Friday, August 14, 2015

Productive Week

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Psychiatrist started Daughter on a new anti psychotic 2 months ago.  She is much less volatile, and much more realistic.  She is no longer bugging me about how she needs her own apartment.  She finally accepted that her current group home is the best place for her for now.  Unfortunately, there are also side effects.  She has developed a tremor that makes it difficult for her to do detail work.  She is also very slow.  It can be painful to watch her try to do things, she is so slow. 

So, when we saw Psychiatrist last week, we reduced the new anti psychotic by half, with the understanding we may have to go back to the higher dose.  I am seeing a return of the volatility.  She's also struggling more.  It's all a trade off.  At this point, though, I think a tremor and slowness may be preferable. 

It gets frustrating.  I also recognize that this is going to be an ongoing struggle.  Every so often she complains that it's not fair that she has all these challenges.  I agree. 

Monday, August 10, 2015


Staffing continues to be an issue at Daughter's house.   Before vacation, I congratulated Home Owner for getting through a staff change without Adult Protective Services involvement, as had happened in the previous 2.  In the first case, staff quit unannounced, packing and moving out while all the residents were at their programs.  There was no one to let them in when the buses dropped them off, and when they couldn't reach the Home Owner, they ended up calling the police and APS was involved.  In the second case the staff member was not happy when a second live-in staff member arrived, as it meant she could no longer get away with making Daughter do things like her laundry, or warming up the van, or....  So she convinced the women to claim the new staff member was abusing them.  On that one, APS showed up at the church while I was meeting with a family to plan a funeral.  AA came to see if I was available, otherwise she would have sat in on Daughter's interview with the worker. 

The most recent staff change happened when Home Owner walked into the house and found the staff person screaming at the residents.  She was fired on the spot, and Daughter and I were both relieved.  She had a tendency to taunt Daughter and do other things that were not helpful.  She did not like when Daughter disrupted her schedule by coming home late after choir or some other outing with me.  This new staff member seems to be an improvement, though there are still issues.  She doesn't  always measure Daughter's food properly, and when one of the other residents became extremely difficult, she began complaining to Daughter.  This has been an issue before.  Daughter is so high functioning that they come to view her as a friend rather than a resident. 

The ongoing staffing issues are hard on Daughter and all the residents.  They need schedule and routine, and with the ongoing turnover, that is difficult to establish and maintain.  As a society, we do not value the developmentally handicapped.  Home Owner recently spent the night in a waiting room with a resident-- she needed psychiatric hospitalization, and they were seeking a bed for her.  No hospital in the state would take her.  They weren't "equipped" to deal with her needs.  They ended up sending her back home, where she continued to be disruptive. 

I try not to think about the reality that Daughter will most likely be dealing with staffing issues for the rest of her life.  I worry about the individuals who don't have a guardian who can be a strong advocate for them, or who are unable to communicate what is going on in the home.  I never dreamed I would be parenting this actively at this point in my life.  I'm grateful I can continue to be a strong advocate for Daughter. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Home Improvements and the Arm

While I was on vacation, I took on some home improvement projects around the house.  For over 2 years I have been limited by my left arm, which made me reluctant to take on major projects.  The arm has gotten stronger, and the new doctor has encouraged me to use it, as that increases blood flow and helps healing.   So, I took on the long delayed projects.   I stripped the wall paper border in the bathroom and repainted it, finishing a refresh I had started over a year ago with new lights (good bye brass), shower curtain, hardware, towels, and rug.  I'm very pleased with the way it turned out, and next time I will hire someone to paint it.  My toilet is in a small alcove, and has the elongated bowl.  My arms weren't long enough to easily get behind it.  Daughter found it amusing.

I've always been frustrated by my family room.  It's open to the kitchen, but has always been dark.  It has a sliding patio door at one end with a large window right next to it.  The other end has a large fireplace.  There is a cathedral ceiling, but the walls are dark paneling and the fireplace was dark brown brick.  I have been contemplating ways to brighten the room.  I found Brick Anew online, and ordered it.  I spent several days working on the fireplace with it.  I'm delighted with the result.  I am now planning what I'm going to do with the rest of the room.

Daughter was very patient and supportive with my efforts.  It felt really good to be able to get these things done.  I was also able to do more work in my gardens this summer.  They had been badly neglected these past two years due to the arm.  I was really feeling good about what I had accomplished.

While we were camping, I tripped and fell coming out of the tent.  I looked down and was relieved that there weren't any bones sticking out or blood.  My arm was definitely injured, though.   I had taken my brace, so I put it on, but my mobility was very limited due to the pain.  I fell on Wednesday afternoon.  We were scheduled to leave Friday.  We went to the concert as planned Wednesday evening.  Thursday I called my doctor and we began to pack up.  I hoped to get an appointment with him or someone in the practice Friday.  Packing took us all day.  I couldn't lift, my grasp was weak, and Daughter found herself having to do much more of the work than she normally did.  The shift in her anti psychotic has slowed her down.  My speed was slower, too, since I was doing everything one handed.  The campers next door helped us finish up the packing.

