Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Along Came the PTSD Fairy

I feel like I’ve been in suspend mode since last week when my counselor dispelled some information I wasn’t at all prepared for.  It wasn’t anything from my past or really anything of major concern, it did, however shock the socks off me.  It had something to do with one of my care providers not being honest with me, possibly playing games, or whatever.  The reality hit me hard.

I don’t need a name for it; I did know I needed to stop it and remove myself from harm.  So, I canceled my appointments with said providers and I’m not going back to that clinic as I do not feel comfortable being in the same space with that person.  ‘Tis a bummer because it was beneficial, but learning what I did, changed how I view all that.  Harming and healing cannot coexist in the same space.

I got depressed, even had suicidal thoughts.  I couldn’t sleep and then I couldn’t get up in the morning for days.  Not a good thing for an injured brain, I really, really need routine…and, things are about to shake up with moving too.  I couldn’t concentrate, my attention was all over the map, and then I got overwhelmed and felt like I had nowhere to turn.

So, I talked about it with trusted friends, did research online, chatted with RAINN, yup, it was exactly what I suspected and the triggering was all in all, quite normal.  What to do with it is still unknown, I feel like I’ve got a lot on my plate and have to be mindful of time.

This is a small town, gossip travels faster than wildfire and if you’re new here, you’ll be looked at as the one at fault.  I know, kind of sucks, I think we all know abuse will thrive when people choose to be silent.

I lost the momentum I had for healing, so feel a little delayed and under the gun to get things done in a timely manner.

The apartment is available and could be mine soon, so that’s the most important thing right now.  For those who don’t know, or haven’t experienced this yet, once you’re below a certain income level you suddenly feel stripped of dignity and privacy.  Strangers now know far more about you than you’d want, and let’s not forget the government needing to dig into one’s affairs.  It’s humbling and heartbreaking beyond belief.  Rarely have I gotten help that didn’t end up costing a lot more than I ever would have imagined.  I have a huge list of paperwork to prepare for the apartment manager.
Good news is there’s rent assistance so maybe things will work out okay.

On the other hand, I’m concerned about receiving an inheritance from Dad’s estate in the next four to six months.  Would that mean I’d get kicked out because I will be receiving that lump sum?  I don’t know if it’s considered ‘income’ or whatever, but I would really hate to move and then have to move again soon after.  That would be pretty harsh…and it’s not so easy to move fitness equipment from place to place!

We’ll see how this goes; I’m taking it one step at a time.  Sometimes, one breath at a time.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Update 08.10.2013

Hi sports fans!

There’s been an awful lot going on here and I haven’t had a chance to get my thoughts together to post an update until now, it’s all pretty jumbled with so much going on at once so apologize in advance if there is poor flow to this post.

Housing – I put in an application for a local low-income apartment complex and have called every couple of days to check my wait list status.  As of Wednesday, I was number 7 on the list.  Yesterday I missed a call from the manager telling me my name came up to the top of the list and she has an apartment.  OMG!  I called back, no answer but left a message.  Hopefully I qualify and can get it.

After Speech Therapy Thursday we tried to find the office of public housing (in town, 65 miles away) but couldn’t locate it.  The ST called a Social Worker when I shared about my housing crisis.  The SW said to apply for Section 8 housing…this does not make me feel good.  In rehab years ago when I also faced homelessness, the SW and I broached this subject; she didn’t feel like it’d be good for me to be in a housing project.  So yes, there’s a lot of scary stuff to this particular issue, but, I’m also tired of fighting…so back into the survival mode I go.

I do not welcome the burden of going back into systems that demoralize and dehumanize.  Been there, done that, I don’t want my heart and spirit broken again.

Brain Hike – Egads, when it rains it pours.  So, not functioning at all well last week, my brain went “hikey” and I started making mistakes on my appointment times, showing up an hour early Friday (8/2) and a half hour early Wednesday (8/7) to Occupational Therapy.

I had a horrible migraine on Thursday (8/1), the day of Speech Therapy and I just couldn’t function.  OMG, talk about frustrating, I am a word person, damn it!  I couldn’t talk, I could make signs but my brain had left me in the dust…I’m sure it was close enough to point and laugh at the rest of me, however!

Miscalculating the appointment times make me feel like a complete idiot, and, it terrifies me because it takes me back to the symptoms I experienced after the FIRST car accident.  I also don’t have the support here I had in Bremerton, so that’s another tough dynamic.  I work flipping hard to stay above level when it comes to fatigue and depression.  Drats!  Not being able to manage my life just isn’t an option, especially now.

Unsettled - with being partially ready to move I am losing, okay, misplacing things left and right!  OMG, now I've misplaced my external brain...oh joy, oh bliss!

Dad’s Estate – I was named Personal Representative/Executor for his Estate, now begins a lot of paperwork and getting ducks in a row.  I will be very pleased to have this long gone in the rear view mirror!

Designated Payee – This has been a process!  Last year I contacted my disability attorney about having me be my own payee, she sent me a link to the form I needed, I printed it out and then promptly forgot.  Okay, Dad’s health and his moving to assisted living were forefront in my mind then.

I recently filled out the form, sent it in and had a call from Social Security saying I filled it out wrong for my Dad.  Um no.  I called back, left a message stating the above and the justification for being my own payee is having successfully taken care of Dad’s finances.

