Saturday, November 29, 2008


Dad does his banking online, and he asked me to go online today to pay a bill that had come in since he's been in the hospital. This is something I often do for him when I'm there, so that didn't surprise or bother me. I got online, and began looking for the appropriate payee, and came across a payment he'd made to an unfamiliar hospital for $12,000. I was fairly confident that I would have known about any hospital services that cost him $12,000 out of pocket, so I began searching for the bill. I found it. It was for blood work for Mom. The bill had been for $120.00. Apparently he forgot to put in the decimal point. He'd paid it a month ago. He hadn't noticed his mistake, even though his checking account had shrunk by $12,000.

I called Brother, who has power of attorney and told him he'd need to get on it. I also mentioned it to Sister. I soon had a call from across the country Sister. She said she'd call and take care of it, and asked for the details. As I went looking for the details, I discovered that he hadn't put the right account number down when he set up the payee information. The hospital received a check from a bill paying service for $12,000 and probably have no idea what account they should credit it to. I told Dad what had happened, and that we were taking care of it. He laughed.

The rest of us were disturbed. If I hadn't gone into pay that bill, and noticed the out of the ordinary payment, I don't know how long it would have taken for it to be discovered, or even if it would have been discovered. How long before one of us has to take over his finances? At what point do we step in and take away his autonomy?

I hope that a new pastoral position will come through for me, and I will be able to move closer to my parents. I hope I will be able to step in and do more for them. I also hope we can keep them safe without taking away their autonomy and independence unnecessarily.

For now, I'm glad to be home. For now, I need to focus on my responsibilities here, especially with regard to worship tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 28, 2008


This evening Daughter and I tackled Dad's apartment. We changed the sheets on his bed (which I think were the same sheets we put on last time we were here), did 4 loads of laundry, scoured the bathroom, and are still working on the kitchen. There is a skillet that I have set to soak yet again. I'm not sure how he could have burned something that completely. The odor is almost gone, and hopefully the little fruit flies will vanish now that we've eliminated the dirty dishes. We are going to have to bring out industrial strength cleaner to get the kitchen floor clean.

I pretty much told him that he had to go to rehab, and that he's going to have to pay for additional help once he gets back to the apartment. I pointed out additional help is much cheaper than assisted living. He couldn't argue that. Today he was agreeable, but who knows what will happen when it comes time for discharge. His kidneys are doing better, but he needs to continue with a specialist when he's out of the hospital. His infected elbow is doing better, but still painful. He sat up in a chair for about 5 hours today, but still hasn't done any walking. I'm hoping they ordered a PT/OT evaluation. We asked for one, but his primary care physician wasn't in until this evening, and we'd all left by then.

I got Mom over to see him again. She wasn't as excited today. Now that the initial relief that he's not dead or dying is over, I think she's worried. She cried when I left her at the nursing home. Daughter is hanging in with me, though this is hard on her. Her blood sugars were high today, and she slept much of the afternoon. She worked like a trooper, though, when I said it was time to clean.

I called Dad's sister today. She didn't know about any of his hospitalizations this year. Brother was supposed to be keeping that side of the family informed, I was dealing with the other side. She was widowed this past year, and hasn't been up to keeping in touch any more than Dad has. She's five years older than he is, and there are just the two of them left. She's also buried her son, though she still has a daughter alive.

I guess that I am very much aware of aging right now. One generation is passing away, and mine is having to step up and take over. I'm feeling the burden tonight. I'm recognizing that I no longer have a parent to look to for support and guidance. I recognize that I'm now the care giver, and that I'm the one my Daughter, my siblings, and my parents are looking to for decisions. I know they all want me closer to them, so I can carry more of the load. I'm not sure I want to live closer. We have a sister who lives across the country from us. She doesn't get as involved in the day to day stuff. There are times I envy her. I suspect though, that whatever the distance is, this is going to continue to be a challenging time. I also know that it would be much harder on me if I couldn't be here and be involved. I hope I get a new position that will move me close enough to do more, but recognize that I will need to set clear boundaries. I can do more, but I can't do everything.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


We left before 8:00 this morning to spend Thanksgiving with family. We stopped at the hospital to see Dad, who was admitted Monday. His kidneys are doing better, but he has an infection in his elbow. They will probably drain the fluid off tomorrow. He's in a lot of pain from it, and is on IV antibiotics and morphine for pain. He is very weak, and I don't see how he can come home alone. I think he'll need rehab when he is discharged. I talked to him about it some, and told him he needed to be in better shape. I pointed out he had fallen twice in the week before he went into the hospital. He told me he hadn't fallen, he'd slid. I told him that it didn't much matter, as he'd ended up on the floor and couldn't get up. Part of the service in his senior apartment is a call button he wears around his neck for emergencies. He had to use it both times. Before he went in, he wasn't feeling good, so he hadn't been visiting Mom. He didn't want Mom to see him in the hospital, as he didn't want to upset her.

We went from the hospital to Sister's. Brother had already picked up Mom from the nursing home. She was very weepy. It was obvious she missed Dad and didn't know what was going on. She has lost most of her verbal ability. It was a challenging day, as we had to watch her closely. At one point Daughter pulled me off into another room to talk. She was in tears about Grandad not being present. She was also upset about Grandma's decline. As I was trying to calm her down, Mom went wandering through. I called Sister out of the kitchen to see to Mom, who needs assistance in the bathroom.

When we sat at the table to eat, Mom began weeping. Niece, who just turned 4, sat in her lap to comfort her. I made the decision that we were taking Mom to the hospital to see Dad. I had warned him I might do this, so I called and told him we were coming. Mom was sobbing in the car, even as I kept assuring her we were going to see Dad. I told her he was fine, he just had a sore elbow. As we got close to the hospital, she got excited. I was surprised, because they didn't begin using this hospital until after she developed dementia. It was also dark, yet she recognized that we were getting close, and began pointing to the hospital.

When we got up to the room and she saw him, she was so excited, she was jumping up and down with joy. She tried to climb in bed with him. She was humming happy tunes as we took her back to the nursing home. Dad was happy, too.

We dropped her off, and came into Dad's apartment. I've never seen it this filthy. We have our work cut out for us. I promised to go to the hospital tomorrow morning to cover the doctors, but I think Daughter and I will spend the rest of the day cleaning. But tonight, we're relaxing. We'll need to be well rested to face the challenges ahead.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a Thanksgiving Eve service tonight, and then Daughter and I came home and made some food to take to my Sister's tomorrow. We'll need to be out of here by 8:00 tomorrow morning, because we need to stop at the hospital to see Dad. He may be in the hospital until Monday or longer, and he's probably going to need rehab. He's very weak right now. He got two units of blood, but his hemoglobin is still low. They have all sorts of doctors in consulting right now. After we visit Dad, we'll pick up Mom at the nursing home and go to Sister's for Thanksgiving.

We'll stay in Dad's apartment, hang out at the hospital, and come home sometime Saturday. This year I have much for which to give thanks as we gather tomorrow.

I'm thankful for Daughter.

I'm thankful for Psychiatrist, who is working to find the right combination of meds for Daughter. Tonight I was able to correct her without her going into a rage. This is major progress.

I'm thankful for all the advances in diabetes care. It wasn't that long ago that she would have died 8 years ago when she was first diagnosed.

I'm thankful for the sheltered workshop, that gives her structure and helps her learn job skills.

I'm thankful for Therapist and the coping skills she teaches Daughter and the support she gives me.

I'm thankful for the congregation I serve, and the opportunities I have to provide ministry in a variety of ways.

I'm thankful that Dad is under the care of specialists, and that he still has his mind.

I'm thankful that Mom still recognizes me, even if she can't talk to me. She still gives great hugs.

I'm thankful that Brother and Sister live close to our parents and are so willing to go above and beyond in providing for their needs, big and small.

