Thursday, December 29, 2011

Post Christmas traumatic stress syndrome!

Christmas is over and I always get a little sad and sentimental when the last present is opened and the last person leaves. I always wonder why we wait so long to get together to visit and just be together. Everyone is so busy with their lives that it seems we all need to slow down and spend time with each other. My family all comes over to my house on Christmas Eve. We are now missing two people, my dad and my sister have both went to heaven, so every Christmas is more and more dear to me. This year we had to share with other families due to marriages and girlfriends, so instead of our usual 23 or so, we had 14. But it was very fun and I loved every minute except maybe one.  This one....

My daughter's boyfriend tipped my top shelf that holds some fiestaware and Christmas decorations. The look of horror on his and my daughter's face was priceless. It's just stuff, stuff that I have less of now!! My husband Dennis, who has been fighting some serious illnesses all summer, did really well. We met with his dad and stepmom on Christmas Day night and Dennis's mom's on Monday night. Both nights were very fun and although we were pretty tired we loved every minute. My daughter had to leave on Monday afternoon because her boyfriend had to work Monday night and I already miss her. She brought her two dogs who do not get along with my two dogs very well. Her dogs kind of take over the house.

Then when you are so tired you don't think you can make it another minute, it's time to go back to work!  The good news is we have another three day weekend coming up.  Happy New Year!!!!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Joy of Giving

We are getting ready for Christmas Eve and I can't believe how fast this month has flown.  I made Vanilla Thai Chi Tea Mix for my friends and I decided to share the recipes that I got off of pinterest. 

Homemade Vanilla Chai Tea Mix
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1 cup French vanilla powdered non-dairy creamer
2 ½ cups white sugar
1 ½ cups unsweetened instant tea
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
¼ tsp white pepper
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it is a fine powder (If you have a small food processor, you can combine just the instant tea and spices in the food processor & then combine everything together in a bowl). Add two-three tablespoons of mix to 8 ounces of hot water or milk.

It is delicious!!!!  I hope my friends enjoy it.  I also made some Eggnog bread.  I love it and it always is a big hit.  My kitchen didn't look so great though.

I also made Texas Roadhouse Cinnamon Honey Butter which I got off of pinterest also.
2 sticks of butter at room temperature.
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup of honey
2 tsp of cinnamon

We love to give back at Christmas to all our wonderful friends that God has put around us.  They do so much for Dennis and I during the year and we love all of them. To all my friends and to all my new
blogging friends have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Things that warm my heart at Christmas part 2

A few posts back, I posted about my husband’s pressure sores.  Well, they are looking much better and I think we are now on the uphill side of that battle.  One of the things I love about Christmas time is the generous spirit everyone seems to be in.  Dennis and I decided to go to Enid (the closest big town) on Saturday for a few errands I had.  We stopped in to our pharmacy to pick up one of Dennis’s prescriptions and Santa had left a package for Dennis.  It was a case of protein drink that Dennis needs for the healing of his pressure sores.  I asked who Santa was and they told me if Santa wanted us to know who they were, they would tell me.  So a big shout out to “Santa” and thank you for your generous spirit.  We went and ran our errands and came back to town.  I took some shots of the decorations around town on the way back to the house. 
These two were awesome!
I always love our courthouse!

This one was my favorite.  Just a Jospeh, Mary and Baby Jesus at the bottom of the deck stairs.  What else do you need?  I love our little town at Christmastime...... 


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas


Things that warm my heart at Christmas:
With the season upon us I have heard a lot of people complaining that they are just not in the Christmas spirit. They haven’t put their tree up or lights or done any shopping. They are just “bah-humbug”. I then thought about what makes me get so in the spirit of the season. Here’s a little bit of my list.

1)    Looking across the street at Grandma’s and seeing her candles glowing from her windows.
This is the stained glass taken out of our old church.

 I got this so Dennis and I would remember to have Joy after Dennis's accident.
 Our daughter who is our "angel".
My daddy.
2)   Looking at the ornaments on my tree and remembering each memory that goes with each ornament.

