Sunday, August 31, 2008

Torn


Tonight was the Big Event. Daughter served drinks at the supper while I visited with our guests, and then we moved upstairs for the Big Event. We sat in the front pew, as I had three responsibilities sprinkled throughout the event. During the prelude she told me she felt like her blood sugar was low. I suppose I should offer an explanation. We treat her lows when they drop below 70. Generally she takes 3-4 glucose tabs, and then follows up with a package of cheese crackers. Her blood sugar was 67. Wanting to be cautious, I had her take 5 glucose tabs. She was obviously not feeling well. We’re in the front pew in front of all the microphones for the CD they’re making of the event, so I’m trying to quietly whisper directions to her. I waited a while and had her recheck. She had dropped to 60. I gave her more glucose tabs. She came up to 64. I fed her crackers. She’s not looking any better. She’s begging to go home. I still have two more responsibilities, and a young man I recommended will be singing several songs later in the program.

We can’t leave without being very conspicuous. She can’t be left alone when her blood sugar is unstable. I finally lead her into the office. A couple of the saints follow me, figuring she’s having a low. Her blood sugar goes up to 159 briefly, and then begins to drop again. By this time she’d had about 12 glucose tabs and 2 packages of crackers. She caught the low before it was that bad, and she’s eaten enough to cover several lows.

I need to be at the church for the big event, but my Daughter needs to go home. A friend offers to take care of her, but I know I’m not going to be comfortable without her right beside me. I’m torn. What is my responsibility to Daughter? What is my responsibility to the church on the biggest night of the year? It soon becomes obvious that we’re in for a long night on the blood sugar roller coaster.

A friend and colleague of mine (who happens to be the father of the soloist) is sitting near the front, so I recruit him to handle the two prayers I have left to do. Daughter wants to go home. I want to hear the soloist. I walked around the outside of the building and stood in the back to hear the soloist. Then I brought Daughter home. I was still torn. I had her drink some milk, and wandered back over to stand outside the church and listen to the finale. She follows me. She leans against me, shaking. We come home, and her blood sugar has dropped to 46. How can her blood sugar be that low after all the things I’ve made her eat? I’ve lost track of the number of things I’ve fed her trying to get her blood sugar to come up. She’s tired of eating, tired of not feeling well, and scared. I have a headache.

I foresee a long night. She’s planning to sleep in the recliner in my room tonight. I’ll get up and check her a few times to make sure her blood sugar doesn’t bottom out again. What caused the lows? I’ve no idea. I read some place that there are 100’s of things that impact our blood sugars, and we have control of 3 of them: diet, exercise, and insulin. The exercise and adrenaline rush of the softball tournament yesterday may have caught up with her. It may be the phase of the moon. We’ll probably never know. At this point my hope is that this is a fluke, and not the beginning of a series of lows and the need to reduce insulin. I hope I’m able to get some sleep tonight.

A Sad Story



One of Daughter’s friends had surgery on Friday. T was born missing some necessary components to his feet, and had been walking on his ankles. He had braces, but they didn’t work and he ended up with bad infections. So, they went in to do some reconstruction work. He is in his early 20’s, and lives in supported living. One of his house parents took him to the hospital for the surgery. His supervisor from the workshop was at the hospital because her mother was having surgery, so she visited him.

As of Friday evening he hadn’t had any visits from family members (both of his parents are living and in the area). He called Daughter a couple of times during the day, so since we were going to Town, I dropped her at the hospital while I went to run some errands. She was concerned, because she equates hospitals with visiting her aging grandparents, and she gets scared. I told her this was different, and T would come out better and stronger. He wasn’t there because he was sick and dying, but for surgery that would improve his life. I told her I would call her when I came to pick her up, but if she was uncomfortable, she could tell T I was waiting for her and she had to go down and meet me. With an escape plan, she went into visit him.

When I came back after running my errands, she was still in his room. She told me he had been very emotional, and she gave him 3 hugs while she was there, the 2nd one when he became emotional. Saturday he was moved to a nursing home for rehab. While we were at the softball tournament, he called Daughter’s cell phone 4-6 times. I promised I would take her to visit him when I go visit one of the saints in that nursing home. T is scheduled to be there 2 months for rehab.

I know he was scared going into this surgery. He had sought me out at various events to tell me about it and ask me to pray for him. I’ve had him on the prayer list at church the last 2 Sundays, and the church sent him a card telling him we were praying for him. Daughter said she prayed with him and gave him a hug at the workshop on Thursday.

He’s just a couple of years older than Daughter, and he’s alone. I can’t imagine allowing a son or daughter of mine to face this kind of surgery alone. I can’t imagine how he must feel. Other friends from the workshop said they’d try to visit. I asked Daughter if she thought they were dependable. I had to explain what dependable meant, and she quickly acknowledged that they weren’t, and probably wouldn’t visit. He is facing an extended period in that nursing home, away from his friends, and isolated by age from the other patients. My heart aches for him.
Daughter wanted to go visit today, but I was reluctant to make the 30 mile round trip with the Big Event today. Tomorrow we’ll go to the county fair, and we’ll stop by the nursing home for a visit. I know that with the food we need to prepare for the meal connected at the church it’s not reasonable to try to squeeze in a visit to T. Yet I feel guilty. I wonder if his parents experience any guilt....

Saturday, August 30, 2008

At Last

Yesterday afternoon I took delivery of 15 boxes of books at the church. Almost 12 years ago, one of the saints and I undertook the challenge of writing a history of the church and the community. We were preparing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of them both, and a book seemed a suitable way to honor our heritage. Every week we’d take a morning to do research and write about various events. As people became enthused about this history, we began receiving more information. The project grew. We dug deeper. There were times when it seemed that every time we finished a chapter, someone would give us important new information and we’d have to rewrite it.

Another major project came along and we spent our morning a week working on that instead of the book, stretching the process out several more years. Finally, this past January, I declared it done. It was over my writing partner’s objections, as he kept finding more information he thought we should include. By this time the book contained 12 chapters and 26 appendices (we preserved many of our source documents in the appendices.)

We took it to a local printer in January, hoping to have them back for a heritage celebration in March. But then the editing process began. By the time we were proof reading it for the 4th time, I decided we’d just check to make sure the corrections had been made and not look for anymore errors. We had begun taking orders, and I began getting phone calls wanting to know when the book would be shipped. I told people that like the whole process, the final editing and printing was taking more time than we had an anticipated, but we weren’t going to rush the project now.

Then the printer began having problems. The book had grown to well over 200 pages, and his equipment couldn’t bind a book that thick. He sent it out to be bound, and the paper he had chosen for the cover wouldn’t stick to the glue. I wasn’t concerned, as the delays were no longer my doing, but other people were growing increasingly stressed and impatient. Some seemed to think the world would end if we didn’t have it in time for the Big Event this Sunday. I remained unconcerned, and somewhat amused by all the delays. I told the printer I was so relieved that the stress was on him that I wasn’t too concerned about when it got done.

The phone call that the book was done came yesterday morning. I’m sure word was all over the county by yesterday evening. One woman is sure we’ll sell out our 300 copies in no time and have to reorder. I have a copy of the book sitting here beside me. I am going to wait several years to read it, as I don’t want to find any errors we missed. When I announce that it is available for sale Sunday morning, I will assure people that I know there are still errors and typos, but ask that they talk about them among themselves, and not point them out to the two of us who labored over this book for so long. It truly was a labor of love, and I’m glad I was able to be involved with it. I don’t think I’ll ever volunteer to write the history of a congregation again, though.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

I’ve talked about Daughter’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I haven’t mentioned mine. When Daughter spent yesterday evening raging, it triggered my PTSD. I stayed up entirely too late playing a mindless computer game. I was waiting until I was exhausted to go to bed, in the hope that I would fall asleep quickly without worrying about what was going on with Daughter.

She was still in a surly mood this morning, and I didn’t engage her much at all. I told her how much insulin to take for breakfast, but that was about it. She called me mid-morning. I wondered if she was going to apologize. She wanted me to know that she’d had a low—her blood sugar had dropped to 39, which is pretty low. I asked if she’d had her cheese with breakfast, and she insisted she had. I remained cool.

She called again in the afternoon, telling me she needed to talk because she was miserable. I was not real encouraging. She acknowledged she felt guilty about her behavior last night, and then asked permission to get back together with Boyfriend. Last night she wanted to move out so she could control her own life. Today she is asking me for permission to get back together for Boyfriend—something she has never done. Since she asked, I told her it was a very bad idea. She said okay. I told her I’d see her when she got home. She wasn't calling about blood sugars are her love life. She was calling to see if I still loved her.