I'm thankful that I live close enough that I can get there when I have to, and that my family understands that there are certain times of the year when I can't get there.

I'm thankful for new opportunities for ministry and the excitement of the search for a new position and all the opportunities that come with it.

I'm thankful for Cat and Kitten, who are usually willing to cuddle and are great foot warmers on cold nights.

I'm thankful for friends old and new.

I give thanks to God for giving me all these blessings and many more.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with good food, good fellowship, and an appreciation for your blessings.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dealing with Stress

Daughter does not handle stress well. Yesterday she came home concerned about Grandad. I assured her he would be fine, but she was still concerned. She told me she needed to go for a walk to help with her stress. I was puzzled when she went out the backdoor. I looked out the window and couldn't see her. In a flash of insight, I went and checked the key board. Sure enough, the church keys were missing. I called the church phone on our home phone and her cell phone on my cell phone and told her to get home now. I knew she'd gone over there in search of food. We'll never be able to stop the lows as long as she's sneaking extra food.

Knowing she'd been caught, she felt guilty and flew into a rage. She slammed doors, threw things, and was generally ugly. Basically, she was mad at herself. She told me I should leave her home alone when I go to spend Thanksgiving with family. I asked her what happened to the list she came up with with Therapist. She didn't know where it was, but she remember what was on it and she'd tried them all. I had her recite some of the things that were on it: playing piano, singing, listening to music, dancing. I pointed out to her that I'd know if she'd done any of those things, and she hadn't.

There are times when I am exhausted by dealing with her. I was concerned about Dad, too. His hospitalizations are coming closer together, and it's frustrating to be so far away. Her acting out on her stress multiplies my stress. I end up exhausted. By bedtime she'd listened to some music and turned it around and done some of her chores. When I think of moving and having to get her through all the stresses that will come with getting her in with new doctors and into a new program in addition to the stresses that come with starting any new job, it's enough to make me want to curl up in a corner in a fetal position.... When the call to a new position comes, I will also be given the patience and strength to guide her through it.

Today I had to go pick her up from the workshop. Her blood sugar dropped right after lunch, and didn't come up until after she finished supper (with no insulin). She's not going to the workshop tomorrow. I don't have time to pick her up tomorrow if she has another low. I still have to write two sermons, get Sunday's bulletin printed, write a bunch of notes, and get the notices out about our next senior luncheon.... It will get done.

Monday, November 24, 2008

In Praise of Winter Wheat

It is a gray, dreary day here. It's a little too warm for snow, so we are getting rain/mist. It's one of those days when the wiper speed is never set right. This morning I spent time with two women in their 90's. I drove one to the City to visit her daughter, who has terminal cancer. While she was visiting her daughter, I went to see Broken Neck. Broken Neck was really dragging today. She wanted to visit, and was very sharp mentally, but she kept falling asleep. She'd already exercised and cleaned up, and was worn out.

We drove home through dreary farm fields. Some were black. The farmers had completed the harvest and worked manure or lime into the ground. Some were full of brown stubble. All looked dead. It was a dreary, depressing day. Our moods seemed to match the dreary day.

Daughter had called me on my cell phone in tears, worried that Grandad didn't feel good and was headed to the hospital. I have wondered if he will survive another year, and whether we will be able to convince him to give up his apartment.

My passenger was facing the death of her daughter, and I was worried that Broken Neck will not recover sufficiently to live alone again (she is 92). But then, as we were driving along, we'd come across a field of winter wheat. In the midst of the black soil, brown stubble, and gray day, there would be a field of bright green. There would be a field of winter wheat, defiantly growing as everything else is dying. Those fields of winter wheat always lift my spirits. They remind me that in the midst of death, there is always life. They remind me that after the winter comes the spring. They remind me that there is always hope.

I was tempted to come home and curl up in a ball and fall asleep. After all, it is my day off. But I didn't. I came home and separated the meat from the bones and skin in my turkey stock, and chopped up vegetables, and there is now a huge pot of turkey rice soup simmering on my stove. I'm making a mental list of people who would benefit from some homemade soup. I'm sure I'm not the only one who needs some hope on a dreary day. I'll remember the winter wheat, and I'll take them some turkey rice soup.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Dinner

Today was the day of the Thanksgiving Dinner the youth group did for our senior citizens. I'm proud of our kids. They did a wonderful job of waiting on their guests. The parents were wonderfully supportive. From the noise level and the length of time people hung around, I'd say a good time was had by all. One of the kids came up and said, "People want to know if we are going to do this next year." I suggested he wait a few days before he asked me that question.

At our next youth gathering, we will evaluate what we did and begin to make plans for next year. Overall, it went well. The serving took a bit longer than we would have liked, but that was okay. We had enough food. I have the bones from two turkeys simmering in a huge stock pot on my stove right now. I stayed out of the clean up, and had time to visit with various people.

Daughter did well, especially considering she chose today to start having lows again. Her blood sugar was 33 a little before noon. I started feeding her massive quantities of food, but her blood sugar has stayed low to normal for the rest of the day. It did get her out of running back and forth between the church and the house.

The hot water heater at the church gave out mid-afternoon. The initial fix was unsuccessful, so we started heating water on the stove for dishes. A second attempt got it fixed in time to do the dishes. Our teens did an excellent job today, and I was very proud of them. Our guests had them come out of the kitchen for a round of applause. Our guests were very impressed, and thrilled to have been invited.

When I got home, Dad had tried to call twice, and had even left a message. Dad doesn't call. Dad doesn't leave messages. He wanted to know how the dinner had gone, and couldn't remember what time we were having it. He has always loved to cook, and for years was the chef at his church. Brother and I have both carried on the tradition, and he loves it when we call and ask for advice, so of course I did. He wanted to know all the details of the meal. Dad will probably be going into the hospital tomorrow. He was at the doctor Friday, and he's dehydrated again from too many diuretics, and his hemoglobin is low, so they'll probably have to give him blood again. He's feeling pretty lousy, and said today he would have gladly gone to the hospital. Brother takes him back to the hospital tomorrow, and then we'll know more.

After I talked to Dad, I got a call from V, a 93 year old woman in the church. She had the stomach flu overnight, so she didn't come to the dinner. She had just gotten a call from her son-in-law. Her daughter is dying. When her daughter was diagnosed over 6 years ago, she wasn't expected to live 6 months. She's gone through numerous rounds of chemo, and she's done well. Now, the cancer is winning. V has buried most of her siblings and her husband in the time I've been here. Her one remaining sister (and she came from a large family) has early Alzheimer's. V has a strong faith, and will get through this, but it's going to be hard. We aren't supposed to bury our children, even when our children our senior citizens themselves. I drove over and spent a few minutes with V, offering Scripture and prayer. I volunteered to take her to the hospital tomorrow, if that would help. I told her I could go visit Broken Neck while she sees her daughter.

We were joking at one of the tables about how I only work one hour a week on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, there are people who really do think that is the case. One of the saints is coming in Wednesday to help out in the office. Secretary is out of commission for at least another week.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Game and the Dinner

Tomorrow is the day the youth group is doing a Thanksgiving dinner with our senior citizens. When we started this, we figured on maybe 35 people showing up. We are now expecting about 45. My co-advisor is out of commission after surgery for a detached retina. This morning I will be making massive amounts of cranberry relish and stuffing. Tomorrow I will do 2 turkeys. Fortunately, there are 2 ovens at the church, so I will do the cooking over there.

The most challenging part is that a few of the mothers have stepped in and seem to want to change some of the plans the kids made. The kids want the meal served family style around tables put together to make a big square. The mothers consider that stupid, and think the food should be served out of the kitchen. I intend to make sure the kids wishes are followed. It wasn't what I suggested to them, but they were adamant that this is what they wanted to do. I think we need to honor their plans.

