Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Since I probably won't have time to get online tomorrow, I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas today.

Thanks to Older and Wisor, I figured out how to have the bling (I know, I can't believe I said that either) of a Christmas tree without the hassle of putting up a Christmas tree.
I also finally figured out how to wrap presents in the Christmas fabric I bought several years ago. I originally made a few bags out of it, which resulted in blobs under the Christmas tree. Then I tried furoshiki which was a bit bland for Christmas. But this year I figured out how to use it like paper gift wrap using only the bow to hold it together.

If you've read my blog long, you know I hate greeting cards of any kind, Christmas, birthday, etc. It's the expense of buying a card, sending it, just so someone can look at it and throw it away. Same with gift wrap and ribbon, plus the added chance of throwing away part of a Christmas gift. The fabric wrap and wire ribbon can be reused every year. Reuse, Recycle - part of the three R's. I love it.
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pawpaw Has a Roommate

Pawpaw has been at the nursing home for almost four months and except for a day or two, has had a room to himself. But a few days ago, another man moved into the nursing home, and into Pawpaw's room. The man has Alzheimer's and it is pretty advanced. He used to be a Baptist preacher, so they should be fairly compatible. There's just one teeny little problem. The Rev doesn't want to be at the nursing home.

The first day, his daughter brought him into the room, unpacked his bag, and settled him into the room. Then she left to go fill out some paperwork and go home to her ten kids. Yes, ten, and she is the only relative within fifty miles. After she left, Rev pulled all his things out of the drawers and closets, loaded them into a laundry basket, and headed out the door. A nurse brought him back and unpacked his basket. He told her she might as well leave everything in the basket because he wasn't staying.

Mother-in-law and Pawpaw were sitting on his side of the room watching, and after the nurse left, Rev began packing his basket again. Mother-in-law told him he might as well spend the night since it was getting dark outside and too late to go home. He said, no, he was going home, picked up his basket, and left. Pretty soon an aide brought him back again, and unpacked his basket. They went through this routine at least five times, and it was entertaining enough that Pawpaw stayed awake longer than usual.

The next morning, Hubby visited Pawpaw and said he walked into the room to find the Rev sitting in his bed crying into his breakfast, and Pawpaw already in the dining hall. After breakfast, Hubby and Pawpaw returned to the room and the Rev was lying in bed sobbing into his pillow. Hubby suggested they go for a walk and Pawpaw agreed, so they walked until Pawpaw needed to go to sleep. The Rev was still sobbing when they got back to the room, but Pawpaw dropped off to sleep and Hubby left.

I haven't heard how it has gone today, but I hope the Rev settles in and becomes good company for Pawpaw.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Recycled Fence Posts Into Post People

After using most of the fence pickets on the faux fence, I still have a lot of rails and fence posts. So I cut a few posts into sections and Brownie and I made post people carolers.
Since my posts were in a very used condition, I couldn't paint them like typical post people. They had to be dressed to cover the dark stains and splintered wood. I just painted a little section on top to make a face. I began giving each post two arms but found that it worked better with the outside post people having one arm each. They also wore a shirt to cover the arm. One shirt bought at the thrift store and one from the box of old clothes we were about to take to the thrift store.
The post on the inside is wearing a curtain panel from the thrift store, strategically stapled to look like a dress. And they all have hair made from the sisal rope the cat refused to touch.

Then we screwed a couple of conduit clamps onto the back, drove a piece of rebar into the ground and slid the post people onto them. To complete the look, I spray painted an old notebook, and wired it onto the two outstretched arms.

Cheap, easy, and fun. However, no one seems to like them except Brownie and me. That's ok. Now I have Christmas yard art to put in front of the "General Store". (Although right now they're in the front yard.)

Total cost: $6.00.
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Thursday, December 8, 2011

An Update of Sorts

I started to title this post "Stupid Things I've Done Lately" but some of this wasn't my stupid stuff.

To begin with, I lost my new password for blogger and have been locked out for awhile. Before Thanksgiving, I was visiting blogs that had linked up to some blog parties, and on one of them, a wordpress blog, there was a popup that said something about verifying my password, and there wasn't any way to close it except to put my password in and click ok. So I closed the browser instead. I opened a new browser and went back, and the same thing happened. So I closed the browser again and immediately changed my blogger password, just in case.

I jotted down the new password on a scrap of paper by the computer, and I thought I picked a new set of security questions. I always make up bogus answers for those security questions and keep a list of passwords and answers. But I never got around to writing this one on the list.

Then I did a clean sweep before Thanksgiving and moved my pile of papers and assorted clutter to a back corner of my room. After Thanksgiving, I couldn't find the password anywhere. I clicked on the link to recover password, but without the answer to my security question, I thought I could be permanently locked out, so I didn't try it. I finally did it this morning, and there was nothing about a security question. Whew! But it looks like I am going to have to find my phone number now. I know it's written down somewhere.

****

About that phone number. I have a new number on my cell phone. We dropped land lines years ago and seldom regret it. When Hubby got a cell phone for work, I took over his phone plan, and his phone number. The only drawback was that the area code was not the same as the one where we live, so very few people called me back when I left a message. I switched to a new number to get a local area code. AT&T assured me that the number had been cleared and I wouldn't be getting calls for the previous owner. Wrong! I haven't gotten any personal calls for the previous owner, but I have gotten plenty of calls from bill collectors. Apparently, the previous owner had a lot of bad debt.

I changed my message to something like "This is Marti's new phone number. Leave your name and number and if I know who you are, I'll call you back." The bill collectors never leave a message, but I could tell who they were by the missed calls and most of them must have listened to the message and figured out that their debtor had changed their number (probably to avoid those calls). Then, a couple of weeks ago, another creditor started calling, Nationwide Credit. After a few missed calls from that number, I looked to see who it was, and put it into the phone's address book. Evidently the Nationwide collectors aren't as bright as the other creditors, or they thought it would be just as easy to get some money out of me as the person with the debt, because my message went unheeded and they kept calling every day.