So, a month goes by and nothing, I decided to print another one, sign it again noting the date and marking “2nd submission”, and take it to the Social Security office in town Thursday, Aug. 8.  We had about an hour wait, we were called up, the lady was really, really nice.  She asked who the payee is right now and I pointed to Richard.

She asked if I’ve been paying my own bills, how do I pay them, have I ever forgotten to make a payment.  It feels good to be able to say I’ve done online bill paying for years, no, I’ve never forgotten a payment and my credit remains excellent!

Domestic Violence – Dealing with the nightmares in April brought a lot of family issues up to the surface.  They had been nicely stowed in deep storage and I tried to send them packing, but they stayed.  As a result I’m seeing a therapist and am learning *huge* life lessons.

Buckwheat's Risk: Behind the Mask of Abuse & Verbal Abuse – I have to tell you, part in parcel of the above healing is due to the lovely blogger who has been graciously educating me about verbal abuse.  OMG.  Her black and white descriptions cut through my varying shades of gray of denial and resistance.  This is a pivotal point in my healing and will be forever grateful for her insight, heart and wisdom.   For all she’s been through, she is a lovely, lovely person.

VerbalAbuse.com – from the insightful wisdom above, I searched Amazon for top rated books on verbal abuse, holy cow!  I’ve read one book and am on a second one, go here for the order in which the books should be read.  These books have changed everything for me and have begun a phenomenal healing journey…I am able to see things far more clearly than ever before.  I’m grateful for Patricia Evans work, it’s changing my life.

No Contact – With Rebel Heart being the star in my nightmares and I just became Personal Representative/Executor, that left me feeling vulnerable and frightened (okay, terrified).  My brother has called twice to speak with me because it was my responsibility to tally how much he owed Dad with and without interest.

Folks, it’s in excess of $80,000 without interest!  That floors me to no end.  Seriously, to borrow from your elderly Dad and not pay it back…at any rate, I asked the attorney if I have a legal obligation to speak with said brother, he said no!  So, he gets to go through the attorney.

When I finally garnered the courage to look up Rebel Heart’s criminal history a couple months ago, I discovered his most recent conviction was violating a Domestic Violence Restraining Order.  Yup, he’s had 20+ in the making, I can vouch for that.

Auction stuff – All of the big stuff has been gone for some time but now is the going through of jewelry to see if any of it is real/fake, etc.  I want to know so I don’t end up burdening the auctioneer with stuff that isn’t real.  People should be able to bid with confidence.

So, Thursday, after my Speech Therapy we stopped by a jeweler the auctioneer recommended.  It did NOT go well!  We entered the store; the lady behind the counter (with one person on each side of her) looked us up and down.  I told her who sent us and that I tried contacting them through their website, she mumbled something about the days running together or something.  Um, I tried contacted them on Saturday!  I didn’t sense she was telling the truth and that wasn’t very settling.

She wasn’t too thrilled to go through the jewelry, but she said she’d do it in a half hour if we could come back.  She exuded too much vinegar for my taste, we left, but I said to forget it.  I didn’t need to be treated that way.  I’m aiming for success and trying to help the auctioneer.

So, I emailed the auctioneer when we got back home and told him I was sorry, but the jeweler he recommended had NOT earned our business.  He must have contacted them because I had an email this morning.

I told Richard I can get over my stuff and take it there anyway as I don’t have an alternative plan and I probably wouldn’t have one anytime soon.  I’ll do it to help the auctioneer and get that stuff gone too.

OT, PT, ST, OMG! – As mentioned above, I started blowing some of my Occupational Therapy appointment times and I need to fall back on the strategies that work.  So far I’ve managed to not screw up Physical or Speech Therapy…but Speech Therapy is the same time each week, that’s what I mean by falling back on strategies that work.  Things get jumbled in this overloaded brain of mine.
I’ll have Physical Therapy for another week or two and then should be released from care, or, at least to where appointments are not scheduled closely together.

Kitty with Kidney Disease – I’m still taking Tux twice a week to the vet for subcutaneous fluids and yesterday I asked them to add in a Vitamin B shot too.  Tux is doing okay; we’ll see her acupuncturist/holistic vet on the 26th to see how she’s doing.

Dad – Oh yes, I forgot to mention; on Friday (8/2) I received a Presidential Certificate honoring military Dad’s service.

It reads: “The United States of America honors the memory of [Dad’s name].  This certificate is awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the Armed Forces of the United States” and is signed by the President.

I cried.

Self-care – I continue to juice like a mad woman!  I am able to afford the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this year and the produce is awesome.  I juice what I can use and then freeze the rest (I’ve never frozen fresh juice before so will see how that turns out.)

Today’s juice is a mix of purple broccoli, 2 carrots, basil, fennel, kale, tomato, and wheatgrass.  I add organic apple juice to make it more palatable.  The longer the juice sits the stronger the basil gets.

Meditation – I’m doing Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21-day meditation challenge and it is lovely!  I’m new to meditation but am thoroughly enjoying it and feel refreshed.  There’s a 15-minute recorded session to follow along each day.  I highly recommend it.

Exercise – I’m doing better at consistently exercising when I can.  This means my alarm goes off at 4am, crazy, I know, but it’s when I used to get up pre-injuries so figured maybe that alone will help my brain.

That’s the gist of what’s going on.  Any one item on its own would be plenty, but, this is reality for now.

We get stronger facing what we think we may not be able to face.  I have support.  I have counsel.

