Hello Stranger ~

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited my blog. My life has changed forever since our son has gotten ill. Hell, all our lives have changed.

He’s kinda really sick. (That other ‘T’ word is still hard to type) Bossman and I are his main caregivers and we are old farts. Not extremely old, but old and farty enough. The Queen of English (aka daughter) is no spring chicken and she’s dis-abilitied, (creative word day!) and helps as much as she can with administering meds, etc…

A nurse comes to the house once or twice a week as well as physical and occupational therapists who each come twice a week. I thought only very rich people had this advantage, along with their own cooks, hairdressers, make-up artists and wardrobe gurus.

Ours is a wonky position to be in as caregivers and I’m looking into doing something about it. I’m in search of a Professional Caregiver. I’m sending out an email to a man God introduced to me yesterday at Richland Place where our son stayed for a month during his rehabilitation from multiple seizures. He also lost his Kindle there which is why I was there yesterday – to pick it up.

Gracie, our wonderful social worker at Richland tracked the Kindle down weeks ago, but yesterday was the first time we were able to stop and get it. The Queen of English and I had been in the area at Vanderbilt for her first test in a study she’s involved in.  We stopped at Richland on the way home where I made the rounds in the Social Services area where I caught the girls up on our son’s condition and grabbed the Kindle. They gathered pamphlets together when we talked about having a caregiver come in for respite for Bossman and me. “Where’s Davis’ business card? I have his pamphlet… Don’t tell me I’m out of them. Oh! I have one left!” That was Gracie talkin’ there. Then she and I walked down to the PT rooms and said hello to the people that took care of our guy. They were excited to see me and looked for Chris. I explained he’d not been doing well and they were sad. I promised to bring our son up to visit them on a ‘good day’.

Gracie and I left the PT room when she stopped dead in her tracks. (possibly a bad term to use regarding a rehabilitation facility, but what-the-hell) “That’s Davis right in front of us!” She greeted Davis and we explained our need. He explained that his company had just added our area to their care map and he was the person overseeing that area.

He’s getting an email right after I finish this blog.

Thanks God.

 

UPDATE: 04/12/18     Davis came to our home and our respite care will start on Saturday and continue for all playoff hockey games and any other time we are in need. We are all confidant in this man and the company he works for. Thanks again God.

Advertisements

Musical Tears

dancing at wedding
March 31, 2017 – Before It All – Zoe and Jordan’s wedding.

Susie Notes:  Our 44 year old son has been diagnosed with Leukodystrophy, and is in ‘an altered mind state”.  Read: dementia

 

Since all this has happened we’ve tried to find little ways to make us happy.

We’ve been married over 46 years and have enjoyed music that has eventually played out the story of our life together.

Our Bose stereo system was over 20 years old.  After being ‘fixed’ ten years ago, it’s been disabled for a long time, holding cd’s hostage for too many years. Bossman hooked it up to another CD player for a while but I had to use three remotes to run the working  CD player that was on the bottom shelf, a quarter of an inch from the floor. I wear progressive bifocals. Fagedaboudit. I strained my neck trying to figure out what stupid button did what.

A few days ago, I wandered into the living room, stood in front of  the cd player with all my music in it and started to cry.

Bossman said, “What’s the matter?”

I sat on the edge of the coffee table, looking at that blurry old cd player and said, “All I want is my music.” I sobbed and he held me.

Monday he went to one of the Big Box stores, Sam’s or Costco, priced out equipment and came home to share what was on sale.

“Go get it. We need it.”

He went to the bank with his safe deposit key, and took out money from his dad’s estate sale that he’d been saving for the last eight years. (this is very odd, since Bossman will research something until it’s out-of-date) He brought home a new speaker bar and had it set up before dinner was ready.

For the first time, in a long time, we danced with tears in the living room to our music.

 

 

 

 

Overwelming to Overwhelmed

 

o-ver-whelm-ing adj. 1. So great as to render resistance or opposition useless; overpowering.

o-ver-whelm v.t. 1. to overpower in mind or feeling; overwhelmed by remorse. 2. to overpower with superior force or numbers. 3. to cover or bury beneath a mass of something. 4. to burden excessively.