I’ve got to give her credit, she worked hard when she got home, taking on extra chores to prove to me that she was going to turn things around. Every time I heard her speak to the cats, I was afraid she was hearing voices again. She was not real happy when I told her that even though she’d worked, she couldn’t watch TV tonight.

I’m on edge, waiting for the next explosion, wondering if she’s going to have to go back to the hospital. I’m back to going through my schedule, trying to figure out how I’ll find time to respond to whatever crisis may be coming. I’m unwilling to trust that the storm is past and she is going to be cooperative now.

Daughter needs to know she is safe from her abusers. They don’t know where she lives, and she knows she is safe. I want to know I am safe from the next verbal assault and that she won’t one day follow through on her threats. The difference is, my abuser lives with me, and I made a lifelong commitment to her. I promised to love her through her rages. I promised to remember when she was raging that her anger was not about me.

Sometimes, though, I have a hard time remembering it. Sometimes I pull back, and have a hard time nurturing her. She made today a better day. I will make tomorrow a better day.

Guilt


Yesterday evening Daughter wanted to watch TV. I suggested she talk to me after she unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned out the litter boxes, and cleaned her room. “My room is clean.”

“I looked in it as I walked by today, and it isn’t clean.”

“It’s my room. I wish people would stay out of my business.”

I had the good sense to remain silent. Too quickly she was back downstairs, telling me everything was done. “How about your closet?”

“It’s fine.”

“Can I go check?”

“You need to trust me.”

“Why don’t I trust you?”

She quickly became very angry and stormed upstairs, telling me I was the worse mother in the whole world. I heard her bedroom door slam.

I tuned it out. She was back down a little later, informing me I should take everything away from her because she doesn’t deserve anything. I told her I wouldn’t be doing that, but she’d lost TV for the day. Again she tried to pull me into an argument. Again I declined the honor.

She stormed off again. It wasn’t long before she was back trying something new. “Mom, I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do to earn TV back?”

“Not today. You can get a head start on earning TV tomorrow by cleaning the living room and downstairs hall.”

“Forget it.” Again she stormed upstairs.

Some time passed, and I headed upstairs. When I was almost to the top, I heard a door quickly open. She was coming out of the TV room. Now she really was angry. I got called names and all sorts of colorful language was used in telling me her thoughts about me. I tuned most of it out. I’ve developed a talent for tuning out her rages. I know it’s not about me, and so I don’t react and I work very hard at not hearing or remembering specifics. It hurts less that way. I did confiscate the remote control, and will keep possession of it for a few days.

I do know that she is demanding to move. She says she deserves her own place without me around destroying her life. Of course that’s not really what she wants. What she wants is to get rid of the guilt she is feeling. Her therapist and I realized a couple of years ago that her rages now are usually motivated by guilt. With her history of Reactive Attachment Disorder, for her to feel guilt is a wonderful thing, and shows how much she has healed. It is also overwhelming to her, and so she rages. She says terrible things and that increases her guilt. She finds herself caught in a downward spiral and can’t figure out how to get out of it.

It probably doesn’t help when I remind her I still love her. She insists I shouldn’t love her and she doesn’t deserve to be loved and she doesn’t deserve a family. When she’s in these moods, she wants to live on the street.

When she’s calm, we’ve talked about her guilt. I’ve explained that it’s good that she is experiencing guilt, and that God gives us guilt to motivate us to do better. This morning she still isn’t calm. I’m still the enemy. I’ll wait her out. Eventually she’ll calm down enough that we can talk.

The irony is that Therapist and I decided Tuesday that she was doing so well she could go 4 weeks between appointments. While I work hard on not hearing and reacting to her rages, they do wear me out. She has a softball tournament on Saturday (she informed me she doesn’t deserve to attend it) and the Big Event is Sunday. I really could have done without all the drama this week. At least she’s out of the hospital.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Homecoming Weekend


This is our big Homecoming Weekend here in Tiny Village. Our population will more than double as people come from all over the country to celebrate our ethnic heritage. There will be a light supper on Sunday afternoon, and then the Big Event. The Big Event involves bringing in special guests and having a huge heritage celebration. The stress also puts everybody on edge.

I’ve heard from D, who has complained about Special Guest #1 and his ego. E has complained that Special Guests like to rearrange the chancel in the church, and they need to leave everything alone until after worship on Sunday. Secretary has complained that the program notes don’t make sense. D asked me if I was going to be her for Big Event. I told her I didn’t know it was optional. She admitted it wasn’t, and I assured her that I enjoy it and would be there even if it was optional. She was concerned because K planned the event, but may not be able to attend as she had chemo today. K finally called me and I’ve agreed to cover the welcome and announcements at Big Event if she isn’t up to doing it. All of that happened last week.

This morning when I went over to the church, D & E were already there. They were there to give the balcony its annual cleaning in preparation for Big Event. This It is also newsletter week, so even without Big Event, it would have been very busy. We started the morning with the discovery that the church computer (which is always temperamental) wouldn’t come on. Someone had unplugged it. Secretary and I were doing contortions trying to get it plugged back in (as Secretary said, we’re both stubby). Once we got the computer up and running, it was time to tackle newsletter and the Big Event program. Of course none of the people who’d promised to get us information by this morning for the newsletter had come through. I started writing articles while Secretary struggled with Big Event program (which has a number of very weird foreign words in it).

Our “office” is also the youth Sunday School Room. There are two desks in there, and no privacy. When other people are in the church, there are frequent interruptions.

D complained that the sound system wasn’t working properly last Sunday, so I took a break to help her figure it out. Just a note, cordless microphones don’t work when their receiver is turned off. Also, turning the volume off on all the individual microphones is not a smart idea.

Secretary’s desk top and my laptop were both being uncooperative. I’m convinced that church office equipment has a sensor and only fails on the busiest weeks of the year: Christmas week, Holy Week, and in Tiny Village, Homecoming week. City newspaper called asking for a history of Big Event for an article they are doing. E is slightly panicked because I had a phone call from a retirement community that is planning to bring a bus with some of their residents for the supper, and she doesn’t know how much food she should prepare. (We never know how much food to prepare).

D came in and mangled some inserts for the Big Event program trying to use the paper cutter on them to cut them in half. Special Guest #1 decided he had to make major changes to Big Event, so the program was a mess. I finally had Secretary transfer it to my computer so I could try to do the tweaking necessary to get it all to fit. I also had last year’s program around, and it took several attempts before I managed to make correct copies for D to take home and proof read.

I had to go pick up Daughter at 2:15 to take her to see Therapist. She had a softball game tonight at a field more than an hour from here, so we left from Therapist’s office so I could get her some supper at something close to her normal time and have her on the field ready to play by 5:30. I sat at the softball game trying to format the newsletter. I ended up cutting out about half of what I’d written this morning in an attempt to get things to fit. It’s probably just as well, since there were so many interruptions I’m not sure any of it made any sense anyway. When we got home a little after 9:00, the doorbell rang with the delivery of another newsletter article. So much for all my work formatting and making things fit.

The entire week will be filled with interruptions and mini crises. My task will be to remain calm and remind people that every year this is a stressful week, and the Big Event is always a big success. I’ll point out that this year it looks like even the weather will cooperate. (It’s no fun packing 400 people into a church with no air conditioning on the hottest night of the year.)
Daughter will complain that she doesn’t want to go to Big Event. I will be mean and make her go, and she will later admit I was right. As we sit there Sunday night all the stresses of the week will be forgotten as we celebrate our heritage and offer praise to God. We will both come home Sunday night exhausted, but full of joy and peace. Like everyone else, we will decide that it was worth it. By next month, all the people who are swearing that they are too old and someone else needs to take on their roles will be busy making plans for next year.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just Friends

The romance is officially over, and they are now “just friends.” Daughter went into the workshop and talked to her Case Manager (who never approved of the relationship), and told Boyfriend when he finished all his mowing that she just wanted to be friends. He apologized for not respecting her, and told her maybe someday they can try again. I had three phone calls from her today—she needed to touch base with Mom as she worried about the conversation, and then she had to report it was a done deal. I suspect Boyfriend was relieved to have the pressure off of him.

She seemed much happier tonight. I know I’m much happier. This is the longest she’s ever sustained a relationship, and I think there was more physical contact (kissing) than she’s ever had with a man. I see that as progress in her ongoing healing from the early sexual abuse. She’s still a long way from being able to trust a man enough to sustain a relationship long term, but she has made tremendous progress.

