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The need to feed my soul won out over the need for anything else today. Hence, this blog post. It’s already been over  month since I posted and so much has happened, I doubt I’ll be able to cover it all. But I’ll give it  shot. Settle in for a long catch up session.😉
 veggiesongrill
After a mild winter, we’ve been enjoying a spell of nice weather–sunny and temps in the 70’s. We really can’t ask for more than that. So much yard work to do and not enough energy or ambition to do it. Hubby cut the grass for the first time on Sat. after hunting for a particular type of 2-cycle ashless Lawnboy oil at half a dozen places and online. There doesn’t seem to be any place that carries it anymore and we feared using something else and wrecking our lawn mower. He decided to try the Toro brand and that worked fine. I’m sure you’re thrilled with the minutiae of my life.
 playdatewithasher
At the beginning of the month, we took the dogs to the vet (over a 2 day period) to get heartworm tests and vaccinations for Ivy. They also had their stool samples checked for parasites and came back clean. It’s about the fastest way to blow through $450 I’ve ever seen. We had run out of Revolution (the heartworm and tick preventive we have them on) which they get topically on their back between the shoulder blades once a month. I had called 1-800-PetMeds (an online pet supply place that is much cheaper than the vet but still coslty) to order the same day I had made the vet appts. Even though we’ve known the vet 20 years, she still won’t authorize it until after the tests, even though the medicine wouldn’t have come until after we’d gotten the results back. After the vet appts., I had to call the Pet Meds place back to get them to send another authorization to the vet. Well, the person I talked to said they would but then I got an email days later saying that Amber still needed her heartworm test. So I had to call back again and set them straight. In all the years I’ve been using Pet Meds, this is the first time that I can recall them screwing up. It’s too bad it had to happen at all.
 Mominwheelchair
Then I had to deal with a screwup at the pharmacy. We had switched to CVS from Jewel a year or two ago because Jewel made errors almost every time we got a prescription. Now CVS is doing the same. Hubby has his pills on “Readi-fill” which refills automatically and a recording calls to say they are ready. Of course, the recording doesn’t tell you which ones are ready so you have to guess. He went to pick up his Bystolic which he needed right away and they had an additional one for him. He didn’t need the Amlodapine for a week but got it anyway. I didn’t open the 2nd one for a week until it was needed. Inside I found the paperwork saying he had gotten 90 pills (like always) and only one bottle of 30 enclosed. So I had to call the pharmacist and explain the situation and she said, “We owe you 2 bottles.” So I told her I’d pick it up in a few days and to have it ready. That’s how I spend my time, doing piddly little things that just rob me of time I could be blogging. ;-D
 mommeamber
Greg turned 55 on April 1st. We had plans to go out to eat for the first time this year but we didn’t. A few days earlier we had gotten takeout and brought it home which is also the first time this year. We got lamb burritos from Mr. T’s Gyros. They were good but not something you’d want to eat more than once a year. We ended up going shopping and getting a 10 lb. beef brisket which I cut in 2 and cooked in 2 crockpots. We also got a ton of veggies and roasted them in the oven and on the grill. It was probably better than eating out would have been. Greg heard from his 3 brothers who wished him happy bd. His brother Brian who had the traumatic brain injury in Feb. 2015 got approved on Greg’s birthday for disability from the government. They even paid him for the past year when his application was hung up in red tape. I doubt he will ever hold any type of job again. 2 months ago, he fell in the shower and hit his head again and got another concussion. He ended up being in a nursing home for a few weeks for rehab. The older we get, the more careful we are trying to be to keep our health intact.
 crams1950globe
So my left knee had gotten a bit better for a few days when I blogged last but that didn’t last. My knee has been terrible and bothers me in 3 different places. It even aches when I lay in bed, no matter how I position it. Same with on the couch. I miss being able to sit cross legged now and then. I’m still moving around on it but so many stairs are a killer. Today is the first day in a month that it’s been less painful. I’m not holding my breath because I know all it takes is one wrong move or turn to get it sore all over again. It’s been depressing to not be able to walk the dogs every day like I used to. I still do it when Greg can go which is about 3 days a week we do it together.
 afghan
My mom turns 95 on Saturday April 23rd! I don’t know what if anything we’ll do. We saw a new hole in the wall restaurant that serves homemade Polish food so we may try that. About a month ago we found an almost brand new wheelchair at an estate sale in our town for $20! We’d been thinking of getting one for Mom and couldn’t pass it up at that price. We had to take her to the ENT doctor to get the wax out of her ears and also to the audiologist twice to get a new ear mold made for her right hearing aid. I was really debating whether I should take her alone or have Greg along. I mean, I like to do this things alone so I feel independent but while I have him, why not have him help me?! I try to be strong but just having someone help with the burden a little bit eases up on the stress for me so much. So I asked him what he wanted to do and he said he’d be glad to come along. I hit the lottery big time when I got him.:-) Anyway, he dropped us at the curb and I got Mom in the wheelchair and took her to the elevator and up to the 3rd floor. The first time I had her walk from the waiting room to the exam room. She can do it but is so slow and unsteady. The next time they said I could push her wheelchair right in the room and leave her in it. That made it so much easier. Having the wheelchair should make it so much easier for vacations! We’ve also taken her in it around the neighborhood when we walk the dogs. That way she can get some sunshine and fresh air. I never realized how much work it is to push a wheelchair though. 
