Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Profusion Of Daffodils


Daffodils, daffodils, daffodils! One can never have enough daffodils.

The first spring we were here, I was aghast at spring when I realized that we didn't have one daffodil to greet us with its dazzling yellow sunshine harbinger of spring greeting. That first fall I made amends to never let that happen again, I planted a few hundred daffodils. The next spring those few hundred daffodils looks like a drop in the buck on our almost one acre of land here in our development (we have one of the largest lots in our development of 3/4 acre lots).

Every year since then (2008) I have planted more and more daffodils. They are especially hard to plant in the fall because of all the other growth. A few years ago I started to plant in the spring. Yes, I broke that cardinal rule, "one does not plant spring bulbs in the spring." Well, I do folks because I want to know where the "holes" are.

I buy already potted daffodils in the spring, then transplant them in those "holes" or empty spots around our house and backyard. 

I plant small daffodils (tete a tetes), medium sized daffodils and large (King Alfred) daffodils. 

Then spring comes and I still see large swaths of our almost one acre lot devoid of the festive yellow happiness of a blooming daffodil. Time to visit my favorite local nursery and buy more daffodils.

This evening transplanted some daffodils that were no longer blooming because the bulbs are too crowded. These daffodils were under two holly trees. When I originally planted those daffodils the holly trees were very small, little more than a stick. Now those holly trees are a good ten feet or more tall and spread out. It was quite a challenge digging out those bulbs this evening in the light rain (best time to transplant daffodils, cool spring temperatures and light rain), but I accomplished what I set out to do.
I must have rescued about least one hundred daffodils and transplanted them. Come this spring they will burst out in a yellow profusion that always makes one smile. 

I can't help but think (and here he goes again), that when I'm long gone those daffodils will continue to bloom. That's the plant folks, my legacy. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Wednesday's W

 

Hey folks, taking a break from my Nurse Ron life and posting a different kind of blog posting. This one I stole from Ur-Spo of Spo Reflections.  I've always like these kind of posts because the information gives you an insight into the blogger's personality and life, something which I always find interesting.

Here goes:


What's top my mind - concerned that I might not survive caring for Bill. My biggest fear is that I will die before Bill. Lately I've been so fatigued, I can hardly move. Of course a lot of this may just be my imagination. I hope it is anyway.

Where I've Been - to the VA Outpatient Clinic in where I received my second dose of the COVID (Pfizer) vaccine. I have my proof of vaccination card and now I'm ready to travel. But I'm not going anywhere as long as I'm Bill's caregiver.

What I'm watching - MSNBC usually, which is in the background when I am writing a blog such as this or cooking in our kitchen. However, since the Trump Show left town I'm less interested in watching TV these days. I yearn for a good movie from my Netflix DVD rentals, which I haven't been able to find recently. 

Where I'm going - Where I would LIKE to go is my usual trips to Philadelphia, Palm Springs and Canada but since COVID, my travel plans were put on hold. Now that I'm a caregiver, my traveling days are unknown. These days my big trips are to Food Lion for food shopping and Royal Farms for their famous chicken and biscuits.

What I'm reading - I just finished reading "Queen" which was a very good, detailed biography of my all-time favorite female vocalist Dinah Washington. Now I'm reading "Extreme Measures" which is a book by a doctor on the end of life and the extreme measures the medical establishment goes to keep us alive no matter how old and sick we are. 

What I'm listening to - I don't and never have listened to podcasts (aren't they just a radio show?) Before Bill's stroke I used to listen to Artie Shaw  big band music from Pandora radio on my Bose radio. These days I don't listen, not in the mood. Perhaps later I will return.

Who I'm paying attention to - Bill, of course. He's had two strokes, I fully expect him to have another stroke and now that he is under home hospice care, I will not be calling 911 but his hospice nurse. The focus on Bill now is to make him comfortable. No more extreme measures to prolong his life. Sounds hard and cruel but at ninety-two years old and a long life well lived, Bill is so frustrated these days because of his failing eyesight, hearing, energy and cognitive issues. Right now we're making each day count. Each day is a gift. 

What I'm planning - cedar lining my remaining walking in closet (I have two of them in my bedroom, a "His" and "Hers" but since there is just ME, I'm splurging. I had cedar lined closets at our home in Pennsylvania and loved it. I would love to replicate that comforting smell of cedar in our home here in Delaware before I tap out.






Monday, March 29, 2021

Fading

Bill and Me Christmas 1976 (?)

Finished up the last of digitizing our old slides and 8 MM and VHS videos to a flash drive and posted to You Tube. Some degradation of picture quality from so many transitions to new forms but the essence remains the same. This photo from Christmas 1976 (I think) of me and Bill at our home on Naudain Street In Philadelphia. Bill and I no longer look like this, we're almost unrecognizable now as we're fading out at the end of our lives now. But here's a photo memory of us for the ages long after we're gone.

