Tag Archives: family

Getting Close

Just before 6:00 a.m. my mom woke me up because she thought that Grandpa was about to die. He was non-responsive and his breathing was very poor.

I’ve been sitting in this recliner next to my Grandpa’s bed for sixteen hours and he’s still hanging on. There were times when his breathing stopped for at least twenty seconds at a time and then would start back up again. Other times he’s asked about food and drink for the first time in about three weeks. His swallowing isn’t going so great now though so even when he’s thirsty it’s hard to get a good drink in him.

Thanks to the dementia he keeps forgetting what’s going on. He’ll say things like, “Maybe I’m so weak because I need food…” but he doesn’t understand that he hasn’t had more than a sip of juice or soup in almost a month. So we remind him that he hasn’t eaten and that seems to worry him. “That’s not good,” he says. We remind him about his Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and that it’s not getting better but he forgets that too. He’ll say, “Maybe those pills you give me will help…” but of course in order to take the pills he needs to be able to swallow.

We got a few pills in him just a little bit ago but it was a chore. The poor guy wanted nothing to do with the Juicy Juice he’s been drinking all week and swore that milk would be better. But with CHF when the heart starts failing it creates fluid buildup in his lungs so milk isn’t exactly the best choice since it can make him phlegmy.

Mom tried explaining to him that if he’s thirsty he should drink anything that’s wet and he agreed but then decided that he still didn’t want the juice. He says, “But I don’t want the juice.” She then told him that she didn’t care what he wanted and the look he gave me made me giggle. He looked at me like, “Did my daughter just tell me no?” 🙂 I watered down some milk for him and he handled it okay but of course it didn’t taste very good anyway because his sense of taste is off. He asked more about food and other things he couldn’t have and once again we explained why he couldn’t have them and why he wasn’t going to be getting any better.

It’s basically been like that all day with lots of napping in between. He’s still in there, still the goofy old man we all love so much, but he’s fading. I really hope that he can just let go sometime tonight so that he doesn’t have to go through another confusing day like this.

He’s ready even if he doesn’t remember telling us so, and as sad as it’ll be to see him go, we’re ready too. The living that he’s been doing for the last couple of weeks really isn’t quality. He’s seen all of his kids except for one, he’s seen almost all of the grand kids and great grand kids who live in the area, and he’s even seen his brand new great grandson via Facebook who was born just two days ago.

He’s talked about seeing people in heaven like my grandma, his brother, sister and his mom. Apparently he doesn’t think his dad is in heaven though, but maybe he’ll be pleasantly surprised. 🙂 Hopefully there Gramps will be able to eat all of the Filet-o-Fish and chocolate shakes that he wants, his ticker will be perfect, he’ll be able to walk without any assistance, and even better… he’ll be able to drive again!

I’ll admit, when we moved Grandpa in with us almost a year ago it was scary. I was worried about him getting hurt or dying on me when my mom wasn’t around to help me. Despite how hard the year has been though, I’m really glad we were able to have him here. He loved being able to visit with my brother’s crazy kids when they came to spend the night. He loved watching hour upon hour of Law & Order in his own living room while knowing that if he needed help we were just in the next room instead of a 30 minute drive away. He liked having the animals around even if he eventually forgot Sly’s name and just called him Big Cat and continuously pronounced Kia’s name wrong. Even the ongoing Ketchup Saga of 2012 is pretty funny now despite how annoying it was back when we were in the thick of it. (Gramps decided at one point that Heinz ketchup was too bitter for him but he claimed that it was because the ketchup was in his words, “rancid.” When we’d explain that the ketchup was brand new he’d point to the 57 on the Heinz logo and tell us that the bottle was from 1957. This happened almost daily for a while until we switched to the much sweeter Hunt’s brand. That eventually went rancid too and he just stopped eating ketchup.)

Sure, it’s been really, really hard on us. My mom not only had to quit nursing school just six weeks shy of finishing (she did get her LPN though, yay!) but she had to stop working and was pretty much here at home 24/7. I gave her respite as much as I could but of course with my own job I couldn’t do it as much as I would have liked. Hospice didn’t get into the mix until just a few months back and although they did help out and let her get out of the house a little some days, I wish I’d been able to help more or that other family would have helped more. But, what’s done is done and I know that my mom and I have given Gramps all he’s needed not just this past year but long before that. There’s no doubt in my mind that he knows just how much we love him.