 roadclosed
In between everything else, we’ve been feeding our addiction of going to estate sales. We’ve found some really interesting things. Hubby got a giant ROAD CLOSED sign that we added to those on our backyard fence. It measures 4 feet long by 30″ high. He also got a new wood burning fire pit. I took a picture of his old one that he got 18 years ago that he paid $99 for and the bigger one he got for $15 at an estate sale. The new one is not “new” but has a lot of life left in it. He’s already had 2 fires in it. We’re going to take the old one to the recycling place to get money for the metal.
 firepits
I’ve never bought a doll as an adult. Seeing various doll collections when you go into someone’s house tends to creep me out. Not as much as a huge collection of clowns would but enough so to keep me from entertaining the idea of buying a doll. Until Friday. Up in the attic of an old house, there were a few dolls and one in particular called to me. It’s more than catching your eye, something about an item can “speak” to you. It makes you feel like it needs to come home with you. This doll did that. It’s a very old Horsman brand doll that has a porcelain head, arms and legs. The head has a crack in the chin and some damage to the side of the head (the bonnet covers it well) but it’s just charming. It has tin eyelids with eyelashes that close when laid down. The body is cloth. It reminds me of a doll that my mom had as a child named Myrtle. She had given it to me as a baby and I broke it. I was too young to remember it but know how much it meant to her . On Sat. we ventured to Evanston, IL to 2 estate sales. One was in a condo and had newer things but we got some great deals like 2 sets of bed sheets for our bed for $6 and 11 necklaces at $1 each!! Then we went to an antique store where the owner was retiring after 30 years in business. It was called Eureka! They’d had the sale the day before too so there wasn’t as much stuff left but we still managed to find some treasures. We saw “just a piece of cardboard” hanging on the wall and had to have it. It was advertising for the Gold Dust Twins Washing Powder. It’s very old and rare.
 dollgolddusttwins
Last weekend we had an unpleasant time at one sale. Some places charge more if they do a lot of prep work and clean and organize which I can understand. Others have more of a “digger” sale where they prepare nothing, leaving everything dirty, in piles or boxes and packed to the rafters. A lot could be in the garage or attic. Usually they tend to give a better price because you really have to dig to get to anything good. Usually it’s buried under literally garbage. Things that should’ve been put in a dumpster. Well, those types of sales CAN be the best. They are definitely fun but it takes a lot more time plus you get filthy touching things. Last weekend, we went to one run by 2 guys who we’ve gone to a few of their sales. They don’t have any helpers or employees and do no prep. Nothing is ever marked. One sits at the front desk taking money but he can’t quote any prices. The other guy runs all over the house and has to give prices for everything. There is always a huge wait to get him to look at anything. Usually the prices are fair. I got a huge gorgeous afghan there for $6. It smelled find but when we left, they put it in a dirty bag that stunk so bad of mold, I could’ve thrown up. Yesterday I finally took it out and aired it out outside and threw away the bag. Anyway, last weekend Greg & I were in hurry to go home for lunch but went in the garage and there was boxes of ephemera. That is my weakness and we started looking through and culling. We only wanted certain things and maybe we’d only find one or two things out of an entire box and go on to the next. We must’ve spent 45 minutes out there in the cold (35 degree weather) and dark (very little light) and dirt. Most places if they value ephemera, will label each piece individually. They’ll also have it inside the house and displayed. Most places when you dig your own, you show up with a pile and they don’t look at it, they just quote you $5 or $10 for the batch. We had a stack of an inch or two thick and went in the house with it in a box. We had to wait for the guy that could price and then he began looking through it piece by piece!!! He was like $10 for this, $3 for that, etc. plus he wouldn’t go through it all because he had to stop and give prices to others for things they were interested in. We asked him for a price for all of it and he said he couldn’t do that. So we left it all!! We were just disgusted and upset that the guy was so unreasonable. He didn’t want to take the time to go through the boxes in the garage himself but now he could sell what we culled for him on ebay without putting in the effort of finding it. Thank God they’re not all like that! I know this isn’t what AC/DC had in mind when they wrote the song in my title but it does seem fitting.
mannequinhandlers
                                  