I decided to answer the next time they called, ask them who they were calling, tell them that person changed their number, and to STOP calling ME. They call between 8am and 10am every morning, so you'd think that would be fairly simple, even for me. But one day I couldn't get to the phone in time, another day I was in the car and couldn't answer the phone with my gloves on, and another day my battery died as I tried to answer. But today I finally got to answer. I didn't start with hello, just "Who are you calling, please?" And on the other end of the line, nothing. I repeated my question and they hung up.

So I took the bull by the horns and called them back. When someone answered, I told them that I had a new number, that Nationwide was calling every day, that I was not indebted to them, and to stop calling. The guy asked my name. I told him he didn't need my name, only my phone number so they could stop calling it. Then he told me my first name (as it is on the message). I said yes, and the person who used to have the number changed to something else, and I wanted them to stop calling. He said they would.

If I can remember my new blogger password tomorrow, I'll let you know if they have stopped.

****

Yesterday, I went to the nursing home to see Pawpaw, and hang a wreath on his door. When I got there, he was in the bathroom with an aide. I could hear her shaving him, so I put the wreath on the door, and turned on the battery powered lights. I had also brought a picture for his wall and a Command hook. The directions said to place the hook on the wall and wait an hour before hanging anything. So I asked Pawpaw if he wanted to go for a walk. It's the only exercise he gets and the staff doesn't have time, so if the family doesn't walk with him, he doesn't get any exercise.

He was in his wheelchair when I got there, nicely dressed in slacks and a button down shirt, and tennis shoes for better traction. I brought his walker over and he got up and began walking. For some reason he always turns right out of his room, and there is no where to go that way, so I suggested we turn and go the other way. As Pawpaw was turning, his pants started slipping off. He grabbed them and tried to pull them up, and I said we'd better go back to his room and get a belt. He started walking into the room next to his and then his pants dropped to the floor. I stopped him before he could flash the two ladies who live in that room, pulled his pants up and held on to them, and got him going toward his door. He turned to me, grinned and said, "You know, there was a time when that would have embarrassed me."

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Everyone

School seems to be out here and people will be hitting the road soon. My youngest is flying in, and while I know that is probably safer than driving, I still worry. We are having a very informal Thanksgiving dinner this year. I want to be able to enjoy being with everyone, watching tv, playing games, and chatting - not cooped up in the kitchen cooking by myself. So we are having elk roast with the trimmings, and lots of desserts.

My in-laws are coming, and even though I don't think Pawpaw even knows what today is, he has the idea that he will soon be taking a trip from the home. Yesterday when mother-in-law got to the nursing home, she found him waiting in his room holding a cookie box. He had dumped the cookies and candy in the trash, and filled it with the toiletries from the bathroom counter, and had his shoes and jacket on the bed. He was ready to go, though he thought he was moving somewhere.

My house is a mess, I haven't been grocery shopping, and haven't cooked a thing in preparation for Thursday. But that's ok. It will either get done or it won't. Either way, I am going to enjoy every minute the kids and Pawpaw are here. I wish all of you the same.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Puddy Tat Perch

A couple of days ago I built a window perch in the garage for the cat. He likes to be with us when we are in the garage, but he needs to be out from under our feet. Because we park the cars in the garage and use it as our workshop, there isn't a lot of room for a kitty condo, or even a very big perch. The maximum depth could only be fifteen inches. It also couldn't take up any floor space because there is very little along the walls. So I built a shelf braced against the wall.

Hubby said he would never sit in a window perch; that those are just for indoor cats and this cat can go outside whenever he wants to. But I built it anyway, using scraps we had. I also attached a post to one side and wrapped some sisal rope around it for a scratching post so the cat will stop digging his claws into my tires.


We put a couple of old towels and his food dish on the perch and then put him up there too. He was content to stay there most of the afternoon, but after he got down, he stayed down. Hubby gave me the "told you so" look, but I thought I'd give it some time before I took it down.

Today, Brownie reported to me that she went out to the garage and the cat was on the perch. He likes it, he likes it!


Because he is a big guy, and likes to sprawl out, I put a safety edge on it so he won't roll off. While at a dollar store today, I found a minky blanket in the few remaining Halloween sale items and thought it would be a good cover for a pad on the perch. For now, I covered an old quilt with the minky, placed it on the perch and put the cat on it. He hated it so much that he wouldn't even put all his feet on it, and tried to back off it.

So I guess it's back to an old towel wrapped around the quilt.

Oh, and the scratching post? He won't use it either. Now he wants to scratch on the boxes of tile under the perch. *sigh*

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Cast of Characters at the Nursing Home

When you have a relative in a nursing home, and visit fairly often, you can't help but notice the other residents. The nursing home where Pawpaw is makes an effort to keep their residents up so they can be more active. So there are always a lot of people in the lobby and in the halls when we visit.

Some people greet us at the door, hoping to see a familiar face, but ready to talk to anyone. There is one lady who parks her wheelchair near the front door and always asks me if I am there to take her home. I hate to disappoint her but I tell her I am there to visit my father-in-law, and she nods and turns her attention to the next person coming in the door.

Pawpaw is usually in his room, dozing in bed. Fatigue and a groggy, dizzy, sleepiness are the worst part of Parkinson's Disease for Pawpaw. He has good days where he can stay awake for an hour and there are days where he wakes only to doze off again. And on those days, he is never sure whether the stuff he had been dreaming about really happened or not. He is usually sure he has been out building a house or even putting on an addition to the nursing home. But then he will admit that it could have been a dream. I asked him how old he is in his dreams and he said he is about twenty or so. Back when he could do anything, and that feeling is still with him even when he also knows he needs help putting his shoes on.

The last time I visited Pawpaw, it was just before lunch. Normally, the aids begin taking the residents to the dining hall about an hour before the meal is served, so they can get everyone in by noon. But since I was there, I took him in just before it was time to eat.