3) Just looking at the lights on my tree.
4)   Getting “angels” off of the trees in town and going shopping for the little girls and boys who are less fortunate than we are.  I try to imagine their delight when they open the gifts and hope that we are blessing them.

5)   Making new recipes and gifts and trying them out on my family and friends.
6) Christmas music, old and new.
7)   Remembering my daddy and how much he used to love Christmas Eve with my family.
8)   How we use to spend Christmas at my Grandma’s and the whole family would come, she had a silver tree with a spinning color wheel.
9)   Knowing that my loved ones are in heaven and they get to celebrate every day!
An Italian presepio
10)   And knowing that Jesus came down from His comfort in heaven, for the purpose of dying a torturous death, so that I could live.
Jesus_on_Cross
He is the reason we should always be in the spirit of the season.
                                     Merry Christmas !!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Things We Take for Granted: part 1

We are trying to fatten up my husband Dennis, because he had lost so much weight this summer.  With the weight he gains it gets easier to breathe and also the pressure sores heal better and faster. So when we go to bed now we have his favorite snack at his bedside, Cheetos! 
Since Dennis is a quadriplegic I have to feed him the Cheetos.   Now, my day is full being as I work and by the time I go to bed I want to go straight to bed, but that  does not happen in a caregivers world.  When it’s time to go to bed you get the patient ready, which in our case is getting the sling and lift and put Dennis to bed.  Then it’s getting all the pressure sores where there is no pressure on any of them and either oxygen, vent, or on a good night neither one of them.  Making sure his head isn’t cold and the room isn’t too cold or too hot.  Giving the nighttime meds and then.. you get to go to bed, unless you are trying to fatten someone up and then you get to feed them Cheetos!  Someone needs to invent a self feeding Cheeto machine!  This is one of my selfish moments when I long for the days that when I got tired I went in and put my pajamas and went to bed.  So this is why I am calling this blog “ Things we take for Granted: part 1”,  because you don’t realize what a blessing some simple things are until they are gone; don’t take them for granted.    

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving VS Christmas!

This week I took down my Thanksgiving and Fall decorations.  I have had them up since Sept 1 and I am ready to move on even though this week is Thanksgiving. 
It takes about two days for me to decorate for Christmas because I never remember where I put the things last year and although I have 6 boxes of decoration it always seems like I don’t have enough. I do weed out things I don’t need or want so I have to replenish! We don't do lights since Dennis's accident because I don't want to hurt myself putting them up. This year I made quite a few items and I love to set things out, it seems to get me into the Christmas mood.


  But this year there was a tugging on my heart that made me uncomfortable.  Was I really getting in to the spirit of Christmas of the commercial aspect of the season?  Had I taken one moment of time to really think about what the season means that is coming upon us?  Had I opened my bible in the last week to hear God talking to me?  No, I hadn’t.  So today I am taking a moment to listen and reflect on the things that God is speaking about today through others and through His word.  He sent His son to die for me, so I can take a minute to thank and rejoice Him for it.  I never argue with the fact that this may not be the exact time of Christ birth because whether it is or isn’t we can celebrate what He did for us in December and every other month of the year.  I hope everyone has a blessed Christmas!



                                Happy Holidays Christmas!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pressure sores!


Not For the Faint of heart!

I have to remind myself that I started this blog as a caregiver blog.  I have a lot of hits from all over the world so I hope someone is reading this blog that is a caregiver also.  I like to blog about fun stuff and when I blog about caregiving I feel like it’s such a downer.  But, it is a part of life and “so goes”.  (Inside joke to my friend Debbie)  My husband Dennis has had a rough summer as everyone knows who reads this blog.  Things are on the uphill swing but a lot of his problems started with an ulcer and some pressure sores.  If you are a caregiver you will have either already dealt with pressure sores or you will at some point deal with them.  They are nasty, wicked things that by the time you know you have them it’s too late.

This is the definition of a pressure sore also called bed sores.