It's appropriate that this old photo is fuzzed out. That's the way Bill and I are now as we near the end of our lives.

Bill has somewhat stabilized but he still needs help dressing, showering and with the bathroom (had another "accident" this morning). He also needs help with his medications, eating and direction. Some good news though, his edema open sores have healed and I don't have to dress his legs any more. His hospice nurse prescribed an antibiotic which seems to be working and Bill is walking on his own every day.

A new development though is Bill's speech. He's slurring most of his words now, so much so that sometimes I can't understand anything he's saying. I remember when our late friend Bob Mc. had the same problem. When he tried to talk, gibberish came out. Bill doesn't realize it. Part of the problem is that he's not wearing his false teeth. He's lost so much weight that his teeth don't stay in his mouth. He can only eat oatmeal and soup.

I like to keep my blog updated at least every two days but I've been tardy the last week because of Spring yard plantings. Our daffodils are in full bloom now. I also take this time of year for the opportunity to plant more daffodils. There's always room for more daffodils! Whoever ends up living here long after we're gone, and we will be gone sooner than later of that you can be sure, they'll have a cornucopia of daffodils. Ever notice how daffodils keep coming up every year even at abandoned home sites? The daffodils I plant now will be my legacy.



Monday, March 22, 2021

Stimulating The Economy




 Last week we received our stimulus payments of $2,800. After today's news, that payment is just about gone. Over the weekend I discovered our downstairs (basement) bathroom did not have a sewage pump but instead a sump pump to pump the sewer waste from the bathroom to our outside septic. 

We've lived here since 2007 but have rarely used that basement bathroom. I have my own bathroom of my bedroom which is the master (of course) bedroom. Bill chose for his bedroom a small room off to the side of the utility room in our finished basement. He likes rooms without windows. I like rooms with a lot of windows. Just another total difference in preferences that Bill and I have.

Bill didn't like to use the downstairs bathroom because the waste had to be pumped up through a sewer pipe to our outside septic tank. He almost always used the  upstairs bathroom in our bonus room on the second floor. Now that he's incapacitated he has difficulty climbing those stairs to the second floor, he uses the basement bathroom. 

Oh, by the way, I think I told  you that for years Bill has been using the bathroom sink to take his pees. I only discovered that interesting tidbit of information when he used our guest bathroom and I smelled that unmistakable overused gay bar bathroom urine smell. For years I wondered why his basement bathroom always stunk. I thought it was because he never used hot water in his sink. Here he was peeing in the sink.  When I confronted him about this awful habit of his he said "What does it matter? It all goes the small place?" Uh, not good Bill. Well, I talked him of using our guest bathroom in that matter and using his basement bathroom that way. He still doesn't pee in the toilet but does pee in one of those hospital jugs, which I empty several times a day. Perhaps too much information for some of my blog readers to absorb I understand but this is life here at Casa Tipton-Kelly. Bill is lazy as to his personal hygiene. Always has been. He's hardworking in other aspect but personal hygiene? Not so much. But he is working with me now, which I appreciate. And he also appreciates me taking care of him. 

Sunday the sump pump for our downstairs bathroom was running for hours. Reluctantly, I had to call our plumber, on a Sunday. Why is it all these emergencies are on weekends and holidays or the middle of the night? Fortunately I had just signed a service agreement with the plumbing company so I wasn't charged extra for the visit this Sunday. The plumber came and quickly discovered that the builder had installed the wrong kind of pump for our downstairs bathroom. He said a sewage sump pump shreds toilet paper and other matter (fecal) whereas a regular sump pump is for liquid only. Again, another case of our building putting cheaping out. One wouldn't think that for a half million dollar house but there it is. I have to replace the pump. My pluming company called me this morning with the cost, $1,300. That along with my auto insurance and homeowners' insurance and Ferdinand, my landscaper edging and mulching our flower beds now, there goes our stimulus package. Oh well, that's what it was for wasn't it folks?

 


Friday, March 19, 2021

The March Winds Blow Cold

Bill on the lookout waiting for the trash trucks this morning



 Cold, cold, cold and windy this March morning here at Casa Tipton-Kelly. 

Bill is at his usual spot on this trash pickup day. Every other week is recycle pickup. Wouldn't you know it, today is extra windy.  Our neighbor's trash was packed as it usually is (they have two young daughters) and this wind blew open the top of their trash can so now we have some their trash in our yard. I've already picked up some on this cold, cold, cold and windy day. Oh how I long for some warm days. I've had enough of the cold. 

