24 February 2023

I Need More Coco Puffs

 Okay, so this bloggity post is going to be a listicle:

1) Due to nationwide staffing shortages, we cannot find health aides/nurses for the mother-in-law that will allow for my sister-in-law to return to work

2) Family refuses to entertain the idea that we are perhaps at the level of needing to move her to a facility. Yet, see above.

3) The father-in-law has now been asked twice to stop telling her/family members that she is "doing great! She's getting better!"

4) The mother-in-law was in the expected but hoped it wouldn't happen "Queen mode" yesterday and reportedly refused to talk with the social worker.  (Queen mode usually happens after 7+ days of hospitalization and she stops being compliant as she usually is and gets pouty)

4) While we will have a better determination later today, we are looking at 1-2 more months of this

5) I had to organize their bills so nothing was missed.  She had receipts, bills, etc. tucked away EVERYWHERE.  E.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.  I got to play the "Is this important? No, it's dated 2019" game. While financially they're fine, there were a few unpleasant discoveries. Then the f-i-l got defensive about a bill being paid that was more than he thought and a utility bill that was three days late.  He originally agreed to have everything set to autopay but we've put a pin in that now.

6) I have discovered unclaimed cemetery plots for the parents.  Plus the need for a marker and name for a baby brother who was stillborn/imminent death upon birth in the late 50's. (that will be a whole post, later)

7) There has been a water leak at the parents house.  We don't know when it started. We do know that it's requiring the entire kitchen and bathroom floors AND CABINETS to be removed in order to repair.  It's going to take months to complete and makes the house uninhabitable.

8) Kevin and I are both feeling exhausted, yet guilty. We're not shouldering the burden of caring for both parents yet it has been relentless for us.   (again, see #2 on the list)

9) I have a feeling there's another shoe about to be dropped and I can't figure out from which direction. This feeling is rarely wrong so that's super fun to have running around in my brain.  (my guess is it will be from my bio family)

10) I've been having Coco Puffs for breakfast because I need a little bit of happy in my life.  I need more Coco Puffs.

20 February 2023

Happy President's Day

 The other day the youngest nephew was here and we were talking about school.  I mentioned that neither of us have school on Monday.  He wondered why. (great job, American education system) I explained that it's a day to "celebrate" our former presidents, specifically the Very First One Ever and Lincoln who did a really hard thing twice. Then I had to phrase slavery in a way that's not traumatizing to a seven-year-old.  

I explained that people kidnapped other people, took them far away from their homes and made them work as prisoners forever.  I ended it with "And those people were black or brown and some people thought because they looked different then they're not human.  Isn't that just dumb?" 

HE SAYS, with a wave of his hand: "That's ReeDICyoulus!!!"  My gawd, this kid.  

Anyway, that was a tangent, Hey, hi, hello, it's me I'm the problem it's me.

Because we just had a four-year reign of ignorance, greed, and terror - that it seems like there's no end in sight - it's difficult to think that we are ever going to have a Washington, a Lincoln, a JFK or even a Carter again.

(I know emotions are at an all time high over here and we shouldn't be surprised that President Carter is in hospice but I wasn't ready)

I grew up in the seventies and I only remember Nixon as a grumpy, angry man on television.  Then there was Ford with his frowny face. Carter who was always so kind and gentle and like Mr. Rogers as President. Then Reagan.  He was president as I was beginning to understand politics and civics.  He allowed the pandemic of AIDS to rage with little to no sympathy, he cut funding to the mental health community, Say No to Drugs and Warning labels on music was under his reign.  As a rebellious teenager and just as a mere human, I was specifically Not A Fan.

So, my point is that the presidents whom I would consider me a fan of are few.  We had eight years of fantastic social progression only to have it summarily dismantled.  We are in such disarray now that I just have little expectation or hope for the near future years.  Maybe I'm just a cynical GEN X'er.

With that, here is my favorite "president" quote ever from one of my Top Three Favorite Movies Ever:

13 February 2023

Work the Problem

 And now Kevin and I are both sick with a cold.  You know, because why not?  Why not add more nonsense to this time of our lives.

We are masking up and trying to stay away the best we can.  This is not the time to not spend time with people so we're adapting.  And, as my dark heart pointed out to Kevin yesterday "What's the worse thing that is going to happen?"  because it's already happening.

Now, where are we in this adventure?  Sigh.  

The father-in-law is home now, with the siblings and his wife.  He looks and sounds really good and when I spoke to him a little while ago he said he was going to go take a nap.  This is unusual and a really good boundary for him to have.  