Bedsores — also called pressure sores or pressure ulcers — are injuries to skin and underlying tissues that result from prolonged pressure on the skin. Bedsores most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heel, ankles, hips or buttocks.

People most at risk of bedsores are those with a medical condition that limits their ability to change positions, requires them to use a wheelchair or confines them to a bed for prolonged periods.

Bedsores can develop quickly and are often difficult to treat. Several care strategies can help prevent some bedsores and promote heal

By the time you notice a bruise the size of a pin prick, underneath the skin it has coned out in to a large area.  You get these pressure sores at the area your skin has the most pressure.  Backside, ankles, elbows, etc.  Dennis had one on the pad of his foot for 2 years before it finally healed.  When he got sick this summer he lost a lot of weight so he got a pressure sore on both of his elbows, his backside, and his heel.  This along with his ulcer is what caused his health to slowly go downhill and his breathing to get worse.  The more he lost weight the harder it was for him to breath.  He got down to 128 but now he is up to 136 and climbing.  Breathing better and his pressure sores are healing up.  This has been a long and very emotional roller coaster for us and we could not have made it without God and His mercy that is new every morning.  There were times I thought Dennis would die and only God lead us through that valley.  I can’t imagine people who do not have the Lord in their life and how they get by day to day.  We praise the Lord for our renewed health and strength and thank Him for continuing to see us through this journey. 

Photos of pressure sores!

 







 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Being Sick

I don't like to be sick and you can even say I'm a big baby.  When I start to feel something coming on I rush to take whatever I can find hidden in the back of the medicine chest.  But this time it didn't matter I got a 24 hour bug anyway.  The thing about getting sick when you are a caregiver is that you still have to be a caregiver.  I want to crawl in a blanket with my pillow and take a "extra" dose of Nyquil and go to sleepy town, but it doesn't work that way.  First I have to make sure my hands are clean at all times and I spray Lysol in our bedroom about 5 times a day. I clorox down everything all the time.   I still have to take care of Dennis at night and I will say I may not be the most pleasant person at 3 in the morning let alone when I'm sick.  The blessing is my mom (who lives with Dennis and I) kicks in to high gear mom mode and I get to sleep all day.  She make sure Dennis is OK and she brings me tea and water.  I count my blessings that she is still able to help me out I just wish her bed would fit in my room at night, but she snores so that's a no go!  Thanks again, mom.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BFF's

Today I had lunch with three of my best friends and as I was sitting there celebrating one of them entering into the over 50 club, I realized how blessed I was. Yes, this is the over 50 gals!  We have a thing for hats....


The one celebrating her birthday is having a hard time right now with an ailing mother and is having to make big decisions.  My husband is getting better but has been going through a hard time this summer and my sister-in-law is battling cancer.  As we were sitting there eating our lunch my cousin called to tell me her mom has cancer, very bad cancer.  These girls are my rocks and through everything they still give me the gift of laughter and love and I am so blessed to have them surround me every day with their caring and concern. I hope we get to grow old together and no we are not OLD yet!   We always tell each other that we love each other but I just want them to know how much I do love them and thank God for them.   Love you girls!
This is my other BFF, she is not in the "club"yet, but she's getting close!  Love you too, Jana!



Sunday, October 16, 2011

Being mean...


When I was a little girl my granddad had cancer.  He was like a father to me and I loved this man like one.  I always got his pills and water and I thought he was very fragile, which he was to a degree.  I loved my grandma also but there were times when I thought she was so mean to my granddad that I would cry.  Now, as I am older and also a caregiver I understand what my grandma was going through.  It is hard to be tough on someone that we feel sorry for, but sometimes you have to be.  When Dennis had gained too much weight we had to limit what he ate and people used to tell me that it wasn’t fair, that is one of the things he can look forward to.  When he doesn’t drink his water, I don’t force him and then when he starts getting a urinary trach infection I just look at him and say, “Did you drink a lot of water this week?”  Now, that he is under weight we practically have to force him to eat.  It’s not fun and it is a pain to keep finding something that he’ll eat or something that sounds good.  Then we have to get mean and tell him he has to finish it.  Just because a spouse has an accident doesn’t take away the fact that they are still your spouse.  We still argue and get mad and then we say we’re sorry and go on.  Dennis used to walk out of an argument and he doesn’t have that luxury anymore so we get to finish it!  We do these things out of love but we don’t treat them differently also because we love them. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sleep it's highly overrated!