I'm proud of my youth group this year. For the first time, they are coming in with ideas and suggestions, and many of them are very good ones. For years, it was like pulling teeth to get any ideas out of the group. This group has known me since before they started school, and are very comfortable with me, which is bad and good. They participate well, but they have no fear of me. There are times when it is useful when working with a bunch of teenagers to have them a little bit afraid....

This afternoon is The Game. The entire college football seasons builds towards this game, and I happen to root for the other team. I catch flack about it all year, but especially this weekend. What they don't know is that my interest in college sports has grown tremendously just so I can talk intelligently about The Rivalry. I am not optimistic about my team's chances this year, but it will still be fun to watch the game and listen to everyone harass me tomorrow. Daughter and I will eat junk food as we watch the game, which makes it one of her favorite days of the year.

Hopefully it will be a fun day, and Daughter will find it comforting to work with me in the kitchen and watch The Game with me. She finally has come back to rooting for my team, which is good. I know one family where one kid shares my love for the other team. He is banished from the rest of the family today and will watch the game alone-- though I suspect when our team scores, he will make sure to point it out.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fear + Guilt = Anger + Eating

Yesterday morning I took Daughter to see Therapist. Daughter wanted me to go in with her and stay. She acknowledged that she had "forgotten" her appointment with Therapist on Monday because she was afraid to talk about the things she needed to talk about. She deals with fear and anxiety with anger and eating. The eating then leads to guilt, and she deals with guilt by getting angry and lashing out at me, which leads to more guilt, and she's then stuck in a downward spiral. Therapist helped her come up with a list of others ways she could handle her fear and guilt. Daughter was very happy.
She called me a little after lunch, telling me she was tired and didn't feel good, and she really needed to be picked up. Even knowing she'd have to sit in hospital waiting rooms while I made visits and wouldn't be able to watch TV, she still wanted me to come get her, so I did. I went to visit the widower of the woman who committed suicide. He is much less confused after the surgery, and expects to be discharged from rehab soon. I sat and talked to him while he cried. I brought him tissues and when he didn't have a waste basket by him, I took the used ones to throw away. He protested that I shouldn't have to deal with his snot. I assured him it was okay. We had a good conversation, and I was impressed with all he remembered. It is so tragic-- if his wife had held on a little longer this ordeal might have been behind them.
I drove to the other hospital in City to visit Broken Neck. She is improving, and can now recognize her improvement. We had a pleasant, though brief, visit. They are working her hard in therapy, so she was tired. Daughter got home and was frustrated, as she desperately wanted something to eat but was remembering our conversation about the dangers of her sneaking food and lying about it. I finally convinced her to have some sugar free hot chocolate as a snack while she waited for supper.
After supper we did some more cleaning and decluttering in the kitchen, and then we played a game together. I don't remember the last time we played a game together. It was good for both of us. This morning when she woke up she had the best blood sugar she's had in quite some time. She was so excited. I was pleased, too. I asked, "Am I to assume, then, that those high numbers you've been having in the mornings are a direct result of what you've been eating?" She admitted that they were. I hope that she will remember and follow the list she and Therapist developed at least for a while. It would certainly be nice to have her cooperate long enough to get her insulin needs figured out.
I am resigned to the reality that while she will hopefully be cooperative for a while, eventually she will forget this lesson and once again get caught in the downward spiral of fear and guilt leading to anger and eating. For now, though, I will enjoy the break.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Special Olympics basketball practice starts tonight. This is a rotten time of the year for me to be transporting Daughter to practice every Wednesday evening. The practice runs from 4:30 to 6:00, which is a terrible time for us. She gets off the bus at 4:00 and it takes us 15 minutes to get to Town for practice. We normally eat around 5:30, so it's right in the middle of the supper hour. She doesn't have time to eat supper and change and get ready for practice. There isn't anyplace to drive through for a sandwich on the way to practice, and I really don't want the rush of having her eat something from home in the car, because she would feel stressed and get all worked up, resulting in tics, high blood sugar, and who knows what else.

We had a terrible time managing her blood sugars last year during basketball, and she finally dropped out because of it (with blessings and a huge sense of relief from me). Her blood sugars would go way high during the games and practices (adrenaline) and then crash later. There were times she'd come over to me at the sidelines and she was shaking so much she couldn't check her own blood sugar. This year her blood sugars aren't stable going into it, so I can't imagine what impact the stress/exercise will have on them. On the other hand, the activity and socialization are good for her. I don't want to give her the message there are things she can't do because of her diabetes.

So I find myself torn. The first practice is tonight, and I still haven't made a final decision on what to do. I haven't made the time to really sit down and talk to her about it, and there probably won't be time to do it this evening. So I'll take her to practice, we'll see what happens with her blood sugar and how she feels, and then make our decisions about her ongoing participation.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good News and Bad News in the Office

The good news is that Secretary and I had a very productive morning. It was one of those rare days when no one dropped by the office, so we were able to work undisturbed. We mailed out about 40 letters and notes today, the majority of them were from 2 different mail merges, but over 12 were hand written notes. We also got work done on the newsletter and the bulletin.

Secretary was having obvious problems with her vision, and said that it had gotten really bad lately. After watching her try to read things, I told her she needed to get to a doctor right away. Instead of arguing, she got into the optometrist this afternoon. She then called to inform me that she was on her way to Very Big City for emergency surgery for a detached retina. I called and started the prayer chain for her. She didn't think prayers were necessary, but I did. I'm not sure what her recovery will be like, but I'm certainly glad we accomplished as much as we did today.

I suspect that I'll be dealing with printing the bulletin and newsletter on my own on Thursday, and I don't know if she'll be ready to help out with the youth Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday. I came home this afternoon and finished writing newsletter articles. As always, spacing was a challenge, but I think I got everything in and the newsletter is ready to be printed. I hope no one else decides they want to give me another article or thank you....

One of the saints has already called and offered to make the items Secretary was going to make for the dinner Sunday. Now if I could just convince someone to come help me fold, staple, label, sort, etc. on Thursday.

A Great Way to Start the Day....

Being the suspicious, nosy, meddling Mom that I am, I wasn't convinced Daughter had really made a PB&J sandwich for her lunch today, as I had instructed. I wasn't sure she'd done it yesterday, either. So I asked if I would find the 1/8th cup measuring cup (for the peanut butter) and the measuring spoon (for the jam) in the dishwasher. She told me she hadn't used them, she'd just spread the stuff without measuring. I was not happy. Every carb and calorie she eats is carefully measured and balanced to come to 60 grams of carb for lunch. I asked to see the sandwich before she went out the door. She told me I didn't need to, of course, which just made me even more suspicious, nosy, and meddling. She had placed two pieces of bread in a sandwich bag. Have you ever seen a suspicious, nosy, meddling Mom explode? It's not a pretty sight.

By now the bus was due, so I rushed into the kitchen and started measuring peanut butter, while I demanded she find me a tablespoon and the low-sugar strawberry jam. She did, and the jam, which had been used only a few times, was almost empty. There wasn't even a full tablespoon left. I was not patient and loving. I asked her if I was the only one who cared about her health and well-being. I told her I was sick of her lying to me all the time, and I didn't know how she expected me to trust her when she pulled things like this. She stormed out of the door and onto the bus muttering about not wanting to live.

She keeps insisting that now that she's 21 she can handle everything herself and doesn't need me. She gets furious at me for "holding her back." Then she pulls stuff like this, and can't figure out why I don't trust her. I get so tired of following behind her to make sure she's telling me the truth. She gets very resentful when I check out things she tells me. I keep pointing out that if she were responsible and honest, I wouldn't need to do these things. I might as well be talking to a brick wall.