For the second year in a row we didn't receive any significant snow here in southern coastal Delaware which is just fine with me. I'll enjoy the snow I see on TV, I don't need to experience it especially since I fell on the snow and ice a few years back and tore my left leg quadricep muscle. That leg hasn't been right since but I walk again for which I will be forever grateful.

Bill continues to improve but he will never be the same Bill he was before his stroke. He's very weak. Often gets confused. Is hard to understand (he often slurs his words). But he does manage to get around on his own but I still have to help him dress and undress and shower, which I probably will have to do for the rest of his life.

Our morning ritual is for me to change the dressing on his legs where he has a severe case of edema. His hospice nurse sent in another prescription of antibiotics to combat any infection. His lower legs are so swollen that his pant legs almost don't go over the dressing. I will have to buy him a bigger pair of pants today. He doesn't like the yoga pants I had purchased for him. No zipper. 

We got our stimulus payments this week. I can use that money since I'm no longer working at the hotel (I'm on hiatus as long as I need to care for Bill). I have some big bills coming up. Home insurance, car insurance, spring mulching and cleanup and the usual high heating bills. Thank goodness most of our medical expenses are covered by Medicare Part A (Bill's Philadelphia stay) and the VA Community Care Program. I have to say that the VA is taking excellent care of Bill. 

These days my social life consists of FaceTime and Zoom calls with my friends Pat, Larry, Glenn and Don. Thank goodness for digital media. Oh how I look forward to the day when life can return to pre pandemic normal.  Pat and I had a nice routine, getting together every three months in Philadelphia, Canada and Palm Springs, California. Next week I get my second COVID vaccination shot. Maybe then I can travel again. I just about have Bill talked into letting me taking a respite vacation by staying at the hospice center for a week. The home hospice program we're under provides me as Bill's caregiver, a "respite" every ninety days up to a week.  At first Bill was totally against that but now he is coming around to realizing that if I get a week off every three months, that will be good for both of us. 


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

I Feel Good!


 Time for some smiles!

Currently I'm reading a biography of my favorite female singer, Dinah Washington. I'm always amazed and impressed with people who have a natural talent whether it be in signing or another field like art.  I have no talent like that. 

James Brown had talent. Mick Jagger has talent. Frank Sinatra had talent. So many singers who were born with that talent. 

Another thing that always amazed me was that so many of these people who have that natural talent for singing had such chaotic lives. Dinah, one of my all time favorites, was a mess. Married seven or eight times, unpredictable and eventually dying of a drug overdose. How many of our natural talents die of a drug overdose? I knew Janis would die that way. Jimmi Hendrix, Jim Morrison. Keith Moon, Any Winehouse. So many, so much talent lost.

But you know what? I think we all have some kind of talent, in our own way. Unfortunately my talent doesn't and never has earned me a lot of money. But I'm happy just the same. Like many of you, I have a talent for survival. Oh sure, fate will eventually call a halt to this fabulous life of mine, but I have had a remarkable career for avoiding failure. A few setbacks? For sure but overall, I've done pretty darn good. 

I have a lot to feel good about and I do.


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Daylight Savings Time And Other Meandering Thoughts On This Sunday




 This morning I had to endure the twice a year aggravation of changing all our clocks due to the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. 

I love clocks and have way too many, but this is the time of year that I wish I only had one clock. 

I think I have at least fifty timepieces to change. Some change themselves but most of my clocks I have to change by hand. And wouldn't you know it, no two are changed the same way. Because I only change the clocks every six months, at least half of them I forget how I changed them. Clocks are not like typewriter keyboards, standardized but someone went out of their way to make no two the same.

As of this writing I've only changed about half of our clocks, I still have to change the one in my car. That's one I always forget. For some reason I have a mental block on that clock.

Two of our clocks are high up on the wall. Bill usually pulls out the ladder and changes those times but he can't do that now because of his stoke and weakness and balancing problems. That's all we need now for him to fall and break his leg or other body part and end up in the emergency room, again. Yesterday I received a summary of the bill that Bill's five day stay at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.  That was a jaw dropper bill, six figures.  And that is just for his four day stay. That bill didn't include his emergency room visit here in Lewes, nor his helicopter airlift to Philadelphia (which he doesn't remember at all), nor his two week stay at the rehab hospital, nor all those (many, many) doctor's visits, nor his home health aid visits, nor all his medications and it goes on and on. Thank goodness insurance has covered almost all of the costs incurred by Bill's strokes but man oh man, what does one do without insurance? Go bankrupt.

Back to the clocks. This morning was Shower Day for Bill (every three days). Bill moans and groans but the bulk of the physical effort is from me, getting Bill undressed, into the shower, lathering him down, drying him off, they dressing him again. Bill is almost totally unable to dress himself, he's that weak. I don't think he will ever get his strength back. 