The mother is a little weaker every day and each hour is different than the others.  Sometimes she's coherent and sometimes not so much.  She sleeps about 80% of the day.  In fact, after her husband arrived home, they visited for a few minutes then she said she was going to sleep a while.  

The hospice folks said that there is a measurement for this whole thing.  It is:

If they weaken by the DAY, it will be days-weeks until their demise.

If they weaken by the WEEK, it will be weeks-months.

We are at the Day part.  She went from being able to shuffle to the bathroom on her own to not being able to lift her legs or chair transfer in four days.  The transition was quick and abrupt.  It's as if she just leaned into it all of a sudden.

My prediction is that now her husband is home and she has seen most of the family, it will be days.  She's surprised us before and we'll see. 

Everyone is in Combat Mode right now.  We're working the problems out as they arise, we are adapting everything we can think of and we're trying to look at what the future is going to be. I think it will hit Kevin and I after this whole thing is over, I think we're both too busy to process everything.

Now that's not to say he didn't cry when the neighbor offered condolences in the middle of the driveway or that I didn't get teary dropping her meds off at the pharmacy for disposal.  We're not robots.

The hospice people have been incredible.  It's like calling in the National Guard.  They walk in, assess the situation, get to work and provide tools and support for everyone around them.  It's a relief.  The validation is also a relief; a sense of "Okay, we're not being melodramatic, This is happening."

We are working on getting help with respite care and nursing care with the state but that process takes so ridiculously long that she may be passed before anything happens.  This then brings me to the "Cringey yelling at the person who was rude to me about the person who was rude to me" story.

Because there's always a story.

The past eight days have been full of phone calls, appointments, more phone calls, forms, faxes, more appointments, document signings.  It feels relentless, at first.  Add having to close the parents house because no one is returning to it any time soon AND going through their paperwork to make sure we have everything, bills are paid, and nothing is missed.

The other day - because they're ALL "the other day" anymore - we had just gone to see my f-i-l at the care facility, met with the social worker, and had papers signed.  Afterward, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up meds for the m-i-l, buy flowers to give her from the f-i-l, and get lunch/dinner for us.

And my phone rings.  It's a number I don't know, which in normal world means I won't answer it.  But in this new world, I have to.  In the middle of a grocery store.  

The woman has a sharp voice/tone.  Immediately I'm on edge because See All of The Above.  She states who she is and why she is calling.  She is the case manager for the state to set-up in-home care.  She says that she can see the family on....Wednesday....the 22nd.

I actually laughed a little and said "Well, we'll see. She might be gone by then and this will be for nothing."  She didn't see the humor it as she wasn't supposed to.  I reiterated that she is in hospice and time is of the essence, the family is exhausted and in over our heads, and just GAH.

She "reminds" me that this appointment is "just" the qualification process and they screen for two things: functional and financial.  I mentioned that as she is in HOSPICE it feels like she qualifies. 

"*I* am the one who makes that determination." she retorts. (I don't think I have ever used that word but it fits well here)

I took a breath, counted to three, and said "If someone who is in hospice and on their way OUT doesn't qualify then WHO DOES."  She took this defensively and started to go through her elevator speech.

I cut her off and said "Okay, so the 22nd and maybe she'll be alive still." 

This left her annoyed - stand in line, lady - and she told me that as she had called me, her number is now on my phone and to "Save it so you have it."  All in a tone that was reminiscent of my mother when she is in queen-mode.  

We hung up.  I explained to Kevin what had just happened and he was annoyed as well. I told him that I'm certain I wasn't at my best and I'm tired and overwhelmed but DAMN, she was rude. I set it aside and moved on to the next 1,000 tasks on the list.

The next morning, the conversation still was bothering me.  This is my measurement of whether or not I want to do something about it.  I did.

I phoned the main office, was transferred to another office then had to leave a voicemail.  I was in the process of emailing the people who were helping walk us through this when my phone rang.

I answered and she explained that she was returning my call and that I had concerns. I explained - probably in one long breath - what had happened during the phone call, what had transpired to put us in the situation, and what my expectations were going forward.

And she says "Okay, well, I am the person you spoke to yesterday."




I actually laughed and replied "Okay, well, GOOD. We are on the same page then." To her credit, she took it on the chin.  She apologized, she regulated her tone.  She admitted it was late in the day and probably neither of us at our best.  

And she's still not coming until the 22nd.  If there is a cancellation, she will make arrangements for earlier but we're just waiting.  In the meanwhile, she sent an application packet that is so extensive.  It would be intimidating if I were completing it for ME, let alone for the parents.  I don't know how people who don't have a Me, if you will, can manage these things.