I was frustrated, because my doctor was going on vacation.  He told me to go to the ER and see him when he got back.  Friday morning I went to urgent care.  The bones  are okay, in fact, think the gap in the radius had filled in some more.  But the arm was swollen, and continues to be very sore and stiff.  It has definitely slowed me down.  I see my doctor this week, so we'll see what he says about it.  I did 10 days of naprosyn, and it helped with the pain, but I'm still sore and stiff.  It has improved-- I can close the car door now and button my own jeans.  I'm not doing any heavy lifting, and the congregation has become very protective.  They didn't want me moving things around as we prepared for the funerals this week.  I assured them that it hurt enough that I was behaving.

The projects around the house were an important part of my vacation, and I'm grateful for what I accomplished, and hope to take on other projects soon. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Catching Up

It has been a busy time, and I am far behind.  Over the next few days, I hope to write several posts updating you in a number of areas.  This was my second week back from vacation.  I hope that tomorrow will be my first day off.  Before I left on vacation, an elderly man was diagnosed with cancer.  I visited with he and his wife before I left, and apologized for the fact that I would be away.  When they realized I would be gone for 4 weeks, they informed me that if he died before I returned, they'd wait for me to do the memorial service.  They planned on cremation, so that would be possible.  He died while I was gone, and they scheduled the memorial service for this past Wednesday night.  I was grateful, because that would give me a week to get back into the routine.  I was over to their house 3 days last week as we worked out details.  There were family dynamics that made it challenging, but I came up with something that pleased everyone. 

Then, last Friday I got a phone call from the wife of a new member.  I knew their daughter was fighting cancer, and had met her at the hospital when her father was being treated for heart issues.  Their daughter had gone on hospice care, and wanted to see me.  They also wanted to talk to me.  Friday I went and visited the daughter, and Saturday the parents came in to talk to me about funeral arrangements.  Early Sunday morning she died.  I got the call before church, and they wanted to have the funeral today, Friday.  I knew what they wanted, and I knew the funeral meal would be huge, since she was a school teacher. 

Sunday I announced both services, and said we needed a lot of salads and desserts for today.  I knew
 it would be a challenge, as many of our people own summer homes and aren't around in the summer.  I also knew that the families for both of these services would be challenging in the midst of their grief, as they were responding by becoming very controlling.   I also found out we had two members having major surgery on Monday.  Fortunately, members were already planning to care for them

I was grateful that we had finished the bulletins for the Wednesday funeral and this Sunday on Thursday.  We always try to work ahead so we can handle big funerals that come up. 

Wednesday morning I received a phone call from the widow from that evening's memorial service.  An ongoing health issue had come back, and she was in the ER.  I began looking for someone who could make a video of the service.  We also decided to invite people to write her notes.  I also contacted a woman about going up to the hospital to see her.  She had come to the church to clean up the quilting room so it could be used for the funeral dinner today, so she cancelled her lunch plans and went to the hospital when she was done in the quilting room.  I was especially pleased when I found out the widow had been alone at the hospital-- all the family was mad at her, so no one went to be with her. 

We had over 150 at the Wednesday night service, which was amazing when I consider the age of the deceased.  The service ended up going very well.  In fact, I got a beautiful thank you note from the widow the next day.  She said a friend had told her it was the best memorial service she had ever attended.  We had a reception following that service with finger foods.  We had it upstairs in the sanctuary, and that went well.  I recruited one of the men to lock up so Administrative Assistant and I could leave.  I had stayed through the supper hour to deal with the people who were stopping by to drop things off, so she had picked up Daughter, who wanted to be at the service. 

Both of these services required a great deal of work.  The elderly man was well loved by the congregation, but the woman today wasn't even known.  Her dad hasn't even been a member a year, and has missed a number of Sundays due to health issues.  The congregation I serve is truly amazing.  They took care of the people having surgery.  Set up our fellowship hall for a funeral dinner for 150 people, and rearranged the sanctuary so there would be seating for over 200.  Members volunteered to bring salads and desserts.  They had more helpers in the kitchen than they needed, and they were kept running.  They ended up serving well over 160 people.  We ended up with over 250 at the funeral, so we had people bringing additional chairs upstairs so everyone would have a place to sit. 

The congregation was so patient and loving with the various demands that were being made of them.  They were very concerned about me, and suggested we just do a hymn sing this Sunday.  Administrative Assistant and I ended up working a couple of hours yesterday evening to finalize this Sunday's bulletin and the announcements.  (We had a brass quintet practicing in the choir room next to the office, so that helped lighten the work). 

Daughter folded 200 bulletins for the service today.  Administrative Assistant created slides for both of the services.  Volunteers came in to run the sound board and projectors.  They truly showed the love of Christ to grieving families this week.  I couldn't be more proud of them.  A woman who has been known to complain about the work involved in funeral meals in the past brushed off my apologies over the challenges the one today presented.  "It's how they are coping with their grief.  God always provides the help we need to get it done.  You remind us of that all the time."  A number of people changed their plans to be there today to help.  Some took time off work to be there. 

Daughter wanted to attend today's service, too.  So she has been with me since Wednesday night, and will be here until Sunday afternoon.  By some miracle, I managed to finish Sunday's sermon and slides today, so I will have tomorrow off.  One of the men came over and mowed my lawn today.  I had asked for help due not only to my busy schedule but the fact that I fell and injured my still unhealed arm while we were camping.  It is very sore and stiff.  Tomorrow I will have completely off. 

Tonight I am tired and very grateful to be in ministry with a congregation that does such a good job of taking care of one another-- and me.  I will update you on Daughter and her challenges and in the next few days.