 

 

Where do I start? I like to think that I roll with the punches, so they say, when challenged with hurdles thrown in front of me. I think I handle them pretty well when they’re my hurdles.

In January, I had a medical problem that my regular doctor couldn’t quite fit into a category. After having a physical exam and a CAT scan that showed no abnormalities he diagnosed a pulled groin muscle and told me to rest, don’t lift, apply heat and take ibuprofen. (I rarely do anything strenuous enough to pull a groin muscle. Honestly.) Three months went by and I still had terrible pain in my lower abdomen and both groin areas. So, I went to see a young woman from church who is doctor of kinesiology and chiropractic. She helped me with, what I called her ‘voodoo’, aromatherapy, and weird and wonderfully painful pressure-point torture procedures. Today, I am pain-free and I thank God for her. Hurdle cleared.

A large basal cell carcinoma on my nose was my hurdle in February. My left nostril was rebuilt by my surgeon, Dr. William Stebbins at Vanderbilt Dermotology. I had eleven shots in my nose, was at the surgery center for six hours, had three biopsies and a partridge in a pear tree. It was overwhelming for a day or so when I’d see the quilting job he did on my nose,but I moved on. Those stitches were a hurdle I had to reckon with, and I did it. I reckoned that the surgery probably saved my nose and maybe my life. Hurdle cleared!

On March 23rd I had my two upper wisdom teeth out at the age of 63. They weren’t doing me any good, wisdom was fleeting and they were harassing the teeth in front of them, so I figured, “What the Hell. Get rid of them!” Dentists had been after me for at least three decades to get them out, so I finally gave in. It was a no brainer and I recovered quickly and completely. Hurdle cleared!

April was a reprieve for me, but Bossman had basal cell cancer surgery on his neck. He’s joined the Skin Cancer Survivor Club with The Queen of English (our daughter who has a Masters degree in creative writing), and me.

May was my birthday month, so Bossman gifted me his cold that had staked a claim in his chest producing a barking cough. My present just made me feel lousy. We missed church for the first time in forever. Then all Hell broke loose.

On Wednesday, the 18th of May, I woke up, rolled over to look at the time and couldn’t open my eyes. Damn that Sandman. I felt my way to the bathroom, turned on the faucet and prayed I didn’t have pinkeye. The soaked heavy warmth of the washcloth felt good on my now scratchy eyes. One was pink. Thinking I could catch it early, I treated each eye as an individual. Each one had its own fresh washcloth for its warm water compress and individual towel. I researched which Essential Oils I could use and placed them in odd reflex spots on my toes to help my eyes. (I don’t get it either) I was going to tough this out. Hell, I was turning 64 in less than a week and this childish pinkeye hurdle was not going to get the best of me.

So, later that evening it was close to 10:30 when the ER doctor, Dr. Handsome, ordered a shot of antibiotics in my hip, put antibiotic drops in my eyes and handed me two scripts for drops and 1,000 milligram capsules for a week by mouth. My painful eyes, almost swollen shut, and the disgusting goop being manufactured at a pace that would rival China’s iPad production were a challenge for the medical staff to contain their “Oh, that’s really gross” face. Zombie PinkEye. I looked as if I did a few rounds with Mohammad Ali and lost. But, I was much better by my birthday on the 24th. Bossman and my semi-pink eyes and I went to lunch and picked up Gigi’s Gluten Free Cupcakes to share with the Queen of English. Then I took a nap. Hurdle cleared!

Little did I know that those hurdles were nothing compared to what lay ahead for our adult kid.

Our medically disabled daughter was diagnosed with POTS [postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome] a few years ago and falls down frequently because of low blood pressure. That’s a twenty-seven foot tall hurdle in itself. She has also been suffering from vertigo over the last few months – a double-whammy if I’ve ever seen one. With her POTS falls, she’ll yell, “I’m fine!” when she goes down like a pile of bricks and we’ll continue to watch TV or eat our dinner as we reply with a mouthful of mashed potatoes, “Okay. Thanks.” If we don’t hear the “I’m fine”, we yell, “You okay?” and she might eke out a weak “yes” and one of us will run or hobble up the stairs anyway. Hurdles everywhere.