So, now we wait. It feels like we have addressed everything that we can.  Family and friends have come to visit for their final goodbyes.  The f-i-l is home.  There's nothing to do but wait.  Kevin went to work, knowing that he's going to get the call to come home.  I'm trying to work between phone calls, texts, and document requests.

Then there's the leak in the kitchen of the parents house.  Because of course there is.

09 February 2023

Where to Even Start...

Do I tell you about making the pharmacy people cry?
Or the cringey yelling at the person who was rude to me about the person who was rude to me?
Or about the knife in the glove box
Or the missing baby
Or the weird I.D. card from the cemetery 
Or Kevin and I yelling "Not It" at the hospice nurse
Or sharing scandalous family stories to strangers 
Or the beautiful valentines the young cousin helped make
Or the archaeological dig that was the parents house (and van)? 

I mean...it's been A LOT.  This past week has been nonstop.  It has been the Most Dramatic Episode of Raising Parents, Ever.

To sum up, in seven days the parents were both in the hospital - not together because that would be too easy - and now one is in hospice and one is in a care facility.  

I told you, A LOT.

What had happened was Kevin's mom went into the hospital with stomach pain and came out with pneumonia.  She was home four days...maybe, I think...and we had to call the ambulance twice.  Twice they did not take her because it was deemed too risky and traumatic to take her to the hospital. 
The paramedic on the first occurrence was the one who called it: "It's time to call hospice, she's not leaving this house again."


In the meanwhile, my father-in-law made three trips to the E.R. in four days and ended up in a care facility for two weeks.  We are bringing him home to the siblings house where we have the m-i-l set up for hospice. 

It's A LOT.

So, that gives everyone a This is What's Happening and a little something something to look forward to.

The Knife in the Van Story:
Clearly, no one is driving the van right now and won't be for a while, if ever again.  As it turns out, one of the young cousins car is broken down so they are borrowing it.  I didn't know the borrowing part until about two hours prior to them picking it up.  And I panicked.

The van is an extension of the house: cluttered, dirty, just...eww.  I grabbed my detail box and started to work.  Mydawg.  I started laughing about it, that kind of laugh where you're dangerously close to cracking.  Kevin came to help and did for a little bit before he just threw his hands and said "I just can't with that." 

SO MANY STRAWS.  I mean, no exaggeration twenty straws is an undersestimate. It was like a magician's hat: straws kept coming out of that damn van.  And napkins. So many napkins. Oh, and sunglasses.  She is a hoarder of dollar store sunglasses. Ten? I think I found ten sunglasses.
Two hats, one pair of socks, three sets of gloves, travel pack kleenex.  Receipts of all kinds, everywhere. Two stuffed AFLAC ducks. A plastic crate of CD's. Lots of fries and snacky things on the floor. (Lucy had the best day ever)

But this sent me over the edge.  I was cleaning out the glovebox.  Once I got out all the straws, napkins and sunglasses, I found a glasses case.  There was plastic cutlery - a mixture of picnic style and regular plastic.  And a knife.  A paring knife kind of knife.  A legit knife.

I mean...what?  I guess she/they were being safe by having it in a glasses case? And in the glovebox?

Kevin thought maybe it was from when they were fishing then he realized his dad always has a pocket knife. (well, actually he was carrying two when I brought his clothes home from the hospital) 

The only thing I can think of is she kept it there to cut her food when they got fast food.  Because that is good decision making on all levels. Obviously.

And I can think of the unsanitariness of that. I just can't.

It's been A LOT.

07 February 2023

How It's Going


I kinda just want to post this without context.  It's a long story.

We have a new chapter in the Raising Parents book: Hospice and Care Facility.  Right now everyone is alive and fine but their fates are in the air.  

How's that for a cliffhanger?

LONG post later this week with context and plenty of WTF moments to share.

04 February 2023

You're So Cold

 Second installment of sharing the insta photos.  February 2022.

Cold as #$%@ at the ocean and might have gotten a little damp with this photo.  

02 February 2023

Year Three of Groundhog Day

All the other countries in the world and the aliens must think we are just astoundingly crazy.

From the Wikipedia:

 Groundhog Day  is a popular North American tradition observed in the United States and Canada on February 2. It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day and sees its shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den, and winter will go on for six more weeks; if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early.

To others, it's this movie and then ironically? or prophetically? it became 2020-2023

Then I searched "Vintage Groundhogs Day" because a search that includes "vintage" usually brings postcards or greeting cards or advertisements.

INSTEAD, I got this creepy, maybe a little threatening, cartoon that was featured in Jack and Jill Magazine in 1957. A Children's magazine, nonetheless.

So, Happy Groundhog Day to those who celebrate. Or Happy Every Other Day to everyone else.