 

I’m happy to report that things are looking up since I last wrote a blog entry. Events have transpired that have improved my quality of life and my mood. I knew it would happen eventually. I was hoping sooner rather than later and my wishes came true. It must be all the reading about the Jinnis (genies) in The Arabian Nights!:-) That is my current read from 1932. I was unfamiliar with the book except for the cartoon parody called Bugs Bunny: 1001 Rabbit Tales. It’s a series of short stories that go directly from one into another. I’m only able to read for maybe half an hour at a time so it’s perfect. I can get through one story or half a story in one sitting. It’s pretty easy to pick back up again where I left off. Lately, it doesn’t matter which book I’m reading, I have a love affair with whichever one it is! It kind of amazes me that I’ve been getting such joy from the written word and stories no matter the age and time they encompass. I’ve always loved to read since I was a child but now I’m getting more out of it and my love runs deeper. I hope my enthusiasm for reading never wanes.
 arabiannights1
On Thursday March 3rd, my Ipad Air 2 arrived in the mail. They had them on sale through Sam’s Club and hubby ordered me one. He’s had an Ipad2 for 6 years and loves it. He uses it daily. He’s mentioned getting me one before but I never really felt I needed one. I still don’t but he was pushing it so I agreed. Wow. It’s wondrous! I have used it every day since I got it except one. Mostly I’ve been using it to play online slots. Not really it’s original intended use but it’s fun. Hubby’s been doing that while we watch tv at night and I had no idea how fun it was until I tried it. It’s addicting. Candy Crush, Soda Crush & Jelly Saga that I played on my iphone 6 have fallen by the wayside.
 arabiannights2
Another cool thing I’ve discovered on there are the free Adult Coloring Book Apps. I’ve downloaded and tried 2 so far: Colorfy and Color Therapy. I’ve always been envious of those who say how relaxing it is to color in the real adult coloring books. Well, these apps are so much better! They’re easier to work with/ less messy. I can pick a picture and then you tap on the color and touch on the pic where you want that color to go. No worries about going outside the lines or changing your mind about a color. With one tap you can “undo” whatever you did last. I’ve only completed 2 pictures but if I continue, I hope to have a whole gallery of them.
 ipadair2
I’ve also downloaded Blog Lovin’ and am trying to get back into blog reading. Most of the ones I used to read are either gone or abandoned. I’ll have to find some new ones. It’s much easier to read on the ipad also than even my iphone. I couldn’t figure out why so many small children had their own ipad at age 2! Now I know it’s like a babysitter. There’s no end to what can keep a child occupied for hours or days on end.
 birdfirstcoloring
It took 6 weeks or more but my knee is finally better. It’s not 100% but for the first time in ages, I’m not limping! I still have pain from spinal stenosis but most of the pain in my knee is gone. I am being so careful with it since I know one wrong move can reinjure it. It’s definitely weak but I can make the stairs using both knees and not be in pain. For weeks, I was favoring it and only bending the right knee on the stairs and it would still hurt something awful. This has been the catalyst to improve my mood. I’ve been able to be out in the kitchen cooking up a storm again. We just picked up a stool for me to use in the kitchen yesterday. I had a stool in there but it broke months ago and Greg insisted we throw it out. I was not keen on being without one in there since I want to be able to sit down as needed. I figured we’d find a stool at an estate sale before now but not one we liked. The seat on the new one needs to be cleaned and then I can start using it.
 colortherapy
Last week was a “surge” at Greg’s work and he had to alter his hours and days off temporarily. Usually he has Thurs. off but last week he had off in the daytime and went in to work at 6 pm and worked a double. Not coming home until late morning on Friday. Usually I hate him working nights but I had my ipad so that kept me occupied.:-) Plus him coming home in the morning was less disruptive than him coming home in the middle of the night. The estate sales have been exceedingly crummy lately but this past weekend we hit 2 great ones. One on Thurs. in Chicago (not far from us) that we had to wait an hour for and then one we went to in our town on Friday after hubby got home. We had to wait an hour for that one too. There’s getting to be a ton of people going to these sales after watching the tv show, “American Pickers”. At times it spoils the fun having so many people especially if they’re rude. We found people to talk to in line which made the time go by faster plus the weather was great so standing outside was quite pleasant. Both sales were run by “Babe & Snooks Estate Sales”. We love William and Stacy that run it. They’re always organized and fair with their prices plus really nice. We found a few goodies that I will cherish forever like a cool mod diorama and a large First Communion picture of a 9 yr. old girl from 1956. A lot of what we had our eye on was gone already. The early bird getting the worm, etc. We don’t fret about what we missed out on because there is always more! Anyway, I told Stacy I couldn’t find them on Yelp! (an app that recommends places to go–restaurants and stores). She said they weren’t on there and I asked her if she’d like me to add their business on there. She said ok so last night I wrote them a glowing review. I hope they approve.
 coolmoddiorama
We had some unwanted excitement on Wed. March 9th. Mom had just used the downstairs bathroom and I had her flush the toilet and go to the sink. I’m standing next to her and look and see her hearing aid is missing from her right ear. This is her good ear which she has the most hearing in. She wears hearing aids in both and every once in awhile the right aid will pop out and sit away from the ear. I think she needs a new ear mold. The day before I had called and made an appt. with her ENT and audiologist for Tues. March 29th. When I noticed her hearing aid missing, I asked her when she had it last. She gave her standard, “I don’t know” answer which I should have expected. My greatest fear was that it had fallen into the toilet and been flushed away. After her hands got washed, I took her to her chair in the LR and came back and did a search. I checked the bathroom floor and everywhere else. I looked on top of and under the computer desk where she’d been sitting. I had no luck. I had just vacuumed the whole house and taken a bath. I knew it could only be a few places or I’d have seen it earlier when I vacuumed. My first instinct was to freak out. I was upset but decided not to panic until after Greg came home from work. I knew a 2nd set of eyes might be all it would take to find it. I had looked it up online and everyone said to wait 2 weeks before reporting it lost since it will no doubt turn up. When Greg came home, he took the flashlight into the sunroom and found it next to the computer desk. Bless his heart. He’s my hero! So that put me in a pretty good frame of mind since things could have turned out so much worse.
 firstcommunion
Life always goes in cycles and I’m in one where things are looking up…but for how long?! I probably shouldn’t question it and just enjoy it while it lasts…

 

The Wall Of Peace

Today it was 64 degrees. 4 days ago, it was snowing! A week ago yesterday, it was 60 degrees and I should’ve taken advantage of the incredible weather. That’s unheard of for February in the Midwest. I didn’t get outside once. I should feel bad about it but I don’t. I feel so good about why I didn’t get outside that I have to share it. We finally took down our one big picture that hung over the couch in the LR and completely redid the wall. For some reason, I never remember to take “before” pictures. 

