Monday, July 1, 2013

I should not be on the computer, but....

It has been a long, long time since I last posted.  As the docs say, Dave will always get better.  But, as we all know, he will never be the same person he was before.

How am I doing now?  Quite some time ago, I came to the realization that if I think of Dave as a 15-year-old boy, we will get along just fine.  He can drive, he can do math, he can go grocery shopping, he can even research some things on the Internet.  He does not understand all he reads, he lacks the motivation to start even the simplest of tasks, and I shouldn't expect him to wash clothes or dishes without explicit instructions.  If I want him to do something, I have to dictate each step.  Otherwise, he will wash the clothes, but not fold them.  Fold them, but not put them away.  You see how it goes.

How is Dave doing?  Well, I enrolled him in karate.  It gives him something to look forward to twice a week.  It makes him talk with other people.  It makes him do something physical.  He has to figure out how many more classes he needs to take before his promotion, and make certain he actually goes.  In many ways, karate has been good for him.

Then he broke his leg.

Mind you, accidents happen in any sport.  I don't believe the break was related to his stroke in any way, shape or form.  The truth of the matter is that he had poor posture while practicing a twisty tossy move, and the net result is that his ankle dislocated and his leg broke in two places.

Still, because he has been laid up, he has had limited access to the refrigerator.  Which means I get to be a mean mommy, and make him eat properly.  After all, he can't go out and buy his ice cream and sodas anymore, and I won't do it for him.  He has last at least 20 pounds in the last two months, and has gone from a 2X to an XL.  His pants have probably dropped a few sizes as well, but since we have to get his shorts on over the cast, we haven't tried to figure out what fits him down there yet.

And, because he can't hide from me (by going downstairs and 'doing laundry' - that is, watching TV), I get to make certain he takes his meds like he is supposed to.  I bought him one of those day/night pill organizers, and that seems to be working.  Since his meals are now well-regulated, we were able to drop one of his diabetes meds.  And I have him on all sorts of supplements to encourage bone growth.  At his last check-in, we saw bone growth consistent with a younger, non-diabetic patient, so I guess something is working.

Anyhow, back to running the business.  Not much time for chit-chat these days.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How long has it been?

As I sit here at midnight, looking for an excuse to stay awake when I should really be asleep, I realized that it has been roughly 8 months since my last post.  The good news is that it is simply because we have been keeping busy.  I took to the couponing thing, the triplets are 2 now, and Rowan is 4 going on 18. (Frankly, I'm jealous that she has a better sense of fashion than I do, but at least she hasn't figured out how to spend a credit card on the computer.  Yet.)

I took to extreme couponing back in May, and that has really saved our backsides.  6 people, living on the salary of a beekeeper.  My mom likes to refer to it as my hobby.  My dad tells me that as long as I have fun doing it, he is all for it.  I know I did not pay myself for three months last year, and the couponing thing kept my family in food, toilet paper, and diapers during that time.

Dave, well, is Dave.  Is he getting better?  Yes.  But frankly, one of the highpoints of this last year is the realization that he may call me by Rowan's name, but at least he is not calling me by someone else's name.  Some woman who I never met.  Or some guy who I never met.  Yea, life could be worse.

My parents flew back home last November, and that seems to have helped things around here.  Dave is spending less time on the tv and computer, mostly because I keep him busy.  I have a full-time employee in the office who I trust, and I hope he never leaves or asks for more money.  Dave's sugar level is increasing, which means he is one step closer to needing insulin, but we aren't there yet.

As I'm reading through this, I'm realizing it is sounding rather like a Christmas letter, so I'm going to stop here.  When I am more awake, I'll describe my adventures in trying to get Dave to take karate lessons.  Right now, I need something less cerebral.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Enough's enough

Ok, I have reached the point where I am sick and tired of family members telling me how pissed off they are at my husband because he is so lazy.

This has been an ongoing issue ever since his stroke.  His younger sister won't even talk to him.  His older sister recently found out how little he actually understands of a conversation.  His mom has Alzheimer's so bad, she probably thinks he speaks normally.  Heck, the woman thinks her husband, dead ten years now, is coming to pick her up tonight and take her back to Baltimore.

In many respects, you have to feel sorry for my hubby.  His own family is of such little help, both from their lack of understanding of his problem, and with their own problems.

What is wearing on me today, though, is my own parents.  Dave has been helping to clean his mother's house in preparation for renting it out.  This puts him way beyond his ability to manage - for small details, read my previous post about the 30-year-old-prom-dress.  When he comes home at night, we cannot have any meaningful conversation - he is too tired, he cannot focus, the words and comprehension just aren't there.