Like most nursing homes, the residents who are in wheelchairs are encouraged to use their feet to pull their chairs forward, and not push the wheels with their hands. It's to keep them more active, and the foot rests are removed from the chairs. But Pawpaw had on his slippers and couldn't get any traction on the slick floor, so as much as he tried, he was basically walking in place. His feet were so swollen that I couldn't get his shoes on his feet, so he held his feet up and I pushed him to the dining hall. Hubby went out later and bought him some tennis shoes with velcro straps so he can get them on when his feet are swollen and when they aren't.

Once in the dining hall, Pawpaw insisted he sat at a table where no one was sitting. There aren't any place markers, so I thought maybe they did move him to another table. The time before, he had been at the next table, and the place where he sat was empty. But he didn't want to sit at that table so we sat at the other table. Pawpaw leaned over and confided to me that he couldn't carry on a conversation with any of those people in the dining hall because they just weren't with it. I got a chuckle out of that because it's hard to have a conversation with Pawpaw most of the time.

At his regular table, there are two other people, June and PeeWee (not his real name, but that's what everyone calls him). June has a motorized scooter and she is sharp as a tack. She is the one who knows where everyone is supposed to sit in the dining hall and keeps track of all the happenings in the halls. During the last meal, an aid rushed into the dining hall and said they needed the RN in her hall. June's head came up and she watched the nurse and all the aids rush out. She backed away from the table and said that was her hall and she had to go find out what was happening, and away she went as fast as her scooter would go.

PeeWee is a younger man, and as he proudly announces, the only man at the home to walk unassisted. All the other men are either in wheelchairs or walkers. PeeWee is friendly, talks to everyone, and everyone knows him. Even Pawpaw can remember his name.

There is another lady who likes to park her wheelchair in the doorway of the media and game room, and rocks her chair back and forth so no one can get around her without talking to her.

Another woman cries all the time. She sounds just like a toddler and cries while she is eating, while she is watching tv, and while she is out in the lobby. She drives my mother-in-law up the wall. I had heard her for awhile before I realized it was a resident and not a visiting child.

There's another lady who carries a doll around with her. At first I thought she was the lady who cried like a baby, but she just quietly wheels around with the doll. She looks really familiar to me, and I can't figure out why.

Then there's Mr. Nash. He is ninety-five and also pretty sharp. He likes to walk his wheelchair outside and is curious about what is going on outside the nursing home. His goal is to live to be one hundred, and I do believe he'll make it.

There's another woman who Pawpaw thinks is his cousin Imogene, but she isn't. Pawpaw doesn't understand why she hasn't come over and talked to him though. But he also doesn't make any effort to go talk to her either.

Brownie and I made a bird feeder to put outside Pawpaw's window. He wasn't sure Brownie was his granddaughter one day. I think it confuses him that she looks so much like me (or what I used to look like) and that I look so much like my mother. Hopefully he will recognize you when you come visit, Lil. The plan is to bring him to our house for Thanksgiving Day, and being in a familiar place should be good for his memory, but it will also make it harder for him to go back to the home.

See you soon,

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Also Built a Workbench


For years, our "workshop" has been in the back of the shed, in a 5x8' area. Not fun, and as a result, we didn't do much woodworking. After the kids left home, we talked about moving a wall in the garage that separated the car space from work and storage space. After Pawpaw gave us his big table saw which took up enough space that we couldn't get a car into one spot, it became even more important to move that wall. Before Hubby went to Colorado this year, we started that project, and while he was gone, I finished it and built this workbench. I'm just too old to work on the floor anymore.

I built the top out of 2x12's and 2x4's and the legs out of 4x4's, so it's really solid. The doors are out of 1x12's and stenciled to look like old gun boxes. I thought Hubby would like that and he did, enough that it inspired him to build a cart for the air compressor and he wants to continue the old box look.

I got that idea from Donna at Funky Junk. Check out her stairs. Thanks Donna!

More on the garage later.


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I shared this with Common Ground - Vintage Inspirations

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fee Fie Faux Fence!

After:


Before:


I'm sorry it's been awhile since I posted. I started this project earlier this summer, and after I finally got over shingles, I have been working on it and a couple of other projects non-stop. It's still not quite finished (I still have to put a name across the top) but close enough to finally show you.

I've showed you my shed before - strategically photographed and cropped to only show the front I covered with wood from my grandparent's turn of the century two-room cabin.

What I've never showed (or tried not to show) is what is beside the shed.

Think it doesn't look too bad? Look closer. To the right, a wire fenced area that used to be a dog run.

It doesn't look too bad like this, although I'd prefer not to see any of that stuff, which is overflow from the fenced area on the left side of the shed.

This fenced area has been a bone of contention for the last fifteen years since Hubby built it to hide his junk. Sometimes I think we are one rusting pile of junk away from being featured on an episode of The Hoarders. If Hubby ever stacked anything neatly in there, that ended at least ten years ago. Then it became a mosquito-breeding, snake-hiding, weed-growing trash pit and I refused to go in it.

One day I was wishing, as I often did, that the wood fence was on the right side of the shed so all the stuff was on concrete and hidden behind a fence, and it dawned on me that I could just do that myself. And instead of just rebuilding the same old fence, make it more interesting so it complemented the shed.

I patiently waited until Hubby went on a trip so he wasn't around to stop me. Then I took down the wire fencing, bought lumber to build a new fence frame, and bolted it to the old fence posts. (The center stud was straight when I bought it, and twisted more every day. Fun.)

Then started building the walls by taking down pickets from the old fence, and laying them horizontally on the new fence.


I stenciled "General Store" on the back of a piece of glass, and sprayed all the backs of glass with a variety of black and blue paints so it looked like a shadowy interior, even though there was a board behind the glass.


After I got all the glass in, I followed directions I found online to quickly age the new wood and sponged that on all the new rough cedar. What it did was shrink the new cedar, which cracked the window to smithereens. What it didn't do was age the new wood.

After I bought, painted, and replaced the glass, I didn't try the aging trick again.

And finished!