The strong winds of change are blowing…thanks for listening everyone!  Thanks for being here dear readers; I am grateful for you.  :)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It Takes Remarkable Talent…

To potentially give myself WHIPLASH by falling while walking up a hill.  I know, I know…it’s admirable, I’m sure if we made it an Olympic sport I would score high on both choreography and technicality.  I can tell you’re all green with envy, LOL!  Yeah, not only can I feel like a klutz, but seriously, falling while going uphill?!

OMG…so, I went to the Chiropractor and Doctor today to figure out why in the heck my neck won’t respond to ice, prescribed muscle relaxer, hand held massager, stretching, Tiger Balm, etc.  I think
I’ve done everything BUT drag out the jack hammer.  The Chiropractor found I was really, really out of alignment, so that got all fixed and I go back tomorrow morning for another checkup.

Before the Doctor came in I joked with the nurse that I'm feeling WAY too much like Humpty Dumpty, she laughed!  :)

The Doctor took x-rays because I’m fearful I did more damage to my already compromised cervical discs, he said it’s a good chance this is whiplash…I know…you should have seen my expression! 

There did not appear to be new damage, but this is the reason why nothing is working, he said I need to rest and be patient.  I laughed and told him I was going to be released from Physical Therapy one week from today and now I don’t know if that’s going to happen.  He said he would write a referral if one was needed.

Oh, and since I’m in a wild hair kind of mood I have to tell you what happened at the Doctor’s office.  The Doctor told me Derek, a tall man I’d met before, would be coming in to give me a shot of anti-inflammatory meds I’d agreed to.  So I waited and waited and waited.

Finally a woman comes in with a syringe and Band-Aid and tells me I need to have the shot in my hindquarters [my word, not hers].

I told her she didn’t look at all like Derek and she replied, “Oh that’s because he’s a little behind.”  I laughed at the pun she didn’t know she’d made and she laughed too.  I thought it was hilarious!  At least he’s not a big one.  LOL!  ;)

You know it’s a good day when you find humor in the end…LOL!  :)  Tee hee hee

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Loss and Brain Injury: One more layer of letting go

I’ve been offline quite a bit recently, just going through the motions of preparing for a move and taking items to our local auctioneer, resting more than usual, and icing my neck and shoulder.  I fell last week…so have been in a decent amount of pain and immobility since. 

Having no place to yet move to makes this a challenge while in the waiting and I’m restless for the pain and fatigue to subside.  I’m hoping to get in to see the chiropractor tomorrow to see what I might have done to my neck.

On the gratitude side, however, I am grateful.  Grateful for chiropractic, I’m enjoying the benefit of being able to get not only Occupational and Speech Therapy, thanks to my insurance, but Physical Therapy too.  (You can read a bit about my first interaction with therapy folks here, starting in the second paragraph.  I’m beyond grateful for the healers of this world.) 

PT is new to me, but wow, what a huge lesson that perhaps a life of ongoing pain may not be necessary!  I am a bit bummed with this new injury as the progress and painlessness were quite lovely.  I think I get too accustomed to pain and figure it’s just a part of life.  Perhaps a bigger lesson, maybe life itself need not be so painful.

Growing up with domestic violence I house sat A LOT to get out of the insanity.  It was a great strategy for survival, and, it was fortunate I worked at a private tennis club that, at the time, the boss didn’t mind my posting ads in the locker rooms for housesitting jobs.  People knew and trusted me.  The good side of it was getting out of the house, the bad side; I was being extremely nomadic and burned out.

I’ve often said I hate moving but have to wonder where my flexibility is in that type of thinking.  I have only one handwritten quote on my wall calendar and it says, “Resisting life causes suffering.” – Pema Chodron.  Wise words.

I’m letting go of a lot of material possessions again, I feel like I’m on the Titanic trying to keep it from sinking.  If you’ve followed this blog I questioned often why it is people with Traumatic Brain Injuries have to lose everything, and, if that is the case, why fight so hard if you’ll lose it all in the end anyway?  But I also know having stuff doesn’t equal having security, and, this new injury reminds me of all my grand limitations. 

Every day I ask myself how am I managing my life and my responsibilities.  But now, life becomes a series of questions about where to move, what will I be able to afford and maintain on my own?

My joke lately is the bummer about being on Disability is you end up taking a vow of poverty without the benefit of a monastery and your meals being taken care of!  I guess, just like the animals at the no-kill animal shelter, I’m looking for a forever home. 

Seriously though, I have to consider letting my two horses go too.  Having horses has always been a big thing and I really thought I’d lose Sadie in the process earlier on.  I’ve had her since she was two years old!  She’s sixteen now, so it’d be a challenge I don’t want to face.  My other horse, rescued from a horse trainer who rescued her, she’s a sweetheart, but, she’s been roughly manhandled by said horse ‘trainer’ and she can be a handful.  I know I probably kept her from the slaughter and maybe that’s the best I can do for her…I don’t know. 

But who am I to expect anything?  I’m no better than anyone else.  I don’t ‘deserve’ better as I’ve often heard…because you know I’ll make a joke out of that too.  LOL, if I do deserve better, why hasn’t it happened already?!  Life is what it is; some of it because of our choices, and some of it is simply life.

Measure thy life by loss and not by gain.
Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth.
For love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice.
And He who suffers most has most to give.

