my health or his-- he's being discharged from the nursing home tomorrow, and Daughter and I will be invading his one bedroom apartment sometime before the end of the week. I usually end up with sinus infections twice a year: right before Christmas and right before Easter. That whole thing about stress making you more vulnerable to illnesses is certainly true for me.

I arrived here in Tiny Village about the same time my doctor joined his brother-in-law's private practice. That first Holy Week I went to see him with a sinus infection. He said, "Wow, you're the third minister I've seen this week." I could tell he was new. Easter week, we were all stressed and vulnerable to any bug going around. Because we couldn't afford to be sick, we also went quickly to the doctor. I promised Dad I'd make an appointment tomorrow if I wasn't any better. I'm not real keen on going back to the doctor. After all, last time I went he told me I had diabetes, high cholesterol, and an "area of concern" in my right breast.

Complicating things is the fact that I'm scheduled to take communion to three of the saints tomorrow afternoon. At this point, I probably shouldn't be breathing on any of them. The first one I'm supposed to see is Old Man, and he doesn't need any additional challenges right now. I always hate making these decisions. Do I go visit and risk passing on my illness? Or do I go see them in January and apologize for not making it before Christmas? There's also the whole questions of how hard do I push myself. I need to have a voice and be ready to lead worship at 10 p.m. Christmas Eve.

I'm going to have some difficult decisions to make tomorrow morning. Daughter is going shopping with our respite provider tomorrow. She's really looking forward to it. I'm glad she'll have something fun to look forward tomorrow.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


There is a cold front moving in, so the temperature has dropped and the wind has picked up. We're under a wind/wind chill warning. Attendance was low this morning, and there were those who wondered why we hadn't canceled worship. I made Daughter walk with me over to the church so I could hang on to her on the icy spots. She couldn't salt them because the wind immediately blew the salt away.
Daughter decided we shouldn't try to go to town today, and I didn't argue. This house is brick, except for the back porch, which was added on. The laundry room and a half bathroom are on the back porch. It's about a mile to the next house west of here. The trees that served as a windbreak died and were removed. In other words we have a wind creating a windchill of about 30 below hitting the back porch. I've got the two electric baseboards back there on as high as they will go, and after I discovered the hot water line had almost frozen completely, I left water running in the sink.
Then Daughter and I came upstairs to watch a movie. She went down to get her meter out of the kitchen, and got an error message-- the meter was too cold to function. With a sinking felling I went downstairs, and sure enough, there is ice in the toilet. The water is on in the kitchen, too. I've even turned the thermostat up a bit-- I had it set at 60 but it was only 58 in the main hall downstairs so I turned it all the way up to 64. Yes, I'm cheap-- and I don't even pay for the heat, the church does.
Daughter's bedroom also faces west. Last night Daughter had two blankets and two comforters on her bed. She wore socks to bed. I suspect she'll need more tonight. Tomorrow I have an appointment for a hair cut, so I'm going to have to go out. Hopefully the power will be back on in Town so I can take care of some other errands I need to run, as well. There is concern that the winds and cold would cause more power failures. Hopefully that won't happen.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Living Next Door

I live in a big beautiful old house that the church provides for me. It is located right next door to the church. There are times when that is an advantage. If I forget something at either home or the church, it's no big deal to go get it. There are other times it is a pain. My home is viewed as an extension of the church, and as long as I'm here, I'm not off duty. I don't know how many times people have come and caught me in my pj's.

This morning I was being lazy. I had decided we weren't going anywhere, so I didn't shower. I was going to put on sweats, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. The phone rang. An 87 year old gentleman, L, was trying to get into the church with the flowers tomorrow, and he couldn't get his key to work. He demanded to know if we'd changed the locks. No. The lock was probably just frozen. I told him I'd be there in 5 minutes. So, I threw on some clothes and headed out my back door to the office door. Of course I had to pick my way across the ice, but managed to only slip once and didn't fall (because I slipped into the building, which is why I was walking next to it). I went downstairs to the basement door, and it took effort, but managed to get it open. I stepped outside and saw L was sitting in his car. He saw me and jumped out, grabbing the flowers from his back seat. Seeing that he was going to have to cross some ice, I went over to take the flowers from him. As I offered my hand to steady him across the ice, I considered the possibility that we'd both end up on the ground. When we got back to the door, I couldn't turn the knob to let us in. It was still frozen.

We got in his car, and drove us around the building to the office door. We took the flowers to the basement and I locked the basement door, which was pointless as it was still impossible to turn the knob from the outside. Then he wanted to talk to me. So we sat down in the office, and he told me he was planning to go visit Old Man that afternoon, and didn't know what to say to him. They have been friends since their youth, when L worked for Old Man's dad on the farm. I assured him that Old Man was fine, and he should just talk to him the same way he always had. I suggested he remember the good times they had shared when they were both part of the horse patrol. We talked a little longer, and then headed out, and I once again picked my way across the ice, now afraid of making a fool of myself in front of L. I made it safely into the house, and told Daughter she needed to go salt a path over to the church.