During all my temporary medical drama this past year, we’d hear her POTSie falls, later mixed in with the Vertigo crashes, coming from the second floor where she lives. SuperDad/Bossman/ManNurse would fly up the stairs to check on her. I’d cover my head with my soft blanket and pray.

We need a better system.

Lately, her vertigo has become violent. Tests start on Monday with an MRI of her brain and we’ll go from there. Her saving grace has been the nurturing and photographing of our abundant, civil war battlefield/ backyard birds, ducks, turkeys and squirrels. As she pushes her walker to the back door to feed the yard birds, all too often it looks like some ghost of a Yankee or Rebel soldier is pushing her sideways or backwards. She’ll slam onto the hardwood floor, and while I move to help her I yell, “You bastards!!! Leave her alone!!! Sons of Bitches!!!” It feels good to be able to blame someone for this stuff.

Vertigo is an evil hurdle to tackle. The attacks come as if they are set up on her old high school track where she ran miles and miles for years. One after another after another… . When an episode happens, it’s as if she’s being slapped on the forehead. Her head jerks back, she loses her balance and down she goes. Again. She recalls her college days occasionally while she’s on her knees hanging over her fuchsia walker. “I used to enjoy feeling this way once in a while.”

It’s overwhelming.

I am useless. I freak out. In my rush to get to her I might trip and fall on the bed or bang up against the wall. She smiles and shakes her head. When she has an attack in front of me, I automatically turn into Kramer from Seinfeld. That makes her laugh. I try to help her get up and either tickle her by mistake or grab her somewhere inappropriate. We laugh again. “Just helping…” I mutter.

The Queen of English says we’re a sitcom.

We are.

I’d call it, Overwhelmed.

Everyone Has One

I’m talking about a nose.

I’m also talking about a quirk with some bodily task, function, obsession that might partner with that nose or your choice of body part. You might have the desire that your fingernails be trimmed to a certain length. All the time. Or maybe it’s your toenails. What if that big toe catches on your sock and tries to push through to freedom? Does it make you crazy enough to throw your shoes and socks off, race to get the clippers and take care of the little bugger? Not that that’s ever happened to me, mind you. But does that bother you?

Ears. Do you need to inspect your ears and Q-Tip them until they’re pink? Or could it be the eyebrows with the willy-nilly antennae reaching for Mars? Do you snag the strays and release a relaxing breath?

My personal quirk is that I enjoy a clean nose. It drives me crazy to feel any material in my nostrils. I have issues, so I have tissues with me at all times. I try to be discreet in public and will excuse myself to take care of any debris I’m suddenly aware of. I will drill to China for a clean nose. It’s become an art.

But, I’ve been challenged for almost a week now. I had surgery on my nose to remove a be-damned basal cell cancer. A tumor was hiding down where that cute little bump connects the nose to the face. It was large enough that the surgeon had to rebuild my little bump and nostril. I’ve endured swelling, many stitches, of which Doc would win a blue ribbon in a quilting competition, and a closed nostril due to said swelling. No clean nose for days. Now, almost a week later, there is still a partial blockage to access material. I’ve devised a plan so I don’t hurt my nose and still get some satisfaction of clearing the material, which we all know are boogers. I hate boogers in my nose.

So, there you have it. My confession given under extreme circumstances of not being able to take care of a personal hygienic issue, of which I’m handling, not so much with grace but with humor and extreme stress of not being able to let go and blow this nose to kingdom come. Soon. Soon enough. The stitches come out tomorrow.

Three Summer ‘R’s’

 

These summer months in Tennessee have brought family and friends to our home as they traveled from one place to another. South Carolina to Colorado. Texas to Vermont. Florida to Mississippi to Ohio to New York. Michigan to Ohio to Tennessee to Michigan. We’re in the perfect position to nab them as they travel on I-65 and share a evening or two of fleeting quality time.