                                                                                        ~ Ugo Bassi

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Memorial on May 4, 2013


Richard and I arrived at the church about an hour before the memorial was scheduled to begin; the volunteer coordinator would be meeting us there.  We arrived and the volunteer coordinator met us in the kitchen, shortly after the pastor came in and introduced himself. 

For whatever reason, the pastor didn’t look us in the eyes and that felt pretty creepy!  He apparently didn’t hear me say Richard’s last name and he got him confused with my brother coming from Arkansas.  So yes, we were hitting it off on the wrong foot.  Oh joy, oh bliss.

The pastor showed us the library where we could have some ‘family time’ while we wait for everyone else to be seated and the service start.  LOL, you know I love the idea of family time!  As awkward as ever, at least we’re consistent! 

Religious Heart and his son arrived early to prepare for the service, my nephew would read Scripture and my brother would say a few words about Dad.  So, Richard and I sat in the library by ourselves for the longest time.  Eventually Reluctant Heart and Religious Heart and son joined us.  We sat in that strange, quiet, surface conversation not knowing each other well enough to know what to say to each other.  Yeah, we grew up in the same house but that’s about where any similarities end. 

Not many people came to the service, I suppose when you get to be that age more of your friends have passed on than are alive.  Finally we were brought into the sanctuary and were seated.  Reluctant Heart brother was there, but Rebel Heart wasn’t.  Rebel Heart came in late and sat behind us.
 
I tried not to, but cried anyway and could hear Rebel Heart crying behind me.  The service was nice, afterwards was the coffee and cookie gathering…with my family everything seems to be extremely awkward. 

People came up to me and thanked me for writing such a touching memorial on the back of the program, I told them I didn’t do it, my Sister-in-Law did.  There was no way I could have written something as nice as she did, I just didn’t have it in me.  The service wasn’t about me or Dad really, it was a service for the people who remain.

Family asked if we were going to go out to eat and I said I didn’t know.  Reluctant Heart expressed a need to go back to work.  Yes, you read that right. 

Rebel Heart stayed a short time with his relatively new girlfriend; it was the first time she and I met.  She went to pull out a chair like she wanted to sit down and visit and Rebel Heart said they needed to leave, LOL.

There really wasn’t much else that happened worth mentioning, Richard and I were very glad it was all over.  I did find out later the woman who had been my best friend in junior high through high school  was inquiring if I had gone to the memorial or not.  She even wrote me.  Apparently she was hurt I didn’t invite her.  I wasn’t much for company anyway.  She and I have been out of touch for years, and no, I don’t consider a form letter at Christmas as staying in touch!  Sometimes one just has to let things fall apart that no longer serve him or her in the path to self-care.

It has taken me some time to be able to be settled and peaceful enough to get this written…Richard and I have split up so I’m kind of freaking out about housing and the future. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pre-Memorial

I apologize for my distinct lack of desire to relive this, but alas, it’s history, it’s not ‘flowing’ or coming out as easily as other writings have…it’s overwhelming at times and I just have to step away and take a break.  But, I know if I write it, I’m also freeing myself from it at the same time.

April 26th (the day of Dad’s death) when I informed everyone of his passing, I also took a vote as to what kind of service to have.  Despite not wanting to, Richard and I had been looking at the funeral home brochure and they had ‘packages’ that included the limo, catering, etc.  Dad was a pretty low-key kind of guy, I didn’t think he’d want that, but asked everyone anyway.

Consensuses indicated an immediate burial of Dad with no family at the graveside, and then, have a small memorial at a church.

So, with Richard and I back home Friday, April 26, we had a LOT of work waiting for us here, like paying Dad’s bills, going through nearly two weeks of both Dad’s and our mail and email, mucking, cleaning water troughs, cleaning dirt boxes and kitty vomit (my elder Kidney Disease cat was mistakenly given the wrong food.)  It was a lot of work, plus, now we had a memorial to plan too.

I was exhausted beyond belief and couldn’t get myself to function.  I missed the high functioning person I had been.  I tried my old standby of caffeine, but it no longer held the ability to help my stamina to last just a little bit longer.  I was fried and there was no artificial means of bringing more brain bucks.  I needed quiet and rest, and lots of it.

I knew there was no way I could plan a memorial, so, I handed it off to my three brothers.  They should be able to get together and plan it; besides Rebel Heart said he wanted to be involved in as much of the planning as was possible.  Great.  Problem solved!

I would come to learn from Dad’s ex-wife that Rebel Heart called her not once but twice the morning of Dad’s death about the Will, and, as she said, “Your Dad’s body wasn’t even cold yet.”
Interesting.  A phone call I had with Rebel Heart even before our first trip on April 17 was: 1) He said he wished he would have known I was coming like a week prior and he would ask me to make Rice Krispie cookies for him.  No joke.  He said that.  Um, okay.  He’s 47-years-old.  I ask, “Don’t you have the recipe?”
“Yeah, but it takes a candy thermometer and stuff.”
“No it doesn’t.”
and 2)  “I don’t really eat sweets anymore but I was telling my friends how good they are and they don’t believe me.  Could you at least bring the pan?  Maybe we can get together and make cookies, that’d be fun, maybe do it at Dad’s Sweetheart’s house.”  (Rebel Heart was NEVER told about the divorce!)
Quite surprised that Rebel Heart/Domestic Abuse brother is talking ‘family togetherness’ and all, I knew he’s bullshitting me.
“She’s been sick, she’s been really sick!”  I reply in disbelief.
“Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to call her like every day but something comes up.”
“Mmm, hmm…”

I wonder if he’s stoned or whatever.  Narcissistic?  LOL!  You think?  OMG!