After giving Bill his shower, then medications then his breakfast and cleaning up after his breakfast, I started the rounds to change some of our clocks. Not in the mood folks to change all our clocks.  I think our country should just keep Daylight Savings time year round, or Standard time or whatever. 

In a few minutes I'm having a four way FaceTime call with my friends Pat, Larry and Stuart. We have Delaware (me), Claymont, DE (Larry), Ft. Lauderdale, Fl (Stuart) and Hamilton, Ontario (Pat) covered. Other multiple FaceTime calls I make are with Glenn (Chatsworth, CA) and Don (Philadelphia). Such is the status of getting together with friends in the COVID area. Hopefully sometime in the near future, after most of us have received our vaccinations, we'll be able to get together in person. And wouldn't that be wonderful?

Friday, March 12, 2021

Balancing

 

Pat's new penthouse condo in Hamilton, Ontario

Bill's hospice nurse made her weekly visit yesterday. Using a hospice nurse is so much better for Bill and me than the previous home health care aides who were bombarding our house. They meant well but their visits were just too disruptive and not solving anything. When I had my leg surgery, my home health aide worker came in and changed my dressing, that was a big help.  Bill's just came in, filled out paper work, took his blood pressure and too often recommend that he go to the local emergency room immediately because his blood pressure was too low. That didn't work for our well being. I'm glad I changed his care to home hospice.

The last few days we've had spring like weather here at our home in coastal Delaware. Bill's been out every day taking a walk. I also got in a couple long walks (over a mile) which does wonders for not only my health but mental well being. Something that needed renewed since Bill came home from the rehab hospital.

During my walk today I was thinking how much our life has changed. Even though Bill is home now our life will never return to what it was before Bill had his stroke on January 14th. Actually, he had two strokes. When I found him passed out on the kitchen floor January 12th, that was also a stroke caused by his a-fib. 

I think I was assuming that during Bill's rehabilitation he would soon return to what he was before. Now I know that's never going to happen. Bill is very weak. He will never be the man he was before his stroke. His mental capacity is diminished (today he was having trouble figuring out to access his e-mail again). Bill tries to do what he did before his stroke like gathering the trash once a week and putting it out and bringing back the trash cans. He managed to do that today but he still can't dress himself or take a shower by himself. He can take off his hoodie and or shirt but can't figure out how to put them back on. He also can't change the dressing on his leg, which needs to be changed daily. He also can't make a meal for himself nor keep his medications straight. I am so thankful that he knows who I am and is not in pain. Again, I cannot stress those two things, he knows who I am and is not in pain.

When I thought I had lost Bill in January after his stroke, I realized my life had just experienced an earthquake. I just could not imagine my life without Bill in it. Now I realize I was think of the Bill before his stroke. Now that he is at home, I realize he will never be that Bill and my life is not the same. This may sound unfeeling but I can imagine my life now without Bill in it because most of the old Bill isn't in my life now. And for Bill, his life, as he knew and enjoyed it, will never return. And that frustrates him so much. I wish I could make that right for him but all I can do is tell him I love him, care for him, and give him as much leeway as possible for him to try and do what he did before his stroke. 

He can still see the weather patterns on his iPad. He enjoys sitting in our sunroom and now that the robins have arrive, and some daffodils have burst into yellow bloom,  he knows he's here for another spring season. This weekend we can both be aggravated by the annual change from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time. Life goes on.

One thing I greatly miss though is my part-time job at the hotel. That job provided a perfect balance to my life in retirement. Twice a week I got to interact with my co-workers and guests in the hotel. Working at the hotel, provided both a service to my employer and the guests of the hotel, gave me a sense of self-worth that isn't the same as my caregiving. I miss coming home at 11:30 PM at night on Mondays and Thursdays, and calling Pat and regaling him with my hotel front desk experiences. Now I'm home all the time, except for the daily ride to the local supermarket or thrift store. I don't think I could ever retire permanently. I would go crazy.

In two weeks I get my second COVID vaccination shot. Maybe, just maybe I can resume my quarterly visits with Pat. I'm quite sure we can return to Palm Springs next February. Hopefully I can visit Pat in his new penthouse condo in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada this fall. I think I have Bill convinced to spend a week at the hospice center (home like setting) while I take that respite from my caregiving.

One day at a time folks, one day at a time.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Waiting For Bill's Hospice Nurse

 

Bill's leg wound dressing by Ron


Right now we're waiting for Bill's hospice nurse to arrive this morning. She visits us once a week, usually on Fridays. 