There are people who ask me how things that happened to her before the age of 3 could possibly have an impact on her now, all of these years later. One of her psychiatrists explained to me that while she doesn’t have verbal memories, her body remembers. So when her body experiences something that reminds her of those experiences, she panics. Of course, when he told me she had been too young for verbal memories, I told him the story she had told me of watching her brothers fight with a knife. I hadn’t believed the story until birth mom confirmed that it had happened when Daughter was 18 months old. He was amazed by the story. I don’t know if she still remembers the knife fight. She hasn’t mentioned it in years, and I certainly don’t bring those things up. When we talk about her birth family at all, it’s just to say that they weren’t able to keep her safe, and she deserved to live in a safe place.

I once walked by her as she was leaning over, and ran my fingers along her back. She went ballistic. I touch her frequently, so I couldn’t figure out why she was having such an extreme reaction. Then I remembered that birth mom had told me that she had watched birth dad tell Daughter his fingers were bugs crawling on her. Birth mom thought that had led to molestation (I wish she had recognized it and stopped it at the time). When I ran my fingers along her back, she reacted out of the remembered terror of those early experiences. I’ve made sure never to do anything like that again. Now if I’m walking by her when she’s in a vulnerable position, I speak to her. If I touch her, it is with a firm (and hopefully reassuring) hand on her back.

He's Back

Actually, maybe I should rename this. It’s not so much that he’s back as that Daughter has a very short memory. He finally started answering her phone calls, so as far as Daughter is concerned everything is fine.

It doesn’t matter that he hasn’t called her in weeks. It’s not important that most of the time he doesn’t answer her calls, and he never calls her back when she leaves messages. It doesn’t matter that Best Friend called Daughter to ask her if she’d talked to Boyfriend, because Best Friend was trying to reach him. It doesn’t matter that he has never offered an apology or explanation for his avoidance of her. It doesn’t matter that he’s been too busy to spend time with her in weeks. Daughter still loves him and they’re still together.

I pointed out how he’s been treating her. I pointed out that she deserves to be treated with respect. I asked her what she would tell a friend who was being treated this way. “Dump him.” I asked her why if she’d tell a friend to dump such a boyfriend she hangs on to him. I’ve been told it is her life and she can make her own decisions. She told me it doesn’t concern me. I asked her to make a list of the good and bad things about Boyfriend. She informed me there weren’t any bad things.

Wrong! She spent all Friday evening and most of the day Saturday curled up in a fetal position on the couch. Her voice was stuck on whine. Her blood sugar was sky high because when she got off the couch, it was too eat. She tried to convince me she was too sick to go to church. I told her I don’t want to watch this every weekend.

She’s supposed to talk to Case Manager and (hopefully) Boyfriend today. I’m going to give Case Manager a call this morning and see if she can help Daughter see reality. It’s all enough to make me consider reinstating that old rule about girls not calling boys....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Criticism

Daughter is understandably upset over what is happening with Boyfriend and Best Friend. She did not want to go help our friend pack for her move. She didn’t want to see people. I finally convinced her we should go. After a couple of hours, I sat down. She came and sat on the floor in front of me, leaning against my knees. My initial thought was to tell her to move, as it was too hot for her to be leaning on me. Then I realized that she was seeking contact with me because of her pain over her friends, so I let her stay and rubbed her shoulders a bit.
We ate lunch, and I could see her sinking into despair. She just wanted to come home. I told our friend I wasn’t sure how much longer we could stay. I went out on the front porch to wipe down some lawn furniture, and Daughter followed me. She was into stay-close-to-mom mode. My friend sent her down the street on an errand, and I went in to thank her for distracting Daughter. I got a lecture about how I was babying her and she was 21 years old and shouldn’t be so dependent on me. I reminded her that emotionally she is much younger, and was accused of treating her like she was young and thus preventing her from maturing. I dropped the conversation and went back outside.
I was hurt, and as always happens, I began to question the way I handle Daughter. It is always a balancing act with Daughter. It’s never easy to figure out what age she is at the moment. Stress causes her to regress. A year ago, Psychiatrist put her emotional age at 5 or 6, and warned me not to leave her alone at all. I think she has matured considerably in the past year, and the social worker at the hospital commented on her improvement. Even so, she isn’t even close to 21.

I regularly question my parenting style with Daughter. I have frequent conversations with Therapist about it, seeking to make sure that I’m not being over-protective, and that I am encouraging her growth without putting unreasonable expectations on her.

It’s a challenge. Everyone seems to think they know better than I do. Sister and Brother thought Boyfriend was too old and I shouldn’t let Daughter see him. I chose to let her see him in safe settings, knowing the relationship wouldn’t last and figuring it was better for Daughter to discover the problems on her own. I knew it would be painful for her when it ended, but knew that I can’t control who she chooses for friends. I certainly don’t want her to have to start hiding things from me. As it was, she didn’t tell me about his divorces, because she knew I wouldn’t approve of her dating a divorced man.

I know I’m not perfect. I know I make mistakes. Parenting Daughter is a challenge. She is not a normal 21 year old. Her emotional age varies from day to day and minute to minute. I know there are people who think I am over-protective. I know there are people who don’t approve of me allowing her to be on medication. I know there are people who just don’t get it. Mutter under your breath if you want to, but please don’t criticize me and tell me I’m preventing Daughter from growing up when Daughter is less than a week out of the psych unit and just figured out that Boyfriend is a jerk.

Breaking Up



The romance has ended. For over 3 weeks I’ve know it was over, but have been waiting for Daughter to figure it out on her own. I knew she would, given time. I also knew that introducing reality before she was ready to face it would not be helpful. (Occasionally I demonstrate great wisdom.) I was uncomfortable with the situation from the start. He is 34 or 35 (she’s 21). She is very young when it comes to relationships. I knew that eventually that age difference would be too much.

He has been “too busy” to plan anything with her for about 3 weeks. He didn’t call her cell while she was in the hospital, and neither did Best Friend. I was pretty sure they had something going. Best Friend will willingly open her legs to any guy who comes along, and for Daughter, kissing is a big deal.

One of the challenges Daughter faces is that in our rural county she doesn’t have many peers. That makes it very hard to find suitable friends, or the male or the female. Again this weekend Boyfriend used the excuse of his sick father as a reason he couldn’t schedule anything with Daughter. He told her she could call him, though. So yesterday she called his cell. No answer. She called Best Friend’s cell. No answer. She figured it out.

When she first told me about it, I offered to explain my theory to her. She didn’t want to hear it. Later she came down and asked to hear it. I told her that I thought the age difference had been too much for Boyfriend. She revealed that he has been divorced twice. She hadn’t told me, because she knew I wouldn’t approve. I think she knew this was coming.

Today we’re supposed to go help a friend pack for the moving van, which is coming Monday. Daughter got up and wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. I don’t think she knew how to feel—relieved that things are out in the open; or sad because it’s over. Daughter likes country music, so I suggested that the situation had the makings of a great country song. Dumped by Boyfriend and betrayed by Best Friend. She liked the sound of that. She finally decided we should go help our friend pack.

She’s upstairs running the vacuum. I’m going to get dressed, and we’re headed out the door. I think our time with our friend will be a good distraction for her. She’s going to be fine. I’m relieved that it’s over. My prediction: neither Boyfriend or Best Friend will return her calls this weekend. Monday at the workshop they will have a conversation, and will all come out of this as friends, opening Daughter up to more hurt. I don't think she'll truly trust them again, though, so that's an improvement.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Freaking Out

This morning Daughter’s blood sugar was 94. This is a perfect blood sugar for morning. Her Endo wants it below 110. Below 70 is considered low. It’s been a while since Daughter’s was that low in the morning. She came and in and showed me the meter and announced she couldn’t go to the workshop today with a morning blood sugar that low. I explained to her that it was a perfect number and that Endo would be very pleased. I reduced her breakfast insulin a little bit to help ensure she wouldn’t go low this morning.

Unless we’re having eggs for breakfast, Daughter needs to eat extra protein with breakfast, as normal breakfast foods don’t have enough protein to carry her through the day. I have provided a variety of options for breakfast protein, but what she has decided she likes most is cheese. She dutifully recited what she needed for breakfast this morning. When she came in to hug me good bye, I asked her if she’d had her cheese. She assured me she had. I asked her if I’d find evidence (I buy individually wrapped cheese sticks for her). I wasn’t supposed to ask that question.

She told me it wasn’t fair that she had to eat cheese. Cheese isn’t a breakfast food. She couldn’t possibly fit another bite into her mouth. (She’d had two slices of raisin bread without butter and a cup of milk.) I listened calmly and repeated that she needed to go get her cheese. She stormed into the kitchen to get her cheese.

Skipping her cheese would have greatly increased the chances that she would have had a low this morning. I have explained this numerous times. Yet she goes from being afraid to go to the workshop because she might have a low to doing something that greatly increases the odds that she will have a low. Does she recognize the inconsistencies here? Of course not. That would require some understanding of cause and effect.