I suspect she'll call me at some point today. I recognized the tics as a lie Friday, and I didn't buy the exploding internal organ yesterday, so it will be interesting to see what the ailment of the day is.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Day Off

I started the day searching for my cell phone-- unsuccessfully. It's a blackberry pearl, so it also is my brain, and I feel lost without it. I was late for my 9:00 appointment with our therapist, but then, so was our therapist. We were both relieved to be pulling in at the same time. She is a friend of the daughter of the woman who committed suicide. She offered reassurance. She told me it was a very atypical suicide, and there were no warning signs. No one could have prevented it. She also suggested Daughter's latest rage was a result of her guilt triggered by the suicide, since she had seen the pain suicide had caused, and she has been suicidal many times. Guilt has become a powerful trigger for her rages.

Since I didn't have my cell phone, I had to borrow their phone to call the man I had promised to take back to the hospital. I had to borrow their phone book to find his number, which was in my address book in my missing cell phone. When I finished the call, Therapist told me one of her messages was Daughter reminding her of their 11:00 appointment.

So I picked up B and we headed off to the hospital. Dislocated Shoulder was miserable. She was in pain, and foggy from medication. They hadn't given her any of her meds, or checked her blood sugar, which was 255 when they checked it in the ER. Dislocated Shoulder is a retired nurse, but was too miserable to be assertive for herself. Her husband has always relied on her and their two nurse daughters. So I called the desk and said we had some question about her meds. I was told her nurse was with another patient and would be in soon. By the time she came in, she had a glucose meter with her, and said she had gotten her meds ordered. She didn't tell us what her blood sugar was, just "high." I left when occupational therapy came in and promised to return after I visited Broken Neck.

As I walked over to the other side of the large hospital, I ran into a woman who comes to the monthly senior luncheons we have. She asked if I was there to see her husband, who had had 4 bypasses. I told her I didn't know he was there but I'd stopped by. I got up to the room number they'd given me for Broken Neck, and there was a stranger in the room. So, I went back down to the desk and informed them they must have two patients with the same name. She checked her computer, and sure enough, found Broken Neck back on the same floor as Dislocated Shoulder. I went to visit Quadruple Bypass, then check in on Broken Neck, who wanted me to stay and chat. I promised to be back Wednesday with more time to visit. I returned to Dislocated Shoulder, who was now eating lunch, but still hadn't had any meds or insulin. I went out to the nurses' desk, where her nurse assured me she had a sliding scale and insulin was on the way for her. I went back to say farewell to Dislocated Shoulder, and promised to call her daughter when I got home. I drove through to get lunch, and found my cell phone on the way home, when it started ringing from the floor of the back seat. Of course I couldn't reach it. When I got home, I found Daughter had been calling. I called her, and she informed me that one of her internal organs had exploded at lunch time. I asked a few questions, then told her I'd see her at 2:30 when I picked her up to go see Psychiatrist.

So, I walked in the house and got on the phone. Long conversations followed with Dislocated Shoulder's daughter the nurse and my secretary. By then it was time go get Daughter.

I picked Daughter up and asked her how her appointment with Therapist had gone. She informed me she had forgotten about it, and had missed it because she was on an outing with one of the supervisors. I was furious. I told her not to lie to me, as I knew for a fact that she had called Therapist to remind her of the appointment. I told her she had lost the privilege of setting her own appointments and having Therapist come to her. I used my cell phone to call Therapist, as it turned out, she had missed the appointment because an emergency had come up, so they had been confused by Daughter's apologetic call to reschedule her appointment. I'll take Daughter to see Therapist at 8:00 Thursday morning.

Daughter was in quite the mood when we got to Psychiatrist. She wouldn't talk to her. There was some minor tweaking of her meds.

We came home and I got on the phone again. I called the woman whose step-daughter was life flighted to Big City yesterday after a heart attack. We had a long conversation. I had a long conversation with a good friend of the woman who committed suicide. She was feeling like she could have prevented the death. I assured her she couldn't have stopped it, and told her I totally understood why she was questioning herself. I also told her I had checked out a rumor she had shared with me on Sunday with the daughter, and it was false.

I also cooked dinner, chopped up and fried a bunch of bacon (for bacon bits to use in salads and cooking). I finished the sausage balls that were interrupted last night. I talked to a woman who was going to a judicatory meeting with me tomorrow. I had decided I couldn't take the time to spend 4 hours on the road and 6 hours at a meeting tomorrow. There were other assorted calls, as well. The husband of Dislocated Shoulder told me she would be discharged tomorrow, and their daughter was going to come and take them to their new home in an apartment connected to her house. Tomorrow was the day they had planned to move, so I'm glad they're going to be able to make it work.

I figure I ended up putting in over 6 hours of work on my day off. One of my conversations was with a church officer who couldn't figure out how people could possibly think that they could get by with a part-time minister. I told her that I thought I had taken the church as far as I could, and it was time for new leadership and a fresh perspective. Granted, this has been an unusually busy couple of weeks, and the holiday season is always chaotic, but I don't think they have any concept of what I do or the time it takes. I'm going to keep track of the hours I put in over the course of a typical week, and how it's spent. I suspect it will be an eye-opening for them.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Preacher's Kid

This evening Daughter and I were working in the kitchen. She was cleaning out the refrigerator, and I was up to my elbows in sausage, cheese, and bisquick as I made sausage balls for our upcoming open house.

My phone rang, and one of the saints informed me he was in the City emergency room with his wife. She had fallen and dislocated her shoulder. She told him to call me and tell me what was going on and tell me I didn't have to come. I was weighing the meaning of "you don't have to come." She didn't say "don't come." She said "don't have to come." Daughter heard the conversation and announced, "We're going."

So we went. I left her in the ER waiting room. I found the poor woman sedated and in pain. Two attempts to put her shoulder back in its socket had failed, and they were going to take her to the OR for a third attempt. She ordered me to make sure her husband ate. He informed me their former son-in-law, an M.D., had run out to get him something to eat. We all went up on the same elevator to pre-op, I had a prayer with her, and closed by praying that her daughters would forgive her, which got a chuckle. This couple has been moving to their daughter's where they have an in-law apartment since September. Things keep coming up to delay the move.

When we got to the waiting room, I called Daughter on her cell and told her to come up to the OR waiting room. This is a huge hospital, but Daughter knew exactly how to get to us. I think I drag her to the hospital too often. After the shoulder was back in place, the woman's daughter called. She talked to all of us. She told me she wasn't comfortable with her father driving home after dark. I told her I had wondered, but couldn't make that call. She said she'd be the bad guy, and I promised to follow through on her wishes. So, I informed the man I would be driving him home, and would take him back to the hospital at 10:30 tomorrow morning. He grinned, but didn't argue. I told him that us daughters of aging parents have to stick together. He thought that was amusing.

Daughter was wonderful and very patient. When we got home, I was getting ready to wrap her hair when the phone rang. It was the daughter of the suicide. She wanted to thank me for the book I had sent her, Good Grief. It had been very helpful, and she'd gone to the bookstore and bought out their supply so she could distribute them to others. She also explained that her father had wanted to have the other minister do the funeral because he had known them so long and in the happy days, when they were doing things together as a couple. I had finally decided that was the most logical explanation as to why they bypassed me. Daughter waited patiently through our conversation. When I got off the phone, I apologized to Daughter, who simply said, "It's okay, Mom, that's your job, and you do it well."

She's a wonderful Preacher's Kid, who always comes through when these things come up. Tonight I was very proud of her.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Funeral

Daughter and I went to the funeral of the woman who committed suicide today. The funeral home was packed. I don't know what instructions the family gave my colleague. Maybe they didn't want him to address what had happened. I know I came away frustrated. He didn't address the pain. He talked about God's love and grace and our need for salvation. He talked about how God always answers our prayers.

I sat there arguing with his words in my mind. N was a woman of faith. She lived a life immersed in prayer and Scripture. If God always answers our prayers, why was she dead? Why hadn't God brought healing for her husband? Why hadn't God given her the strength to keep going? As he read Scripture and quoted hymns, what had happened made them all seem like empty words with no connection with the reality of N's life and death. At the beginning, he said that if N had been here today, he knew she'd be smiling. If she would have been smiling, why did she write a note, pull her car into the garage, and close the door?