Junk, still hidden, but better.

Update! I got the name painted on it. Possum Trot was the original name of a nearby town until they decided to change it to something less, um, hillbilly.

Now. It's. Finished.

BTW, I added up my receipts for this project, and without tax, the total cost was $127.

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I'm sharing this with My Repurposed Life - Catch as Catch Can, At The Picket Fence - Inspiration Friday, Tatertots and Jello

Monday, September 26, 2011

An Earthquake? Here?

Yes, late Saturday night, there was a 2.5 earthquake centered less than four miles from us. That is the fifth earthquake in the DFW area this year. I knew there was a fault line running through the area, but until this year, I've never heard of earthquakes in our area.

With all the stuff going on this week, I forgot to announce that we got 1.25 inches of rain on the 18th of this month. It was wonderful. It poured on us in Tulsa too, while we were trying to drive through town, pulling a U-Haul, with headlights that were so oxidized that we could barely see the rain much less the stripes on the road. Hubby announced that he was springing for new headlight assemblies when we got home, and he did. They are wonderful. I might even drive the beastmobile at night again. If I have to.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Life At The Nursing Home

My father-in-law, Pawpaw to his grandchildren, is doing much better at the nursing home. Now that the methadone is out of his system, he has many more lucid moments which sometimes stretch into hours. The first few days at the nursing home, he was in a continual hallucination or daydream where he thought he was building a house with his friend Dossie. He was having a terrible time getting a wall up and wanted us to help him lift that wall for several days. Eventually, he knew he was at the nursing home, and that "his helpers" were nurses and aids.

He had some stubborn moments with them when he refused to get dressed, or undressed, when asked because he didn't want to be told what to do. Today, he confided to Hubby that little boys were stealing his hearing aids, and sometimes they came in and took them right out of his ears while he was sleeping. Then he said that the little boys came in the next morning and tried to get money for the hearing aids but he wouldn't give them any. He was quite proud of getting his hearing aids back without succumbing to their extortion.

For awhile, he thought physical therapy was where he went to school, but now it's his job. Which it is, in a way. He was glad to have a break from it today, and admitted that he often loses track of days. He was having an especially lucid day today and had a frank conversation with Hubby saying he can't follow a baseball game anymore or most things on tv. He tires quickly but today they played dominoes for an hour before he began getting tired.

Hubby wanted to check Pawpaw's supply of ice cream bars in the community refrigerator/freezer and found another man in the room, making a sandwich. The man struck up a conversation and asked if Hubby's father was there. When Hubby answered yes, the man asked if Pawpaw had gone fishing with them. Hubby smiled patiently and assumed the man wasn't quite there. But then the man went on to say that the director of recreation scheduled several fishing trips every year and the next one is Friday. So it wasn't an imaginary trip after all.

Pawpaw is doing much better with physical therapy and the therapist told mother-in-law (Deedee to her grandchildren) that he should be able to get out of bed and dress himself by the time he leaves there. So they are expecting him to move back home or into an assisted living center. Deedee is in a tizzy about that. She doesn't think she can handle him by herself, but she doesn't want to be the one to make the decision for him to stay at the nursing home. She hasn't wanted to make any decisions since he first had the stroke, so that's no big surprise, but it's my opinion that she wants to be able to put the blame on someone else when Pawpaw hears that he is staying at the nursing home or going to an assisted living center. Another option she can't seem to grasp is that they could have home health care.

In case you are wondering why I didn't go to the nursing home also, it's because the shingles is back. I felt tingling on both sides of my face Thursday; it was worse Friday, so I went back to the doctor. I started a new course of antiviral medication and once again the doctor said that we caught it early and it shouldn't progress. It hasn't gotten much worse today, but there are a couple of bumps forming and the tingling has continued on the right side (where it was before) but has stopped on my left side.

So there's your update kids. Come visit Pawpaw when you can.

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Have You Ever Wondered If Anyone Lifted Your Blog Photos?

I just learned an easy way to check and thought I'd pass it on to my blog buddies. This tip is from annkathryn, a poster at gardeweb.com.

Go to one of your blog photos, right click on it, and scroll down to the word "Properties" in the pop up box. Click on Properties to bring up the Element Properties box. Copy the address of the photo.

Now go to images.google.com and click on the camera icon in the search box. Paste the url of the photo there, and click the search button. Now you'll see websites with a copy of that photo.

Note: Sometimes there is an error message with the pasted url of the photo. If that happens, you'll have to save the image to your hard drive. Then when you click the camera ion at images.google.com, you need to then click "Upload an image" and load it from your computer.

Also, if the photo is really specific, like my painted bench, it will find the websites quickly, although it didn't find all of them that I know are saved on other sites. But if a picture is non-specific, like a sunset, or a multi-colored quilt, it will come up with many non-related items.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Area Meteorologists Rejoice as Citizens Suffer

As of today, we have broken the 1980 record for total number of days above 100 degrees. (It is now 70 days if you want to add that to your bucket list.) Area meteorologists have taken off the sackcloth and ashes and can finally quit lamenting the accursed cool front that robbed them us of the record in August. Oh happy day. Now we are the envy of the state, nay, the nation.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

It Has Been a Tumultuous Week

On my last post, I told you that the nurse told us that Fil couldn't stay at the center if he had another combative episode, and they wanted one of the sons to stay with him every minute until the methadone wore off (48 hours). Hubby took the first shift and didn't get any sleep that night. Fil managed to get the bed alarm off and stand up before Hubby could get to him, so the rest of the night Hubby would doze off, jerk awake, make sure his dad was okay, try to stay awake, doze off, and do it all over again.