Back to being at home before the memorial:  I started being flooded with emails from my Sister-in-Law about a program, having the pastor/friend of Dad’s to officiate, music, refreshments, how to pay for it all, you name it.  Apparently Religious Heart brother delegated his responsibility to his wife.  Yes, that’s my family.  The women do everything, the men just show up.  Grrrr.

So, it was her and I planning EVERYTHING.  OMG, I could NOT wait for this to be over.  I even thought about not going to the memorial, I really did, I was that worn out.

I did manage to have Rebel Heart and Reluctant Heart pick out the casket, not a cheap one by any means; they didn’t think they were paying for it when in reality it was all coming out of Dad’s Estate.

I started emailing the church coordinator trying to get everything set.  We decided on coffee and cookies, we’d need to provide the cookies (no problem since Richard just happens to be a master cookie baker!)  :)   So it was a mad dash getting the house prepared for another absence, finding motel rooms, getting the memorial set up, and, trying to keep our sanity!

Oh yes, and it is at this time I realize I’m no longer Power of Attorney because Dad has passed away.  OMG, how do we do this?  How do we pay for all this?  Who will sign the papers?  The funeral home will not bury Dad unless they receive payment 48-hours prior.

The confusion mounted as I told the funeral home I was the only one with access to Dad’s accounts and I do all his bill paying online from home, where it’s secure.  They told me I couldn’t.  They’d apparently never had someone do online bill paying in the 40+ years they’ve been in business. 

Yeah. 
Whatever.

I had to call the bank to see if they would receive a real check in the mail or what.  Yes, they would receive a real check.  Despite the funeral home’s strange difficulty understanding online bill paying, I went ahead and made the online payment for the burial portion of the process so we could get Dad buried!

I felt ashamed after Dad passed away he went into ‘cold storage’ while we tried to get our family shit together.  Seriously people, this is not a time for passing the buck!  The funeral home said Dad would be buried at their convenience, that was fine with me; at least we were making progress.

Going back over Dad’s Will, in one place it specifies Religious Heart and I as Executors and another section where it shows me as Dad’s Personal Representative.  And, Dad had made a lot of notes in pen with his initials and date over the years.  Would this invalidate the Will?  Oh crap.  We need an Attorney; I set up an appointment before we hit the road.

Exhausted, Richard and I decided to travel Wednesday, May 1 and we would return home Sunday, May 5 as the services were on May 4th.  I ended up taking ALL of Dad’s files with me in case I was no longer in charge of his affairs.  Each day we carted them from motel room to car for safe keeping…crazy, but we were running on fumes by this time.  I think there’s a point where you’re so exhausted you’re sort of running on autopilot.

Our first stop back in Washington on Wednesday was the funeral home, to sign papers, pick up death certificates, and, pay the portion due to the funeral home side, this came out of my personal account.  Ouch!  Harsh learning curve when it comes to these things.

I cried when I saw the death certificates.  OMG, this is really real.

I apologized to them for us not having our act together, passing the buck, etc.  I said they must see a lot of family dynamics!  They agreed and said we were doing pretty well.  I thought it interesting one of the ladies asked where I had experienced PTSD in the past because I was functioning better than most people.  Interesting!  I just felt like I was super shocked and super numb.

The following day, the three of us that had been mentioned in Dad’s Will and Power of Attorney (Religious Heart, Reluctant Heart, and I) met with an Estate Attorney.  In with Dad’s files were notes of money my brother, Rebel Heart, had borrowed.  I told the attorney I’d really like to have that resolved since I felt Dad was taken advantage of.  The attorney told us part of the process of settling an Estate is to pay all debts, and, collect debts too.  So, theoretically these loans plus interest will be paid in full.

We broached the subject of who would be Dad’s Personal Representative to distribute the Estate.  Religious Heart voted for me, then Reluctant Heart.  I had already been dealing with Dad’s accounts and had everything set up, that seemed logical.  Reluctant Heart hadn’t wanted any part of the process from the get go, so, with Dad’s passing he was happily relieved of his duties.

That afternoon Richard and I went to Costco to buy flowers for the tables at the reception, I already knew red and white flowers had been ordered by Dad’s sweetheart, so I found some red and white annuals.  We dropped off the cookies in the church’s refrigerator, and counted down until the memorial…

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

As inspired by Mary Landberg: Our Hands at Hospice


















Although Dad was in confinement at Hospice, I removed the gloves and asked for this photo to be taken.

I am grateful to Mary for bringing her beautiful work to us, you may click the link above to go to her remarkable website.

Namaste

Monday, June 10, 2013

Happy Dance!

I am ecstatic I received a interim supply of sleep meds from my doctor.  I thought it would cost an arm and a leg since I didn't think insurance would even cover it, but it did. 

I am one grateful brain injured person.  Rest and a routine, here I come! 

And the crowd roars!  :) 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Insomnia, the cat, and crying at the kitchen table

I have been minimally surviving the last several day, re-living Dad's dying is still so very painful to walk through again.  Add to that I have run out of sleep meds and there's a snafu with the prescription, I've been getting, oh, maybe 4 hours of sleep each night.  Nice, eh?  That's one thing I do not understand about TBI is why in the heck wouldn't your injured brain want rest in order to heal?  I was never an insomniac pre-TBI.  Bah!