 LRwallfull
We got out most of our religious wall art that we’ve been collecting (er, hoarding) for the past 3 years. All were estate sale finds. We measured the space and chose what we thought would look best up there. I’ve been wanting to do this for over a year!! It’s not something I can do by myself but every time I’ve mentioned it to hubby, he would just groan. This time he was receptive and it went great. It took us less than 2 1/2 hours for the whole thing and it gave us a bunch of ideas for the other walls. Now I am SO HAPPY. I love looking at it and it gives me a feeling of joy and peace. I call it The Wall Of Peace.
 closeupwall1
I have some more finishing touches to put on it but couldn’t wait to share it. Now I want to do some major dusting and clear away an area to put up my religious statues. I can only imagine how happy I’ll be when that happens. I’ll be as giddy as a kid at an amusement park.:-)
 closeupwall2
I’ve got a “stairway to heaven” on the way up from the main floor to the upstairs where the bedrooms are. I’ve also got another decorated stairway to the basement with religious art. Things are slowly taking shape. When I say slowly, it’s baby steps. It always seems to be worth the wait.:-) I hope if there’s something you’ve wanted to do for ages, you’ll finally take the plunge and start. We can all use a little more peace in our lives.
As I sat down to write a blog post about sharing, I have realized I’m not as good at sharing as I thought I was. In my own eyes, I thought I would share most things with most people without thinking about it. But after reflection, that’s just not true. I might share some things but I’ve always been very stingy with my time. Maybe because I feel like there’s a finite amount of it. Or could it just seem like most people aren’t worth the time? When I worked for the Post Office, there were people I knew that I didn’t mind talking to at work but if I had to do it on my own time, it wasn’t happening. I felt like every second I spent on someone else was taking time away from the 2 people (& one dog) that mattered most to me–my mom and Greg.

I don’t know if this came from having “old parents”. My mom was 41 & my dad was 48 when I was born. Back in the early 1960’s, it was a big deal to have parents that age. My mom used to tell me everyone thought I was her granddaughter. It never bothered me to have older parents. In fact, I kind of liked it. I felt like they knew what they were doing by the time I came along. It always made more sense to me to wait until you’d lived some before you raised kids. I was my mom’s only child and my dad had 4 before me with his former (deceased) wife. I was a bit obsessed with them dying young. I was afraid something would happen to them (like a car accident) and I wanted to know what would happen to me. My mom wanted me to go live with her sister (who was 4 yrs. older than her) and her husband. They had 2 daughters who were grown. They lived in a suburb of Detroit, MI and I wouldn’t have minded living with them. My dad wanted me to live with my brother and his wife. They had 2 children (the first when I was 10 yrs. old). I wasn’t wild about that idea but it sounded like the one they were going with. They were afraid my aunt and uncle were too old to take on parenting me.

The way most things go, none of us ever had to worry about any of that. Whenever you put a great deal of thought and worry into something, it usually doesn’t happen. It’s the thing you never dreamed would happen, that comes out of the blue, that catches you off guard. In any case, that wasn’t the end of me worrying about my mom dying. She’s always been healthy except for severe hearing loss (and now Alzheimers). Yet I was forever thinking if I did X (like went out after work with friends or on a vacation without her), something would happen to her while I was gone. I didn’t think I could ever forgive myself. Looking back on it, it seems ridiculous. I missed out on some things just from not wanting to be apart from her. Codependency at its best. I don’t think she ever cared one way or the other. I don’t think she appreciated me passing on opportunities to stay with her. I really don’t regret it but felt the need to acknowledge that it was a part of my makeup. That and the one thing I didn’t plan on (Alzheimers) happened on my watch. I wasn’t off far away living my life and checking in with her via phone. I was sitting a few feet from her as the memory stealer ravaged her brain.

Besides time, I don’t like sharing myself. The only place I’ve ever felt comfortable talking about myself (any part) has been on this blog. Besides having Selfie-Phobia, I think I have sharing phobia. Just sharing pictures (ANY pictures!) on Instagram feels like I’m giving away little pieces of myself. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to let others see my life. Staged or natural, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. What I do, say and show seems so irrelevent. So insignificant. I don’t know what to tell myself to make it easier to share either.

Not only am I at a crossroads, I am stuck in quicksand. Unable to move forwards or backwards. Unable to ask for help or help myself. This sounds way more dramatic than it should. I hadn’t even planned to write about this but it wanted to come out. So many subjects are inside me, yelling, “I want out!” They kick me in the stomach from the inside and let me know they can’t be kept in any longer.

 

It’s amazing how I always start everything with the best of intentions and then it fizzles out. I’m gung-ho and don’t really think it through when I make a commitment like my last post. I was going to post a selfie every day for a month. Sadly, that lasted 4 days. I was already sick of it. I couldn’t think of any way to be more original or interesting when taking the photos. I figured if I was that sick of doing it, others would be even more sick of seeing them. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I didin’t just skip a day with the plan to start back up the next day. On the 5th day, I didn’t post and then said, “I’ve ruined my streak. I give up.” My selfie plan went the way of every diet I’ve ever started. I can do it for a few days and then it turns into too much work. Or too much of a bother. Or I don’t see results.

I was doing the selfie thing to try to get myself over my selfie phobia and self hatred. 4 days isn’t going to cut it. It just shows how lost I am with coming up with my own solutions. Now I’m even more embarrassed that I didn’t follow through. I should’ve known better. I have a history of terrible follow through. If I promise something to an individual, I move heaven and earth to keep my word. Of couse, I’ve pretty much quit making promises because I don’t like the pressure. But a promise I make to myself, I don’t feel the need to honor. It goes back to me thinking I’m not worthy of it. It’s a Catch-22. This seems to be a common problem. I see others swear an oath to a new start of “eating clean”, a “90 day cleanse” or working out daily. They post their meals and workout outfits like they were entering a contest. A week or so later, they’ve put it on the back burner and soon it disappears entirely. Then a month later, they are pledging allegiance to the same thing again. I can’t do that. I’ve failed at the selfie thing even though I had some wonderful support from people on Twitter, Instagram and the blog. Now I’ll just try to post a pic when I can force myself. But I know there’ll be days where I won’t want to. I’m not going to make myself. This brings my expectations of success in the final outcome way down. To the point of impossible.