The doctor was supposed to be at the center between 8 and 9 a.m. I was going to pick up Mil so we could be there before 8:00, but a weekend of eating junk food got to me and she had to go on without me. I got there about 8:15 and the doctor still hadn't arrived. So we all sat in Fil's room and watched him sleep. The doctor finally arrived at the center at 11:00 and started his rounds. We didn't think it would take long, since he knew we were waiting on him, so we opted not to eat lunch, but to have Fil eat in the room while we waited for the doctor. And we waited. And waited. Brother Bear arrived at 11:30 for his shift with Fil, and waited with us. Finally, at 1:00, Hubby asked the nurse when the doctor would be by and she said it shouldn't be long. So we waited some more. At 2:00 there was a shift change, and at 2:30 Hubby went to a different nurse and explained that we had been waiting for the doctor since 8:00 a.m. She took action, went to the doctor and told him to interrupt his schedule and come talk to us. Bless her heart.

The doctor came in about 15 minutes later and was very nice and apologetic. Fil was awake and alert, and even knew what year it was when asked. He was able to swing his legs out and over the bed, sit up, and all without much pain. So that was the end of pain medication for Fil. He has done fine without any since then. The doctor was very optimistic about getting Fil up and around again and said they would start physical therapy the next day.

After that, Hubby and I left, and Brother Bear stretched out on the spare bed to get some rest before Mil left and his shift began. Brother Bear is a chain smoker and he was NOT looking forward to the long night without a break. Everything went fine for him until the next morning when he got Fil into the bathroom. Then, for some reason, Fil decided that the emergency alarm cord shouldn't be there, and he wrapped it around his fist and tried to pull it off the wall. Brother Bear tried to stop him by giving him a towel to pull instead, but Fil just wrapped the towel around his hand and then the cord around that, and pulled harder. A quick thinking nurse came in with a pair of scissors, snipped the cord in half and helped calm down Fil. Even though there are alarms sounding all the time, I'm sure that continuous alarm was driving them crazy. Then, Fil decided the soap dispenser shouldn't be on the wall and he tried to tear that off. Brother Bear did stop him though.

Hubby and I had talked about finding a backup nursing home in case Fil did pull something else and they kicked him out, and I said I would look Tuesday. After hearing about Fil's morning, I figured they would tell Mil that morning that she had to move him. I started calling, first local homes, and then further out, and found that NO ONE will take him if he is aggressive, even those with secure units. He would have to go to a psychiatric hospital, and I got several names from the homes I called. I found that only one psychiatric hospital would take him, and they could take him that day if needed. Mil's meeting with the admissions director was at noon, and I needed all my ducks in a row before her meeting.

Luckily, the admissions director told Mil that Fil could stay. She said the weekend nurse spoke out of turn when telling us that Fil would have to leave if he had another aggressive outburst. She said they had dealt with much worse before and they wouldn't make that kind of decision without a staff meeting. So whew! He can stay, at least for now.

Fil did really well at PT that Tuesday, then again Wednesday and Thursday. He was cooperative, fairly with it, and was making enough progress that he was walking on his own, and they quit using the adult diapers. Then Friday, Mil decided not to go to PT with him, but to stay in the room and rest. That's when things began to fall apart. He wouldn't cooperate with the therapist, wouldn't get out of the wheelchair, and finally they called Mil back there. Fil was in a mood, said he didn't see why he had to do anything, he wasn't getting better, he would never get better, and he was never going to get to leave.

So three steps forward, and one step back for Fil. It's still progress.

I haven't been back to the center since Monday. I was on the phone for Fil Tuesday morning, and on the phone trying to get a dental appointment for me Tuesday afternoon. And then I needed a break. Wednesday morning I woke up with a little pain at the top of my upper lip. I thought at first it was a little cut, but as the day progressed, it felt more like a zit that was about to break through. That afternoon, I was leaving to run some errands and the next door neighbor was standing in front of her car with the hood up. She said it wouldn't go in reverse and she was late for work. So against my better judgment, I let her drive our pickup. I dreaded telling Hubby, but he agreed it was the right thing to do in an emergency.

Wednesday night, Hubby came home from work, dropped into his chair and went right to sleep. By then, I had a spot on my cheek that felt like a splinter. When I woke up Thursday morning, my lip didn't hurt as much, the place on my cheek still felt like a splinter was sticking out, and my eyelids were burning a little and felt like stys were forming on them. My ear was also beginning to ache and I was feeling tired and dizzy. I had signed up for a class in north Dallas, and had to leave by 8:30 am to get to it by 10:00. I got there ten minutes early, only to find that it had been cancelled. To say I was ticked was an understatement. I stopped at a Central Market on my way home so the trip wasn't a total loss, and when I got home, the pickup was gone again. This time Hubby wasn't very happy about it because he needed to get it ready to go to the lease on Friday. He thought she should have rented a car Thursday morning. By the time I got home Thursday, I really didn't care about anything. I was exhausted and the vibration on my face was driving me nuts.

My first thought was shingles, but I had never heard how it started, just that it was a pox like rash that formed along nerves. And whatever this was felt like it was following a nerve. Friday morning, there was a bump on my lip, my eye felt better, but the place on my cheek felt like an electrode had been attached and turned on low. I had called my neighbor and told her Hubby needed the truck Friday afternoon, and she said she would rent a car. She knocked on my door about 11:00 a.m. Friday asking me to drive her to another town to pick up the car. I felt really crummy by then, but I did it since there wasn't anyone else around to take her.

After my last experience at the GP's office, I swore I would never go back there, and my gynecologist suggested I use an internist at their office. So I called and tried to make an appointment. I had to leave a message for them to call back even to make an appointment, and when they hadn't called back by noon, I called my sister-in-law to see if her shingles started out this way, and she said it did. She told me to go to the doctor now. Immediately. Don't wait. So I went to an urgent care clinic, a doc in a box. At first he didn't think it was shingles because I only had one erruption and it was on my lip. He thought it might be a cold sore, or did, until I told him that a line from my lip to my eye was vibrating. He prescribed an anti-viral medication and I went to get it filled. By the time it was filled, I had four more bumps on my lip, two inside, and two on my cheek. The doctor had said it might not progress since I caught it so early, but now I'm not so sure. I have several more bumps on my cheek and the ones on my lip have burst. Of all the places to have shingles, why my face?!!!