And, my kitty with Kidney Disease, things are progressing and I need to take her into the vet every couple of days for subcutaneous fluids to keep her from slipping away more.  So while I can't sleep, I ruminate about doing the right thing, am I just postponing the inevitable?  I know that is definitely the case.  How is her quality of life?  Is she happy about still being here or is she ready to go?  Some of these questions will be shaped in the next couple of weeks as we get started doing the fluids every week.

And lest I forget to mention, the financial drain and how this reminds me of when my dog, Rudy, was declining in health with her Cancer.  Posts here and here.

I'm making myself try to imagine life without Tux being here, where we would bury her and everything.  Part of me is saying this is all WAY too much right now.  Being such a part of Dad's passing, and, within days before his passing our neighbors put their dear dog (and our dear friend) to sleep.

But it can't be too much because it is happening.  I believe for Tux I'll hold the same thing true as I have for my dear Dad and dog Rudy...as long as life holds you here, I will fight for you, but if it's your time to go, I'll help you go.  It is the least I can do.

And the crying at the kitchen table.  Yesterday Richard brought the mail in, and has been usual since February, some of the mail was for my Dad.  Bills, I'm fine with.  I opened a notice for the final reunion of Dad's Navy Seabees Battalion and I completely lost it.

I was the one who got him in touch with the reunion committee years ago, Dad even hosted a reunion in Seattle which included everyone coming to Bremerton (where I lived at the time) so they could tour the USS Turner Joy.  One of the gentlemen in the group had worked on that ship, it was the most surreal feeling to see that come full circle.  I got teary eyed.

So yesterday, I cried and cried at the kitchen table remembering...and...letting myself feel how utterly painful it was to watch Dad waste away.  I remember sitting there at Hospice feeling so terribly alone, feeling a kinship with every other soul in this world who has watched a loved one die.  I thought of those in Calcutta dying in the streets, and those who experience the Holocaust, and millions of people who have shared in this same experience.

Being tired because of lack of sleep and now an emotional outpouring, I was...and still am exhausted.  I've been having trouble staying focused, organized, and on task lately.  I get little done by day, and am awake almost all night.  Outside of the lack of sleep, I know it's grief and I need to be gentle with myself.  There is a reason it's called grief 'work'.

I will get back to blogging about the funeral as soon as I am able.  Thanks for being here, dear readers.  Life is still a precious gift no matter what.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Days 9 and 10 with Dad (Thurs. April 25 and Fri. April 26, 2013)

With uncle taking the day shift of being with Dad, Richard and I went back to Dad’s assisted living apartment; it’s the only place I knew of where I could get a secure Internet connection for checking email.  Well, okay, so my brain is really, really tired.  I get that.  But, why in the world did I receive an email from Walmart.com for a $10 purchase of skin cream?  I didn’t order that, did I?  I wouldn’t order anything online away from home when I can’t guarantee security.  Hmmm…!

I also received a fraud alert email from American Express that there had been three consecutive charges to Walmart.com all totaling around $300; bless them for their diligence and commitment to excellence. 

I immediately called American Express; they canceled my card and would send me a new one.  I freaked out…lack of sleep, fear about maybe my computer had been hacked and Dad’s accounts possibly being at stake I needed to find out what happened. I called our computer people, left a long message, and then went back to Hospice. 

I told uncle about it and there was a gentleman named John from Dad’s church visiting.  I didn’t have time to stay so apologized for rushing in, but it was very nice to meet him.  He just seemed like a very nice, genuine person. 

He asked me if the pastor had stopped by to see my Dad, I said no.  I did speak the pastor on the phone the other day; he said he would call me back within the hour from his cell phone so I could call him if we decide to have a service for Dad.  He never called, and, he never went to see Dad either.  This pastor was someone Dad talked about all the time as being his friend; they went to the same college and had other things in common. 

I left the room, ran into Reluctant Heart and got into a strange conversation where he suggested things but knows NOTHING about computers.  I was in a huge hurry and needed to find out about Dad’s accounts.  I was looking in the phone book when he suggested Best Buy and their Geek Squad.  It would absolutely devastate me if something happened to Dad’s hard earned savings and I somehow had been part of it.  OMG!

So, off to Best Buy we went, me and my huge laptop computer and some poor unsuspecting employee behind the desk.  I tell him what happened, and that my Dad is on his deathbed, I ask him if there is a secure connection I could get anywhere I am terrified Dad’s accounts may have been harmed.  He was gracious and kind with this crazed woman in front of him.  They don’t usually do this, but he allowed me to connect via their secure network so I could check things out; Dad’s accounts were unaffected, thank God! 

I was concerned about a virus installed or anything like that; he said it’s not likely…so, we didn’t know the cause, but it seemed to be specifically tied to my American Express card. 

Greatly relieved, Richard and I grabbed a bite to eat and head back to Hospice.  Upon returning I let my uncle know there’s no virus, no key logging software or anything of the malicious sort.  Uncle said the Reiki therapist was in and gave Dad a treatment, they checked his vitals before and after and it showed he was more relaxed afterward.  How cool is that? 

Shortly after, uncle left for his hotel, Richard stayed for a little while and then headed to his motel early. 

Alone again with Dad, after an exhausting ordeal, I didn’t know how much more of this I could take.  I sat there in the window seat looking outside; my heart was dark and cloudy.  This has been one of the most painful events I’ve ever experienced.  In my spiritual life, I have been listening to teachings on abiding with the emotions, staying with discomfort, going to the places that scare you.  I was at that place, but, also way beyond exhausted.