So what does he do?  He turns on the TV.

Mind you, he probably doesn't really understand what they are saying.  He turns on the prompter, but I think his reading comprehension in that state is minimal.  But, TV programs are designed so that you can tell what is going on simply by body language.  Just try watching TV sometime with the sound off!  Yes, you miss the nuances of the play on words, you don't catch how many years ago your best friend had an affair with your husband, but - you get the gist of what is going on.  And my husband seems to get that, even when he cannot catch the words.

My parents are currently living with us, in our attic, helping with the business and the kids for a few months.  I really appreciate their help.  When they came in this year to help, they said they wanted to spend more time with the kids, less time with the business.  That is fine, I'd love for them to spoil the babies.

My dad takes everything in stride.  I can tell he gets frustrated on some days, that he feels that I don't tell him what I want often enough, that he feels he is just guessing at what needs to be done.  Truth be told, I think he does a great job.  He jumps in where he sees a problem, and is usually able to take care of it without bugging me about every little detail.  I wish I had a dozen employees like him.  Heck, I can't afford even one employee like HIM.  But you know what I mean.

Mom mom - well, my mom compares everything to how she would do things, and of course she thinks she is perfect.  And, of course, she is not.  But don't try to tell her that.  She has created some sticky situations for me, but she is my mom, and she is offering her time for free, and I really appreciate the help.

But then there are the personal matters that come up.  I really feel like I am caring for five kids.  My four, plus my husband.  At the end of the day - even on a good day - we don't talk.  Like any large family, we don't have much time without the kids.  I work 12-18/7, since this is a home-run business.  So, I asked my parents if they would mind watching all the kids so that I could have some Dave/Lori time while we were both fresh, maybe go see a movie or go bowling.

My dad says sure, no problem, everyone should have some time off sometimes.

My mom says Dad is so pissed off at Dave watching TV last night, she doesn't think they'll do it.  Says Dad is going to ask me if I want this time together, or if Dave wants it.  'Cause if Dave wants, they won't do it.  And she was angry, on the verge of yelling, when she said it.  It was one of those so-much-hate-you-can-see-the-venom-spitting-from-the-mouth types of things.  Which is somewhat amazing, considering the conversation itself lasted only a few minutes.

You know, if they don't want to watch the kids, if they have other things planned, if they don't feel competent to watch four kids between the two of them, that's fine, I understand.  It's hard to watch this many kids at once.  Dave and I have routines that we follow, and the kids are used to us and know what to expect.  I recognize that it is hard, and don't fault anyone for it.  We do have a nanny, but I don't like asking her to work weekends (overtime).  And we don't have any babysitters we trust to handle four kids at once.  I guess I'm saying it's not that I think I am entitled to have them watch the kids for a few hours, but I do understand if they say no.

What pisses me off is that what my mom seems to be saying is that because she feels like Dave doesn't work as hard as other people around here, that I should not be able to treat him as a husband on occasion.  If he was paralyzed on one side, I don't think we would be having this discussion.  But I have a husband who's ability to communicate is impaired, which in turns hampers his ability to plan, organize, or perform chores on his own.  She sees this as laziness.

What really pisses me off, I believe if the situation were reversed, and it was my parents in this position, they would take offense if someone said they were lazy, and did not deserve time together.  I feel like there is so much more to say than that, but for once, I don't have the words for it all.

OK, I think that is enough of a rant for now.  I'm not even certain I made my point clearly.  But thanks for the sympathetic read.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

30-Year-Old Prom Dresses

Oh....Did things blow up today in my hubby's family!  What a fitting start to the July 4th weekend!

They are in the process of sorting through their mother's effects, in preparation for renting her house out.  A few days ago, my DH came home from a meeting with his older sister with the notion that he had been instructed to sort through the house by himself!  I was furious.  Didn't they realize he had a stroke five years ago, and had trouble sorting the panties in the laundry, nonetheless 60 years worth of memories?

As part of his sorting, he took a load of clothes from the attic to Goodwill.  He thought it had been decided by his sister that they were to be donated.  In general, yes, she had.  But then she placed a load of "memories" on top of them - baby clothes made by their grandmother and handed down, dresses their mother had worn to various weddings, etc.

Apparently, he wasn't supposed to take anything to Goodwill quite yet, and he was told about it in no uncertain terms - after the fact.  But the item that caused the most anger?  The white foofy crinoline-type prom dress with a petticoat-style skirt and red highlights that the younger sister had worn to her prom.  30. Years. Ago.  (Why?  "Because it's the type of dress that never goes out of style."  Really?)