This afternoon I was in my kitchen making some chocolate covered pretzels when I heard a banging at my back door. I traipsed through the dirty laundry I had on the back porch in piles waiting to be washed and let D into the house. She wondered if I had a key to the office door, since she couldn't get hers to work in the basement door. I got my keys, and gave them to her. She surveyed the ice and decided to back her car up so that she was closer to the office door. She asked about throwing the keys back to me, and I said I'd send Daughter to get them from her.

It figures that I'd deal with two of the saints today, since I hadn't showered this morning. They seem to know when it is not an opportune time and that is when they show up at my door. Fortunately, the saints don't seem to mind. Maybe it's a good thing for them to be reminded that I'm human.

Adventures on Ice

I have never been known for my coordination and gracefulness. I was the kid who always had at least one skinned knee growing up. It's probably a good thing I had to wear a dress to school, all my slacks would have had holes in their knees. I do a little better as an adult, but not much. I've fallen down stairs, and off ladders, and ice is always a disaster for me. Skating and skiing have always been beyond me. I don't
Daughter has witnessed too many of my falls,and they really scare her. We tend to have a lot of ice in the winter. We keep salt or ice melt around, but there have been times when it was too cold for it to work, or I had to be someplace early and hadn't gotten it out. A number of years ago, Daughter was home sick from school with what I suspected was a UTI. I was headed out the back door with a urine specimen to take to the doctor's office. I hit a patch of ice on the first step and went flying. My only thought was to protect that urine specimen, and I did. I was sore for a few days, but I successfully delivered the urine and got the prescription for antibiotics she needed.
Last Winter I had to go over to the church one icy day. I spread salt ahead of me as I went, and walked on the grass whenever possible. I still fell, terrifying Daughter, who was watching out the front window. At least I fell on the grass, not the hard concrete, so my bruising was not as bad as it might have been. This week we've had several icy mornings. The first one had poor Daughter freaking out. She put salt on the front and rear steps, but as she left for the workshop, she kept begging me to be careful. That morning I heard stories from two friends about falling on ice in parking lots. By the time I headed out the door to take communion to the nursing home, I was terrified. The back steps do not have any kind of a hand rail, but there are fewer steps and they are much closer to the garage. I must have stood there clinging to the corner of the house for five minutes as I examined the step and sidewalk before me for the safest path and started numerous times to put first one foot and then the other down. I finally made it to the car without falling, but I was a nervous wreck by the time I got there.
Yesterday morning Daughter went out and salted a path to the garage for me. Then she came back and carefully helped me to walk to the car, telling me to be careful every other step. When we got to my appointment, she again escorted me across the surface of the parking lot. I felt like a little old lady. I was also very grateful to have her walking beside me. I'm hoping to make it through this winter without any new falls with which to entertain family and friends.

Friday, December 19, 2008


We had an ice storm last night. Vacation began early for all of the schools in the area. A number of people lost power, but we were fortunate. It flickered some, but we didn't lose it completely. I thought long and hard about keeping my appointment in City for the follow-up mammogram this morning. I finally decided I was going. I didn't want it hanging over my head any longer. I went state routes rather than country roads, which meant it took longer, but I wanted to be on treated roads. I was about 15 minutes late, and was lectured for not cancelling the appointment when they found out I'd drive over 20 miles to get there. I'm glad I went, as after 3 more painful views, they determined that they had been looking at spots of calcification that had lined up in the first mammogram, but with the new views were spread out and not a problem.

Daughter was very relieved. She said she'd been too scared to ask me why I had an appointment. We went to Sam's Club and got her hair cut while we were in town. She bought me a Christmas present at Sam's: Mama Mia on DVD. Ever since we got home she's been telling me she'll let me watch it early, like right now. She would also be very willing to watch it with me. It's been rather amusing. We'll watch it sometime today, but I have some things I need to get done first.

I don't intend to go back out on the roads anytime soon. I don't like ice-- though it is pretty on the trees as long as it's not so much it breaks off major limbs.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Special Needs Workers

This week Secretary and I are working to complete 4 bulletins, the newsletter, plus the usual letters, postcards, etc. that are part of the work of the office. She is leaving Friday on vacation, so we need to have everything done this week. We lost time while Secretary was off following eye surgery, which makes things even more chaotic.

Yesterday Secretary decided to come back in the evening to see how much we could get done with the kids' help. She does therapeutic foster care for a local RTC. She currently has 2 boys. J attends the workshop with Daughter. He has Aspergers. O is a sophomore in high school. He is of normal intelligence but has a disability that makes it impossible for him to organize anything. It is always an adventure when we have these three in the office.

Some of things you would have heard us say if you had been there last night:

"Stop and listen to what I'm telling you to do. Stop! Look at me. Watch what I'm doing."

"J, stop humming."

"Slow down and do it properly."

"Why do I have so many inserts left over? Did you print extra?"

"You have to do them one at a time. That's how you missed putting inserts in 30 bulletins the first time."

"I did do it right!"

"Would you please stop humming and sit down?"

"Stop! That won't work, the staples go into the stapler point down."

"The address labels need to be down here, not above the return address."

"Please match up the edges when you are folding bulletins."

"Did you see the way I showed you to do it? Is that the way you are doing it? Watch while I show you again. Look at me! Watch!"

"If you don't get out of the way and stop humming I'm going to send you to another room!"