Still, she is doing much better than she was prior to the hospitalization. She made it through a softball game last night without an anxiety attack. She played second base the entire game (fortunately no balls came her way). She made it to base twice, once on balls and once on a hit (okay, an error). Her team won, though she didn’t know that and we don’t know the score.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Love my Life



Organization is not my strength. I tend to be a procrastinator. Saturday evening I’m often finishing my sermon for Sunday morning, and sometimes it’s Sunday morning before I put the final thoughts on paper.

So I still consider it amazing that yesterday morning K, my closest friend (we met 27 years ago in seminary), arrived for 3 days of worship planning. Yesterday afternoon we wrestled with Scripture and came up with worship themes for all of October. The sermons won’t be written until October, but when we sit down to write them, we will have solid beginning points and notes pointing to various commentaries and in one case, emails referring us to various websites for more information. Our hope is that by the time she heads home tomorrow, we will have plans through at least January, if not longer. Worship is very important to me, and the advanced planning eases my stress significantly. Challenging and being challenged by K as we dig into Scripture is fun and exciting. We have now preached through the 3 year lectionary cycle more times than I care to think about, yet we still find new things each time we open Scripture. I’m really excited about some of the plans we made for October, and know that my excitement will grow as we continue our journey through Scripture.

Last night K and I continued our Scrabble tournament that has been ongoing for many, many years. I won the first round this time, 299-295. We’ll get in several more games before she leaves. We were supposed to do our worship planning at a retreat center. When Daughter went back into the hospital, K readily agreed to come do it here, knowing that I wouldn’t be willing to leave Daughter until I was confident that she was stable.

When Daughter came home yesterday, she came ran into hug Aunt K. Daughter has a softball game tonight, and is delighted because someone other than Mom will be there to cheer her on. We met a colleague who is getting ready to move for supper last night. Daughter was very patient while the three of us talked shop for close to 2 hours. She is thrilled to have Aunt K here, and not at all jealous. She was up with her alarm and had her Christian music playing as she got dressed this morning. She came downstairs singing. She has done remarkably well with the return to home and work, and even the major disruption of a house guest has not bothered her.

Right now, both ministry and parenting are bringing me great joy. I love my life.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Return to Normal

Daughter’s blood sugar was sky high yesterday morning, but since she was into ice cream during the night that’s not surprising. She has a diet root beer float with a cup of vanilla ice cream in it for a bedtime snack, so it’s not like she’s deprived. She was very chipper when she headed off to the workshop. Her day went well, with normal blood sugars the rest of the day. When she got home, I was working with a young woman on planning children’s ministry, so after greeting me and giving me the newspaper and the mail (and showing me the get well flowers they gave her at the workshop), she got busy with housework. I was impressed.

DebinCal wondered in a comment if Daughter’s psychotic episode was set off by the knowledge that she would soon have passed the one year mark of being voice free that Psychiatrist set as criteria for additional contact with birth family. Yesterday evening I found myself pondering whether this might be the case, on an unconscious level. Daughter pointed out that it’s August now, and asked when she could make contact with her birth mother. I pointed out that Psychiatrist said she had to go a year without hearing any voices before we talked about it. “Yes, and it’s August, so when can I communicate with her?”

“You just heard voices again, so you have to wait another year.”

Of course she told me how unfair that was and pointed out that she’s 21 and should be able to make her own decisions about contact. I told her she’d have to take that up with Psychiatrist. She stormed off to the back porch, and then came back and apologized for her attitude. I had to stop and think what she was apologizing for—I’ve become a master at tuning out any rant that takes place while she’s walking away from me.

I wonder if on some unconscious level she knew she wasn’t ready for additional contact with birth family and the voices served to protect her from it. The fact that she raised it on her second day home from the hospital tells me that it has been weighing on her. I was kind of surprised that she hadn’t made the connection that the renewed voices meant the year was starting over again. Of course, that just shows again her problem with cause and effect.

By yesterday evening she was complaining that her whole abdomen was hurting. I suspect that was the result of spending much of the day in the bathroom. At least she’s no longer constipated!
I talked to Dad last night. He has now lost 56 pounds of fluid. He's feeling much better, though he is spending lots of time in the bathroom. All in all, I think things are returning to whatever passes as normal around here. I’m relieved, and so is my neck.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Relief

Both Daughter and I have gotten relief from our physical ailments. The Dulcolax worked, and I think Daughter will find she feels much better today. I slept through the night, and woke up pain free this morning. Daughter did end up sleeping in her own bed last night, and was up with her alarm this morning.

Today is a busy day, and there is work that needs to be done in preparation for my colleague who is coming tomorrow to work on worship planning. Hopefully Daughter will come home in a cooperative mood. Therapist emphasizes to Daughter what a good team we make, so I hope Daughter will feel like working as a team this evening to get the house in shape.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Stress and Discharge


Last night when I went to bed, left side of my neck was hurting and I had pain going down into the shoulder. I took some ibuprofen, and it took a bit of work but finally found a position in which I was comfortable enough to fall asleep. At about 3:00 in the morning, the pain woke me up. It was hard to even stand up. I can move the arm and turn my head without any pain, but standing, walking, and breathing all can be very painful. I got up and took four more ibuprofen, and went back upstairs. I decided getting in and out of bed would be too hard, so I got into the recliner. The pain was really bad by this time. Every breath hurt. I laid there and wondered how I was ever going to be able to drive to Big City to pick up Daughter. I tried to figure out who I could ask to provide transportation. It took quite a while before I fell back to sleep.

I couldn’t sleep in this morning as I had a hair appointment at 8:00. Once I got up and moving, it wasn’t quite so bad, though still rather painful. My beautician could tell I was in pain. I’m now taking extra strength Tylenol in addition to the maximum dose of ibuprofen. It still hurts, but it’s more tolerable. If it’s not better by tomorrow, I will make an appointment to see my doctor. I suspect stress might have something to do with it. Maybe my body is telling me that Daughter is a pain in the neck.

I got the call this morning that Daughter was discharged, so I left about noon to go pick her up. No meetings or anything—I just picked up Daughter and discharge instructions from the nurse. Lithium has gone up from 300 mg twice a day to 300 mg in the morning and 600 mg at bedtime. That was the only change, for which I’m grateful. Psychiatrist told Daughter she didn’t want to see her in the hospital ever again—only in the office. She told her that she needs to tell somebody when the voices start, and not wait until it is this bad.

The social worker who called me about the discharge told me Daughter seemed much better this year than she’d been last year. I told him I thought she’d grown a lot in the last year. After I picked her up we went to town for prescriptions, and then we went to her therapist’s office, where we had a previously scheduled appointment. Therapist thought Daughter seemed good, though she was concerned about how tired we both were. I was given strict orders to call the doctor if my pain isn’t better by tomorrow.

Daughter will return to the workshop tomorrow. They didn’t give her milk of magnesia last night, so she has now gone 5 days without a bowel movement. I gave her the maximum dose of dulcolax tonight, so hopefully that will resolve the situation. The nurse at the hospital suggested apple juice. I told her I thought after 5 days it would take a bit more than apple juice to fix the problem. Fruit juices never worked when this was a regular issue. She was taking miralax daily for years, and she could still clog the toilet occasionally. I suspect once she gets cleaned out, she will feel much better.

I’m not sure any of this makes sense. I’m tired, and so I’m going to grab the ibuprofen and Tylenol bottles and head to bed. Daughter has claimed the recliner in my room, so I guess I’ll have to find a comfortable position in bed.

Control



Sunday afternoon I ventured over to see Daughter. She greeted me with a smile and a very long hug—more of a cling, actually. She wanted me to stay for a long time. As we played cards, I could see her fading. I began to suspect she was constipated. I don’t know what the clue was, but something set me to wondering. When Daughter is stressed, she seeks things to control. Her bowel habits are something she can control. When she finally stops controlling, the results clog the toilet. I’ve become an expert plunger. For years she took Miralax daily, but the last few years she’s been better, so now she only takes it after a toilet clog.

When she was admitted, I warned them they would need to ask her daily about bowel movements, because she would probably become constipated. When I questioned her Sunday afternoon, it became obvious they haven’t been asking. She hasn’t had a movement since she was admitted on Wednesday. That’s 4 days. She insisted she could wait until she got home. I told the nurse she needed something that evening. The nurse mentioned the possibility of milk of magnesia. I’m considering telling them she can’t come home until they get her cleaned out, but I don’t think the insurance company would go for it. She did say her stomach had been bothering her at some point. I’m amazed it’s not bothering her all the time.