I keep trying to keep my blog true to what I started which is care giving, but I find myself wanting to blog about things that I am having fun with right now.  I’m taking a camera course and I’m also doing some D-I-Y projects.  But, I want to stay on course so I might do both!  I was thinking about what care givers would want to hear and then I thought of sleep or the lack of.  When Dennis was at OU for the first 30 days my daughter and I slept on two chairs with an end table in the middle and we had our purse by our head because they told us people off of the street would sneak in the hospital and steal money.  Then we graduated to roll up thick pads we found at target, heaven!  Then when Dennis was transferred to Select Hospital I had a roll out chair that made into a bed.  This is where the lack of sleep starts.  We can’t leave Dennis alone at night because if something goes wrong with the ventilator he can’t push the button or yell.  So, the 40 days at Select were drug induced and he had his days and night mixed up and he was hot and then he was cold and so on.  Now, before Dennis’s accident I was a 9 hour a night girl.  I like my sleep and I don’t like to be woken.  Now, however, this was a whole new ballgame.  When we got to TIRR I thought, OK this is a big time rehab center, I will go to the hotel and sleep because they handle this kind of thing all the time.  The first night I stayed there and his hose on the vent came off and the alarm sounded and no one heard it.  I had no idea what to do so I called the nurse.  Needless to say I did not start sleeping in the hotel. When we got home I had to go back to work and I couldn’t help but wonder how I was going to manage.  Then I realized that you just manage.  God gives you the strength to do whatever you need to do.  With an SCI patient you have the sound of the vent and the alarms.  When Dennis has to have oxygen you have that machine noise and then you are up giving them pills, you are up covering them up because they are cold.  Then they are hot so you are taking covers off.  Then they can’t sleep or they have a headache or the list goes on and on. Their bodies do not regulate like ours does.   Now I still get a little testy in the wee hours of the morning, but Dennis knows I wouldn’t change a thing and I know that he would be there doing the same for me.  I now know you don’t need 9 hours of sleep that sometimes you can get by with 5 or 6.  God will provide what you need, when you need it. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Some things could be worse!

When Dennis was at TIRR in Houston, Jan and I had to learn how to suction him.  The reason you have to suction someone on a vent is because they can not cough up the secretions and mucus we have in our lungs and airways.  Their diaphragm does not work so you have to use a suctioning machine to pull it out.  This is a suctioning machine, it uses a vacuum to pull out the secretions.
Vacu-Aide Suction Pump-AC 7305D-D

Jan and I practiced on a dummy and it went well but then we had to practice on Dennis.  You have 11 seconds to push the tube down his lungs till it hits a wall and if it hits to hard you can damage the lung.  Then you have to pull the secretions out using the tube.  All of this is done in that time and Dennis has to cough while we do this.  Well, we passed but it was very stressful.  I just thought Lord, we will have to do this as many as 5 times a day and it’s very invasive, please help us. Then one day we had a Respiratory Therapists that did suctioning a different way, a secret way that we could not tell the others about or she would get in trouble.  You stick the hose on the trach and he just coughs it up.  Well, we tried it and it worked!  Thank You God!  We have done that every since and we didn’t have to stick those tubes down his lungs.  This was a small miracle but we never take for granted the blessing we got that day.   Did I mention that our friends Debbie and Max came to visit and the nurses made them pass the test, and they did with flying colors!!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Friends