"Please go back through these bulletins to find the ones that are missing inserts and put them in."

Miraculously, by the end of the evening all the newsletters were stapled, labeled, and sorted. Two bulletins were folded with proper inserts in them. The biggest miracle of all? The kids were still alive and uninjured. Daughter was even in a good mood!

Our favorite story of having our kids at the church is from last winter. They all had a snow day, so we sent them out to shovel snow. When they came in, I gave them some packets of hot chocolate and told them they could go to the kitchen and make them. In response to their questions, we told them they could use the coffee maker to heat the water for the hot chocolate. After a while, we realized we'd been enjoying the peace and quiet for too long. We went downstairs and they were trying to make hot chocolate by putting the mix in the basket of the coffee maker. They couldn't figure out why it wasn't working.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. Secretary and I were downstairs getting ready for a church supper. We pulled out the coffee maker, and were shocked to discover someone had put it away with water in it. Puzzled, I wondered who had used it last. In a flash of insight, we said at the same time, "Our kids!"

Life is always an adventure. After time with Secretary's boys, I have a greater appreciation for Daughter.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Yesterday I received a phone call from the hospital in the City. I had gone to one of their satellite centers for my mammogram last Wednesday. I've had all my mammograms done through this hospital. One year they followed up with an ultrasound, which was fine. I haven't gone in a couple of years, which isn't smart.

Anyway, there is "an area of concern" in my right breast. They wanted to know when I could come in for further testing. My first thought was "never." I briefly considered waiting until after Christmas, but it would be better to get it done this year, as I'm through my co-pay for the year. Also, I don't want it hanging over my head that long. As I considered my schedule, I decided I couldn't fit it in until this Friday. So, I'm going Friday morning.

Having figured out a date and time, my next thought was of Daughter. She's still having a difficult time with my diagnosis of diabetes. She told Therapist this morning that she "freaked out" when she found out I had diabetes. Therapist and I discussed it this morning before she saw Daughter. I thought I had a plan. I'd drag Daughter with me to the appointment, but focus on the fact that we would make it a fun day in City after I was done. Then I got home and realized that I'm scheduled to go visit and take communion to one of the saints about 25 miles south of here. We're going to go early, so we can join her for lunch. That took care of turning it into a fun day.

I tried to arrange respite for Daughter, but that didn't work out. Now I'm trying to reschedule communion for another day, so I can still turn Friday into a fun day for her. Of course, the rescheduling isn't going well, either. At least the logistics of seeing to Daughter's needs and those of my congregation keep my mind of the "area of concern."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Old Man

I remember the first time I met Old Man. I was interviewing to become pastor here in Tiny Village, and he was on the search committee. He told me how long they'd been searching for a pastor, and my first thought was, "There must really be something wrong with them if they've been looking that long." He and I had to negotiate the salary, and I stood up to him and told him I had 10 years experience and wouldn't come here for the region's minimum salary for pastors. We had a few words then, and have had a few words since.

I've worked with him on a number of committees. I was at the hospital the night he caught his hand in a fan on a vehicle he was working on. I was there when he was hospitalized after an accident. We talked several years ago after he was diagnosed with two kinds of cancer. I addressed his fears head on in the usual confrontation style we have with each other. I was surprised and pleased when he threw my words back at me a couple of years later. During that round of cancer, he was treated with radiation, and there were elaborate precautions he was to take when he urinated. He told me it was too much work, so he just went out in the corn field. I told him that years from now scientists would discover these radioactive spots and come up with a complicated theory regarding it being a landing site for aliens. He thought that was hilarious.

Years ago he informed me that he had told his kids he didn't care where I was, they were to bring me back from Timbuktu if they had to to officiate at his funeral. I told him not to worry about it, by then they'd have a pastor he liked even better than me. Several years ago his daughter encouraged him to talk to me about the arrangements for his funeral. His health has been failing, and the last year or so I most often see him when I go seek him out, often in the barn where he goes to hide from his wife. He was in church yesterday, for the first time in several months. I greeted him with, "Hey, Old Man, how are you?" He said, "Not good, I have to go find my seat," and rushed quickly by.

I was out and about this morning, and when I got home there were two messages on my machine. The first came in a little before 9:00. It was OM, and he'd been to the doctor. He wanted me to call his cell when I got the message because he had something he had to tell me. The second came a little after 10:00. It was his daughter, and she wanted to let me know that the doctor told him this morning he has terminal cancer, and has 6-9 months to live.

I sat down and collected my thoughts, and then called him. He was home, and ready to talk, so I threw a cross on over my sweatshirt and headed out the door. (This is my day off, so I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.) As I was heading over there, Secretary called. OM's wife was at the church looking for me, crying and wondering how she'd keep going. I told Secretary where I was headed, and she told Wife, who was going over to clean the community building.

OM and I had a good talk. He's relieved to know what's wrong, and very much at peace. I commented about it, and he said he'd been thinking about what I'd told him last time. I was humbled. I don't think of my words as particularly memorable. He asked point blank if I was looking for a new church. I acknowledged I was, and told him that neither one of us needed to worry about the possibility of me leaving right now. I wasn't surprised he'd asked. On my way over I'd been thinking about leaving. I have felt like my work here is done, but now a part of me feels like I need to be here for him and his family. As I keep telling Daughter, God will call us to the right place at the right time. I doubt OM will last 6 months, so I may be able to walk with him through this journey.