Life for us is about to make a huge change again. Mom’s going to be able to go back to work, and we’ll go back to living in this house without a hospital bed in the living room. There won’t be an oxygen machine, syringes of morphine gel, and we won’t have to take turns leaving the house so that someone can stay here to Grandpa Sit. Of course we’ll miss him dearly, but we’ll also have so many great memories to keep in our hearts and for me at least, that’s the most important part and what I’m choosing to hold on to right now while sitting here next to him. He’s a pretty awesome guy and all of us who know him are blessed to have him in our lives and in our hearts.

Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. – YODA

10/13/12


Grandpa, Lady Gaga’s Ass, and Bullying; a lesson in perspective.

It’s funny how situations bring a new perspective in your life. This week has been particularly hellish in my part of the world. Gramps took a huge turn for the worse on Tuesday and by Tuesday night we were calling in family from out of town just in case he didn’t make it. By mid day on Wednesday though he’d bounced back and was doing much better. He’s still declining, of course, but not as rapidly as we expected (at least as of this particular moment).

For me, family always comes first. Family for me also includes my closest friends. If my family needs me for something, they’re first priority and everything else comes after. So when I stayed up almost all night long in a recliner next to my grandpa’s hospital bed in the living room on Tuesday night I wasn’t concerned with being at work the next morning. I knew I had 8 hours of vacation I could use and that was all that mattered. Frankly, if I hadn’t had those hours to use I would have taken unpaid leave because what was important was my family.

When I found out that rather insensitive comments were made by someone at work because I wasn’t there yesterday, it was sort of the last straw for me. For someone (who works in a religious social work agency that is focused on family) to put work before my family frankly pissed me off. It basically just reinforced how I feel about putting my family first and how insensitive people can be when they don’t stop to think about what they’re saying before they say it.

This morning I’m back at work since Grandpa is doing better and his death doesn’t seem so imminent. I had a whole five pages of work to file so after doing that I scrolled through Facebook. I came across a photo that a local DJ posted on his FB wall of Lady Gaga. I’d been listening to him on the way to work and he was basically saying how he had this picture of Gaga that was super unflattering and he was going to post it to FB. My initial thought when hearing that was, “Why?” If the picture is so bad, why post it other than for people to make fun of it? But I sort of blew it off and went on my way. When I came across the photo on FB I had to make a comment though. The picture is of Gaga in concert and it’s basically a picture of her ass sort of hanging out of her nylons and thong. No, it’s not pretty, but every single comment under the picture was a bash at Gaga. So I said,

“I heard you talking about this on the way to work. You kept saying how unflattering it was. So why post it? Just so people can pick on her?”

The first response I got was from the wife of the DJ who said,

“She chose to live a life that is in the public eye. You can’t get mad at someone else for that.”

Then she followed that up with another comment right away that said,

“Seriously. We all know she dresses like this and goes out in public like this for 1 reason: attention. She wants the publicity. If she didn’t she wouldn’t do it.”

To that I responded with,

“I didn’t say I was mad at anyone, [Name of Wife of DJ]. I was just asking a question. Also, publicity and public bullying are two different things.”

Her response was,

“oy vey lol.”

So then her husband the DJ finally jumped in and said this,

“Exactly. Oy vey. I posted it because my job is to talk about celebrities — things they do, say, how they look and act. That’s my job. My job is also to engage people online, to get “hits” on the website. People listen to the radio station because they like music and they want to know what’s going on with celebrities. I posted it because it’s something that people will want to see. Even if they make jokes like “I’m eating.”

I understand that Gaga is a public figure and choses to be so. I also understand that if she wears clothes like she does that often fall down when she’s dancing that there are going to be unflattering pictures of her around. However, I don’t think that gives everyone else in the world the right to bully her and that’s exactly what people were doing in their comments. From things like “Ew, I’m eating!” to someone saying that it looked more like Xtina (assumingly because Gaga’s ass wasn’t as fit as usual) and then the DJ himself saying that no it wasn’t Xtina because it wasn’t bright orange (alluding to Xtina’s spray tan).

Some might say it’s “all in good fun” and part of a DJ’s job to do this, but I have to disagree. Yeah it may be a DJ’s job to provide the picture so people can see, but I don’t think it’s their job to participate in and encourage bullying and back that up by saying its okay because it’s a public figure. Would it be okay if I took a picture of the DJ’s ass and posted it online solely for the purpose that people could pick on it? No, it wouldn’t.