So that's how my week ended. Hope yours was better.

Blessings,
Marti

Sunday, September 4, 2011

We Got Father-in-Law Settled In

Hubby tried to get Fil out of bed this morning without any pain medication, and it was just too much for Fil. So they gave him a pill and then waited for it to start working before they got him up and dressed. By the time we got to the health and rehabilitation center (which I'll just call the center from now on), he was groggy and so loopy he could barely answer simple questions. The nurse who did the evaluation thought he had dementia or Alzheimer's even though we kept saying that he wasn't like this before the pain medication. She was very gentle with Fil and got him to stand up by himself, and showed him how to help others get him onto the bed. She also mentioned that some patients NEVER heal from a vertebrae fracture, especially if it is a compression fracture, and the doctor at the VA didn't mention what kind of fracture, just that it was on the L1.

Then, while we were eating, she came over to say she had called one of the staff doctors to tell him about Fil's pain medication. The VA doctor put him on methadone because he is allergic to codeine. This staff doctor was shocked and suggested tramadol, or even a cortisone injection. The tramadol should relieve the pain without making him as sleepy and confused, and the cortisone shot would even be better because it wouldn't affect his mind at all. The doctor put in an order to start tramadol tonight and only use methadone if the tramadol doesn't work well. He is also going to meet with us tomorrow - yes, on Labor Day - to discuss all this and to see if Mil wants to switch Fil's primary care from the VA to him.

We are so impressed with this facility and the level of care he is already getting from the staff. If they can control his pain while keeping his mind clear, I think he might make some progress. After seeing him decline the last two weeks, Mil is afraid he is there to stay though. It broke her heart to sign the DNA form, but his quality of life has not been great lately.

So, things are looking up right now. Mil also heard of a condo nearby that is for rent. Brownie, our daughter, is a CNA. We have been trying to talk her into moving back to Texas, and when we told her about this facility, she said she would look into employment there. It would be good for Fil to have her there every day too. And she could share the condo with Mil so neither of them would have to live alone. I know that's a long shot, but it sure would be nice.

Both girls were home last weekend, and I asked them how much they remembered of Fil when they were young and spent a week every summer with the grandparents. Sadly, neither of them had solid memories of their grandfather when he was strong and active. So Hubby and I are going to start reminiscing, and I'll probably record those stories here so the girls can read them and hope that doesn't bore the rest of you too much.

*****

We just got a call from Mil. The center called her and said Fil is combative, and to come right over. So more later.

*****

Back again. There are a lot of fires today since it is really windy and has been dry for such a long time. Two fires were near the center, and they had an emergency staff meeting to explain evacuation procedures if the fires got closer. The aid checked Fil's room as she went to the meeting and he was still asleep. After the meeting, she looked in again and he was gone. The meeting had only lasted ten to fifteen minutes, but in that time, Fil had woken, gotten out of bed, and walked down the hall and into another room.

When they saw his empty room and didn't see him in the hall, they organized a search party and found him in the room down the hall. The head nurse ran to bring his wheelchair because they were afraid he would fall, and he began running down the hall. They ran after him and when they caught up with him, he began hitting, kicking, and grabbing their hands when they tried to get him to sit in the wheelchair. He twisted the wrist of one aid, bent back the thumb on another, and hit two others. The head nurse picked up a towel and held it tight between her hands to give him something else to grab onto. He got the towel away from her and began flailing them with it. They decided he was a very strong man who only looked thin and frail.

They finally convinced him to go back to his room to rest, and that's when they called Mil. So within three hours, he had gone from the man in a groggy stupor, to the man who flipped his lid (at least that's the way I overheard one aid describing him to another).

The head nurse is still an angel, and told us she called the doctor who said it is common in methadone patients to experience aggressive outbursts as the methadone wears off, and that the methadone stays in the system for 48 hours. She quoted the doctor as saying "Who in the h*** ordered methadone for him?!!!" From the research I did in our brief time home today, I can see why he said that. Parkinson's patients often have hallucinations and methadone causes hallucinations, so why on earth would anyone prescribe something that would surely make them worse?

She said they all understood he isn't doing this on purpose, but still, they aren't equipped to handle it and they needed Hubby to spend the night if Fil is going to stay there. Also, if he has another episode like that, they will have to send him to the ER and then back to the VA hospital. That's certainly understandable. We don't want him to harm anyone else, or himself either. But we are also worried that we won't find anywhere else with this level of care.

So I made a quick trip home (the center is about 30 miles from us) to pack some things for Hubby, and make us a few sandwiches for dinner, and went back to pick up Mil and take her home. Now to get some sleep so we can be back at the center at 8 a.m. tomorrow.

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Know It's Been Awhile, But I Have an Excuse

My father-in-law had a stroke two weeks ago. It wasn't a severe stroke, but enough that he was a bit befuddled and had trouble walking upright. He was listing to the left both walking and while sitting. So Hubby and his mother took fil to the VA hospital where they did a bunch of tests, determined he had a small stroke, a heart arrhythmia, and was having trouble with his memory. They admitted him for observation and more tests and kept him for four days. I don't know if I've mentioned it lately, but he also has Parkinson's. All those things together made him a real treat for the staff there. He was hallucinating almost all the time he was there, and they decided to put him in a room with a 24 hour attendant. There was another man in the same room, who seemed to be either heavily drugged or who just slept a lot.

Fil saw things that weren't there, like yellow jackets crawling out of hole in the ceiling, an airplane that he was on, and even in moments when he was fairly lucid, he thought he was in jail there. He kept his house shoes on so he could make a jail break when he had a chance, and he pulled out his IV twice. He finally got a chance to make his break but the attendant caught him, so fil took a swing at him. The attendant probably weighed 240 and fil weighs 160. It wasn't much of a jail break. Later, when Hubby and I were there, fil said he had called the police and they brought us there. Luckily, there wasn't a phone in his room or he probably would have called the police.