When I left OM, I headed to the community building, where Wife was very pleased to see me. She said I was the first person he called, using his cell phone to call me from the doctor's office. Wife is having a very hard time with this. We had a good conversation and I offered her a Protestant prayer before I left (she's Catholic). I spent a couple of hours on my day off doing what I most love: ministering to those God has entrusted to my care. I hope I lightened their burden a little. I know OM ministered to me, because he showed me God has used my ministry to him to prepare him to face this final challenge.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Open House

I was going to take a picture of the table once we had all the food laid out, but I forgot, of course. The open house is over, and it went very well. We had 30-40 people come through, and some stayed the entire 2 hours. They ate a lot of food, but there were still a lot of left overs, much of which we sent home with various guests.

My strategy of cutting back worked well, and this afternoon instead of cutting things we had planned to do, we were able to add things. We got the upstairs hall, bathroom, and TV room cleaned, so Daughter took the kids upstairs to play with her x-box. She had a blast. She was super cooperative all day, even anticipating my needs. When I came home from church, she was actually doing a job I hadn't finished before I left. She insisted I clear off the desk in my study, including putting my computer in my briefcase. As a result, I had no distractions, which sped things up significantly. Daughter can be very sneaky at times.

We're both exhausted tonight, but some of the saints stayed to help with clean up, so all the dishes are washed and all the food is put away. We still have to put some things away, but we're basically in pretty good shape. Someone brought shrimp tonight, and there is left over shrimp in the refrigerator for Daughter. She loves it, but doesn't get it very often because I'm allergic to seafood. The It's going to be a short night, so I need to head to bed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More Thoughts on Voices

There are times when Daughter hears voices that alarm Therapist and me. When she starts talking about hearing a witch's laugh and the devil telling her what to do, we become concerned. There are other times, though, when she says she's hearing voices because that is the best way she knows to express her distress. Sometimes she's actually experiencing racing thoughts, which can be related to stress or some mania that's not being controlled by her medication.

For me, the challenge is figuring out what the current situation is. Adding to the challenge is the fact that she is "unreliable." That's the nice way I warn people that she lies. She still engages in some of the crazy lying that is part of RAD. She doesn't do it as much, but as any of you who have spent much time with RADs know, she is very convincing when she's lying.

There are usually warning signs when she's becoming psychotic. Often she will think I'm calling her when I'm not. When this happens and she comes to find out what I wanted, I will often make something up, as I don't want her to panic about the voices being back. I will also become much more observant. Sometimes the voices will vanish without any problems, other times it will escalate to the point that she needs a medication adjustment or worse case scenario, a hospitalization.

This morning I let her sleep in, and she woke up chipper and very affectionate. I'm getting lots of hugs today. That's a sign that she's still stressed, but at least she's dealing with it appropriately. When I call Dad today, I think I'll let her talk to him. She is very worried about Grandad. The reality is, he is going to die. Not today or tomorrow, and probably not this year, but it will probably be within the next year or two.

Daughter continues to fear abandonment. That's why she was in such a panic when I forgot my cell phone and she couldn't reach me. Any threat to the health of a family member is very hard on her. As much as I've assured her that I'm going to take care of myself and the diabetes won't be a problem, she's still very concerned. The other night she told me she'd give anything to go back and start her diabetes over again and protect me from it.

After 18 1/2 years, I understand her pretty well, but there are still times when I'm stumped. The good news is at 21, she's still gaining skills and maturing. I continue to have hope that she will be able to handle community employment and live semi-independently some day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Discerning Voices

Daughter came home with her standard complaint when she is stressed. She was hearing voices. There was a time when this sent me into a panic. That day is long past. So I asked a few questions. Her "voices" sound to me like racing thoughts brought on by guilt and anxiety. I explained what I thought was going on, and she acknowledged I was right. I told her she needed to get her ipod and set it to play her Christmas music. If she is still complaining after Christmas, I may talk to the Psychiatrist to see if this is breakthrough mania that needs to be treated. For now, though, I'm going to teach her coping skills.

As I began to prepare to make peppermint bark tonight, she kept insisting she would do it. I kept thanking her for the offer but telling I would do it. Finally, the confession came. She assured me this morning she hadn't been into anything that had caused her blood sugar to be over 200. Actually, she'd taken the vanilla bark upstairs, and eaten a square of it. I thanked her for telling me the truth. She told me she was afraid to tell me the truth. I asked why she was afraid, and asked if I ever screamed and hollered at her when she finally told me the truth. She admitted I didn't, but couldn't explain her fear. I asked if it would be easier if I did scream and holler at her. She couldn't explain it all.

Amazingly, once she told me the truth, her mood lightened. She went downstairs and brought up some things from the basement. She later told me that the voices had been telling her all day that she was going to fall. I've often wondered if some of her accidents and injuries were attention seeking devices. I think I have the answer now. She maneuvered the stairs without falling, and is now singing as she works.