On a cheerier note, the artwork she gave me Sunday was definitely cheerier than her last offering. I do think she’s feeling better. Is she ready to come home? I don’t know. I told her to call me after the Psychiatrist came in and let me know when and if I needed to come get her. I don’t know if she’s ready to home, but I’m ready to stop the daily pilgrimage to the Big City.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Two and a Half Hours


I spent two and a half hours going to visit Daughter yesterday. When I got there, most of the patients were out in the courtyard. Daughter was entertaining her artist friend and a young man with her own special rendition of Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee. When I sat down she was approaching the end of the song. She didn’t acknowledge me, so I touched her knee. She held her hand up to stop me from saying anything. After she’d sung that last line several time several different ways, I touched her knee again. Again she held up her hand. Finally, she finished her song and turned to me.

She told me she was feeling better and engaging with people more. She told me the voices hadn’t come back, and that her blood sugars were running high. Then she said, “I’ve told you everything I have to say.”

“It sounds like you’re asking me to leave.”

“Yes, I am.”

“I drove all this way and brought a card game for us to play.”

“You can leave the card game with me, but I don’t have anything else to say to you. I’m enjoying time with my friends.”

I didn't leave the card game. I asked one of the staff members to let me back in. He did, and asked if I was her mother. I said I was, but she didn’t want to see me. He pointed out I’d come a long way, and asked if I didn’t want to stay and see if she changed her mind.

“She won’t.” I was on the verge of tears again, and I’d done enough blubbering. I wasn’t going to stay and make a fool of myself. I also wasn’t going to reward bad behavior by giving her another chance. I called people to report in on the way home, and asked Sister to call Dad, as I didn’t think I could handle talking to him about Daughter. By the time I got home, I had taken two and a half hours to spend three minutes with Daughter. I’ve no doubt the people I spoke with could tell I was upset. Two of the three people I had called checked with me later in the evening to make sure I was okay. I tried to comfort myself with the thought that she was no longer depressed and withdrawn.

This morning as I got up to preach, I heard the church phone ring. One of the saints ran to get the phone. As I waited for her to return, all kinds of scenarios passed through my head. I pondered who was on the phone. I wondered if it was Daughter, or worse, Daughter’s nurse or doctor calling with bad news. The saint returned and flashed me the okay sign. I was relieved and put it out of my mind.

After worship, the saint came and told me it had been Daughter on the phone. She wanted to talk to me, but told the saint not to interrupt my sermon, just to ask me to call her after worship. I figured she wanted to make sure I came to visit today. I had already planned to call her before I left, because I wasn’t about to make another trip for a three minute visit.

When I got home, there was a message on the answering machine. It was the whiny, pathetic voice of Friday. I called her. She apologized for her behavior. I told her I loved her and I would come see her. She asked me to bring some t-shirts and the card game. She reported she’d had trouble waking up this morning. She then told me that the man who let me back in had confronted her about her treatment of me in the group he led this morning. She had been embarrassed, and was now feeling very guilty. I like that man.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Jealousy

I love Daughter with all my heart. I’m grateful to have her in my life. I’m glad I adopted her. There are times, though, when I am jealous.

I’m sitting around waiting to go visit her at the hospital, and as I wait, I get a call from Sister. She’s taking Niece to a birthday party. Niece is a very talented, charming, 3 year old. I think I took Daughter to one birthday party—and that had more to do with my friendship with the mother than Daughter’s friendship with the child.

I talked to one of the saints. She won’t be in church tomorrow morning because she is going to her daughter’s to help her paint. Her daughter is the same age as my daughter, and is almost done with her bachelor’s degree. She’s working, happy, doing well. I can’t imagine Daughter ever living away from me. With all the cuts being made in Medicaid, even getting her into a supported living situation is years, if not decades, away.

I received a message from another young woman. I had the honor of officiating at her wedding several years ago. She wanted children; her husband-to-be did not. They had agreed to have one child, and I baptized their son over a year ago. On the way out of church about 8 months ago she told me she was pregnant again. She was beaming. I expressed my surprise, remember their agreement. She smiled more broadly. “He changed his mind!” Yesterday she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Her boys will grow up safe and sheltered. They will grow up learning that parents are trustworthy. I wonder what Daughter would be like today if she had had the same opportunity.

Tomorrow I will lead worship and pretend everything is fine. I will celebrate with people celebrating rites of passage: the birth of a child, the start of college, the start of first grade. I’ll talk to proud parents. Then I’ll go visit Daughter, and hope that she will talk to me. Today, though, I mourn all the things I will never celebrate with Daughter.

Mood Swing

I suspect that Psychiatrist thinks Daughter is manic. She mentioned that possibility when we last saw her in June and I told her Daughter had been requiring very little sleep. She thought the longer days had sent her into hypomania, and increased her nighttime trazadone to help her sleep. I haven’t talked to Psychiatrist, but since she increased her lithium, I’m assuming this is the case. Plus, she mentioned the trazadone might not be enough and we’d have to watch her to make sure she didn’t go into full blown mania.

If Daughter was manic, she isn’t now. When I went over to visit yesterday evening, she seemed depressed. She didn’t show any emotion when I walked into the day room, where she was watching TV. She didn’t want to talk. She couldn’t remember her blood sugars. After clearing the items I’d brought her with the nurse. We walked down to her room. I sat on the chair, and she lay down on her bed. She was on her side facing me, but she didn’t want to engage me. I suggested we play a game. She wasn’t interested. I finally sat down beside her and asked her to sit next to me. After leaning on me for a while, I got out The Blue Day Book, which she had requested me to bring. We read it together. That got a few smiles and a little bit of reaction. She also gave me a picture she had drawn. I observed it was very dark. She said she didn’t mean it to be that way, but she couldn’t help it.

She had hoped to convince Psychiatrist to let her come home yesterday. Psychiatrist had told her that she’d be there at least through the weekend, and then they’d see about discharge on Monday after doing another lithium level. Daughter was disappointed, to say the least. She just wants to come home. I assured her that I wanted her home, too, but Iwant her to wait until she is ready so she doesn't have to go back like she did last summer.

After we read the book, Daughter brightened up enough to introduce me to the woman who had shared her art supplies with her so Daughter could draw the picture. M is Amish. I had seen a large Amish family coming into visit as I was leaving Thursday night, but since M had been wearing hospital pajamas, I didn’t connect her with them. Last night, though, she had the traditional dress and was wearing a scarf on her head. I’m glad Daughter is talking to someone. M is quite a gifted artist, who leaves a box on her drawings to add poetry she writes. Her drawings were full of color and life.

I look forward to seeing Daughter draw bright things again soon. I hope her depression doesn’t deepen, and she is ready to come home Monday.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dreaming

Last night I slept well. In fact, when I woke up briefly at 4:40, I think Cat and I were still in the exact same positions we’d been in when I fell asleep at 11:30. I remember one of my dreams. I was having a conversation with Mom, and she was communicating and making sense. She was rejecting my fashion advice, stating she’d wait for Sister to come give her opinion. As much as I hate to admit it, this was proof that she really was very with it at the time.

I’m not surprised I had that dream. Yesterday I was remembering Daughter’s first hospitalization. She was 9 or 10. She thought there were bugs crawling all over her body and eating her up. The psychiatrist she was seeing then wanted to switch her from the old school antipsychotic she was taking at that time to one of the newer ones, and he wanted her in the hospital to do it. I was horrified. She was so young, and she’d be on the adolescent unit (they kept her out of groups, fortunately, recognizing she wouldn’t be able to handle the issues discussed).

I remember calling Mom and Dad. I asked Mom to come. I didn’t want to be alone. She got on the bus and came. She was a wonderful help and support during that first hospitalization. She helped me navigate the system. One of the biggest frustrations I’ve had during Daughter’s psychiatric hospitalizations is communication and figuring out what the plan is. Mom helped me through that.

With this hospitalization, I doubt they have even told Mom. I certainly can’t tell her. Even if I called the home, she wouldn’t be able to converse with me, and might not even know who was talking to her on the phone. It’s at times like this that I really miss her. When I called Dad last night, the first thing he did was ask about Daughter. I haven’t told him all the details that led to her hospitalization. He doesn’t need that worry. Brother and Sister know, and are very concerned and supportive. I still miss Mom.

I’m beginning to suspect that Daughter will need periodic hospitalizations to adjust her medication. One plus from this round of psychosis is that last year Psychiatrist told Daughter she couldn’t even think about contact with her birth family until the voices had been gone for at least a year. That year was about up. Now it has been reset, and I don’t have to worry about dealing with the fallout from contact with birth family for another year.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Day After

Even though I feel like I’m dealing with Daughter’s hospitalization pretty well, I didn’t sleep well last night. So on very little sleep, I was playing catch up today while dealing with lots of phone calls. Sister kept calling me to find out if I knew anything new. I finally pointed out that I couldn’t visit until 6:00 this evening. The irony is that when I called her after I visited, she didn’t pick up. I left her a voice mail—and no information. I know; I’m cruel.