It has taken me hours to calm the family down.  Dave is nearly incomprehensible, since the more stress he is under, the less he is able to form coherent sentences.  I was able to help recover said prom dress, and two of the four bags of clothing he had dropped off.  (Note to self - must remember to write them a wonderful thank-you letter.  Our crisis should not have become their emergency.)

Dave's family is also much more aware now of how his stroke has affected him.  "If I told him once, I told him a hundred times, he just needed to let me know when he would be here, I would go through things with him!"  Congratulations, welcome to my world, where he grabs whatever meaning he thinks is relevant to a conversation, and hangs onto it regardless of any evidence to the contrary.  Where he nods in pretend understanding, parrots back what you say to him, just so you will shut up and go away so he can act on whatever he thinks you actually want him to do.  Because he realizes that his brain does not work correctly, so even though he may have heard you say 10, 50, 100 times that you want to work with him, he thinks that what you really said was something completely different, perhaps even another topic entirely....

Well, so much for wasting my day.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Siren's Call

Every time Dave leaves the house, I insist that he take his cell phone with him.  It isn't really so that I can get him to pick up a gallon of milk at the last minute, or ask how is day went.  After all, he doesn't really understand well without facial cues ever since his stroke.  No, I just want to check and make certain he is ok.

Especially when he is driving the kids around, I get a bit paranoid.  OK, so it's been, what four-and-a-half years since his stroke?  I have to have some credit - he did get into one car accident with Rowan in the backseat.  He said he was distracted because she was fussy at the time, hence missed the guy right in front of him who stopped at a red light.  That sort of distraction was a result of the stroke - he was concentrating so hard on what she was saying and wanting, and having a hard time hearing it (he has greater trouble understanding high-pitched voices, like a little girl whining, or my mother laughing).  And right after his initial stroke, he had a series of TIA's while we were driving around to his therapy appointments.  Kinda scary, even when you know what it is.

So just a few minutes ago, I heard a siren whizz past the house, coming from the direction that my husband and daughter travelled just a short while ago.  I thought, "No problem, they are headed away from where he is."  Then I saw the State Police Helicopter circle overhead.  Not good.  He landed at a nearby church.  Really not good.  They only land around here when there has been a horrible car accident, and the occupants need to be medivacked into University of Maryland Shock Trauma.  A fine facility, mind you, just not where I want my husband and daughter to be.

So is this where they are?  Probably not.  After all, these fears are mostly my paranoia.  But we just received 23" of snow, the roads are still being cleared, and Dave did not take his cell phone with him.  I have to swallow the fear until he returns.  And let me tell you, if he has hurt my daughter in any way.....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blessed are the Caregivers

Had a mediocre day that turned bad. Made me feel the need to post this:

"There are only four kinds of people in this world—those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who need caregivers." Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

Friday, June 5, 2009

Handling Finances

Sometimes this topic makes me feel all grown-up, sometimes it just makes me want to cry.

Before Dave's stroke, he handled the major financial decisions around. He decided that we could afford the house we have, the cars we buy, etc. I ran the business. It was a good split, since we trusted each other. Even now, we are still affording the house we have, all of it, even though Dave no longer works. The cars are paid off, with one exception. And he had the foresight 20 years ago to start paying into a long-term disability plan. All good decisions, even now.

Now - well, the one car that is not paid off is one that I ok'd the purchase of. Will it be paid off? Yes eventually. In six more years. I don't like having a loan that is that long. But that is how we are able to afford a car that can hold six cars seats and pull the business trailer in a pinch.

The pool finally gave up the ghost. I can't just let it sit there, not with all our kids running around. It needs to be fixed or filled in, both of which costs about the same, and both of which is more than what I have available on my credit cards.

We are looking at the house, and trying to figure out where four kids will sleep, even if/when my parents are out of the house for good. Some walls need to be rearranged to make this happen. Does it need to be done now? No. But, construction costs are the cheapest they have been in years, and if/when the housing market recovers, it will only go up.

But I don't like making the decisions. Dave was always the good ones at this type of decision. Shoot, I'm the one telling him that we shouldn't go see a movie until I can get discount tickets on eBay. Who am I to be looking at spending incredible amounts of money that we would have to draw from the equity on our house?

I'm putting on a good front to the contracters I need to talk to, but right now, I keep repeating to myself, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home." Thing is, when I open my eyes, I'm still in OZ.