She has also decreed that this will be the last Christmas Open House. I'm inclined to agree with her at this point, but will probably change my mind. I do enjoy having all the people stop in, even though it is a great deal of work getting ready for it.

The beautiful wreath in the picture was a gift from one of the saints. She and her sister made it for me the other night. We now have a Christmas tree, some nativity scenes, and a wreath for our Christmas decorations. I miss the village a little bit, but not enough to go drag it out of the attic. I'm determined that this is going to be a less stressed Christmas. We are not going to worry about getting the upstairs ready for the open house this year. There is plenty of room downstairs.


Tuesday I found out I have diabetes, and Wednesday I started on medication. This morning my blood sugar was 96, down 30 points from Wednesday. I've also lost a couple of pounds. It's a small thing, but it shows me that with God's help I can control my eating in the midst of the stress and temptations of the holiday season. If I can do it now, I can do it long term, and become healthier.

While my blood sugar is coming down, Daughter's is going up. I wish I knew if it were connected to sneaking food. She insists she's not, of course. I'll be glad when the Open House is over and we can give away the temptations around here. I also think that for now, I'd rather she run a little high than endure 5 hour lows.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Slow and Slower

Daughter has this amazing ability to move in slow motion. She's not trying to do it, she just is set at a slow rate. She's making chocolate covered pretzels tonight. She dips the pretzel in a small crock pot with melted chocolate in it and then places it on wax paper. I think it's taking her about a minute for each pretzel.

She was helping me brown some meat this weekend, and she was very slowly stirring the top. I showed her how to dig in under the bottom and turn it over, but she just wasn't comfortable doing that. When she's working on something, I try not to be around watching, because it drives me crazy.

When she was working in the cafeteria at the career center, they would encourage her to speed up. Any encouragement to speed up causes her to get stressed, start shaking, and move more slowly. It's one of the reasons she's not ready for community employment.

She came to me tonight asking to make chocolate chip cookies with Splenda and the chocolate covered pretzels. I told her one project was enough, and she could do the chocolate covered pretzels. She has a terrible time finishing projects, and sure enough, after less than 30 pretzels, she was asking me to take over. I told her she needed to work on it a while longer. I also pointed out that this was why I didn't want her taking on both projects tonight, since she has so much trouble completing things.

Dad is really improving since they got the fluid off his lungs. He's been working a couple of hours a day in PT and today received permission to walk a certain distance in the hall alone, so he was going out about every 15 minutes to walk the hall. He wants to be home for Christmas. I'm glad he's doing so much better. I had a phone interview tonight, and he's been talking about it all week. As soon as it was over I called him. The first words out of his mouth: "How was the interview?" I think it went well, but we'll have to see. Daughter is stressed about a possible move. I keep reminding her that the first place God called me made it possible for me to adopt her, and reminding her that Tiny Village has also been a good place to be. I assure her that God has another good place in mind for us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Supportive Family

Today I told Sister that I have diabetes. She was not surprised or shocked, and began to try to remember if she had over or under 50, and since I'm 50, did that count as over or under. It turns out she and Brother have had a bet for years about how old I'd be when I was diagnosed with diabetes. She said they had to modify it because the original bet was over/under 40. She then informed me I'd better tell Brother right away, because she was going to call him to settle up.
I knew he was in training today, so I sent him a text telling him to call me when he had time about my doctor's appointment. He left the training and called immediately. I said, "I can't believe my family would bet on my health!" His voice became excited, and he said, "Oh! You mean you have diabetes?" He was pleased! The funny thing is, he can't remember whether he had over/under either, so they'll have a difficult time settling up.
Fortunately, I have a sense of humor. Besides, Brother is more than 11 years younger than I am, and he had to go on cholesterol medication before I did. When he calls back, I will remind him of that....

Cell Phones

Yesterday evening Sister went to visit Dad and figure out why his cell phone was going straight to voice mail (which wasn't set up). He couldn't figure out how to plug the charger into it, so the battery was dead. Faraway Sister had asked Sister to set up his voice mail, so Sister did. She put a message on it that said, "You have reached _____ cell phone. At the tone, leave a message, and if he can remember how to retrieve it, he'll call you back." He thought it was funny. Sister called and left him a message, and he was able to retrieve it with her there. We'll see how he does when she's not there coaching him. She's going to stop by again today, so she can make sure the cell phone is charged and that he's managing it okay. Now that he knows how to charge, it retrieve voice mail, and has a ring tone he can hear, hopefully he's set.

Sister said he was better yesterday than she's seen him in well over a month, so that was good news. He was also able to tolerate 2 hours of PT yesterday morning, and had been sitting up most of the day. Until yesterday, he hadn't been able to handle therapy and was spending most of the day in bed. I am more optimistic now that he will recover from this crisis.

I went for the dreaded mammogram this morning-- it actually wasn't that bad this time. I left Daughter outside waiting on the bus, which was running an hour behind schedule. I also managed to leave my cell phone at home. When I got home, there was a message on my machine from one of the saints informing me Daughter was at there house. The workshop cancelled after I left, and Daughter didn't want to be home alone. She started calling people. I think she has half of the county programmed into her cell phone. The first person she called was sick, so she couldn't go there. Aunt was 140 miles away, so not much help. Therapist gave her a pep talk about how she could stay home alone. She wasn't comfortable, so ended up with these folks on the north side of Tiny Village. I called and thanked them for rescuing a stray and told them they could send her home. Daughter is in a good mood, so I'm going to give her an opportunity to earn some money by putting her to work on housecleaning jobs. I've given her lots of praise for figuring out how to keep herself safe when she couldn't reach me.