This afternoon I had a meeting about our children’s ministry. I suggested that to become effective, we needed to be willing to throw out all of our preconceived notions and traditions. So, they did. I was pleased by the enthusiasm that was part of our meeting. It felt really good to be able to do something worthwhile and constructive on so little sleep. The group willingly agreed to another meeting this month to finalize details, and a meeting at the end of September to tweak the program.

Daughter was depressed when I saw her this evening. She said she hadn’t felt good and had been dizzy most of the day. She spent much of it sleeping, apparently. Psychiatrist has increased her lithium. Daughter asked her if she had a prediction as to when Daughter could come home. Psychiatrist told her that they had to wait for the increase in the lithium to kick in and had to make sure she didn’t have any side effects. In other words, who knows? Fortunately, Daughter was satisfied with that answer.

I talked to Case Manager at the workshop today. My intuitions about Daughter’s friends were confirmed. Boyfriend probably has at least one other woman on the line. Best Friend seems to be playing 4 men right now. It is a soap opera, and Case Manager did not think Boyfriend is good for Daughter. He is too much older and too much more experienced than Daughter. I don’t think the ongoing drama at the workshop caused Daughter’s problems, but I don’t think it is helpful to her. They are discussing the possibility of putting Daughter and Best Friend in groups at opposite sides of the workshop. Currently, they are in the same group. The separation would reduce Best Friend’s opportunities to pull Daughter into her drama.

Of course, Daughter asked me to bring Boyfriend and Best Friend with me to the hospital tomorrow evening. Not going to happen. I hope that tonight will be a better night. The house just seems empty without Daughter. Cat and Kitten miss her, too. They were sleeping on top of me last night, which didn’t help my attempts at sleep....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Normal Is Just a Setting on a Dryer



This morning Daughter was able to tell me more about the voices. She was able to separate them out. She is supposed to hang her friends from the workshop—from a tree with everybody watching. That’s not a very realistic plan, so I wasn’t too concerned. Then she told me what she’s supposed to do to me—she’s supposed to wait until I’m in a deep sleep and then slit my throat. Now that’s a realistic and deadly plan. I called the emergency number for her psychiatrist and took her in for an assessment. We arrived at 10:30. When I left at 2:40, she had been admitted the psych unit. Her psychiatrist wants to “tweak” the medication. With a realistic plan to murder me, it has to be done on as an inpatient.

I had orders from Daughter to call the workshop as soon as I left the hospital and tell them she was in the hospital. I called the workshop, and her therapist, Sister, Dad, and Brother. I’m trying to convince Sister or Brother to make the soup I was going to make for Dad. I’ll still make it and stick it in the freezer. At some point I will get to his apartment and deliver my low sodium culinary creations.

Before we left for the assessment, I had grabbed the book and CD I had promised to the nursing home couple. On my way back into town, I stopped (very briefly) at the nursing home and dropped them off. I didn’t get to the other nursing home today.

I’ve moved my worship planning workshop from a retreat center to my house. Tomorrow I’ll call and cancel the respite I had scheduled for my time away. I need it, but I can’t leave Daughter that soon after she gets out of the hospital. I don’t know who it would be harder on: Daughter, or me.

I talked to my sister a little while ago. “Is it normal to be so calm about Daughter’s plan to kill me?”

“According to my pastor, normal is just a setting on the dryer.”

I like that. I’m not going worry about how abnormal my life is. I’m not a dryer. I don’t have to be normal.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Here We Go Again


Daughter came into the TV room a little while ago to talk to me about a problem. I have seen her anxiety level increasing, and she has been on edge. I’ve attributed it to anxiety over Granddad, or problems with Boyfriend, or the fact that her period started this week. I can come up with lots of reasons. When she told me she needed to talk, I figured it was about the soap opera at the workshop.

The good news is that she is no longer identifying the voices as being external to herself. She knows they are the product of her own mind. The bad news is that they are telling her to hurt people she cares about, starting with me. When I asked for details, she told me there were so many thoughts and voices in her mind she can’t separate them out. She told me her muddled thoughts are why she’s been getting up at night and eating.

She wanted to tell her friends at the workshop that she wants to hurt them. I suggested that wasn’t a good idea. Last summer she was in the psych unit three different times. Hearing her express these concerns sets my mind to racing. I find myself going over my schedule and figuring out when I can fit this crisis in. I wonder if we can still go see Dad on Thursday afternoon. I try to figure out how urgent this is. Can she wait until her appointment with her therapist on Monday afternoon?

For tonight, I reassured her that I trust her to resist what the voices are telling her. I told her she was stronger than the voices. I gave her the option of sleeping in the recliner in my bedroom (where she is now camped out). I assured her I would call the psychiatrist tomorrow morning.

But I start going through my calendar: Wednesday afternoon I promised to drop by a book and CD at the nursing home to a couple questioning how God could allow their current suffering. I need to go visit the crew at the other nursing home, where 5 of the saints currently reside. Wednesday evening Daughter has softball practice. Thursday afternoon I have a meeting about reworking our children’s ministry program. After the meeting, we’re supposed to head to Dad’s apartment. Saturday she has her softball tournament. I still want to make a low sodium meatloaf and some soup to freeze for Dad before we leave.

The psychiatrist and the hospital are over an hour away. How will I squeeze in daily visits? How will I pay for the gas? Can I trust them to manage her diabetes when her insulin needs are changing?

Then I sit back and take a deep breath. Daughter came to me and told me about the voices. In retrospect, I should have known. But just like Dad thought his congestive heart failure was just allergies, I thought Daughter’s hearing me calling her when I wasn’t was just a result of hearing voices from outside because the windows were open.

We’ll manage. Dad will be disappointed (as will Sister, who had assigned Daughter and me the task of cleaning his apartment) if we can’t get there, but he’ll understand (I’m not so sure about Sister). Daughter told me. Daughter is seeking help. For now I’ll focus on that, and remember that God will walk with us every step of the way.

Long Distance Caregiving


Dad went into the hospital last Wednesday and was discharged on Saturday. His family doctor had claimed he wasn’t in congestive heart failure, he was just gaining a great deal of weight and it was all fat. As of Monday morning, thanks to some powerful diuretics, he’s lost 37 lbs of the “fat” and is no longer weak and short of breath.

After looking at my calendar, I decided not to go visit while he was in the hospital. We will head to his apartment Thursday afternoon, I’ll do whatever he needs done on Friday, and then bright and early Saturday morning we will head to Daughter’s softball tournament. We’ll be home Saturday evening and I’ll be ready for a full day on Sunday.

He is now on a strict low-sodium diet. No processed foods. I’ve been doing some research and doing some cooking. I’ve made some very low sodium meat rub, smoked some pork chops, made a meatloaf, and will be smoking some chicken breasts. My goal is to take a number of quick meals that he can pull from the freezer and stick in the microwave. I figure if we don’t have easy meals available, he’ll end up eating things he shouldn’t out of desperation.

When I talked to him Monday morning, he sounded depressed. Those diuretics he’s taking are getting the weight off, but they’re also keeping him in the bathroom. He’s up multiple times through the night, so he’s not sleeping well. He’s also beginning to face the challenges of his dietary restrictions. Not only is he on a low sodium diet, it also needs to be low cholesterol and low in potassium. Dad has always loved food. He is an excellent cook who always loved to experiment. Sister had encouraged him to eat in the dining room at the senior residence, but he’s discovering his options are very limited there. Yesterday he selected the option that was low in sodium, and found himself facing a fruit salad that was very high in potassium.

I tried to be encouraging, and assured him that I was going to bring things he could eat. The reality, though, is that if he wants to stay alive and out of the hospital, he’s going to need to follow a diet that’s going to be a great deal of work and will deprive him of some of his favorite foods. We can’t change that. He is facing the outcome of 34 years of poorly controlled diabetes. At times like this, it would be nice to live closer to him. Since I live three hours away, I provide support via phone and seek to make the most of my time with him. It’s the best I can do right now. Sometimes I wonder if it's enough.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fun with Blood Sugars



Daughter’s insulin needs are dropping. Possibly it’s because she’s lost some weight, possibly because she’s more active, or who knows what else. As a result, I’m reducing her insulin. Daughter takes Lantus, which serves as a basal insulin always working in the background, every evening. Before she eats, she takes Novolog, which we calculate based on her blood sugar and the number of grams of carbohydrate she’ll be eating.