Finally, on the fourth day, he was lucid enough to answer questions correctly, and he even knew that something was really wrong. He told the social worker there that he felt he was at a crossroads. They determined he was ready to be discharged, and they gave mother-in-law the option of putting him in a rehab hospital, or taking him home. Of course he wanted to go home, and mil didn't think rehab would do him any good, so she turned it down.

Father-in-law could walk pretty well with a walker, get up and down by himself, but still had trouble with his balance. Then he fell backwards into the shower. Mil was right there, but the walker was between them and she couldn't catch him, and he probably would have pulled her down too if she had tried. He said he was okay, and he didn't hit his head, so even though mil got Hubby out of bed at 10 p.m. to drive to town and get him out of the shower, they finally decided he didn't need to go back to the hospital. A couple of days later, fil couldn't get out of bed to go to the bathroom, and mil called Hubby at 5 a.m. to come get him up. He was in severe pain and couldn't walk by himself, and they finally got him dressed and took him back to the VA.

There, he had x-rays and a prescription for pain medication, and they sent him home. They had to go back the next day to find out the results of the x-ray. He had a fractured vertebrae. Yeah, that would hurt. The pain meds work, but they make him really groggy and mil can't seem to understand that she needs to give them to him every 12 hours like the doctor prescribed. She only wants to give them to him when he says he is in pain, but then he is in severe pain by the time they kick in.

By then, mil had run out of what little patience she had left, and wanted Hubby to spend the night at their apartment to get up with fil at night so she could get some sleep. She is really impatient with fil, even after hearing about the fracture. And she told the social worker at the VA that she couldn't take it anymore, all the waking up at night to go to the bathroom, his sleeping all day, and not being able to leave him alone to go anywhere. She's suffering caregiver fatigue, and her focus is pretty much on herself right now.

So they made the decision to put him in a nursing home with rehab. But mil didn't want to find one, she just wanted it done. The social worker told her she needed to go to a lawyer who specialized in elder law. She didn't want to do that, and thought it would just be done for her. Basically, she just wanted to put her head in the sand and pull it out when everything was okay again.

So I called on my friends to find out what to look for, then called a bunch of homes, and narrowed it down to a couple, and took mil to see them. She thought the second one was great, and so did I. They do rehab for stroke patients, but with him being on pain meds that keep him loopy all day, I'm not sure what they can do to help him regain his balance. He is being admitted tomorrow, or at least he will be admitted if he is approved after an evaluation. So now Hubby is trying to decide whether to give him his pain med so the ride over there won't be so painful, and have him loopy at the evaluation, or keep him off the pain med so he is somewhat alert and lucid when they do the evaluation.

So wish us luck tomorrow that he is admitted, and that they can help him. We all need him to be there, and he needs to do what they say so he can get better and come home. Otherwise, we have to put him in long term care. He needs a break from mil and she needs a break from him, though the facility we found is 20 minutes from her apartment and that drive everyday will get old. And Hubby just needs a break. He hasn't worked a full day in two weeks, and sleeping on an air mattress, getting up all night, and then trying to go to work is wearing him out. Brother Bear took his turn on the air mattress too, and his father-in-law has also been in the hospital, so he was already exhausted.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

It Rained, Kind Of.

Last night strong winds blew through, tossing deck chairs into the yard and ripping a few shingles off the roof, and dropping the temperature from 104 to 90 in minutes. It thundered for awhile, and finally rain began to fall. It was an anemic rain that only lasted a few minutes and didn't manage to get the sidewalk completely wet, but it gives me hope that one day we will get some real rain. The last rain that did the plants any good was at the end of May.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Little Southern Ingenuity

aka Redneck Engineering

So Hubby was working on the laundry room cabinet, and forgot to plug the washer drain. Yep, a nut fell and dropped right into the drain. When the little grabber thingy failed to bring it up, he either had to get creative or tear out the drywall to get to the drain pipe. He taped some rubber tubing onto the end of the shop vac hose, threaded it down the drain pipe, and turned on the vac. VoilĂ ! Or maybe that should be Yeehaw! It worked. Drywall saved.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Can't Believe My Ears

Alan Greenspan said what??? "The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default"

Can you imagine walking into Office Depot to buy something, but only having a dollar in your wallet, and then saying to the clerk: Let me just go over to the copier and make a few hundred copies of this dollar so I can buy this whatzit." Do you think you would land on your ear or your rear when they threw you out of the store?

Granted, it's been awhile since I took an economics class, and I probably wasn't paying attention at the time either, but wouldn't that devalue the dollar?

.....

Heard on the radio today: "The record (of 100+ degree days) breaking streak is in jeopardy." What??? We're in jeopardy?!!! I think the news media has been in the sun too long. I want the streak to be over, but apparently there are some who would like to tough it out a few more days so 2011 can break the 1980 record. Today would have been the 41st day in a row of triple digit heat. The record is 42, and it was predicted that we wouldn't see a high temperature under 100 until at least another week. But alas, there is a line of clouds with some rain coming from the north and the streak has been broken. Cancel the parade and dry your tears meterologists. Better luck next year.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

What is Happening to This Country?

No, I don’t mean the national debt or China and Russia circling overhead with saliva dripping from their fangs. Mixed metaphors aside, I am talking about something much more serious. I am talking about crime, folks. Crime caused by adults acting like children. It’s a pandemic that is sweeping the nation. Here are some of the new crimes you should be aware of, and how to protect yourself from being charged.

Crime #1: Shoulder tapping

Did you know that it is now a crime to tap someone on the shoulder in a movie theater? Yep, just ask Brenda Godwin because it happened to her. The big 136 pound hairdresser assaulted the diminutive 220 pound former athlete with her insanely strong index finger and caused the poor man to have whiplash so severe that he had to be treated by paramedics. Meanwhile, she was charged with a misdemeanor. You can read about it here and here. Why would she do such a horrendous thing? Because he was texting in front of her and totally ruining the movie she had traveled 1300 miles to experience.