Since I decided on hospice home care for Bill, this is a much better option. Previously we had home health aides arriving here several times a week, sometimes two at a time, which was very disruptive. I'm sure they were just doing their job but with two consecutive visits which told us to go to the local emergency room right away because Bill's blood pressure was too low, I decided that home health care wasn't working for either one of us. There was no practical improvement in Bill's condition other than his day was disrupted (mine too) with no tangible result. With his home hospice care, she only comes by once a week, checks on Bill's condition and provides practical help. For instance, Bill's right leg was seeping clear liquid from his edema. She immediately ordered an antibiotic that was sent the next day along with dressing and wound cleanser. The seeping and open wound is almost gone, much to both of us. I expected that his leg wound would continuing indefinitely and the best we could do was keep it from getting infected. Maybe Bill's walking outside helped. Now that the weather is milder (today's temperature high is forecast at 72 degrees), we'll both have a long walk through our development. 

Since I had my talk with Bill about not acceding to his demand to remove his day bed from his bedroom and replace it with a table, he now listens and understands I know what is the most efficient way for me to take care of him. Bill is used to exerting control and usually getting his way (I almost always accede just to keep peace in the family), but now that I am taxed almost to my physical limits in taking care of him, I have to put my foot down on certain things Bill thinks he's "helping" me. As I said before in a previous post, our first major fight and many subsequent ones were Bill's demands that he "help" me.  There are times which he has helped me but sometimes it's not help but just controlling me. Other couples have fights over money, infidelity, drug or alcohol addiction. Me and Bill, the only fights we have were over him "helping me" when I didn't need his help. 

Here is an example of what happened when Bill tried to "help" me when we lived in Pennsylvania, one of many instances.  I had a chicken house built for four pet chickens I had. The chicken house wasn't tall enough for me to stand in, I had to stoop to put in the chicken feed in the feeder. I had a custom made chicken feeder put in to the immediate right of the entrance to the chicken house so I could just stick my head in and refill the feeder. One day I went to refill the chicken feeder and it wasn't there but all the way across the house to the other side, requiring me to to crawl into the house and refill the chicken feeder.  Obviously that didn't work for me. I changed it and put it back where it was.  When Bill found out he asked why I changed it.  I told him it wasn't convenient for me to crawl through the chicken house to refill the feeder and besides I'm the only one who is taking care of the chickens, there were my pets. Bill never refilled the feeder. He got angry and said "You never take my suggestions!" and then proceeded to go off in a snit and not speak to me for about a week.  He took it personal, as he almost always does. Rather than say "Oh, I thought that would help you but since it didn't I understand."  But that's not Bill.  He has a level of insecurity, probably because his father died before he was a year old, that he takes personal offense when his suggestions aren't not taken. Now, usually I have taken his advice, whether I agreed or not, just to avoid an argument. But sometimes, especially when it is NOT HELPING ME but MAKING MY LIFE HARDER, I DO NOT  TAKE HIS ADVICE and he just has to deal with it. 

In my last blog post, an Anonymous commenter left a suggestion that I accede to Bill's control demands and not "threaten  him " with going to a nursing home. First of all, I didn't threaten him with going to a nursing home. I just told him that if he was in a nursing home he wouldn't have the control over his life that he has here at home. He complains about people coming into see him, including his hospice nurse who is on her way here now. I told him if he was in a nursing home they would still see him and here at home they are just trying to help him as I am at the end of his life.  I impress upon him that his care here at home is a lot better than he would get at an impersonal, expensive, and lonely nursing home. And I also impress upon him that my health is just as important as his in taking care of him and if I don't take care of myself there is no one else to take care of him. Those are just the facts. 

I didn't respond kindly to that Anonymous commenter, which is something that I don't like to do but at this time of my life I have little or no patience with anyone suggesting to me to give into every demand of the person I'm caring for, whether they "help" me or not. That I should just humor a "nice old man" who cares for me a lot. This "nice old man" still refuses to pee in the toilet but at least I got him to stop peeing in the skink and instead pee in a jug which I empty several times a day into the toiled and clean up the tile floor below where he misses the pee jug. So you see folks, I'm not quite the unbending ogre who is threatening to send the "nice old man" to a nursing home.  I asked "Anonymous" not to comment any more on my blog. Sorry to be that way folks, but that really pissed me off. 

Bill and I are developing a nice daily routine here now after a bumpy start. I'm able to take short afternoon naps, which I was unable to when Bill first came home from the rehab hospital. Bill goes out for a walk without me when the weather is nice. Today he collected our trash to put out tomorrow, which was his job before his accident.  Bill still wants to feel useful. One of the health care workers was aghast that I was letting Bill collect the trash but I told her I have to let him do somethings by himself so he doesn't feel so "useless" as he's been referring to himself since he came home. Bill would like to do more but his poor eyesight and hearing prevents that. 