She didn't have any low blood sugars yesterday, so last night she was comfortable with sleeping in her own room. Hopefully we're through the blood sugar crisis. I told her we're going to have to work together to lose weight and keep both of us healthy now that I have diabetes, too. I think she's liking the idea that she's no longer alone with this, and I'm struggling with the same disease. Maybe it will cut down on some of her "it's so unfair" complaints.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Type 2

I got the call from my doctor's office a little while ago. I officially have type 2 diabetes. It's not a surprise. Dad was 5 years younger than I am when he got it. They're calling in prescriptions for the diabetes and for high cholesterol. I need to get very serious about diet and exercise. I don't think my diet has been that bad, but it does need improvement. I've not done well at all on exercise, so that needs to change.

I guess I didn't have enough stress in my life this week.... But lets focus on the good news. Daughter made it through the day without calling me to come get her because she was low. In fact the only phone call from her was to ask for guidance regarding how much pizza she could eat at lunch time. In other good news, I called the appliance repairmen, and they were out within a couple of hours. My dryer is now working again, and it only cost me $77. They fixed two problems, so hopefully the dryer will work much more efficiently now.

Daughter and I will head into Town when she gets home. We'll pick up my new prescriptions, and I'll also buy the part I need to fix the toilet upstairs. I've become an expert toilet repair person during my 12 years here. Our sulfur water eats through all kinds of things, creating all kinds of problems.

A Good Night's Sleep

This morning I woke up at 4:30 to go to the bathroom. Usually when I wake up at this time, I have no trouble going right back to sleep. This morning I couldn't go back to sleep, so I got up a little after 5:00. I realized part of the reason I couldn't fall back to sleep was that I was well rested. I got to bed at a reasonable time, and Daughter didn't need to wake me up through the night. Saturday night, she woke me up because I'd tied her head wrap too tight. Sunday night, she woke me up when her blood sugar dropped into the 40's. Last night, she slept through the night.

She's been sleeping on the floor beside my bed since she started having all of these low blood sugars. She wanted to sleep in my bed with me, but I wouldn't let her. I know she's anxious when she's having these lows. I sleep better, too, knowing she's on the floor next to me. I figure that makes it more likely I'll hear her and wake up if her blood sugar drops and she has a seizure. I reduced her Lantus last night, and that seems to have helped. She was low at bedtime last night, so after some juice she had a bigger than normal snack. This morning her blood sugar is 136, which is a little higher than I'd like for morning, but I'm not going to complain. She was up before the alarm, too.

Hopefully it will be a better day for both of us and her blood sugars will continue to be in range. The mothers' club is providing pizza for lunch at the workshop today. I'll send them in nutrition information from Pizza Hut, and they'll have to calculate the carbs and insulin for her lunch. Maybe she'll be able to ride the bus home today. The workshop is 12 miles from here, so it would be wonderful if I didn't have to go get her.

I'll have a busy morning in the office. I need to get busy writing articles for the January newsletter. We need to have it done early this month, as Secretary is leaving on vacation December 19. It's amazing how much more manageable the day seems after a good night's sleep!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fourth Day

Today is the fourth day Daughter has had one of her persistent lows. Her Novolog (fast acting insulin) has been reduced for every meal today, and since that hasn't done the trick, I'll reduce her Lantus (long acting basal insulin) this evening. Fortunately, I was in town when she called today. I had just been to the grocery store and bought more juice boxes for the workshop. I'd bought some on Friday, but she had used all of them treating lows over the weekend. So, I delivered the juice boxes and picked up Daughter. I have to give them credit, they are doing a much better job of not panicking over her diabetes these days, for which I am very grateful.

Daughter is dealing with all of this pretty well. I'm finding it an annoyance, and am working hard at not over reacting. A couple of times this weekend I wondered if we were headed to an ER trip, but we managed to get her blood sugars back up, so it wasn't necessary. I hope the reduction in her Lantus tonight will solve the problem.

I saw my doctor this morning, and will go for a long overdue mammogram on Wednesday morning. I also talked to Dad, who sounded a little down. He told me he was back on his diuretic, and said he'd done upper body exercises this morning. His hip had been bothering him too much to work on the lower body. If he wants to get home, he'll have to do lower body exercises at some point. He's going to have to get his strength back, and that will take some walking and such. At this point I will be quite pleasantly surprised if he's home for Christmas.

Amid all the stress, I'm making time for self-care and doing things to ease my stress. I recently discovered Pandora Radio, and have been listening to lots of soothing music as I work. Music helps ease my stress level.