My knee has been all hosed up. A few weeks ago I was squatting in front of the kitchen sink. It sounds like I was going to take a dump there but alas, no. (Blame my train of thought on hearing about people in Walmart and other stores dropping trou in public and doing their business. I can’t even imagine, nor do I want to.) I was trying to reach way in the back underneath the sink. Like doing the deepest knee bend ever. I’ve always squatted as need be, sometimes it’s easier than bending over because I can see things head on instead of upside down or sideways. At the time, I felt excruciating pain. Almost like a burning and tearing. I had to pull myself up. Both knees were sore for awhile but I didn’t think much about it. Then a few days later, my left knee was painful as heck. On the side and behind the knee. Going down into the calf. I have too much to do to just rest, so I walked the dogs, carried laundry up and down the stairs, etc. Just business as usual. Now it’s worse than it was a week ago. I don’t want to have to go to the doctor or have surgery. That’s not an option when I have to care for Mom. It just feels like another thing to add to my list of Reasons To Be Depressed. I’ve never been one to have knee problems. I guess that makes me lucky. It gives me new appreciation for my MIL & SIL who have had knee replacements. I don’t want a new knee. I just want mine to work again! I think I must be the most impatient person in the world when it comes to healing or being sick. Heaven help the world if I ever end up in a wheelchair because I’d have to do some heavy plotting to keep myself on deck.

Hubby went to a Super Bowl part after work on Sunday. I was invited too but had to decline because Mom can’t be home alone at night anymore. I didn’t pout but was hurt that there was a time when hubby wouldn’t have gone anywhere without me. I guess I shouldn’t take it personally? Maybe he’s sick of missing things too.

This blog post serves no purpose except to acknowledge my failure. I’m not going to beat myself up about it. If I had follow through, I’d be a millionaire, thin and have several published books. Instead, I’m just a regular schmuck who lets herself down. Maybe there are worse things to be…

 

2016 arrived a month ago amid no real fanfare. A year can be very long or very short, it all depends on how you look at it. Time has always gone fast for me but now it’s at the speed of riding a bullet train and looking out the window only to register a blur of vision. One year has run into the next and I still haven’t gotten used to it being in the 2000’s… In some ways I feel like I’ve lost 15 years. I can’t even tell you where it went except at times it feels  like I wasted it. When I was younger I could remember specific years by “that was the year X happened” or “so and so got married in 19__”. I could look back at each year and something major would have happened that I could recall. Or maybe several big (not huge) things happened, spread out from season to season. Nothing stands out from the last several years. I don’t know if it’s because nothing of consequence happened (true) or if my memory is getting so bad (also true), nothing registers anymore. Now it’s more of “oh that’s the year X died” or “that’s the year the basement flooded and we had to replace several appliances”.

I am so distracted lately. I’ve been having trouble thinking of words or I say the wrong word. I can’t always string a whole sentence together that makes sense. It’s like, when did I have a stroke and how did I not notice?! My temper is perpetually short and I sleep very fitfully, if at all. I don’t know if it’s the Winter Blues again or just life in general and my circumstances in particular getting me down. I didn’t even get a 2016 calendar until yesterday! That used to be a big deal to me to get a new calendar. I looked forward to it and I spent time copying from the old to the new various birthdays and milestones. I always put myself last. First I was busy with vacation, then catching up. Then I didn’t want to pay full price for a calendar when the new year had already started. I did get it at half off but it wasn’t worth the anxiety of worrying I may end up going all year without one. It would bother no one but me if I sacrificed and gave up having a calendar. No one would care if I did without but I would feel terrible….

 

I’ve always willingly admitted I have trouble coping. Now it’s reached epic proportions. It doesn’t  help that I’ve had a bad cold for a week, then my period comes on and my leg has gotten so painful, I can hardly walk. Greg now has the cold as well and Mom seems to be fighting it off. We went to 2 estate sales on Friday and both were awful. We had to wait over half an hour at the 2nd one to get in and chatted with the gal ahead of us in line. Then when we were inside looking around, she runs up and tells us that she couldn’t believe it when she walked into the bathroom and it was FULL of chalkware fish and mermaids! She bought them all dirt cheap. I happen to collect those but also sell when I can. I just can’t believe my luck that she got to them first. This was a couple hours into the sale. I didn’t let on how upset I was but hubby knew. When we got to the car (after buying nothing), I told him it was bad enough she beat me to them but she had to come up and rub my nose in it! Hubby said she probably didn’t mean to do that but was just excited because she got such a great deal on them. Argh. My plan to achieve a Martyr Complex is coming along swimmingly….

 

My life is pretty much summed up in a couple of analogies. Hubby’s Jeep Grand Cherokee is a 2004 with 79.000 miles. He was going to wait until he had 100,000 miles before he even entertained the idea of a new one. With the ongoing problems he’s been having lately, he’s been thinking of purchasing a new one non-stop. This just fuels the fire of finances. Every time I think we might get ahead, something like that comes up. So there’s a couple of problems with his current Jeep. One is the ignition that sometimes he turns the key and nothing happens. No noise, no lights, etc. Other times it won’t turn at all with the key in. We’ve purchased this lead powder that you put into the keyhole and it sometimes works, othertimes not. Looking it up online, “they” said to tap the ignition (with the key in) with the heel of a shoe. As the passenger, I usually volunteer to take mine off to do it. Then there’s a wiring problem with a short in the driver’s side door. The lock won’t unlock using the remote or even the switch inside the driver’s door. The remote quit working except for the lock which works sporadically. Greg replaced the battery in the remote and that did NOTHING. A few times the window won’t go up or down but it’s mostly the lock. This short also affects it starting and a year ago Greg had to call AAA to get a tow. They got it working but talked him into taking it to their shop. He did and they never could figure out what was wrong.