Richard would be leaving for home first thing tomorrow morning to check on the house and animals, and return Monday or Tuesday.  We’d already been gone longer than either of us packed or planned for, and I too, longed for home, my animal family, the quiet, my own bed.  Uncle would be leaving the morning of Saturday, April 27th for home too.

Dad’s breathing is far shallower.  This is such a strange place to be.  I was far more comfortable being by his side years ago in the hospital, watching him improve.  Now, I want him to suffer no more and I feel at odds with myself in this very moment.  There comes a time when the pain and fear of not wanting a person to leave is overridden by an even more intense pain of not being able to bear seeing them suffer.  I made a promise to him I’d stay…

Weary and worn down, jagged pieces in my heart were rubbing together causing nothing but pain.  I had seen too much of the unkindness in my own family, too many excuses, and yet, relished the remarkable kindness in the eyes and hearts of staff and strangers.  I didn’t know how much longer I could do this but didn’t want Dad to die alone.  I had to stay or live with the regret.

Just then, a staff member leaned in the doorway and said, “I have a question for you.”
My numb heart and mind said, “Okay”.
The gentleman said, “These ladies would like to come in and sing for your Dad, is that okay?”
Numbly, I nodded yes.

The three dear ladies gowned up and put gloves on, came in to the room and sang simple choruses like all is well and sweet stanzas of peace.  They were gracious, respectful and otherworldly, they thanked ME for letting them come in and sing to my Dad.  I think they were angels. 

The hardness in my heart melted and I cried at the beauty of what had just been my darkest, most difficult moment.  Yes, they must have been angels.  They said they extend the same peace to me.  I thanked them.

I dried my tears and continued to watch and listen to Dad breathe.  I don’t know how much time passed from their singing, but while I watched, I saw Dad with his eyes still closed appear to be talking to someone with whom he was very familiar.  I wondered who would be coming for him…
--
Exhausted, sleep came quickly and easily for me.  I had put my earplugs in as I usually do but was awoken around 2am by the nurses being loud.  I was mad and sleep deprived!  They were making too much noise and I was strangely cold too, I had gone to sleep comfortably warm.  (I know they didn’t change the temperature in the room overnight).  I sat up on my elbows and looked at Dad as I’d always done. 

Just then, a nurse came in and said, “I think he’s passed.”
“Really?”  I ask in disbelief. 

She said she’d get a second nurse to witness, but yes, she believed he passed away around 2:05 am.  I was stunned, sad, and flooded by a myriad of emotions when I realized he was really gone.

The nurse that told me Dad had passed brought in a single electric candle stick she plugged in at the window, I thanked her.  The sweetness and thoughtfulness every step along the way touched me deeply.

Not knowing what else to do at the time, I lingered, placed my hand on Dad’s forehead and said, “Bye, Dad.”  I was glad for him, but profoundly shocked, empty and sad.  I wondered if his spirit lingered in the room before departing, like I’ve heard of many times before.

The nurse asked for time to get him ready and I went into the Living Room, where I called Richard once I gathered my senses.  Richard couldn’t sleep and had already left town to go home!  He was two cities away; he said he’d turn around, bring oatmeal for me from McDonald’s, and come back to Hospice. 

Left to myself, I cried.  It’s over.  Dad’s suffering is over; ours is just beginning to take a different form.

I thought of a lot of things those first few hours.  We think we’ll be surrounded by loved ones when it comes our time to cross over, only because we’ve seen it on TV!  Truthfully, I bet it rarely happens.  We think of those people who we’ve been faithful to, oh sure they’ll be there for us, but we really don’t know until that moment comes. 

Maybe people show up out of guilt because they hadn’t kept in touch with you – a lot more of this path seems to be about them rather than the one dying.  Weird, huh?

I got to be with Dad the whole time; I was encouraged to take breaks as much as I needed.  I guess this is where PTSD becomes a friend…my heightened state of awareness was actually a good thing.  I was getting by on little sleep but I did okay.  Everyone was telling me I was doing well (outside of one brother and uncle).  This was one of those life moments failure was clearly not an option.  This is my Dad!

I stayed because I promised although my stomach was in knots most of the time, and, the physical hurt in my heart was intense.  I felt that pain must be normal, because to me, this was severing of a relationship, an ending of an era.     

While waiting for Richard to arrive, I wandered in and out of Dad’s room.  By now, the candle was the only light in the room, and, he had a beautiful handmade quilt covering him.  How beautiful.  My eyes could barely believe it.  Volunteers, I’d imagine, sewed the masterpiece that covered his lifeless body.  

Love in the beginning, love in the middle, love in the end.   

I decided it was about time Richard should arrive, so left to get some coffee in the family kitchen and just wait, try to wake up, but wait.

I then made the phone call everyone dreads.  I phoned Rebel Heart first, Religious Heart (left a message on his cell phone), and then Reluctant Heart.  I thought our uncle might wish to see Dad so asked the nurses to please wait a little while before Dad is moved from Hospice.  It turned out I was wrong, none of my local family wished to see Dad.

With everything going on, it didn’t dawn on me how off base Rebel Heart’s words were about Dad’s will when we spoke in the wee hours of Friday morning.  He’d asked if we all get together and the attorney reads the will.  I laughed and said I think that only happens on TV! 