Yesterday I pointed out to the women working on the Christmas program for next Sunday that the first Christmas wasn't pretty. It was messy and chaotic. Jesus was born far from home in a stable because the inn was packed with travelers. In our attempts to celebrate Christmas, we seek after perfections, totally missing the reality of that first Christmas. It wasn't perfect. They weren't prepared (or Jesus wouldn't have been born in a stable). There weren't beautiful decorations. There was chaos, and improvisation, and a miracle. We would do well to remember that and let go of our need for perfection.


I was at the church for almost 12 hours yesterday-- I went over at 8:15 yesterday morning, and got home at 8:15 last night. I was home for about 2 hours in the afternoon-- time I spent in the kitchen getting food ready for the youth group event yesterday. It was a good day. We finalized plans for the Christmas program next Sunday morning, and I spent time with the youth group. Have I mentioned lately how much I love the youth group? Yesterday they went caroling here in town, and then ate chili and hot dogs and wrapped presents for their Christmas family.

I also led a Blue Christmas service yesterday evening. I was doing fine until one of the women sang "Where Are You Christmas?" I looked over at Daughter, and she was crying. I was pleased with the way the service went. As soon as the service was over, Daughter's blood sugars began dropping. I was grateful that she waited until my church responsibilities were over to begin dropping.

Once she started dropping, though, it was a long night. We got her up to 90 around 10:00, and then she was in the 40's at midnight. She pigged out on cookies after the midnight low, and then misread her meter this morning, telling me her blood sugar was 44 instead of 244, so she we treated a nonexistent low this morning. She lobbied hard to stay home today, but I have a great deal to do today and need her to go to work.

I wish we could figure out what was causing these lows. They take a toll on her. This morning I have an appointment with my doctor for a long overdue physical. I find myself wondering if today will be the day I'm diagnosed with diabetes. I already have prediabetes. I wonder if I will do a better job of managing my own disease than we do with Daughter's.

Sister called this morning. The nurse practitioner saw Dad yesterday. He has fluid in both lungs, so she's started him back on a diuretic. The fluid is getting into his lungs more quickly now. It's probably the reason he was too weak to do physical therapy on Friday. Sister was talking to the nurses at the nursing home, and they pointed out that it all came down to the diabetes. He has had it for 34 years now, and most of that time it was not well controlled. He's paying for it now. Daughter has already had diabetes for 8 1/2 years. I hope we can get and keep hers under control.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Seeking Peace

Tomorrow's sermon title is "Waiting in Peace." I'm using Isaiah 40 and 2 Peter 3:8-15. If I were to summarize the sermon in one sentence, it would be something like, "We can face any challenge with the peace and confidence that comes from knowing Christ will return and everything will be made right." As is often the case, I find that this speaks directly to the challenges in my life currently. Daughter hasn't felt good all day, and has slept much of it. After running high all day, her blood sugar dropped 200 points in the hour after supper. She is sitting across from me consuming glucose tabs, cookies and milk while complaining that her stomach hurts. I'm trying to get her blood sugar out of the 60's, without much success.

I had a long talk with Sister, who went to visit Dad today. Brother had assured us the nursing home was taking care of everything. The nursing home had no idea of his history of congestive heart failure. He still isn't back on a diuretic, and his eyes are now getting puffy. He was too weak to do his physical therapy yesterday. The elbow that was being treated with IV antibiotics in the hospital is hot and red again. Sister had a long conversation with his nurse, who took careful notes. He will see a nurse practitioner tomorrow.

The Open House is a week from tomorrow. We only accomplished a fraction of what I wanted to get done today, for a variety of reasons. Tomorrow I'm tied up all day with church stuff-- worship, advent brunch, youth group caroling and supper, Blue Christmas service. Monday I have two doctors appointments. I've got commitments 4 nights this coming week. The dryer died today. I'm not sure how we'll get it all done.

I've had a tic in my left eye most of the day today. Somehow peace seems elusive right now. I know that whatever happens my Dad will be okay. Brother is getting married in February. I hope Dad will still be with us and able to attend.

Friday, December 5, 2008

As the Mood Swings

Daughter was in a good enough mood this morning. Though she wasn't real thrilled when I looked in her room and said, "I thought you told you'd cleaned your room." I had a couple of calls from her today, but nothing major. Then this afternoon she called to tell me her blood sugar had dropped from over 200 to 90. Within 20 minutes it was in the 50's and I was on my way to pick her up. I took her to a Chinese buffet where she ate everything in sight. She didn't take insulin, but after a quick run through Walmart her blood sugar was back in the 50's.... I'm sure that part of her acting out this evening is connected with the low. They always take a toll on her. But by the time we got home, she was pretty chipper. Then I mentioned that covering up the dirty spot on the bathroom floor with the package of toilet paper didn't get her out of mopping the floor, and mentioned I thought that the bathroom counter should be toothpaste free. That set her off and and started the rage.
I guess I'm just too critical. She calmed down and apologized, and acknowledged that she hadn't done a good job with the bathroom yesterday. I told her I knew that the low had taken a lot out of her, and then had a flash of insight. She has been bugging quite often about moving closer to family. Each time I patiently explain that we need to wait for God to call me to the right church, and that God will know when it is right for us to move. She has been frustrated and impatient with the process. It doesn't help that two years ago at this time I almost received a call that we were both really excited about. Since that time, there haven't been any interviews. Part of the time I put the search on hold because she wasn't stable enough to handle a move.
I told her today that a church about an hour from family wants to do a phone interview next week. She was excited, and ready to move immediately. I explained to her that this was just the beginning of the process, and she needed to be patient. She didn't want to hear that, of course. So when she calmed down, I asked her if she was worried about moving. She looked at me like I was a complete and total idiot and said, "Of course I am!" That makes two of us.
I think the church I will be talking to might be a very good match for my gifts and interests. If it's not, another one will come along. In God's time, we will move to the right place.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Daughter came home in a cooperative mood. She knows I have people coming this evening for pre-marital counseling. She fixed supper tonight, and has been working at getting the living room and downstairs hall cleaned up. I've been at the computer, trying to figure out what I'm doing for our Blue Christmas Service on Sunday evening. I had hoped to have the bulletin done for that so it could be printed today, but didn't manage to do that with everything else we were working on this morning. Secretary will come in tomorrow morning and we'll get it printed then.