I prepare his meals for him twice a day, making sure to puree his food because he has trouble swallowing. I take him out for at least one ride a day and park where the sun shines in on him while I go into the store. Every three days I help him shower. Actually I have to do everything from undressing him to soaping him down, drying him off then dressing him all the while he moaning and groaning how hard it is for him. He should talk to my back. But I don't mind, I'm glad I have this opportunity to take care of Bill and knowing he's not in some impersonal facility like a rehab or nursing home. The big job is keeping all his medications straight and changing his leg dressing every day. Just call me Nurse Ron. 

Speaking of which, Bill's hospice nurse hasn't arrived yet so I think I'll start making Bill's favorite carrot soup. Guaranteed she'll show up just as I'm cutting the onions and sautéing them in melted butter. 

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

My New Normal

 

Bill waiting for trash pickup last Friday, his big event of the day. Bill now brings the trash cans back, a job he used to have before his accident, thus bringing his life somewhat back to normal.


Here at Casa Tipton-Kelly we're pretty well settling into the new normal. 

No more staying up all hours of the night. I used to go to bed around 12:30 to 1:00 AM. Two nights ago I went to bed at 8:30 PM and slept through the whole night. I do get up early, usually around 5:30 AM. 

First job in the morning is to change Bill's dressing on his right leg. He has edema on both legs. That means his heart isn't pumping enough blood to his lower extremities. His right leg began weeping (seeping clear liquid) shortly after he returned home last month from rehab. His hospice nurse recommended dressing his leg wound. She also prescribed an antibiotic. Both measures seem to have stemmed any worsening of Bill's edema. The wound is still there but not as bad. 

Every third day I have to help Bill get a shower. Actually I have to undress him, lead him to the shower, soap him down, all the while he complaining, and dry him off, then dress him, again while he is complaining, and then help him upstairs to give him is daily morning medications and prepare is breakfast of oatmeal.

That is just the beginning of my day. The other day we had a dust up. The usual, he made a suggestion to try to "help me", but actually would cause me a lot more problems than "help" me. The very first time we had a big fight in our fifty-six year old relationship was over him trying to "help me." I do all the cooking and cleaning up in this household. Bill insisted that he wash the dishes. I told him I prefer to wash the pots and pans and dishes before we sit down to eat (this was way back when we did eat together).  He wouldn't hear of it, he insisted that I leave the dirty pots and pans in the sink and sit down to eat and he would clean them later. I didn't see how this would "help" me. I come from a background where my Mother always left dirty dishes in the sink, resulting in gray, cold greasy dishwater. I vowed when I had my own household that I would never leave a dirty dish in the sink and especially not dirty dishwater. Well, we had furious fight over who was going to wash the pots and pans and I won. Over the years we have subsequently had many fights (arguments) over the same thing, which is really about control.

This time Bill wanted to remove the bed from his bedroom and replace it with a table so I could put all his wound dressings on that table. I told him I already had a system and I didn't need to remove the bed (which he doesn't use anyway). He wanted to take the table, which I was using, and put it in his bedroom. Again, this really wasn't about helping me but Bill taking control. You should see us driving. For several years now I do all the driving. But Bill still can't help himself, he is the ultimate back seat driver. More than once I've told him "Bill, either you drive this car or I do but we can't both do it at the same time. We're going to have an accident."

The condition Bill is in now, very weak, he is in no position to call the shots. The best way he can "help" me is to let me do my daily chores without his interference. I understand he wants to help but what he is really doing is again trying to take control. So when he didn't get his way he threw a fit and went to his bedroom, refusing to speak to me. I took my brother's advice (he was our Mom's caregiver) and establish who is in control. He said "You can't let them run the show because it's going to bring you down and ultimately them down" or words to that effect. 

After Bill cooled down we had a conversation and now Bill understands the best way for him to "help" me is to cooperate with me. I know what I'm doing. He wouldn't get the care he's getting from me from anyone else. 

Once a week his hospice care nurse visits to check on him. Of course Bill gripes and complains because someone is coming into out house. This has always been a source of contention between us. I have to patiently explain to Bill that she (Caitlin) is here to help him and me. His alternative is to spend the rest of his life in a nursing home. Would he prefer that? Of course he doesn't. Sometimes one has to get one's attention. I have his attention now, for awhile anyway.

Today we take our daily ride, something he would never get in a nursing home. I will make his lunch for him as I make his breakfast. I will help him dress and undress. And every third day I will help him shower, and he will complain. My once solace is that I am glad he's here at home and in his way he does appreciate what I'm doing. I am thankful he knows who I am, although he is often confused as to what day it is. I think I have him talked into spending a week at the hospice daycare center sometime in the next ninety days so I can take a respite leave. He was adamant against leaving our home for any reason. Now I think he sees it would help both of us if I got a reprieve for at least a week. It's not going to kill him to spend at week at the home like setting of the hospice day care center. And I am wearing down folks, but managing. 