I’m not saying that I’m a complete angel. I’ve said and done things online over the last decade that I’m ashamed of. I’ve jumped in on flaming people online and didn’t even realize how mean I was being at the time. I joke about people online just like everyone else. I even send some rather questionable tweets out about Xtina during The Voice sometimes because of her behavior. But I think there’s a difference between complaining on Twitter about a coworker who talks with her mouth full and posting a bad picture of someone and encouraging people to flame it along with you. I also think that there’s a difference in commenting on someone’s public job performance, as in Xtina on The Voice, and just picking on a bad photo of her ass. When I complain on Twitter that Xtina’s tits are about to fall out of her shirt and she once again has forgotten to wear pants, I’m not making digs on her weight or how she looks or even who she is as a human being, I’m just saying that she’s being a crappy role model to young girls by walking around on television half clothed since she backs that up by picking on other people for not being good role models. Some people might think that’s the same thing, but to me, there’s a difference. It’s possible to point out your aversion to the behavior without being mean.

In a time where cyber bullying is so prevalent and we live in a world where people (including children) are choosing suicide because they’re being bullied, we’ve got to be a little more careful. It’s rather hypocritical to justify bullying with “She’s chosen to live a life that’s in the public eye.” I lost a long time friend about a year ago because she posted a joke on FB about the president that was so inappropriate that I couldn’t help but respond to. This is the joke,

Barrack Obama, Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey were flying on Obama’s private plane. Obama looked at Oprah, chuckled and said, “You know, I could throw a $1,000 bill out of the window right now and make somebody very happy.” Oprah shrugged her shoulders and replied, “I could throw ten $100 bills out of the window and make ten people very happy.” Michelle added, ”That being the case, I could throw one hundred $10 bills out of the window and make a hundred people very happy.” Hearing their exchange, the pilot rolled his eyes and said to his co-pilot, “Such big-shots back there. Shit, I could throw all of their asses out of the window and make 56 million people very happy.”

I thought the “joke” was inappropriate because joking about anyone’s death in my book is not okay. I was also offended by the racial undertone of the whole thing. I pointed out that there’s no humor in wishing someone would die simply because you don’t agree with how they’re doing their job and also pointed out that they’re talking about real people with feelings and family who would be devastated if they were to die.

The response I got from my comment was a lot like what I got today. People said that because Mr. Obama was the President and Mrs. Obama was the First Lady and they were in the public eye if he wasn’t doing a good job people had the right to complain about it. I then pointed out that complaining about job performance and wishing someone dead were very different. I posed a question of “What if I worked for you and decided you were a shitty boss so I made jokes about how I wished you’d die? Then I posted them on FB where your children or friends could come across the post to see… Would that be okay?” Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to find out what the person said because the person I was friends with decided to just unfriend me so that I couldn’t respond to the joke anymore. So after over ten years of being in my life, this person cut me off and never spoke to me again. She wasn’t even involved in the dialogue back and forth; she’d just been the one to originally post the joke.

There were a handful of people today who clicked the Like button on the DJ and his wife’s responses to my comment this morning and one Like of my comment (thank you, Amber). What does that say about our society? I’m not by any means trying to claim that this DJ is a bad person. I know he’s just trying to do his job, but why does being a DJ have to include encouraging picking on people? Why does a job in the media in general mean that you have a license to be mean? And what exactly about my question was so offensive?

I argue with people all the time about how rude they are to celebrities. Someone can post something online about Justin Bieber giving tons of money to charity and I can guarantee most of the comments will be things like, “He’s gay…” “He has no talent…” “He needs to just go away…” You can like him as an artist or not, there’s absolutely NO reason to bash him like that. You can barely read any article online without someone pulling out of their ass that it’s Obama’s fault. It could be an article about why clouds are fluffy and someone is going to find something negative to say about it just because there’s a comment box available.

You know what? I don’t like Tom Cruise, but just because I don’t like him and he’s in the public eye doesn’t mean I think I can trash him to anyone else. I choose to not see his films because I don’t want to support him. When he was in the public saying awful things about clinical depression and anti-depression medications I made my disagreement known and I definitely did not support him, but not once did I attack him as a person. I don’t like Mitt Romney’s views and have been fairly vocal about disagreeing with the things he says… but again, I’m not attacking HIM. (Okay, I did share a graphic the other day that called him a “mean dick,” so maybe that wasn’t appropriate. But he was being mean with the things he said.) I don’t know if he’s a good person or not, I just know that I disagree with his way of thinking about a lot of things.