How can you protect yourself from being charged with this crime? The newspaper article said you should find theater personnel and have them deal with the texter. However, that takes five to fifteen minutes out of your popcorn munching, soda slurping, tear wiping, movie experience. And what is the theater personnel going to do to get the attention of someone engrossed in their texting? That’s right, they are going to tap the inconsiderate slob on the shoulder. And while you are gone from your seat, you missed something vitally important in the movie and you won’t have a clue what is going on for the next hour.

So save yourself the time and aggravation, and deal with the situation yourself, totally hands-off. Just lean in the direction of the texter, and whisper this simple phrase to the person next to you: “Are those bed bugs crawling up that guy’s back?”

Crime #2: Wildlife Rescue

Did you know that it is a crime to rescue a wild animal left to die in a trap? Yes again, and you can ask Bonnie Bradshaw who did just that. This overpowering bully so intimidated some apartment managers that they were struck dumb and couldn’t do anything but nod in agreement when she told them she was taking the animal and traps to a rescue center. She was also charged with a misdemeanor. You can read about it here.

What can you do to protect yourself in this situation? Oh sure, you can call SPCA and let them put the animal on their rescue list and hope they get to it in a few days. Or you can stick your bare hand into the cage with a thirst-deranged wild animal, snap a leash onto it, and take it to the SPCA yourself. Or you can save everyone the trouble with these simple questions to the apartment personnel.
“Do you have enough insurance to cover the kids who stick their hands in the cage? And by the way, has everyone here had their rabies shots?”

Crime #3: Growing vegetables

Did you know it’s a crime to grow vegetables in your own front yard? Sad, but true. Just ask Julie Bass who willfully and knowingly planted such with the malicious intent and purpose of going green and eating healthy. This pushy rule breaker had the audacity to call the city to make sure the garden complied with restrictions, and when they told her the code said she could plant “suitable live plant material”, she planted live veggies that indeed suited her space. Then she was charged with a misdemeanor. You can read about that one here. Who turned her in for this crime? Probably the cookie monster, The Burger King, or some other lachanophobiaist.

How can you protect yourself from this crime? Plant marijuana (or have some other illegal activity) in your backyard and I guarantee all the attention will be diverted away from your front yard, no matter what is growing in it. You'll still be charged with a crime, a felony this time, but at least it will be deserved.

Crime #4: Drinking soda at the airport

Did you know it’s a crime to drink soda in front of TSA officials? That and smuggling applesauce was the charge against Nadine Hays. This 58 year old terminator and her 94 year old terminally ill mother wrestled a TSA official to the floor to get the applesauce out of an ice cooler and then beat the official to a pulp with the cooler. This offspring of Ma Barker was also charged with a misdemeanor. You can read about it here. Why did she do it? She claimed the TSA’s own restrictions allowed carry on food for people with special dietary needs and that she notified them in advance, but we all know it was to flaunt real food in front of people who only get to eat peanuts on the flight.

How can you protect yourself from this charge? Oh sure, you can leave the cooler at home and buy food at your destination, but if you insist on taking your own food on the plane, just be ready to go into this act. When the TSA officials see the cooler, make sure mama has a great, big, falling-on-the-floor, writhing fit. And nothing will help except the magic applesauce in the cooler. Have mama practice at home on the bed so the bruises won’t give away the act.

. . .

And what side am I on, you ask? Neither. Both. It doesn’t matter. My intent is just to poke fun at people, at government, and at silly situations. And yes, there was rampant use of literary license in the above stories.

Now let me take my tongue out of my cheek for a moment to ask a few questions and make my last comments.

What is happening to people that we need to have an intermediary for every encounter between another person? Why can’t we work things out person to person without involving the police or suing each other? Something is rotten in the state of America, dear Marcellus, and it is us. And perhaps that IS why our economy is in crisis, and why China and Russia are lying in wait.

I dare you, no, I double dog dare you to do something. The next time someone annoys you about something, grit your teeth, smile, and tell them it’s okay. Then wish them well, and go on your way. Now I’m not talking about being rear-ended on the freeway, I’m talking about about someone who brings their shrieking kids to the restaurant (my personal peeve), or someone who slows down the line ahead of you by digging through their pockets, someone who blocks the whole aisle at the grocery store, or something equally harmless but annoying.

Have a good day my friends.


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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Made Another Ottoman




I originally planned to make two ottomans, one to hide the Roomba, and one for storage. Then I forgot what I planned to put in the storage ottoman. Still, the storage will come in handy, so I went ahead and made it. I did have to buy a sheet of plywood for this one too. I thought I knew how I wanted to build it, but checked Ana White's website, and saw that her plan was a little easier, so went with it.

I did make a few changes though to make it work for me.

I used plywood instead of 1x12's for the sides because I wanted mine to be a total of 21 inches tall.


I also nailed a smaller piece of plywood onto the inside of the lid both to give it extra strength and to keep it in place.


I put stick-on sliders on the bottom instead of legs because I didn't want to worry about cleaning under it, and wanted to make it easier to slide across the carpet.


I sanded the box, but didn't put any paint or sealer on it since I was going to be upholstering most of it anyway. I just put the good side of the plywood to the inside. I also just stapled the skirt onto the inside of the box. I would have wrapped the cloth around the cardboard edge, but I didn't have enough fabric, so just stapled the cardboard band on top to keep it in place. I did the same with the lid since this probably won't get much use. However, if I were making it for a child, I would have wrapped the band and upholstered the underside of the lid also.

I also did the "cording" with batting again, partly because I still don't have any cording, and partly to match the other ottoman. The next time I recover it, I'll definitely buy some cording, or leave it off altogether. I'll also use 3 inch foam next time too, but all I had was 2 inch, so that's what I used. Like I said, these won't get much use, they are mainly to throw the bedspread and pillows on at night, and to keep the Roomba out of sight.

This is where I'd really like to put the ottomans, but you can see there just isn't enough room between the bed and the dresser, and there isn't another place to put the dresser. So for now, I'll put one on each side of the dresser.
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