 

The day before Christmas vacation, after Greg had brought the RV in front of our house from the place we store it at and towed the Jeep behind, he went to start the car and NOTHING. The gages were jumping and lights were coming on but no sound from the engine. He tried multiple times and then had to call AAA. This time they towed it to the same auto mechanic shop. He told us it would be a priority since we were leaving the next morning. Of couse, that seems to mean they drag their feet. At noon the next day, they hadn’t even gotten it into a bay to check on it. So we had to make the decision to leave it in their incapable hands for 2 weeks! while we went to Mississippi. This is the first time we’ve gone down there without a tow vehicle. We were limited to where we could go since we didn’t want to have to pack everything up in the RV and unplug to drive somewhere. We did that once when we went to the Dollar Store to buy period supplies. Yes, I did that over Thanksgiving vacation too. How does one get so lucky?! It’s not vacation unless i”m bleeding like a stuck hog. We went on Christmas Eve and there was a mob buying last minute gifts. We also went to the ATM at the bank, thinking we might need more cash (we didn’t.). Then we went over to Sam’s Town Casino just to eat a late lunch with our free points. It’s only across the street from where we stayed but there’s no way Mom could walk it and they don’t  have a shuttle or cabs anymore.

 

Anyway, my llife is summed up by how difficult it is to do simple things. Like for Greg to open the Jeep, he needs to open the driver side with the key, GET IN, shut the the door and flip the inside lock on the door. Even to open the back of the Jeep. I feel like basically every aspect of my life is like that. My mom always kept her pots and frying pans inside the oven. I’ve always done it too. Except to use the oven has turned into a huge hassle. I have to lift all of them out and usually carry them to the dining room table. Then back again after baking. To get in the freezer we keep in the garage, I have to move a ton of empty spare boxes that we keep for mailing out things people buy on Etsy. There’s nowhere to put them but on the stairs behind me on the way up to the kitchen. By the time I get it all moved and get into the freezer, dig around for what i want and then put it all back, I’m exhausted. Same goes for using the crock pot. It’s already on the counter which should be the easy part. But there’s a ton of crap in front of it that has to be moved to the dining room table so I can clear an area around it. Then after using it, I have to clean it up immediately since I have to move everything from the table back to the counter before morning so Mom can eat her breakfast there. The latch that releases the dust bin on my 4 yr. old Dyson vacuum broke a few months ago. To empty it (which I do after vacuuming every room), I need to use a screwdriver to get it open. Life has gotten way too complicated…

 

Obviously we’ve got too much stuff. Our house is too small. But what is the solution? The thought of moving is daunting. It’s not even that I have this house exactly how I want it so hate to leave. It’s the amount of work and energy involved in packing and unpacking, let alone house hunting. Moving with Mom around isn’t an option. So we just keep on plugging along, wondering if things will ever get easier.

 

There was a contest on Instagram that I wanted to enter. They asked for you to write down a dream of yours. Sounds simple enough. Except I don’t have any. I used to have so many. I don’t even know when I went from having many to some, let alone NONE. I’m not just being dramatic. I feel like there’s nothing I can hope for. I used to want to go to Europe but then couldn’t afford it for so long. Then we chose having dogs over going abroad since we don’t want to ever put them in kennels. I used to want to live in California. No one else really shared my desire. They tried to humor me until I gave up. Mom and I were going to move to CA back in 1983 instead of Milwaukee but it was too expensive. Mom didn’t think we could afford it even though we’d been talking about it for years. When I met Greg I told him I wanted to live in CA someday. He would casually mention it like he remembered and it would someday happen. Now he’s made it pretty clear he doesn’t want to.

I used to want to be thin and gave up on that. That’s a whole other blog post for me to delve into someday. I used to want to publish at least one book. I see so many other bloggers getting published and feel no jealousy. It just doesn’t feel possible for me. It no longer feels like good things can happen to me. No, I don’t have the worst life. Or even a bad life. It just seems like there was more balance between good and bad. Now the good is so few and far between that maybe I don’t even recognize it.

 

My inability to share my life with others  has gotten worse. I can do it on my blog but no where else. I used to be able to share anything on Twitter and interact with others daily. Same on Instagram although I didn’t post selfies. Now I’m almost paralyzed and unable to post pictures since before the new year. Part of me feels like no one cares what I post so why do it?! I’ve always been worried about overposting, making people sick of me. I feel like I’m not getting anything out of social media anymore. I realize that you get out of things what you put in and I’m no longer contributing. I’ve been expecting someone to appear and take an interest in me and drag me out of my shell. That’s not happening and it’s unrealistic to think it would or could.

 

I’ve put off writing a blog post since I didn’t want to bring anyone else down with my current mood. It doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere so I have to do something. I can’t mope around anymore. I can’t wait for anyone else to take hold of my life and make things right. I’m sure a lot of this stems from my low self-esteem. I used to dislike how I looked outside but liked myself inside. Now I hate myself inside and out. Hate is not too strong a word. I don’t dwell on looks, my own or others so I don’t know why I’m so hard on myself. It’s not even a matter of being fat. I know I wouldn’t like myself any more if I was thin. I feel like people see no worth in me and have finally convinced me that I’m worthless.

 

I’ve decided to try an experiment starting Feb. 1. I barely look in the mirror at myself because I can’t stand to see myself. All I see are flaws and ugliness. I’m going to FORCE MYSELF to take a selfie every single day and post it. It will probably make me cry. I could cry now just thinking of doing it. I may not last the month but I’m going to try. I might have to try writing down one good thing about myself each day also. If I can think of any. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t know how others got such high opinions of themselves. I REALLY WANT TO KNOW. There are people twice as fat as me that think they’re beautiful. How does this happen?! How do you start loving yourself? Until I learn how, I’m fat on the outside and dead on the inside.