If you know me or read anything I have written here or on care pages, you know I have the most amazing friends. I’m not sure what we did for God to bless us with these people but we never take it for granted and we also pray for them and their children and now their grandchildren since it is one of the things we can do. I was doing a project where you put the cards that people have given you and you get some rings and make it into a book. Well, I am a thrower. I read a card and place it in my heart and throw. I have about ten cards from friends that I have kept over the years and I decided to make a book. I had cards that I kept from my friend Cathy that has since passed and I could not find them. I knew I had kept them and I even knew what they looked like. I tore my house up and cried and tore my house up again. In the insanity of searching I came upon Easter eggs and note cards that one of my best friends had made.
 Debbie had made Dennis these note cards when he was in OU Medical Center because he could not talk.  She is the kind of person that does everything with pure love attached to it.  While we were at Houston she took on the task of overseer to paint my huge bedroom from a dark plum to a lovely sage green color.  She had people of the community write uplifting words and she put them in Easter eggs and placed them around the house.  We kept finding eggs 6 months after we got home.
I have talked before about how I read Psalms 30:5 every night before I went to bed during the five months we were gone.  “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”  When I walked in my bedroom Debbie had made me this pillow. 

She did and has continued to make our life as joyous as she can and I will love her forever for being the friend she has been.  As a caregiver, sometimes you feel out in limbo, and if you feel that way I hope you are blessed with a “Debbie” in your life. 


Friday, September 16, 2011

Going to the Chapel!

Dennis and I get to go to a wedding tomorrow of a girl, woman we have known for 30 years.  We both love her like a daughter and have prayed for her for her entire life.  We are beyond happy to see one of those prayers coming to a reality tomorrow.  She has found her "Mr. Right" and he had better treat her like the princess we know she is.  As they say their vows tomorrow I always wonder if people realize the "for better or worse" part and the "in sickness and in health" part of the vow.  I think most of the time couples don't have a clue, I know I didn't give it a thought at the time.  But you have to take the vows you say before God very seriously and there will be better times and worse times, and there will be health and there will be sickness.  You don't get to have an "out" if your spouse gets Alzheimer's or gets cancer or has a motorcycle accident.  There are no do-overs because your life has gotten a little inconvenient.  You are now one flesh in God's eyes and you have promised to love and cherish those people.  Our biggest prayer for Haley and Blake is 3 John 1:2  Beloved I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Unknown

I remember when 9/11 happened one of the scariest feelings was the fear of the unknown.  Would another attack happen?  How many people were deceased and how many were missing?  Is the life we were comfortable with over and would we ever feel safe again?   As a  wife and caregiver when my husband had his accident those very same feelings came into play again.  Would I ever feel safe again?  Was our comfortable and happy life over?  Would we ever feel normal again?  Those feelings of the unknown every time I walked into the trauma unit at OU medical center still haunt me.  I can remember those alarms like it was yesterday.  Then the feelings of the unknown when we had to go to Select Hospital and had to get to know new people and a new routine and new surroundings.  And then the feeling of the unknown when I had to accompany my husband on a plane to Houston, Texas and live for two months.  The unknown is a scary place and I still live in it a little today.  But the one constant I had was knowing that God was sitting beside me even when I didn't feel like He was there.  I knew He was watching over us,  guiding my decisions and helping us reconstruct our destroyed lives.  We still get those little nudges of what if's or this will never's but when that happens we go straight to the Word of God and get our shot for the day.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing and hearing......

Monday, September 5, 2011

End of A Long Hot Summer!



I usually am a little melancholy when I know summer is winding down.  It means the end of gardening, sitting outside in the evening  and going to the pool on Sundays with friends, and it means cold weather is on the way.  This year, however,  is another story.  We have had the hottest summer on record and I am ready to move on to the next season.  Two days ago the temperature was 105 and yesterday it was 80.  I love the 80's!!  I can already see the changes in people and animals alike. 



Our swimming pool was a buzz with activity two days ago and now it is empty.  My dogs are actually outside.  My dog Toby wants to live next door at Sandy and Jason's house so he just sits there all day. 





Deacon who is the master of the house is black and he is very glad we have cooler weather.
 


But best of all Dennis, who has been inside all summer because it has been to hot,  got to be outdoors most of the afternoon and bask in the much cooler sunshine. 