An occupational hazard of being a minister is that when I sit in a service led by someone else, I often find myself considering how I would have handled the situation. I would have used the story of Lazarus, in which both Mary and Martha greet Jesus following their brother's death with the words, "If you had been here...." When Jesus sees their grief, he weeps, even though he knows that in a few minutes he will raise Lazarus from the dead. I would have talked about how after a death we often find ourselves thinking of the "If only's." If only I had told her this. If only I hadn't said this. If only.... I would have talked about how God shares our sorrow and grief.

I would have assured them of God's love for N and for each of them. I would have told them that N loved them, and how there was no way they could have known or stopped this. I would have told them that if she had been in her right mind or had stopped to think of the pain this would cause them, she wouldn't have done it. I would have assured them that it is okay to be angry, and that God can handle our anger. I would have reminded them that in Romans, Paul assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

I hope the family found some comfort in the service. I hope I was just being overly critical because I resented not being asked to do the funeral. I ran into another colleague after the service, and I said, "I wish he'd addressed the pain." She said, "Yes, because it has to be addressed." Maybe both of us were just being overly critical, and he did give the family and friends exactly what they needed. I hope so. I know I will continue to pray for them.

Friday, November 14, 2008

22 Minutes

I checked my phone log, and 22 minutes after her first call, Daughter was calling in tears gasping for breath insisting that I had to come get her. I took my time, but I did pick her up. I watched her eyes, and saw no sign of tics. I think she's testing me, to make sure I'll still respond to her needs after she was so terrible. She told me she doesn't deserve to be forgiven, and I shouldn't love her. I assured her I would always forgive and love her. Now she's testing that out. Maybe someday she'll trust me.

She's at a birthday party tonight, not because she earned it, but because I needed a break. It's been wonderful to have an evening to myself. She'll be home soon. I didn't even have to take her-- my secretary picked her up for the bowling birthday party for one of her foster sons. Daughter isn't a close friend of his, but I think my secretary thought I could use a break. Whatever the reason, I'm grateful. Daughter enjoys bowling, and the thought of going served as powerful motivation for her to get caught up on some of her chores.

Ready to Be Independent

I just had a call from Daughter. Now yesterday she told me she just needs me until she can get into supported living. Today she's telling me that her eyes and head are twitching (tics of complex partial seizures, take your pick), and that it's so bad everyone is noticing and her supervisor ordered her to call me. Of course, I asked to speak to the supervisor. Daughter had just begun complaining and sought permission to call me. She hasn't really noticed anything. Since I'm headed to the nursing home to visit the saints, I told the supervisor to keep an eye on her. If it gets bad, I'll come pick her up.
I'm really not surprised by this. Having declared her independence, she now has to make sure I'll still come if she needs me. Having treated me so poorly, she now needs to test to see if I still love her and she can depend on me.
Chances are 50-50 I'll have to pick her up this afternoon. If I do, she forfeits computer and TV for the evening. Anyone who is so sick she has to be picked up is too sick to watch TV or get on the computer.

An Apology of Sorts

Daughter came home with a letter in her hand that she threw on my desk. It was sort of an apology. She was sorry for treating me so terribly and would make it up to me. What blew it was that she went on to say she'd talked to her case manager, and knew she was on the waiting list for supported living. She acknowledged that while she was waiting to move out, she still need me "for a while yet."
I didn't point out that by the time her name comes up, we probably will have moved out of the area. I also didn't point out that her need for me won't end when she moves into supported living. After all, somedays she has to call me 2-3 times from the workshop just to make sure I'm still here. I did, however, point out that there would be rules in supported living and she'd still be expected to do chores and keep her room clean. That's when she tore up her letter of apology.
By this morning, she was promising to make today a better day. I certainly hope so. It will be interesting to see her attitude this evening.
This afternoon I'm going to go visit the saints in the nursing home. Yesterday I went to see the 92 year old woman who broke her neck. She's in a great deal of pain, and until she got some more medication, wasn't able to converse. By the time I left, the pain medication had helped and she asked me to tell Daughter that she won't be able to accept her invitation to the Thanksgiving Dinner that the youth group is putting on for our senior citizens. She told me to tell Daughter, "There's no one I'd rather eat turkey with." She has an amazing mind for a 92 year old woman in pain and drugged up. They'll be moving her to a nursing home for rehab soon, provided the CT they did of her head yesterday didn't turn up any new problems.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sometimes I Get Discouraged

This week enough has happened that I'm feeling pretty discouraged. It started Friday, when I made two trips to the hospital for surgery that didn't happen, and ended up cancelling my trip for the bridal shower for my future sister-in-law. Saturday and Sunday Daughter started having lows again, and the boards put me on notice than in a year my position will be cut to part time, so I need to get looking.

Tuesday brought the suicide and a broken neck. Yesterday I took Daughter to a doctor's appointment over 100 miles from here, and drove back in the dark through the rain. This morning I opened up the paper and learned, as I had suspected, that I would have no part in the funeral of the woman who had committed suicide. If I'd known, I could have gone to visit my parents after the doctor's appointment yesterday.

Daughter last her spirit of cooperation last night, and went off on me. She's not going to let me get away with treating her the way I treat her, and she's going to move out now. She deserves better than me. Sister called this morning, and while I was talking to her, I heard Daughter slam out of the house without saying goodbye (the only conversation this morning was when she demanded I get her pills ready-- I pointed out that if she wanted to live alone she'd best learn to take care of her own pills.) Sister called Daughter and told her to go back into the house and give me a hug and a kiss. Daughter stormed in and informed me I was really in trouble now. She did give me a hug, but reiterated that she would not live with me anymore.

I've been working with her on independent living skills, but she still has a long ways to go. How can she live alone when I can't even leave her home alone for more than 20 minutes at a time? It doesn't help that it is a very gray day here. I'm going to mail sympathy cards to the family of the woman who committed suicide. I've given up on writing notes, because I don't know why they don't want me involved with the funeral. I thought I knew them pretty well, but now I'm not so sure. If I don't write anything, I won't say anything that offends them.

After I sleep well a couple of nights and wrestle with God a couple of mornings, I'll be fine. Right now, I'm having trouble figuring out what it is that God is trying to teach me through all of this.

I think I'll go visit the woman with the broken neck. It will get me focused on something else. After my trip to the hospital in the City, I need to go to Town and get a new prescription filled for Daughter. Hopefully she'll come home in a better mood.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Final Straw

Today an 82 year old woman in the congregation decided she couldn't keep going anymore. Her husband had surgery May 27 that did not go well. Since his surgery she had completed a move from their farmhouse to a one story home in Town and overseen an auction of all their household goods. She has pursued answers when the doctors said there were no answers. She has endured being the target of his anger. Friday she endured seeing his surgery postponed a day. Saturday she waited while he went through surgery after yet another postponement. On the hospital rehab unit, they speculated that when she learned that there wasn't room for him in the nursing home closer to home, it was the final straw. Today, she drove to the farm, drove her car into the garage, and closed the door. She left a note, which is now in the possession of the sheriff.

I had several people call me with the news, so I went over to the hospital. I so admired the faith and strength in this woman. I keep wondering if there was some warning sign I missed. When I last saw her Sunday, she seemed fine. I kept trying to call her today, but she wasn't answering at home, and her cell phone was turned off. Now I know why I couldn't reach her.... As I consider my own grief, I recognize that I'm just experiencing a small fraction of the pain that her family is experiencing right now.

I was still at the hospital with the family when my cell phone rang. A 90 year old woman fell and broke her neck today. On the way home, I stopped by the other hospital in the City to check on her. She's pretty bruised up, but she had a firm grip as she took my hand and demanded to know what I thought of the book she'd loaned me last time I saw her.