There Are No Words

The title of this is misleading. People say that when they don’t know what to say. Something has affected them and they wish to express it and don’t know how to choose the words. In my case, there are too many words. Oh, so many to describe what I’m feeling but none of them suit me.

Things have been progressing ever so slowly with Alzheimer’s as they tend to do. The gradual decline has been at a snail’s pace for over 3 years. Sometimes more rapidly than others but always leveling off quickly and staying somewhat manageable. I know time passes when we’re not paying attention but this is ridiculous. All of a sudden, with no notice, helping my mother has become a full time job. Obviously, I noticed that more and more time has been devoted to doing tasks for her. But I was still able to squeeze in a few other things a day. I had been selling online here and there when possible and writing blog posts when I found myself with a block of time. It all became too apparent over our Thanksgiving vacation. We are currently on Christmas vacation which just reinforced my thoughts on this.

I will try to write a post soon about the vacations but it certainly was no break for me. This post is specifically about Alzheimer’s and what I’ve been dealing with lately. As always seems the case, I need to get what I’m experiencing out of my system by sharing it on here. I have no one else to talk to about it and it lightens my burden to tell my story.

Less than a week before we left for our Thanksgiving vacation, Greg and I had been out of the house for a few hours going to estate sales. We came home to find large turds on the kitchen floor, down the stairs and a mess in the bathroom. Having 3 dogs, my first thought was that one of them had had an accident. But our dogs are good and don’t go in the house ever. It didn’t take us long to figure out it was Mom. I found her sitting at the computer in pants that she had crapped all the way down to the ankles in. She had her dirty pad taken out of her pants and it was sitting next to her on the top of the desk. Ack. That sound you hear is me wretching. I’m not going to go into the detail of what it involved to clean her and the house up. But a general summation is I took her down to the bathroom and then made several trips upstairs to get her clean underpants, pants and a shirt plus a washcloth to clean her with. Then I had to wipe down the computer, the mouse and desktop with isopropyl alcohol. I had to take her dirty clothes down to the laundry tub and rinse them out. Then run a load in the washer extra long to deep clean and sanitize the clothing. Not to mention cleaning the floor and throw rugs. It sounds like I went into detail but I didn’t. I left out me trying to have a conversation with her and she has no clue what she’s done. Or what’s happened to her. Or that she’s covered in feces. Or why I’m upset. Or why I’m skeeved out.

Anybody who’s read this blog for very long knows this isn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with this. It most likely would’ve happened even if I was home and it’s very likely the beginning would have played out the same way. She would’ve lost control of her bowels as I was getting her to the bathroom. But I would’ve been home to clean her up before she could wander back upstairs touching everything. There is no way to regulate someone else’s bowels when they can’t give you a clue that they have to go.

I made a huge deal a little over 2 years ago when I had to wipe my mom’s ass for the first time. I wrote a blog post called “The Gift Of An Asswipe”. I was appalled. Little did I know that that was NOTHING. Sometime in the last year, more than 6 months ago, I’ve taken the job on full time. I came to the realization that it wasn’t worth it to “let” her do it and make such a mess that I’d have to clean her hands with a toothbrush and clean the toilet seat and everything around her. At that time, I decided to just buck up and do it. It’s basically like wiping a baby’s ass but bigger, right?! Well, I don’t have a baby but I now have a toddler. Mom seems like a toddler so much of the time. So Mom has bowel movements but not daily and she doesn’t like to sit on the toilet for any length of time. I’m like a labor coach but instead of cheering for the baby to come out, I’m cheering for the shit to come out. Everyone’s quit reading by now but that won’t stop me. I’m going to continue so that someday I can remember exactly what I lived through. So she’ll have a piece of shit hanging out of her and say, “I’ve got to get up!” and start to get up. I have to stop her and say, “You’ve got shit hanging out of you. You can’t get up until you push it out!” Then she says her line again and I repeat mine, ad nauseum. The other part of our “conversation” is me telling her to “PUSH!” (repeatedly) and her saying, “I can’t!” (repeatedly). UGH. When she gets it out, I cheer. That is what my life has been reduced to. And if she doesn’t go in the morning, I have to worry and wonder all day when/if she’ll need to go. I’ve had to do an external “digital stool removal” and also had her crap in my hand while I wiped her. It’s futile to ask, “Are you done?” because she’ll answer the opposite of the real answer or else, “I don’t know.” There is no way I’d put her on stool softener since like most normal people, she can sometimes go easily or before she’s ready.

I know she needs more exercise but she’s really only capapble of walking from one room to the other a few times a day. I try to make sure she stays hydrated even if it means she’ll end up wetting the couch or bed. Drinking water keeps her bowels moving. She doesn’t like to drink and I have to bug her to drink several times a day or she’d drink nothing. She’s gotten so she wants me to open the water bottle and pour it in her mouth. There is no happy medium, once in awhile she’ll drink 2 or 3 bottles of water straight down. Even if I tell her not to drink so much, she obviously doesn’t listen to me one iota.

On Tuesdays I give her a bath which I’ve also written about at length. I still try to get her to wash as much of her body by herself. You can tell she wants me to do it. I do some but want to keep her being able to do SOMETHING. She’s still able to get in and out of the tub which at 4 months shy of 95 years old is amazing! I still worry and dread every bath day that that will be the day she won’t be able to get out of the tub. Especially when Greg is gone out of town and I fear having to call the fire dept. because I can’t lift her out myself.