 

Though, some stay longer.

 

This morning I was up at 4:45 baking brownies for our friends to enjoy on their trip back to Michigan. They’ve been here for ten days spending time with our disabled daughter while we were away, and when we returned, with us as a family. Food, games, laughs, long talks and an ER visit that was thrown in for good measure, were shared. The ER visit proved to be a God-send. Discovery that our daughter’s three pulmonary embolisms had disappeared with the treatment of Xeralto over the last three months. Thank you, God and physicians!

 

Bossman and I missed the field trip to the ER. We were in D.C. attending the stunning and somber ceremony in Arlington Cemetery of the funeral for Bossman’s brother, Major G. R. Dunham. His widow, daughters, son-in-law, aunt, cousins, mother-in-law, Bossman and I all stayed together in two enormous suites in a Wyndham timeshare at National Harbor. Treasured family bonding was experienced by all.

 

After our Michigan friends headed out this morning at 6:30 and Bossman left to play golf, I felt the need to visit my past.

 

I grew up in the ’50’s in a small village in upstate New York. All my relations lived within walking distance. Hot summer days were greeted with the women getting out the hose and washing down the front porch or stoop and the sidewalk. I remember my Nanny Donovan, neighbor ladies and Mom with the green hose, and pointy nozzle hosing down the dust, dirt, bugs and grass clippings from the porches and sidewalks.

 

So, I did that this morning. Pulling the hose up the steps I shot water at the cobwebs, the wasps, the grass clippings and the dirt. Brick and cement turned dark as the water washed over them and the old dirt and cobwebs dripped over the porch and ran down into the mulch that drank it all up. Blades of mowed grass, nudged out of corners of steps, washed away into the street.

 

The fragrance of wet brick, water, humidity and grass were a natural cologne in this morning’s summer heat. A prescription for calm.

 

Relief. Reflection. Relaxed.

Wet Porch_July

 

 

The Gift of a Birthday

I’d like to share a photograph of the gift my husband and daughter presented to me for my birthday on the 24th of May, along with a poem I had written about the same subject: Building Eight at the Factory in Franklin Tennessee. It’s where God found us. Our church. Journey Church. We’d never gone to church regularly in all our thirty-seven years of marriage. We went occasionally on Christmas Eve, the kids and hubs kicking and screaming most of the time.

In 2007 our adult daughter and her dog moved in with us while a mysterious illness started to attack her body. We had a tornado shelter installed in the garage and agreed to show it to any potential customers for the shelter company. One couple wanted to see it. Bob and Amy. They came, saw our daughter’s obscure little dog and said, “Is that an Affenpinscher?” Really? They had one. “Do you have MS?” That was a suspicion of doctors. Amy had MS. We all became friends and Gretchen agreed to go to church with them. Odd. Very odd. After a few months she asked us to go. We declined. A lot. She begged. “Go for me.” Fine. That was 2008 and Journey Church. We’ve never looked back.

Church is in flux right now. Searching for a new home. The Factory is reinventing itself and we are not part of the plan. I’ve written a poem about Building Eight and the memories it carries for many of us. My daughter took a photograph of the inside where we were loved and allowed to sit, ask questions, disagree, cry, sing and find Christ over the years. A friend from church turned the photo into a painting. Here are the painting and poem:

 

Building Eight Painting

 

This Place
Remembering Building 8
Journey Church, The Factory in Franklin
By Susie Dunham

What is this place once filled with the trust of a paycheck and food on the table,
where lunch pails held coffee thermos’ and dreams,
and men told stories of family and faith in good times and bad?

What is this place now filled with rails and chains and pulleys and rust,
walls of brick mortared with the sweat of decades of work days and,
floors where ghosts resided in bird filth knee-high?

What is this place where sweat, love, hope, and grace has lived,
this place where voices and instruments blazon the story of Love,
where the Spirit has danced and held us if only for a breath?