Daughter was wonderfully patient with a couple of hours of setting in hospital lobbies. She really does know how to rise to the occasion.

Now I'm trying to figure out all the family connections so I can make sure I get in touch with those who are hurting tomorrow. This suicide has shaken the whole community, and I'm going to have to look again at my worship plans for Sunday.


Sunday was a busy day. I went with the youth group to eat pizza and do Christmas shopping for a family they adopted, and Daughter went with a respite provider to bowling. Daughter is still fighting a bad cold, but she made it through until late afternoon before she really got miserable. I dragged her with me to the hospital, and she waited in the lobby while I went up to visit one of the saints.

I also dragged her over to the church for the joint board meeting. She hung out in the office while I went to the meeting. This was the meeting where we go over budget and pastor's salary for the coming year. It is always stressful for me, as my salary is at the very bottom for pastors in this church with no experience, and I have well over 20 years now. This congregation is very funny about money, and they don't see the need to give their pastor or any of their employees raises. I was at peace going into the meeting this year. I had spent much time in prayer, and realize that their issues are not really about me. I also am confident that in the not too distant future God will be calling me to another opportunity.

While I left the room they had a discussion, and decided that they would give me a token raise for this coming year, but that they want to speak to judicatory people soon about some form of shared or part time ministry so they can cut their costs. They don't think they can afford a full time pastor any longer. There is full time work here, and they could afford a full time pastor, but for a variety of reasons, starting with fear, this is what they want to do. I told them I'd make the phone call, and we'd set up a meeting for after the first of the year-- probably in February or March.

Once the boards adjourned to their separate meetings, I assured the ministry board that I was seeking a new position, but explained that with the economy in the shape it is in, there aren't many positions available, and at this point I am limiting my search to positions that would get me closer to my aging parents so that I could provide more help and support. There were a few stricken faces; they hadn't realized that their decision meant I would have to leave. I assured them that we'd had over 12 good years, and it was time to move on.

As the meeting was ending, Daughter came down and motioned for me to come over. I had her come to me. She whispered in my ear that her blood sugar was dropping. It was 69, which isn't terribly low. I told her to eat some glucose tabs and sit at the side of the room. Within 15 minutes we were home, and she rechecked her blood sugar. It had dropped to 41. So began the fun. She ate and checked and ate and checked and finally went to bed once her blood sugar was up to 90. I held her long acting insulin, hoping that would keep her from dropping over night. At 3:00 in the morning she was in my bedroom to tell me her blood sugar had dropped to 51. I gave her instructions, and it came up to 94, so we both went back to sleep. At 3:00 in the morning she shouldn't have had any insulin in her system to cause her to go low. Since her new endo reduced her insulin, we hadn't had this problem. Obviously we're still going to have to make more adjustments.

Monday her blood sugars were pretty good-- they should have been sky high without the long acting insulin. I reduced her long acting insulin last night, and hope that will help at least some.

Sister called yesterday morning. I told her about the board meeting, she was concerned. I assured her that I was fine. I told her that I was more concerned about Daughter's blood sugars. I asked her not to tell Dad about what had happened, as I don't want him to worry. When I talked to Dad, he asked me about the meeting. I told him they'd given me a raise. He thought that was great and a sign they were finally figuring things out. The fact that he asked about the meeting tells me he was worried about it. He has a tendency to worry.

I am at peace. I trust God to provide the right opportunity at the right time. Yesterday a new position was posted. It would put me within an hour of my parents, which would be great. It's still small town, but much larger than Tiny Village. I'll send them my material. If it doesn't work out, something will. I will wait patiently for God's timing.

Daughter went to the workshop yesterday (her choice), but called me to come get her in the afternoon. She got home and slept for 2 hours. Today she's home for Veteran's Day, but has not shown any signs of movement yet. I hope that a day at home (or more accurately, following me around) will help her beat the cold. Of course, I think she has shared it with me, so I have something to look forward to.

I don't know where the future will take us, but I know that God is already there, and so we can approach it with the confidence of faith.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's Coming

As I look at my to do list, I can tell Christmas is coming. The next two months are among the busiest of the year for me. I've planned the Thanksgiving Eve service, and I'm almost done with my part of the Sunday School Christmas program. My secretary is bugging me for newsletter articles, and the list goes on....

My first year here I started a tradition that is a lot of fun and tons of work. I host a Christmas open house in early December and invite the congregation. The first years my parents, who love cooking and entertaining, would come and do the bulk of the work. Obviously, that is no longer possible. I've already begun preparations for the open house, which will be December 14. We give the house a deep cleaning, and we prepare lots of food. I've already made sausage balls and put them in the freezer, and I have purchased some of the things I need for other items I'll make.
One of the challenges is that if I start making the sweet stuff too early, Daughter will get into it. She has found every hiding place in the house. She will promise me she will stay out of something, and she intends to, but it just seems to be beyond her. I made orange cranberry muffins from a mix this morning. It was part of the reward for being patient with my schedule today. She'd seen the mix last week when we were shopping and begged me to get it, assuring me she'd leave them alone and be safe with them. Since we bought them, she's been bugging me to make them, so this morning I did, and she had two for breakfast. At supper time she had another one with some soup.

Now I had carefully measured these out so they would match the serving size on the box and I could figure out her carbs for her insulin. So this evening I asked when she had the muffins. She insisted she hadn't. I carefully counted the muffins left in the bags and the muffins we'd eaten. Two were missing. The closest she could get to telling me when she'd eaten them was "not too long ago." She'd already had three today that were figured into her diet. If she'd talked to me about it, we'd have figured out a way to get more into her diet. But she didn't talk to me, she just ate them. I've explained many times that that is the reason I don't get her things like this more often.
It's also the reason I dread beginning preparing the cookies for our Christmas open house. The baking will multiply our stress, because I'll be trying to keep the baked goods away from Daughter, and she'll be battling with her desire to eat them all and her knowledge that that's not good for her. There's also just the sheer volume of cleaning, cooking, and holiday worship planning that needs to be done. I long ago gave up on the idea of sending out Christmas cards, I just couldn't squeeze one more thing in. I suspect Dad will convince me to write a Christmas letter for them. When the open house arrives, I'll decide it was worth all the work. Right now, it threatens to feel overwhelming. Monday I'll set down and figure out what I've accomplished and what needs to get done. I'll spread out the work and hope that I've allowed enough wiggle room for the inevitable crises. Last year after all the work, we had a snow storm and we ended up canceling everything that was scheduled for that day. I hope that this year the weather, at least, will cooperate.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Return of the Lows

Daughter's blood sugars have been relatively stable since her new endocrinologist changed her insulin. It's been running a bit higher, but he gave us a higher target blood sugar for now. She hadn't had a low until this morning. We left at 7:00 this morning to go to the hospital for the rescheduled surgery. She woke up this morning with a cold, so I had told her she had to sit across the room from the family.
The surgery was postponed from 8:30 to 10:00 this morning, which was stressful for the family. I was in pre-op with the family when Daughter called-- her blood sugar was low. I directed her to eat 30 grams of glucose instead of the normal 15. She followed up with peanut butter crackers. Her blood sugar came up-- for a few minutes. She dropped into the 40's two more times. The surgery went well, and I took Daughter out for lunch. She had a salad, chicken fingers and fries with no insulin. Her blood sugar should have gone sky high. It didn't-- but it stayed between 70 and 95, which perked her up quite a bit. This morning she was pretty miserable.
We didn't make it to the shower for my future sister-in-law today. Sister wasn't too thrilled that I wouldn't make it. She supervised her 3 year old daughter and our senile mother. She told a family friend that she had the opportunity to wipe both her mother's and daughter's bottoms today. Her friend pointed out that at least she's good at it.
I hope to go see Dad and Mom this week, but Daughter will have to be over her cold, and I'll have to avoid getting it. We're not going to go see my aging parents if we're not healthy.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Long Day

This morning I got up and realized that I didn't want to head to my Dad's tonight. I still had too much work to do for Sunday, not to mention laundry and various other things that needed to be done. I called him and told him we'd leave early tomorrow morning, take him shopping in the morning as planned, go to the shower for my future sister-in-law, and then come back home tomorrow evening. Daughter was a little disappointed when I explained the change in plans, but I assured her we'd still get to see everybody and that we'd get to sleep in our own beds instead of on a couch and a recliner.