I was rereading a few of my Alzheimer’s posts and didn’t realize how bad things have been and for how long. On vacation, Mom no longer asks, “When are we going home?” She no longer cares for sweets like she used to. She used to love candy and wanted some every day or some dessert. Now if I ask her if she wants some, she usuallys says no. She hasn’t been able to use the mouse on the computer for over a year and even using the space bar on the keyboard, she still manages to hit the wrong button and get herself knocked out of her slot machine game. I have to check on her every few minutes. Some days she can paly a few hours on the computer and not screw anything up. Other days, she hits the wrong button 25-30 times. I patiently explain to her what to hit each time and it doesn’t sink in.

A month or so ago, I was lamenting to her how I don’t have any friends. I don’t even remember why now. Out of the blue, she says, “You’ve got me!” which should have been touching but it was just a sore reminder of the friend she used to be to me. I said, “Do you talk to me?” and she took a long time to answer and then said, “Well, no…”. That’s been the biggest conversation we’ve had in months, maybe years. I don’t usually talk to her about things because she doesn’t usually answer.

The smallest things can give difficulty anymore. Taking her 4 pills in the morning used to be no big deal. She takes a multi-vitamin, a blood pressure pill, Plavix (blood thinner) and an incontinence pill. As I put the pills into her hand, I tell her to “swallow them, don’t hold them in your mouth” and give her a half glass of apple juice. She swallows all but the multi-vitamin which she rolls around in her mouth and chews (with no teeth). No matter how much cajoling or persuasion, she won’t swallow the pill! The first time she did this, I didn’t notice until she was eating her cereal and she still had it in there. Miraculously, she still had it left in her mouth after eating an entire bowl of cereal. That takes talent or determination but I was too flabbergasted to figure out which. This doesn’t happen every day, mind you, but it’s happened a handful of times. Now I just make her spit it out. I’m afraid to stop giving it to her since then she might pick a different pill to not swallow. She still does that with food she eats that she saves one last mouthful that she won’t swallow and will chew it all day (we’re talking HOURS) unless I make her spit it out.

I love the smell of urine in the morning. That’s a joke I make to get me through the unpleasantness that is waking up. 2 years ago my life got considerably better by finding out about absorbent bed pads. I spread 2 across Mom’s bed and it catches the majority of what the diaper doesn’t hold. Believe me, that’s a lot! As things have gotten worse, I’ve had to strip the bed almost daily to dry the rest of the sheets that have gotten wet. I don’t wash them every day or I’d get nothing done! Besides, she lays on a dry pad so it doesn’t matter. In the beginning, I tried to be frugal and if the bed pad was not that wet, I would hang it to dry and it could be used again. Now it’s so wet that I just fold it up and throw it out. It’s crazy how much I dread getting up anymore. I can’t stay in bed even on vacation because I don’t want Mom in bed more than 9 hours at the most (usually 8) since the longer she’s in bed, the wetter it’ll be. I need to get her walked from the bed to the bathroom which feels like I’m pulling a mule sometimes. She’s gotten a lot slower to move and wants to grab on to things as she goes by for support. I get her into the bathroom and positioning her in front of the toilet sounds like it would be simple. She’s stubborn and won’t turn and doesn’t seem to know why we came in there. I peel off her reeking nightgown and get her to sit on the toilet. She won’t always go pee though. Sometimes it’s because she went in bed. Other times she is too agitated to relax enough to go. I’ve tried to do a Pavlov’s dog thing where I tell her to “put your hands together, close your eyes, take some deep breaths, relax and go pee”. That worked for awhile but lately she’s been contrary and keeps wanting to get up. I have to listen to hear if she pees. If there’s other noise going on, I have to lean her over and look to see if she’s gone yet. I also check to see if she’s started taking a bowel movement. The fun never ends.

Have I told you that I dread going to bed at night? Yeah, that too. I’m not afraid of hard work and don’t mind helping her or people in general. I am more than willing to do for someone else but it all feels so futile. If our repertoire involved a different level of interaction, my life would be so different. If she crapped on the floor and was like, “I’m sorry, honey, that I had an accident and left a mess for you to clean up.” I’d be like, “That’s ok, Mom. I’ll take care of it. Don’t worry about it.” That is not my reality. I shouldn’t expect gratitude or even credit for caregiving. I can’t expect a smile or hug or even a kind word. I’m unrealistic to expect an answer to anything I ask her. The saddest thing is things aren’t going to get better. They are only going to get worse. How does a person “keep on keeping on” when their day is just one depressing thing after another? I don’t know but I’ve been managing to do it. I wish I could say I never lose my temper or never get frustrated but I do. I guess that makes me human.

My hubby tells me at least once a day, “You’re such a good person.” He never gives me any other compliments. I don’t feel like a good person. I feel like someone who has no choice and is doing the best they can. One day I told him, ‘I hate it when you tell me I’m a good person”. So then he replies, “That’s why I do it!” Argh.

So we were watching “Bounce” a movie from 2000 on Netflix with Ben Affleck and Gyneth Paltrow. In one scene, the female character gets up from a booth in a diner where they are sitting and talking to someone else to run after a woman who came out of the restroom and unknowingly had toilet paper stuck to the bottom of her shoe. Instead of making an issue about it, she just went up behind the woman and stood on the paper and let her “walk it off”. The woman who had the toilet paper on her shoe never knew that the female character had done this for her. She came back to the booth and said nothing about it to anyone. It was just the right thing to do and she did it. That’s a good person. When I saw that, I got tears in my eyes, I thought how I wouldn’t mind being that type of good person….

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