I just hope we get to enjoy this weather awhile, and then have a long fall and not hop right in to winter!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Caregiving 101




My husband has done really well for 5 years since his accident.  Minor mishaps here or there but nothing major.  But we can’t say that anymore because since April it has been awful.  Worse than awful.  His breathing has deteriorated and he has developed an ulcer with gastritis.  His pressure sores on his elbows have gotten worse and worse.  The wound doctor at one of the hospitals we were at gave us some advice and some stuff to put on them.  Worse.  Now, 5 months later it is still going on.  Dennis can’t breathe without oxygen and he may have to have a procedure on his elbow pressure sore.  He has lost 45 pounds since this started and he doesn’t want to eat because it hurts his stomach.  But this is not what I’m blogging about.  What the patient goes through is terrible.  What the caregiver goes through is terrible also.  I look at my husband trying to breathe on his own while sitting up and he can’t.  He feels defeated and your heart breaks.  I see him struggle to go without oxygen and he can’t and he feels defeated and once again your heart breaks.  He can’t talk because not enough air flows over the vocal cords so he has to repeat everything.  He can't visit with friends and he feels isolated.  You feel like every time you go to the doctor and they weigh him they think you are starving him to death.  His pressure sore is so horrible so they look at you as if you have just not done a thing about it, when the people who are taking care of him everyday are trying everything they know to do.  My mom asks him everyday what sounds good?  Would you eat this or that.  I finally got him some muscle milk and he is making himself eat.  My daughter told me I had to use the tough love approach.  So we are trying to get everything well and see how he feels when the UTI is gone and we got a good report on it today, the pressure sore is healed, the ulcer is healed and the gastritis is gone.  As a caregiver who works everyday I think it is a lot like working mothers, you feel guilty if you are not there, you feel guilty if you are tired etc.  I have found out that I have a lot of friends who care and they mean the world to me.  I also have one feisty little daughter who is ready to take on anyone who makes me feel bad and I love her for it.  As we always say it’s one day at a time and we have to know that God has us in His hands. 


Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Mom


My Mom

My mom was a single mom back in the 60’s when it was hard for a woman to raise two kids.  She did have family help but it was still tough for her. 


She married my dad and we moved to Aline, Ok and she helped raise his 4 children on a dairy farm.  She went from cooking for 3 to cooking for 8.  When Dennis and I had to move to Houston I asked her what she thought about us building on to our house and her and daddy moving in because quite frankly I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to care for Dennis or that something would go wrong.  She never hesitated one second and she put her house up for sale immediately.  The people that were renovating on our house started in on my garage.  Kaiser Webb bought my mom’s house and my dad and mom moved in with us.  I leaned heavily on my mom during my 60 days in Houston.  Every night after the end of  what seemed like an endless day, I would go out in the court yard and sit and sob and let my mom tell me that everything was going to be OK and that we were going to take one day at a time.  I always believed her and would go back in and face the next day.  She always knew exactly what I needed to hear and somehow she always made me feel better.  I feel so blessed to have had my daddy here in my house for what would be the last three years of his life and my mom is the one constant stable thing in my life.  She is here 24/7 to fix our meals, help get Dennis up in the morning, always stays here with him if I need a break and has never once has complained.  The other day my daughter told me she didn’t know what she would do without me and I told her I feel the same way about my mom. I hope I am half the mom she is. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Small Town

My friend Dawn,who writes the Cobweb's Corner blog, wrote recently about life in a small town and I loved that blog. She gave reasons why she would always be a small town girl and I wanted to do the same.


We have events at the Historical Society and everyone shows up.  That's Dennis's dad, Larry and A fellow employee I work with Sharie Smith.  They are "Lions"!
We have parades and the clowns are really nice!
Dennis's Grandma Martha lives right across the street from us.  She is in her 90's and we have loved having her live here.
My father-in-law's pool is only two miles away.
We can sit outside and listen to the rodeo .
We ALL know where we sit every Sunday morning!  (Third row piano side).  Missing my church family....
Making life long friends...

And people in a small town coming together for people in need.