Friday, December 30, 2016

Big Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 6, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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