I told Daughter I had decided we'd done enough decorating for this year. She was very pleased to hear that. I guess we're both Scrooges. We still have quite a bit of cleaning to do, but I'd rather do that than decorate. I'll do a bit more baking, as well. But we're going to aim for a peaceful holiday. I lit candles in the fire place and turned on the Christmas tree lights tonight. It's very pleasant in the living room. I enjoyed meeting with the couple who were here for the counseling. They are going to face some challenges, so hopefully I can give them the tools to build a successful marriage. One of my kids came by with the FFA Christmas ham I bought after they left. Daughter was already in her pj's, so that sent her running up the stairs. I pointed out that it's not Christmas yet, he just shrugged. He sold $1300 worth of hams and citrus fruit this year.

The nursing home claims the 26 lbs Dad has gained is due to his clothing, 3 units of blood, and not being dehydrated. I hope they're right, but I'm skeptical. Brother thinks Sister is over reacting. Sister thinks Brother is ignoring a dangerous situation. I'm trying to stay out of it. As I pointed out to Sister, this nursing home took good care of Dad last time he was there, and if they are monitoring him closely and he is in congestive heart failure, they'll figure it out quickly. I'm going to put that aside and focus on the situation here.

I'm almost done figuring out the Blue Christmas service. As I find words of comfort for those experiencing grief and stress around the holidays, I find I'm speaking to myself, as well. I hope that those who attend the service Sunday night find it as comforting as I am.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Letting Go of Traditions

Mom was a Christmas perfectionist. She'd let us decorate the tree, then after we went to bed she'd rearrange all the ornaments and make sure the tinsel was on perfectly. She'd go outside to make sure it looked perfect from the street. She spent December baking-- all sorts of cookies, including Santa's that had intricate decorations. We could never help decorate, because they had to be done perfectly. The cookies were then arranged very artistically on plates to be delivered to the neighbors. The plate for each neighbor took into account their likes and dislikes and the number of children they had. In other words, she was the only one who could fix the plates, though she did allow us to deliver them.

She made our Christmas cards, which always included a picture. There were years when getting the four of us to all look angelic in the same picture was quite an ordeal. She refused to send a generic letter. Each card had to have a personal note, often with comments on their letter from the previous year. From Thanksgiving through the New Year, there would be a card table set up where she would be working on Christmas cards in whatever moments she could grab. We couldn't help with the cards, either, because they had to be perfect. By the time we got to Christmas, everyone was on edge.

Here in Tiny Village, I live in a big, beautiful house provided by the church. It was built in 1900, and has beautiful woodwork throughout. The first year I moved here, Mom had a great time buying all the Christmas decorations that wouldn't fit in her house. I had garlands hanging over the large entrances to the living room and study. There were garlands over the windows in the living room and dining room (each carefully measured to make sure it hung evenly, of course). There were Christmas trees and poinsettias and all sorts of treasures.
Being my mother's daughter, I have dutifully pulled out all the decorations each year. Remembering the stress decorations caused growing up, I have never really enjoyed putting them all out. But I've done it. I've baked cookies and made candy and generally duplicated all my mother's efforts while adding the burden of extra worship services and visits and everything else that goes with ministry in December.

This evening, Daughter and I decorated the Christmas tree. I pulled out the nativity scenes and displayed them on the mantle. There are still numerous boxes in the attic, full of garlands and a Christmas village and all sorts of treasures. Tonight I have made a decision. I'm going to let go of the tradition of stressing over perfect decorations and cookies. I have decided that a Christmas tree and some nativity scenes are enough decorations. I don't need the clutter or the stress. I may make some more cookies, but I won't stress over making the variety my mother did. I'm not going to add to my stress.

I can do this now, because Mom's dementia is advanced enough that she won't know that I'm being a Scrooge. Since she won't know, she won't be able to lay a guilt trip on me. Of course, I will still feel a little bit guilty. But I'm going to start a new tradition this year: I'm going to focus on the peace of Christmas and not allow old traditions to overwhelm me. Daughter and I will enjoy a simple Christmas. We're not going to exhaust ourselves trying to create the perfect Christmas. We will enjoy our tree and the decorations we've put up. The rest will stay safely hidden away in the attic. Maybe next year we'll put up the village and skip the tree....