Her changing needs make our regular challenges even harder. The workshop has very strict rules to follow. The doctor’s orders have to be very specific. To further complicate things, Daughter’s endocrinologist is very rigid. He wants her to eat the same number of carbs and calories and use the exact same insulin scale at every meal. Daughter was regularly having low blood sugars in the afternoon. The workshop was freaking out. Endo refused to change the orders for her lunchtime insulin because that scale worked at her other meals. Now I know that many endocrinologists will use different insulin to carb rations at different times of the day. Daughter’s endo won’t. I finally began telling them fewer carbs for her lunches so they would give her less insulin. It has kept her blood sugars in range and reduced the number of lows.

Most of Daughter’s blood sugars are now in range, and I’d like to fax the new numbers with the reduced insulin to the endo so he can change the orders. There’s just one problem. Daughter is running high in the morning. She is running high because she is getting up at night and eating. It could be that she is going low, and is eating to cover it. But since she isn’t checking, I can’t confirm that. I have explained to her in very simple terms what the problem is. I’ve told her she may be hungry because she’s dropping, so to check her blood sugar and then come talk to me before she eats during the night. I’ve pointed out that she feels better when all of her numbers are in range. I’ve explained the long term consequences of high blood sugars. I’ve pleaded with her to cooperate as I try to figure out her insulin needs. I might as well be talking to the wall.

So why is she doing this? She doesn’t want to have her blood sugars in range. She doesn’t think she deserves to be healthy or feel good. She gets scared and sabotages herself repeatedly, whether it’s with her diabetes or showing responsibility around the house. We’ve had many conversations about her fears and how she deserves to feel good. Sometimes those conversations work, and she’ll continue to be responsible for a few days. Someday, maybe she will believe that she deserves happiness and health and will be responsible all the time. I keep hoping.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Anxiety Meter



I can usually tell how anxious Daughter is by how often she has to touch base with me and how close she is staying with me. Saturday morning, with a sinking feeling, I realized that her anxiety was very high. When I was in taking my shower, she came in to sit on the toilet and wait for me. When I came down to the bedroom to finish getting dressed, she was right next to me. When I came downstairs to finalize my plans for the graveside service, she pulled a footstool over next to my desk so she could be right next to me and watch what I was doing over my shoulder. I began giving her tasks to do so I wouldn’t feel suffocated.

I was now certain that Daughter was anxious. I also knew that she was probably not aware of her anxiety. I decided to encourage her to explore her feelings.

“I’m wondering if you’re feeling anxious about something.”

“No.”

“Is there something you’re worrying about?”

“No.”

“Maybe you’re stressed about something?”

“Yes!”

“What is it that is stressing you?”

She had now decided that I was a complete idiot. “Granddad!”

“It is a worry when he is in the hospital. I talked to Uncle last night and he is going to go home today.” I tried to call his hospital room, but his phone was off the hook, which wasn’t unusual. I called Sister, who was to take him home. She didn’t pick up, so I left her a message. Daughter got up and wandered off. She stayed home and watched tv while I did the graveside. I was relieved she was no longer hovering, but pretty sure that there was more to her anxiety than Granddad.

After lunch, we headed out to do some shopping. I knew she had talked to Boyfriend in the morning and wanted him to cover over and hang out. At the last store, Daughter went off to check out the clothes while I picked up the last few groceries we needed. When I tracked her down in the fitting room, she was not happy. None of the clothes fit properly. She was simmering. By the time we headed out of the store, her life sucked and wasn’t worth living.

“I’m wondering if...”

“Don’t even mention his name! I’m going to scorch him.”

I never did mention his name, but we discussed Boyfriend’s words and actions were inconsistent as we drove home. He had promised to call her with his schedule when she talked to him in the morning. He never called. I have sensed that the romance is cooling, but yesterday had assured me they had talked everything out on Friday and they were fine. Except that on Saturday he’s not following through on his promises. Daughter desperately wants a boyfriend.

I suspect that until they get things resolved, I’m going to need to adjust to having Daughter hovering.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Schemer

Daughter’s best friend is another adopted child Daughter met at the workshop. Unfortunately, Best Friend has not healed as well as Daughter has. I’m sure she has Reactive Attachment Disorder. She moved into an efficiency apartment in subsidized housing this year, and it has not gone well. I dropped Daughter off their once while I went grocery shopping. Daughter described an apartment with open containers of spoiled food all over the place. Best Friend asked Daughter to clean her apartment while she talked on the phone. When Best Friend got a call from her parents saying they were on their way, she wanted Daughter to ignore my call that I was on my way to get her and finish cleaning the apartment.

Needless to say, I don’t care much for Best Friend. Daughter finally (with the help of their case manager) told Best Friend she was abusive and needed to stop hitting and kicking Daughter. That doesn’t mean Best Friend has stopped trying to organize her life. Friday was payday at the workshop. Daughter had her largest paycheck of the year: $25. Best Friend (who is doing a terrible job of managing her money and at one point was begging Daughter for quarters so she could do her laundry) wanted me to take the two girls to Big City so they could go shopping. I said no.

As the week progressed, she had various other ideas for how Daughter should spend her weekend. I was noncommittal on all of them. Best Friend’s last scheme had me hosting a picnic for all of their friends before a concert in the park. Best Friend didn’t show because her boy friend’s parents were out of town so she was spending the weekend with at her boy friend’s house (the boy friend has been forbidden to see her). Thursday Daughter refused to do her chores to earn her night out, so I was looking forward to a quiet weekend (or as quiet as it can be when I have a graveside service and some meetings that I need to prepare for.)

Yesterday Daughter came home all excited. Best Friend had made plans for 4 of them to go to City shopping. Daughter wanted to go. As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t trust Best Friend. There were two other participants: Friend, who Case Manager has warned me doesn’t make good choices (her ex-husband is in prison for murdering their child), and Friend’s Boy Friend. All I know about FBF is that he is on the softball team with Daughter and Is an out of control diabetic. The coaches make him test before games and practices, and if his blood sugar is too out of range, he isn’t allowed to participate. None of these are people I would choose as Daughter’s friends.

I struggled with whether to let Daughter go. I finally figured out that knowing Best Friend, she had made these plans without consulting with Friend or BFB. I suggested Daughter call Best Friend and find out what the plans were. Sure enough, when Best Friend had tried to call the other two to tell them their plans for the evening, she hadn’t been able to reach them. I was relieved.

Best Friend then decided Daughter needed to come to the concert in the park. I had discussed going to the concert earlier in the week with Daughter, and she wasn’t interested. I had had a hard day, and didn’t want to go anyplace. Daughter was trying to do lots of work to make up for being so uncooperative on Thursday. I was tired, and had planned on a quiet evening at home. I declined to take her to the concert. A small rage with some yelling and door slamming resulted. I ignored it. In her calm moments, I offered Daughter alternatives to the concert. Of course they weren’t satisfactory.

To further complicate matters, Daughter and Boy Friend are having some difficulties. Boy Friend has told Daughter he can’t go to the concerts because he can’t handle heat. He told her he was busy all weekend and wouldn’t be able to see her. When Daughter called him yesterday, he was at the concert.

I think the workshop is one huge soap opera most of the time. I’m torn between wanting to keep Daughter away from all of them and knowing that she needs to socialize. I look forward to the day when we will live closer to her friends and it will. I hope that when that day comes, she will have more (and better) options in friends.

This morning Daughter was apologetic. She knows I have the graveside this morning. If I can get the sermon tamed for tomorrow, I think I’ll take her to the City for some shopping. There are some things I need to get, and it would be nice to get away for a while.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Getting Old


Dad turned 79 on Wednesday. He spent his birthday in the ER waiting to be admitted to the hospital. Sister pondered how we should tell him: “Happy birthday, Dad, we’re admitting you to the hospital. “ She did pick up his mail before she took him the hospital so he could open his cards from Daughter and me. The ER was very busy, so they waited hours for a room. In the midst of their waiting, the staff brought Dad a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday to him. Sister had to blow out the candle, since he was on oxygen. We thought it was nice that they took time to recognize his birthday and sing to him when they were so busy.

Quite frankly, we never expected to celebrate Dad’s 79th birthday. He has struggled with health issues for years. We always thought he would be the one to end up in a nursing home, not Mom. Mom took early retirement 16 years ago because she didn’t expect him to live much longer.
I talked to Dad yesterday. He sounded much better after less than 24 hours on heavy duty diuretics. Sister told me she could see that they had gotten some of the fluid off by looking at him, and it was the first time she’d had a conversation with him in weeks during which he had been awake and alert throughout the conversation. The cardiologist told him he had to follow the low sodium diet, and couldn’t eat any processed food. Our next challenge will be helping him figure out ways to follow the diet.