For those of you who have never been caregivers, this is what you have to look forward to. Of course every situation is different but all of them have one thing in common. It is very time consuming because you're taking care of TWO people, not just  yourself. And you're taking care of someone who can't dress themselves and requires multiple medications, keeping track of which is not easy. I know one thing, if I ever end up in a situation that I need a caregiver (and I pray I don't), I will be a lot more cooperative. It's not all peaches and roses folks, it's life.

Have a great day everyone!




Friday, March 05, 2021

Ron Is Now Vaccinated!

Waiting for my first COVID vaccination shot at the VA Outpatient Clinic

Hey folks! I got my first vaccination shot on Wednesday at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Georgetown, DE. 

I got the Pfizer vaccine.  My second shot is scheduled for March 24th. 

I am so relieved. I haven't mentioned it much but I was concerned that I would carry the COVID virus back to Bill. I tried to arrange a shot for Bill but they declined, saying in effect he was too old.

In a few minutes Bill's hospice nurse is scheduled to arrive for her weekly visit. Now that Bill isn't on home health care, the we're not receiving those two and three times a week visits from the home health aides, sometimes two at a time. Very disruptive although they were just doing their job. Those visits weren't helping us though, especially the last two where both times the aide advised me to take Bill to the local emergency room right away, which solved nothing as far as Bill's condition.

We're continuing to settle into a routine here. Every three days I help Bill take a shower. Daily I dress his right leg which is weeping from his edema condition. I'm actually getting pretty good at it. Nurse Ron here.

I have to say I do miss my twice a week stint at the hotel where I work as a front desk agent. I miss the interaction with the guests.  Working twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays from 3 PM to 11 PM) provided a nice break from my at home routine. Now I spend all my time at home. I've floated the idea of going back to work but Bill won't hear of it. He says "I don't have that long to go, I want you here."

I do have the option of temporarily placing him at the home like setting at the hospice center for a week every ninety days so I can get away and be on my own. He isn't going for that idea either. I know that probably sounds selfish on Bill's part but I understand his need. And I am glad that I have the opportunity to take care of him at this time.

Yesterday I took Bill to a local audiology provider for his new hearing aids. Bill has an ancient set of hearing aids now that were recently broken at the rehab hospital where he spent two weeks. It's going to take six to eight weeks to get Bill's new hearing aids but hopefully they will make his life a bit easier, and mine (I won't have to shout at much).


Bill waiting for his hearing aid appointment

The hospice nurse (Caitlin) hasn't arrived yet but I'm finished this posting. After she leaves we're off to one of my favorite places, the RESTORE (Habitat for Humanity) Thrift Store. I almost always find a "find" there. Plus, we also get Bill out for his daily ride. 

Have a great day everyone!


  

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Finally,Geting My COVID Vaccination Shot


Me waiting for my eye doctor this morning - yes, I've aged a lot in the past  two months


 Finally, I'm scheduled for a COVID vaccination shot. 

It's been so frustrating trying to get a COVID vaccination. I live in Delaware, president Biden's home state. One would think I would have no problem especially since I'm in the second group (old, cancer survivor). But, I've signed up to three websites (Walgreens, Beebe Hospital, and a national website), and nada. I get the same response, "No availability." Then today I get a notice from the VA that they now have COVID vaccinations for veterans.  They sent me a link.  I click on the link and get five pages of verbiage. Where do I make the appointment? Coincidentally, while I was looking I received a call from the VA following up on Bill's macular degeneration eye condition. I told them that Bill was now in hospice care and we don't need a support group to help Bill with his loss of vision. However, I did tell her that she could help me to navigate the VA website to make a vaccination appointment. She suggested I contact my local outpatient clinic, which I did and viola! I have an appointment at 2:30 PM tomorrow afternoon, which is right in the middle of my daily nap time (which I've been able to resume late last week now that Bill and I have settled into a routine). Of course I will go tomorrow to get my vaccination. I requested a vaccination for Bill but his doctor turned that down which I understand. Bill is in hospice care and at his age (92), and condition, getting vaccination wouldn't be viable. 

As I mentioned earlier, Bill and I are settling into a routine, which is good. Our life is going back to some normality. I still have to help Bill undress, take a shower and dress.  I also have to daily change his dressing on his leg which has edema and is weeping. I'm managing. This is the new normal now. Bill is managing going to the bathroom by himself which is a big help. He's also getting his sense of humor back, which is another good sign. I miss my job at the hotel though. Working two days a week at the hotel provided the proper balance in my life, that worked for me. I hope I can go back to that routine sometimes in my life. But for now I have different responsibilities.