I think that people, myself included, really need to stop and think about what they’re saying before they say it (or type it, text it, publish it, record it, etc.). Disagreeing and bullying are just simply not the same thing and I think a lot of people have forgotten that. People who chose to live in the public eye are still human beings who have feelings. Sure, there are things that they have to deal with more than the average Joe does, but they still deserve to be treated with respect and a little bit of compassion. Just stop for a second and think about what it would do to you if every time you did something someone pointed out something bad about you whether it had to do with the situation or not. You post a picture of yourself on vacation and complete strangers pop up saying, “You’re ugly!” “You need to just come out of the closet!” “You have no talent!” “What a waste of space!” “Oh I just hate her!” It probably wouldn’t feel so great would it?

So why in the world would you do that to a celebrity?


Stronger

Image

We’ve all heard the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  I wholeheartedly agree that the things we go through shape who we are. It’s how open we are to learning from experiences that determine how we grow though.  For example, if you’re not open to learning from mistakes, you’re most likely to make the same mistakes over again and not really learn anything.  On the other hand if you have the strength to learn from what life gives you, you’re more likely to come out of it stronger in the long run.

It’s a good theory, and it’s one that I try to remember to live by.  But sometimes, I find myself thinking “I don’t want to be any stronger.”  I don’t want another life lesson that kicks my ass so that I come out stronger on the other end.   In other words, I want a break.  I’m sick of having jobs that suck and challenge my ethics, I’m sick of having this stupid mystery illness that no one can figure out how to treat, and I’m sick of worrying about my mom and my grandpa.

I was convinced a few days ago that my grandpa who lives with us was within days of dying.  I totally freaked myself out and did all sorts of awfulizing in my head to “prepare” myself for the worst.  Then the next couple of days he was a lot better and so I was better.  Today he’s back to acting like he’s giving up and shutting down.  He hasn’t wanted to eat or drink, he’s slept almost all day, and he’s spent hours just laying back in bed or in his recliner with a warm compress over his eyes.  It’s not like I expect him to be up and running marathons… he is 97 years old.  We’ve had hospice in place for a few months now; he qualified for it not because they thought he was going to die soon but because of his age and because his Congestive Heart Failure isn’t going to get any better.  He is, however, regressing.  No one can say how quickly he may progress, and it’s been pretty clear this week that it’s a day by day sort of thing.  But man does it suck.  Never knowing how he’s going to be one day to the next.  Wondering if today’s going to be the day I get a call telling me I need to come home from work early because he’s getting worse. 

Of course I want what’s best for my grandpa.  I don’t want him to suffer.  I also know that being here at home with us is what he wants and that if he’d been in a nursing home or a hospice facility he probably would have been gone a long time ago.  He wouldn’t have been here to sit on the deck the other day playing catch with a foursquare ball with my niece and nephews in the sun or to tell me yesterday while I was knitting about how his mom used to knit mittens for him as a kid.  These are things I’m grateful for.  Is this all making me stronger?  Sure, I guess so.  I know some day I’ll feel like it, but right now I’m just tired. 

So if I seem a little out of it, I don’t talk as much, I cancel plans, or I’m a little forgetful… please be patient.  It’s just that I’m pretty busy right now learning how to be stronger. 🙂

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – A.A. Milne

photo credit: AJ Knowles via photo pin cc


Cross Post: Life Got in the Way

Well gee… since I haven’t written anything here in a while, I’m going to cross post and give you my monthly post from my writers group. 🙂

Image Life Got in the Way

I’ve fallen into a writing slump.  In the first 14 days of June I was on sort of a roll and was gaining on 8,000 words, I’d met a bunch of my June goals and was feeling great.  In the past 10 days, I’ve written 112 words.

 

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write or that I haven’t tried.  I think about writing all the time and I have ideas constantly running through my head.  It’s just that life keeps getting in the way.  I know, I’m supposed to be vigilant about protecting my writing times and write no matter what.  But let’s be honest here… that’s not always practical.

 

I live with my mother and my 97 year old grandfather.  He has Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Congestive Heart Failure.  Although he’s pretty damn with it considering his age and everything going on, his care is a 24 hour a day job.  A job which my mother and I do alone while trying to still have lives of our own.