With those phone calls done, I had to decide what funeral home the nurses should call to come get Dad.  I went with the one he’d purchased a cemetery lot for himself.  I thanked the Hospice staff, Richard and I left to get something to eat.  It was over.  Dad was free.

We decided I would go back home with Richard, I was past due needing a break, my brain was thoroughly fried, and there wasn’t much we could do there with it being the weekend.  I spoke with the Funeral Director over the phone during our drive back and answered questions.  I also let my family know we were going home.

We did the delightfully uneventful and blissfully quiet 12-hour drive back home.  It is good to be home, out of the stress, traffic, unfortunate attitudes, judgment, etc. 

I stood outside with the horses and just listened…the loudest sound here is not traffic, but the birds singing, the wind, and the faint sound of traffic a ways away.  It’s good to be home.  I’d imagine Dad feels the same way now too.

Day 8 with Dad (Wednesday, April 24, 2013)



Day 8 with Dad (Wednesday, April 24, 2013)
We are growing wearier from our vigil in that small room.  Uncle told me I missed out on the harpist who came in and played for Dad earlier today, he said it was really beautiful.  I was glad for that.

We take breaks, we eat, we hydrate, but none of it seems enough.  We can’t hold out for much longer. 

My uncle said I might just be in this for the long haul.  I nodded in agreement and said, “That very well could be.”

We’re already all so beyond exhaustion…

Day 7 with Dad



(Tuesday, April 23, 2013)

Early this morning Reluctant Heart unexpectedly stopped by on his way to pick up uncle at the airport; we hadn’t really gone back to speaking terms so I’d not told him about the epic voicemail from uncle.  Being protective, Richard mentioned it to him, much to my surprise Reluctant Heart said that wasn’t appropriate and he’d say something.  Wow.  OMG.

In the early afternoon uncle and Reluctant Heart arrived and uncle apologized.  He offered to take me out to dinner, but declined because I was there for Dad and didn’t want to leave…Dad might just sneak out the back door on us!

Things were okay, tense, but okay.   I don’t know how you can really rebound from something like that, but I had to stay focused.  Perhaps Brain Injury has taught me how to find a way through in the toughest times, maybe it’s just survival, I don’t know.  I do know something far greater than any of us was taking place and I knew I had to keep it together and see Dad through.

With uncle and Reluctant Heart visiting Dad that allowed me time to research a couple of funeral homes and make some calls.  This is a time I wish I was well-versed in these things, it’s like me first learning to speak latte, definitely a whole new language. 

Pre-need?  What?  I have to talk to a Funeral Director and a different person to discuss the burial?  We have to go there and flag the site?  Dad has owned the plot for 30 years, they should know where it’s at!  Paperwork?  We have to sign paperwork?  Who needs to sign it?  Church services?  Dad never talked about a funeral, he just always said he would be buried next to Mom. 

I took notes but I'm exhausted, it’s over my head, too much to learn.  I call one funeral home that the Hospice Social Worker mentioned doing a lot of work with.  They are compassionate and kind, far different than the place Dad has his plot at. 

This is all so weird.  Dad is still alive and we’re talking about a burial, funeral, and Hospice will need to know who to call to come pick up the body.  Body?  That’s my Dad!
I manage to function pretty much in spite of my family.  This is old hat…my family has never ‘been there’ for themselves, how in the world could they be there for me or Dad?  My family is impotent at relationships.  There I said it.  I see flaming character defects in my family and in myself and I want to be anything but who I am right now. 

Rebel Heart brother calls to tell me he won’t be there after work like he promised.  Okay, uh, why are you telling me this?  I said to come anytime; Hospice is open 24/7.  He then proceeds to tell me he got a tattoo of Superman with our Dad’s initials because in a previous conversation there was reference to Dad being a hero.  Hmm…I feel like a hypocrite.  I talk to him, listen to what he has to say, but it doesn’t sit well with me.  What am I supposed to say?  Seriously!  Dad is dying and you can’t find a way to be here?  But, you have time to get a tattoo?!!  Whatever.  Clearly my nerves are wearing thin.

And, in the forefront of my mind is another mental mind bender: I was speaking to the person who unleashed his terror and violence on me growing up.  Twenty-five years ago, we don’t keep in touch, being a family is merely a formality.  I’m sorry, but to be true to myself is to have nothing to do with him.  Those nightmares still surface for a reason.  Yet here I sit conversing with him…wow…it’s all so…fake.

I get off the phone and tell Dad that he and I aren’t all that much different, people just don’t have time for the dying or the disabled.  Pretty sad.  Even Religious Heart can’t make it.  He’ll be here for the funeral, though.  Wow.  By this time he, his wife and two sons have said their good-byes to Dad over the phone. 

I don’t want to be a hero, I don’t want to be a leader, but that is my old role in the family and who am I to expect anything else?  The women always did EVERYTHING and the men just showed up.  Much to my surprise, my brain is almost functioning like it used to, and that feels good.  I miss my old, high functioning self.  I miss that edge, but, like Cinderella, I know my carriage will turn into a pumpkin far too soon.  It can’t last.  It never does.  And, there’ll be hell to pay when I finally hit the cold, stone wall of debilitating brain fatigue.  Richard expects me to be in recovery for at least a week. 

I’m being looked to as the leader of this whole deal, holy cow!  Don’t follow me; I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing!  I’ve never done this before.