I got to the hospital before 9:00 this morning for these surgery one of the saints. He was supposed to be there by 8:00, but hadn't arrived yet. I sat and worked on my sermon until a little after 9:00, when I went up and asked again about his whereabouts. He still hadn't arrived. I tried his wife at home and on her cell. No answer. They decided to track him down. His surgery had been rescheduled for afternoon, they thought around 2:00 or 2:30.

I got in the car and headed back home. As I pulled into the driveway, I remembered that there was a man from out of state over at the church with our historian seeking information on his family. I went over and joined them. I finally had to offer my apologies and leave, as I needed to get back to the hospital if I was to see the saint before surgery.

I got back to the hospital and found the people I was looking for. The surgery was scheduled for 3:00. I sat talking to his adult children, and a little before 3:00, we heard them call his nurse to the desk for a phone call from his surgeon. They all got the deer in the head lights look on their faces. This surgery was necessitated by a botched surgery that was delayed and the surgeon looked tired when he began, and didn't finish until 10:00 at night. They said, "It's happening again."

At 3:30 the nurse came in and explained that the surgeon was tied up with an emergency. They were admitting the man overnight, and rescheduling the surgery for 8:30 tomorrow morning. I called and explained to Sister that I wouldn't be coming. She wasn't very happy. She told Dad, and I will call him and talk to him some more later.

I called Daughter and told her we weren't going to see family. She was very unhappy until I said that this poor man hadn't been able to eat anything since last night because he was supposed to have surgery this morning. Her frustration disappeared as her compassion appeared. I'm so proud of my healing RAD who has learned to have compassion for others. We haven't talked about the fact that this means I'll be dragging her with me to the hospital bright and early tomorrow morning. I told her I hadn't had any lunch, so I was going to drive through Fazoli's and get an early supper. She gave me her order.

As I was almost home, I heard back from the nurse at the Psychiatrist's office. I had called this morning, and apparently Psychiatrist had forgotten to tell her she needed to contact Neurologist about the Depakote. Neurologist approved it, but cut the starting dose way down and said it should be given in the evening. Daughter just completed a major cleaning task in the kitchen, and we're off to Town to pick up the new prescription.

It has been a very long day, and I still haven't gotten any of the things done I need to do for Sunday. This is one of the challenges of ministry. You can plan everything out perfectly, but then you have to be prepared to throw out the plan when other things come up. Daughter has an appointment about 2/3 of the way to Dad's apartment on Wednesday afternoon. We'll go up and spend the night with Dad after the appointment, visit Mom, and take Dad shopping Thursday morning before we head back home. Of course, as Brother pointed out when I called him to tell him we wouldn't be coming, that is assuming that the saint survives the surgery tomorrow morning.....

Thursday, November 6, 2008


We saw Psychiatrist Tuesday, and she was going to have her nurse contact Neurologist's nurse about starting Daughter on Depakote. She thought they'd be able to get back to me in about 24 hours. It's now been 48 hours, and I haven't heard anything. While we wait, Daughter continues to have the manic breakthroughs. This evening she was ranting to herself about how she was stupid and should just shut up. She was saying really terrible things to herself. I tried to divert her by thanking her for unloading the dishwasher. She immediately turned on me and informed I was not to speak to her, as I was making things worse.
Yesterday she called me three times from the workshop. She thought she was too sick to stay. She knows that if she's too sick for the workshop, she's too sick to watch TV. I was headed to town, so I told her she had 45 minutes to make up her mind. If she called in that time frame, I would come get her. She stayed the rest of the day, I suspect because she wanted to watch TV.
This morning she told me she kept waking up with nightmares all night long. It's now been 48 hours, and I have heard nothing from the nurse. I'll call tomorrow, but it may be hard to make connections since I will be at the hospital all morning with some of the saints for the surgery of one of them. I suspect that we won't know anything until we see Neurologist next Wednesday. I hate to think that Daughter has to wait that long for any relief, especially since we're headed out of state to see family and go to a wedding shower tomorrow evening. Those trips are always hard on her. We stay in Dad's one bedroom apartment and spend time visiting Mom, who is in a memory care unit. It doesn't give her any space to go off and blow when she needs to, and she is quite distressed by her grandparents' failing health.
Waiting is never easy. I hope we will hear something tomorrow. I hope there will be some adjustment that can be made to stop the mania....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Ministry Challenge

In the midst of my joy over the election results, I am very much aware that for the majority of the saints here in Tiny Village, the results do not evoke joy, but fear. My responsibility now is to set aside my joy, and point to God in the midst of fear. I will continue to celebrate with close friends and family. Sister called me at 5:30 this morning-- she went to bed last night without knowing the results, and had just seen the news. She was overjoyed, and I didn't even mind being awakened after less than 4 hours of sleep (come this afternoon I may feel differently).

But for those who are genuinely afraid, my joy may seem like gloating, and preventing me from ministering to them in the midst of their fear. My Sister called a second time as she was on her way to school (she had to report that my almost 4 year old niece had counted to 300 this morning), and she spoke of her principal's fear that Obama might win. I told her to remind him that God is still God.

While acknowledging their fear, I need to gently remind the saints here in Tiny Village that our security comes not from the president, but from God. As I prayed for God's guidance and will to be reflected in the outcome, I quietly hoped that would mean that Obama would win, but I certainly didn't believe I should tell God to make Obama win. I prayed for God's will to be reflected in the election, but I didn't try to tell God what that will should be. Yet I know that many, on both sides, did tell God what the outcome should be. If McCain had won, I would have been disappointed. I hope, though, I would have had the faith to accept that this was God's answer to our prayers and support and pray for him through his presidency. I hope those who supported McCain will do the same for Obama now.

I will remind people that God is greater than any political leader, and that the Bible promises that God always wins. This morning I had a conversation with one of the saints who has been very active in politics. He is frightened. He said, "Maybe God had him elected to bring about the end times." I responded, "Or maybe God had him elected because he sees him as the person best equipped to lead us out of the current mess." I reminded him that our security is in God, not the president. Beware of thinking that we know why God does things or what God should do. Maybe this saint is right, and God is going to use Obama to bring about the end. Whatever God's purpose, God is still in charge and God always wins.

Our prayers are just as important now as they were before the election. We need to pray for healing for our nation and God's guidance for all of our leaders.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Election

Tonight at Bible study, there was much conversation about the election. Everyone was glad it was going to be over tonight. I know that sitting in that room were people who strongly supported each of the candidates. I suggested that the way we should approach it was to ask God to guide us in the voting booth, and that the outcome reflect God's will. I suggested we should be praying that God would guide those who are elected, and trust God. I said I had a candidate I was supporting, but I wasn't going to say that my choice was God's choice. There was agreement around the table.

Now I am sitting in my recliner watching history and wiping away tears. Over 20 years ago I was involved in a church based community organization through the inner city church I was serving at that time. Barack Obama, a law student, was a consultant who did training for us. I was very impressed by him. He taught us about how to bring opposing sides together and work for the common good. When he decided to run, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I wanted him to have more experience, on the other hand, I didn't want Washington to ruin him.