 

Last week alone saw a 9 hour ER visit, a fall, and talks with hospice on top of me working full time and trying to squeeze in self care.  Due to his age and the fact that he has a heart condition that isn’t going to get any better he qualified for hospice.  Technically to be involved with hospice someone is supposed to have less than six months to live, but with Gramps it’s more of a maintenance thing.  His symptoms will be managed and then each six months he’ll be recertified to continue hospice services.  He may be 97 but his big sister just turned 103 and his baby brother is 90. 🙂

 

The amount of support we’re getting from hospice is kind of mind blowing, actually.  Before hospice we had to pay out of pocket for all medications (last week’s ER visit resulted in seven pills of antibiotics that cost $57.00), all medical supplies (adult diapers, ointments, catheter supplies, etc.) and 24 hour oxygen ($40 a month).  With hospice, all of that’s covered.  Oxygen, medication, supplies, a new cane, a wheel chair are just a few things we’ve received this week that we no longer have to pay for.  If Gramps is sick and needs attention, we don’t go to the ER anymore, the doctor comes to us.  We have a nurse who visits a few times a week to monitor progress, a social worker who is helping with all sorts of things including applying for a grant to help with funeral costs when the time comes, an aide who visits three times a week to help with daily living and who provides my mother with 2 hour respite breaks… there’s even an option to have a visiting chaplain if it’s wanted.   

 

My mom still can’t work outside of the home and is pretty much tethered to Gramps’ care, but this extra support is pretty amazing and much appreciated.  Is it going to help me get my writing done?  Probably not, but then again the less I have to worry about my mom the more likely I’m able to concentrate on writing when I have the chance to squeeze it in to my schedule. 🙂

 

Wishes of high word counts to you all!

Kel


Photo-A-Day May 9 – 13

I’m happy to report that I’m slowly but surely getting over the cold that made me fall behind in these posts.  Sadly, however, I gave the cold to my mother and she’s been sick on Mother’s Day. 😦

Let’s get caught up, shall we?

something you do every day

I’m a bit of a Twitter Whore.  I love Twitter.  I love how on Twitter I can say what I want and generally won’t be attacked for it if people disagree with me (unlike Facebook where people are not always as tolerant).

 

a favorite word

This is a tattoo that badly needs touching up.  Buuut, it’s one of my favorite words… Hope.  Having clinical depression sucks ass and sometimes on my bad days I need a little reminder to hang in there.  This little gem does just that for me.

 

kitchen

For Mother’s Day I made stuffed peppers for dinner.  I’ve gotta say, they were pretty damn good. 🙂

 

something that makes you happy

This is my baby, Kira.  Although there are days when I want to strangle her… I love her and she makes me happy. 🙂

 

mum

One of the gifts I got for my mom for Mother’s Day is this sweet little nurse figurine. 🙂  She loved it, and I love her. ❤


Photo-A-Day May 7 & 8

I’ve been sick.  That’s a shocker, right? 🙂  So yesterday and today’s pictures are cheats… but they are pictures I’ve taken, so they’re not total cheats.

someone who inspires me

First up, “someone who inspires you.”  This is a picture of a picture of me and my mom a long ass time ago. 🙂  She doesn’t like me taking her picture so I had to use an old one. My mom is all kinds of awesome.  She’s been a single mom most of my life and sure she had her lows but for the most part she did her best and I love her for it.  She’s truly one of my best friends.  After having to quit nursing school literally just a few weeks from finishing the RN program so that she could take care of my grandpa my mom just took her LPN test and passed!  I’m so proud of her!  My mama rocks!

a smell you adore

Speaking of how much my mom rocks… she makes THE BEST apple pie in the world.  So when I had to take a picture of “a smell you adore” it was pretty simple… Mom’s pie.  Ironically I’d just deleted a week old picture of a freshly baked pie off of my camera that I could have used for this.  Instead I’m using a crappy cellphone pic from Xmas. 🙂


Photo-A-Day May 4

 

Fun

I had a date with my baby brother tonight.  I love dates with my brother.  I love that he’s sixteen and still thinks that hanging out with me is cool.  We’ve been waiting for basically forever for the movie The Avengers to come out and tonight it finally did.  Today’s photo challenge was “Fun” and holy crap monkeys is The Avengers fun!  There are so many things about the movie that are just beyond amazing that I can’t even begin to explain… it’s just epic.  Ridiculously epic.  To share that with my Peanut… way beyond fun. ❤


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