Where is this place after the rust and brick are surrendered,
where the sanctuary, the safe haven, the church will live,
where souls will heal and awaken to God’s love and joy?

Ah, poise is warranted, for our God has much work to do in our world.

We will trust.
We will be patient.
We will never forget.

Random February Ramblings

Home Snoweet Home

Aunt Shari's Porch
Yellow house, five steps up to Aunt Shari’s Porch.

I was born and raised in the Northeastern part of the United States. All my family has lived up in upstate New York or northern Massachusetts for decades upon decades. Hearty people who can handle the cold, hard winters and appreciate the beauty of the four seasons. This year has been a record breaking snow year. My cousins in northern Massachusetts and fraternity brothers over near Boston and Maine have had 5.5 feet of snow in three weeks. My sister in upstate New York (picture) and the rest of our family has drifts of snow almost up to my Aunt Shari and Uncle Mike’s porch which is about 4 feet high. I could ask my cousin Mike exactly how high it is since my sister and cousin Greg convinced him he could fly off of it when he was five, which is just a few years short of a half-century ago. Broken leg for Mike and the other two went into hiding. But, I digress… Snow. Lots of it and newsworthy. Yes, it’s the north and we expect snow, but not all at once for three consecutive weeks. It would be like having 105 degree weather, day and night, for three weeks in August here in the south where we now live. Stay safe and hearty, my Northern Family and Friends. I’ll visit in August.

(cousin Mike,53, runner/athlete had successful quintuple emergency bypass surgery last month. Genetics… He’s doing very well in recovering)

 

Tornado Season

While the north was getting forecasts for more snow on the first Saturday in February at 1pm, sirens sounded in our neighborhood. I froze and listened; observed the sunshine and brilliant blue sky out the patio doors and realized tornado season is now upon Tennessee. Oh joy. Tests of the tornado warning system on the first Saturday of each month during Twister Season have begun. Time to restock and clean the shelter in the garage.

 

The Day the Music Died the House Got Dirty

Just the other day, as I looked around my living room/dining room/kitchen combo area, I wondered where my get-up-and-go went when it came time to really clean the house. Windows, windowsills, cobwebs, corners, baseboards, doors, framework, floors, upholstered furniture…. Did I leave anything out? I looked at it all and then I left. While preparing to clean up a few dishes later in the kitchen, I thought, “This just isn’t fun. “ I turned on my iPod player and it became easier, still not fun, but easier. “That’s it! The music’s gone.” When Bossman retired in 2005, it was the day the music died. I used to have the stereo blaring The Doors, and other classic rock. Old pop hits like Manilow, Neil Diamond and the BeeGees. Kenny Rogers and Dotty West got me through a lot of housecleaning chores. Bossman doesn’t like loud music or my music. Neither does the Queen of English who lives with us. So, I’d try wearing my iPod and earbuds but would nearly strangle myself getting the wires caught on the broom or mop and the family would start dialing 911 if they heard me singing, thinking an injured hyena had come into the house.
Cleaning is just not fun since the music died and I’m all about the fun. So, a little dirt never hurt anybody, right?

                         Notation:

As I was getting ready to post the above material, I realized how long it had been since my last blog, Mr. Bo Jangles. Billy-the-peeing-guy-dog’s death in September took a lot out of us as a family. Soon after we had another huge and unexpected loss. My husband’s brother, Ross, passed away the beginning of October. Very unexpected. He’d not felt well and went to the doctor who did tests and found cancer in his chest area. Before they could schedule other tests, he was gone a short three weeks later. Ross was 67, a runner since high school who never missed a day on the streets. It’s taken a lot out of us as a family. He’s left his wife and two daughters, son-in-law, his only sibling Terry, me, and our two kids reeling. A stepmom, aunt, cousins and many friends stunned.  Ross

Time moves on and so do we. Never to be forgotten, life continues for us earth-bound beings who fight weather, traffic, illness, dirt, memories, hackers, FB unfriending, unanswered emails and try to make the best out of annoying situations. Be nice to each other and pass it forward when you’re blessed in any way.