It has been hard to not actively campaign. It has been challenging, remaining silent when I've heard lies spread about him. I did point a young man to information about Obama's background after receiving another email feared with fears and lies. I encouraged him to continue to support McCain, but to do it on the basis experience and issues. I haven't heard from or seen that young man since.

I was pleased tonight with the graciousness of Senator McCain's concession speech. I hope that as a nation we can set aside our differences and find our common ground. I will continue to pray for President-elect Obama, that God will guide him and give him the wisdom and courage he will need to address the many challenges we face now and will face in the future. I hope and pray that our next president will be able to change the culture of Washington, and that people who disagree will actually sit down at the same table to find common ground and the best solutions for all of this country.
I sit here reflecting on all that I have seen in my life. I am 50. I remember the Newsweek cover that showed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. dead in his coffin, as Coretta Scott King stood over him. I remember asking my mother about it, and she told me that some people thought that African-Americans (though she probably said coloreds back then) weren't as good as white people. I remember saying, with the innocence of a child, "But that's stupid, skin color doesn't matter." She was silent.
Daughter has watched this campaign with great interest. Now she's seen that race does not have to see a barrier. Now she's seen that someone who looks like her can be President of the United States.
I'm tired, and I'm not sure any of this makes sense. It's time to go to bed, and to pray again for the man who will be our new president. He will need God's wisdom and strength for the challenges ahead.

Psychiatrist and Wedding Plans

Daughter and I had an interesting conversation on our way to see Psychiatrist today. D and B are busy making plans for the wedding, which will be next month. B wants Daughter to serve as her maid of honor. Daughter is torn between excitement about the upcoming wedding and frustration with the two of them for pushing forward with their foolish plans. B's family does not approve, and are having nothing to do with the wedding. Daughter doesn't want to have anything to do with it either, but is afraid to tell that to B. I told her she can't leave her hanging, and has to tell her she's not going to do it. I told her she could blame me, and tell B I wouldn't allow her to do it. We have some of our best conversations in the car.

Psychiatrist thinks we're dealing with some break through mania. She wants to start her on Depakote, which is a mood stabilizer and anti-seizure medication. Daughter already is on an anti-seizure medication for her seizures, but the one she is on, Keppra, is not a mood stabilizer. She's going to get her nurse to talk to Neurologist's nurse, and then they will call and let me know if I should get the prescription filled. She looked both drugs up while we were there, and it didn't indicate a problem, but we still want the neurologist to sign off on it. She's scheduled to see Neurologist next week anyway. We go back to see Psychiatrist in two weeks.

I really do like Psychiatrist. She said that with the number of things Daughter is on, she begins to look for something that can do what several other drugs are doing. The Depakote may make it possible to eliminate the trazadone she uses for sleep and the catapres patch she wears. I can discontinue the Trazadone as soon as she starts the Depakote. It would be wonderful if the depakote would enable us to reduce or discontinue the Keppra, but we'll have to wait and see.

Daughter was delighted because Psychiatrist didn't want to hospitalize her. She was really concerned that she'd have to stay at the hospital. We pointed out to her that if she tells us when things first start instead of waiting until things are really bad, it's possible to take care of things with medication adjustments at home. Will she remember this? Doubtful.

On another note, the romance between Daughter and J ended before it began. J took a Redbook from the workshop yesterday. It had some articles in it about women and sex. He lost privileges for a week, so they aren't going to be able to hang out this week. I explained to Daughter that he had lost privileges because he stole a magazine, and he uses the magazines to "excite himself." Daughter decided that was gross and that she doesn't want to be involved with someone who takes things and isn't responsible.

The Games She Plays

Yes, Daughter does indeed play games with me. She slept in her own bed last night, got up on her own this morning, and has been very chipper all morning. She put her dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and put the pots and pans I had washed yesterday away without any prompting from me.

So why I am taking time away from my reponsibilities in the middle of the day to drag her to an appointment with Psychiatrist? I suggested this morning that once I'd made the appointment, all of her symptoms had vanished. She didn't deny it, but said something about wanting to start with a good day now....
But then again, last night, when I told her to take her shower, she informed me if I was going to make her take a shower, she was leaving. She stormed out of the TV room and slammed the door. I have a simple rule: if she wants to take her shower in the morning, she has to show me that she can get up on her own in the morning. Yesterday I had to wake her up, so she couldn't put off her shower until this morning.
Of course, she announced she was leaving and slammed the door, but by the time she'd reached her room at the end of the hall, I heard her snarl, "Fine, I'll take my shower if that's the way you are going to be!"
Fortunately, I don't have to figure it all out. I'll let Psychiatrist sort her out. That's why she makes the big bucks....

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Psychiatrist's Nurse

This morning, as promised, I called the psychiatrist's office and spoke with the Nurse. I explained my concerns regarding Daughter's anxiety, and what she had reported to me regarding the voices. I told her that I didn't necessarily believe that Daughter was reporting accurately, but I did know that she was experiencing a great deal of anxiety and was hurting. I told her I could bring Daughter in for an appointment if necessary, and told her the adjustments Psychiatrist had made at her last appointment to address the anxiety issues.

Nurse promised to talk to Psychiatrist and get back with me. She called back in less than an hour. "I haven't talked to Psychiatrist. I was writing all of this up, and there's so much going on she needs to be seen." Fortunately, she didn't ask me to bring her into the crisis center. Instead, she listed off the appointments that are available tomorrow. I took the 12:45 slot. It takes an hour to get to Psychiatrist, so this will totally mess up my day. I scheduled it so I would be able to go into the office for a while, at least, in the morning.

One thing I appreciate about Psychiatrist is she is conservative with the medication. She knew Daughter was experiencing a great deal of anxiety at her last appointment. Rather than increasing or adding medication, she tweaked the timing of it. That helped, but it hasn't been enough. It will be interesting to see what adjustments she makes tomorrow. I hope that whatever she does will give Daughter some relief from the anxiety.

Interestingly, Daughter moved back to her own bed last night. This morning she reported that she had a very difficult time falling asleep, but once she did, she was much more comfortable. She reported that her hip has gotten very sore from sleeping on my bedroom floor.

"She Plays Games with You"

I made a mistake yesterday evening. One other woman and I were waiting for the others to arrive for a meeting. I had dragged Daughter with me because I don't think she's stable enough to leave home alone right now. I sent Daughter home to grab something for me, and mentioned that she's not in great shape right now.

This woman suggested to me that she was just playing games with me, and asked if I was aware of that. Yes, I know Daughter plays games with me. That's why I didn't call Psychiatrist Saturday evening when she told me that the voices were back and they were telling her to cut herself and kill me (and lots of others, according to Daughter). When I do call Psychiatrist, my main concern will be her anxiety, which has her sleeping on the floor of my bedroom (with all the lights on), staying very close to me through the day, and calling me repeatedly from the workshop, sometimes just to touch base, but other times sobbing and asking me to come get her because she can't stay there.

Just because Daughter plays games and manipulates, it doesn't mean she isn't in genuine pain. Yes, there are times when she manipulates me. There is some manipulating going on right now,and I know that. I've also known for some time that she wasn't in a good play and that her anxiety level was extremely high. I chose not to do anything about it while her blood sugars were so unstable, as I didn't want to medicate anxiety that was a result of all the low blood sugars she was having. Her blood sugars are now much more stable. She's running a bit higher, but her target blood sugar for right now is 150, and she's usually within 30 points of that, which is excellent.

I learned a long time ago that most people are going to blame me for Daughter's problems. This particular woman has told me she doesn't believe that sexual abuse Daughter experienced prior to the age of 3 could possibly have an impact on her all these years later. I also learned that whenever someone suggests that I'm not handling Daughter appropriately, I begin to doubt myself. Most of the time I know I'm a good parent. Most of the time I know I'm doing a good job with Daughter.

Last night I said more than I should have, and now I'm suffering the consequences as I question myself and worry about what others think.