I’m facing issues of aging, too. I reluctantly went to see the optometrist this week. I didn’t want to spend the money on new glasses, but I was having a great deal of difficulty reading. There were times I couldn’t read fine print, and my eyes would hurt and water when I tried to read. The good news was I don’t need new glasses. The bad news was I have dry eye syndrome. He explained that it is very common in women my age. My tear glands are working, but the oil glands in my eyelids aren’t, so the tears don’t stay on the eyeball. I bought a dietary supplement for aging eyes yesterday, and I have some eye drops I can use.

As I am reminded of my own aging process and look at my parents, I wonder what the future holds for me. I wonder who will care for me. I look at Daughter, and wonder how she will manage without me. I look to God, and am reminded that we will be okay, no matter what the future brings.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Trans Racial Adoption

I followed a link to an interesting article, which got me thinking. I am white. Daughter is biracial. B-mom was white; b-father was African American. For the first six years of her life with me, Daughter and I lived in an inner city African American community. I was a definite minority. There were challenges: at the school I was seen as an evil woman who was robbing this child of her cultural heritage. Daughter was having psychotic episodes in the classroom, but because she shut down rather than acting out, her teacher was convinced that Daughter was fine and I was the problem. As this battle was going on, we were getting ready to move, so I comforted myself that if we moved to a predominantly white community, I would be seen as a heroine rescuing Daughter rather than a villain stealing her cultural heritage.

While I was in that first community, I had many conversations with a close friend about the issues. She was bi-racial, though she self-identified as African-American. She asked me what was Daughter’s culture, and pointed out that she wasn’t either white or African-American, she was both, and both cultures needed to be recognized and honored. I have always taught Daughter she is more, not less, because of the richness of her heritage.

One day after Daughter’s bath, I was putting some powder on her. “Look, Mom, now you’ll have a white baby!”

I responded quickly, “I love my black baby.” She threw her arms around me and gave me a big hug.

After we integrated Tiny Village, Daughter gradually began to share with me some of the things that she had experienced in the inner city. Her classmates made fun of her because I was white. They knew she was bi-racial, and called her skunk, among other things.

Tiny Village has been very accepting of Daughter, though our presence did cause a bit of a stir initially. A colleague in the next county said some of her women came to her and said, “Why didn’t you tell us the new pastor in Tiny Village has a black daughter?”

Her response, “I didn’t think it mattered.”

There have been some problems; a boy at school began calling her “black girl.” When she told me about it, I suggested she look him in the eye and say, “Thank you. I’m very proud of all my heritage.” She loved that response. There was a song by John McCutcheon that talked about the need to “keep on walking until they understand” and celebrated the accomplishments of a number of African American pioneers. We listened to that song quite a bit, and I told Daughter that the problem wasn’t hers; it belonged to the people who didn’t understand and were showing their ignorance. I explained that she couldn’t change them; she just had to “keep on walking.”

We’ve now lived in Tiny Village for well over 10 years. People seem to have forgotten that Daughter isn’t white. One young man who grew up around Daughter argued with me, insisting that Daughter isn’t African American (though actually he said “colored.”) People no longer seem to notice her race. On the one hand, this is good; she has been able to date without problems. I also worry, though. We are not going to live in Tiny Village forever. What will happen when we go back into the world and Daughter has to deal with people who haven’t forgotten her race? Have I given her the tools she needs to cope with the racism she is bound to encounter? When she reconnects with African Americans, will she feel that she has been deprived? Have I deprived her?

Tiny Village has been a wonderful, safe, healing place for her. When I walked her to school in the inner city, people tried to sell us drugs. I would never have been comfortable giving her the kind of freedom she has here to just go out and explore. Of course, I’m not real thrilled with the fact that she’s gone native and fallen in love with country music. My hope is that our next community will be integrated, and Daughter will have the opportunity to experience all of her heritage and make her own choices.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Long Distance Coping


I live 160 miles from Mom and Dad. Both of them have been hospitalized this year, so I have made a number of trips up there. I was last with Dad about a month ago. I noticed then that he was weaker than he had been when he first came home from the hospital and rehab. I told him if he didn’t get up and start walking and getting more exercise, he’d be back in the nursing home again.

I shared my concern with Sister and Brother, and suggested we all encourage him to get walking more. Sister went over and insisted he walk over the cottage to visit Mom one day. She assured him he could stop and rest as many times as he needed to, and she would go get the car if she had to. He had to rest a number of times on the walk over there.

Two weeks ago she took him to the doctor, and shared her concern that he was back in congestive heart failure. She pointed out that he was retaining fluids around his middle. Her concerns were not taken seriously. His ankles weren’t swollen, and his lungs sounded okay. It didn’t seem to concern them that he had gained 32 pounds.

Dad insisted that he just had allergies, and that was why he couldn’t sleep lying down. I ordered a wedge pillow for him so he could sleep with his head elevated. He also had excuses for why he wasn’t walking or even going to the store or over to visit Mom anymore. Sister and Brother were doing his shopping and running his errands.

Friday when I talked to Dad, he said he’d had a terrible time sleeping because of his asthma. I asked if his inhaler had helped, and he admitted it hadn’t. He said he’d finally gotten up and sat down in the recliner, and then he’d been able to sleep. He went on to mention that if he stood up to do any work, he quickly became very short of breath and had to sit down and rest. I was concerned, but knew he would become angry if I mentioned it sounded like he was in congestive heart failure to me. I told him asthma is very serious, and if he had difficulty breathing again, he needed to call for help.

I then called Brother and told him I thought Dad was in congestive heart failure. Brother had been out of town all week on business, but promised to visit on Saturday and take him to the hospital if he thought it was necessary. Brother did visit, and decided he didn’t need to go to the hospital, but he would take him back to the doctor on Monday.

Monday Brother took Dad to the doctor. Again, he was assured that he wasn’t in congestive heart failure, even though he had gained 22 pounds in 2 weeks. He was just eating too much and getting fat. Sister and I both questioned this, because we knew Dad was being very careful about not eating too much. The doctor did acknowledge that Dad was very weak and had lost his sense of balance. He ordered some blood work and sent him home.

Tuesday the doctor’s office called Dad and told him he needed to come back on Wednesday for more blood work. He asked Sister to drive him over. Brother called the doctor’s office and demanded to know why they needed more blood. It seems his kidney functions were off, his potassium was too high, and one of the results indicated he was in congestive heart failure.

Sister called his cardiologist. The nurse gave him an appointment today at the satellite office, which is further away. She suggested Dad pack a bag so he could go directly to the office.
Sister had the blood work faxed to the cardiologist’s office. The nurse called Sister back and said the cardiologist wanted her to get him to the ER (at the hospital close to home) as quickly as possible. His colleague would see him there, admit him, and start treatment.

Today I hate being 160 miles away. I’ve been studying my calendar to see when I can go up for a day or two. I told Dad this morning that while he might think the current doctor is a nice guy, we are going to find him a new one. Dad didn’t argue. Brother and Sister are waiting in the ER with him. It will be a very long day for all of us.

Kitten Earns her Keep


Daughter had a softball game last night. She played for a while, and they lost (21-16) to a team of excellent hitters. (Some of their athletes with very visible disabilities could really hit the ball—one power hitter only swung the bat with one arm). After the game, she came out of the dugout visibly upset. She was shaking and told me she had to sit down. I asked her what her blood sugar was, and she had just checked and it was in the low 206 or something. As she sat there, it was obvious she wasn’t feeling well. She began to cry. I suggested slow, deep breaths to help her calm down. Her friends gathered tightly around her, and I asked them to give her some breathing room.

I rechecked her blood sugar that was fine, and finally convinced her she could walk to the car. She didn’t want to come home, but didn’t know where she wanted to go. She complained that she had a very bad headache. I began to suspect I was seeing a panic attack and that she had hyperventilated. I told her when she got home she could take a shower, and she’d feel better.
Once home, she insisted she couldn’t take a shower. She went into the living room and sat down on the couch. Kitten came in, and she growled at her. I suggested that she be nice to Kitten, who was worried about her. I pointed out that petting Kitten had helped her calm down in the past. When I next glanced into the living room, she was lying down and Kitten was on her chest. Daughter was talking softly to Kitten and petting her. It wasn’t too long before she headed to the shower.

By bedtime her blood sugar was back down in range. I suspected the earlier high had been a result of adrenaline. She hadn’t been in bed too long before she came into my bedroom and informed me she still had a terrible headache. I pondered the situation. This was the second time she’d complained of a terrible headache that had supposedly started at the beginning of the game. There had been extended stretches of time when she’d acted as though nothing was wrong. I suggested she take Kitten to bed with her. She did, and quickly fell asleep.
This morning, she told me Kitten had slept with her most of the night, and that she had helped her feel better. I guess it almost makes up for all the shedding Kitten does.