Oh, two more good things today, I had my eye examination this morning. I couldn't take Bill with me because they're only allowing patients in the eye institute because of COVID restrictions. For the first time since Bill came home I had to leave him alone for about two hours. When I came back home he thought something had happened to me (a car accident) and was panicking. He completely forgot that I told him I would be gone for about two hours (which I was).  I calmed him down and life is back to normal now. I don't need new glasses but my cataracts are still forming. My doctor told me I would know when I needed cataract surgery. I couldn't get cataract surgery at this time anyway.

Another good thing today, my Time Machine backup is working on my iMac. I changed my external hard drive. Don't ask me why one isn't working and the other is. Some of this computer stuff still baffles me. All I know is that this new backup is taking about fourteen hours for the initial backup. I have a lot of photos and videos. 

One more good thing, my first daffodil bloomed today. Spring is coming!

Monday, March 01, 2021

New Year's Day Philly 1976


Now that I'm basically housebound, full-time caregiver for Bill, I'm having time to review some old videos for digitization.

This little blip of a video is of an old film that was converted to VHS and then I recorded with my iPhone. Needless to say, some of the video quality is lost but you can get a feel for the time and place.

This video was taken on New Year's Day 1976 (give or take a year, it was the 70's), when Bill and I live in a quaint townhouse in center city Philadelphia. It was always my dream to live in center city Philly, where I could walk to work and the bars. 

When we lived on Naudain Street (between Lombard and South Street, 2400 block), we had two male Pomeranian dogs, Hamburger (the orange sable) and Sparky (the cream colored Pom). I feel bad now thinking about how we left them alone all day when both of us went to work but they were always delighted to see us when we were home. We could take them out on the street and they wouldn't run away. They always stayed with us. 

Every year I used to look forward with great anticipation to New Year's and especially New Year's Day.  I would dress up in my butchest outfit, leather or western and head for Broad Street where the Mummers would be marching all day. Oh those were the times. 

Back then it was quite scandalous to see female impersonators in the parade, which of course the TV coverage never showed. 

My friend Don McK. who still lives in center city Philly, says the Mummers parades aren't what they used to be. Back then in then 70's it was a joyous time. Inhibitions were tossed aside for that one celebratory day of the year. And the best part (for this young gay guy) was the "interactions" when I would slip into one of the gay bars along the parade route to "warm up."  Lots of loose hands folks. Got to "meet" a lot of guys I wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to meet during the rest of the year when inhibitions and fear of rejection were rampant.

I have three more tapes to review before I send them off to Washington State to be digitized on a flash drive that I can upload to YouTube for history after I'm long gone. I've already digitized about one hundred tapes that I've uploaded. Only about half of them are public. I have to review the rest before I make them public. I hope I live lone enough to do that.

Back here in the present time, today one have been one of my work days at the hotel. I sorely miss going to work but I have to be here for Bill. I am glad Bill is home so I can make his remaining days comfortable and pleasant. Now that the home health aides aren't calling every day and coming in with their blood pressure measuring devices, telling us to go immediately to the Emergency Room, Bill and I are settling into a routine. He's getting around much better but still very weak. He can go to the bathroom by himself with is a huge relief for me. I have enough trouble managing my own bathroom needs, I don't need to manage someone else's. For that I am very thankful because I know all care givers don't have that option. I still have to help him shower, dress and undress, administer his medications, change his dressings on his right leg where he has weeping edema. I can manage that.  We go out for a ride at least once a day. Both of us need to get out of the house. Lately it's been so cold and rainy but thank goodness no snow. 

He got his repaired hearing aid in the mail last Friday. That takes a big load off of both of us. Now he can hear. Tomorrow I have my annual eye examination appointment. He wants to go with me but I see where they are only allowing patients in the building. Bill says he can wait in the car but I don't think that's going to work because I have to get my eyes dilated and that takes time. Another hurdle to jump. I'll have to see if I can talk him into staying home alone, the first time since he came home from the rehab facility where he was for two weeks recovering from his fall.

Thinking back to those halcyon days when were were carefree and young living in center city Philly. Oh how quickly that time went by. But I have to say, we had our time and I am so appreciative that we did. We're coming to the end of our lives now, someone else is having their time. And the cycle continues. 

Bill at our townhouse (our blue car) on Naudain Street, Center City, Philadelphia 1972


"It's Hot!"

Bill eating his hot oatmeal   "It's hot!" That's what I say twice a day when I serve Bill his twice daily meal of oatmeal...