Friday, February 28, 2014

That Went Well

That Went Well is the title of a book I read years ago that had some wonderful insights into the life of a sister being the caregiver of her disabled sister. Anyone in that position, or the parent of a disabled adult will get a kick out the book I’m sure.
One thing I took from the wisdom and experience of the author was the ability to limit the people Kate can call on her cell phone. Who knew you could limit that –not me. She is only allowed to call the immediate family and her day program. If we allowed her to call everyone she knows (by the way – that numbers in the hundreds!) the phone would be ringing day and night.
If I remember the story correctly in the book, it went something like this. The authors sister got off the bus and saw a lost dog poster. It said if you see this dog (picture), call this number. Well, the sister was standing there looking at the picture of the dog, so she called the number. Can you imagine that conversation? It was a lot like the ones we have with Kate on the phone. She will call and say something like, “You got mail!” and you can ask what did I get? She will say, “This mail right here”. Or Hey Kate, what's going on? "I got a new jacket" Oh cool! What does it look like? "This one right here!" Some days it is like an Abbot and Costello conversation.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Is It Spring Yet?

That is a question I am hearing often from Kate.  She is ready for this lousy winter to be
over and spring to arrive because then comes summer and Camp Hope!  We have already gotten the application in the mail for her sleepover summer camp. 

I did try to hide it from her on my desk.  It was under papers there waiting (and waiting) for me to file.  The only thing I can figure is that during the night, while we were sleeping and she was obviously doing her mailing, she found it.  How do I know she was doing her mailing?  Because in the morning on the island were a bunch of envelopes with my postage stamps – from the desk – on them.  Mind you Kate can’t really write, so there were a bunch of envelopes with some paper crinkled and forced into them with marker marks on the outside, sealed of course and stamped.  I convinced her to let me take them to work to have Big Mike mail them for her (our courier).   I hope the post office will accept the stamps I am scotch taping onto my envelopes.

The real reason she wants spring to come is so she can change out her closet.  With the “changing of the closet” comes the summer clothes and the winter ones go in the boxes on the shelf.  And if the summer clothes are in the drawer, she can pack for Camp Hope – her objective all along.  Last year she was packed and ready to go by early March if I remember correctly.  Camp Hope is at the end of July. 

I truly think she plans for her summer camp all year long as she was asking for bug spray for Christmas this year.   And sun screen.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Don't Go Breaking My Heart

He did.  Major has taken a small portion of my heart and it still hurts.  Sunday I drove half way to Bloomington to meet up with Sarah for the exchange.  She has found a MCNC (married couple with no children) to be his forever parents.  I had to turn off I-55 onto exit 220 in Dwight and I seriously had to will myself to do it with tears rolling down my cheeks and landing on my Crazy Dog Lady sweatshirt.  Art was with me for moral support (so he says, I think he was worried I would keep driving) and Payton was there for the emotional support.  Both dogs were sleeping in the back seat the entire trip; we never heard a peep out of either one.  I had brought along a dog bed, several toys, several chews, and at least four days’ worth of food, a water bowl, a food bowl, two collars, a leash and his medical forms for the forever family. 

It was in the parking lot of an Arby’s that we did the exchange.  I can’t imagine what the people sitting in the restaurant must have thought.  We got there first and  just sat in the car.  Then Sarah pulls in and we both get out and hug.  I’m sobbing by now, my body physically shaking.  She is just hugging me tight.  Poor Art.  We are talking – and freezing – so we both go back to our cars to get coats and then continue to talk and hug and cry.  Then I unload his stuff into her car and give a litany of instructions.  If they don’t love him he can come home.  If they need a sitter to go away, bring him home.  If he is sad, bring him home.  He HAS to sleep with them.  He loves to watch TV on a lap.  Then I get him out and tears are rolling again.  He does his duty in the snow and hops right into Sarah’s car without so much as a see ya Mom!  What?  Where is the love?  Sarah did say there were tears in his eyes by the time she hit I-55.  I’m not sure if she was just trying to ease the pain or not, but it helped to know he loved me too. 

I’m very happy to report that the couple LOVES him to pieces.  He is allowed to sleep with them; they have a blanket and pillow on the couch for him when they are gone.  They play the radio for him when they are gone so he doesn’t get lonely.  The floor is covered with toys and Sarah has a key to the house to be with him the four hours they are both a work.  Yes – I’m happysad. 

The other day I put his crate away.  The extra-large metal crate that we had to put zip ties on to contain him.  I scrubbed it down stored it and got all melancholy again. My poor husband... he was like “did I do something or didn’t do something?  What number are you today? That is our level of happy and sad meter, 1-10 so we know how to treat the situation.  I reminded him I just put the crate away and was sad again missing Major.  He was like – clue me in next time because I just don’t do that kind of emotions.  Poor guy doesn’t know what he is missing.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Did I Do That?

So I can see now why, when my Mom leaves our home, she will be going into an assisted living facility. She isn’t as sharp as she once was.  Her step is lower and her gait unsteady.  Her eyesight is failing and Lord the pills that women inhales daily!  There is a weekly pill box with four spots for each day!  It takes over a half hour just to fill it.  In fact there are only four medications, the rest are supplements. Still, it is hard to see your parents’ age.  

This will be the second winter Mom has been with us, quite a difference from last year.  Four days a week I drop Mom off on my way to work.  Two days to the pool for water aerobics and two days to the senior center to do crafts. Then I pick her up on my lunch hour and we go home and eat lunch then I head back to work and she gets to go fight Major for the chair to take a nap.  On Saturdays I take her to warm water therapy (then I hit Costco) and then out for lunch and to get her hair done at JCP.  On Sundays we go to church in the morning, I have agility in the afternoon and host a Bible study for 10-12 people that evening. But, we find laughter is a wonderful stress reliever and I do find many funny things in my life.  My husband is very clever and is quick with witty remarks that make my heart smile. 

Mom has her own room and bathroom in the house.  However, Sarah often uses her room when she visits so it has been hard for Peanut to understand he cannot go in there to sleep on the bed.  Peanut also can open any door in the house with his paws; I swear he has thumbs.  The chair she really likes is also the chair that Major (50 pound foster dog) really likes.  Did I mention that Mom also doesn’t like dogs?  This has been funny from the start, to see who gets in the chair first and who give up trying to get the other one out. 

Mom helps out as much as we will allow her.  I try very hard to do as much for her as I can because I am just a wonderful loving daughter.  Right.  It is just easier and quicker.  The kitchen is pretty open and has many cabinets.  Mom is very helpful in putting the dishes from the dishwasher way, clean or dirty.  I am still looking for my cutting boards and did you know that milk can be frozen and will taste just as good when it thaws? To her defense it is a side by side and she has the regular freezer on the top kind.  I haven’t told her I often move the milk to the fridge after she puts it away in the freezer, I figured it is an honest mistake.  But I heard Kate the other morning saying, “Silly Grandma, milk goes in the fridge not the freezer!”  Busted!

I put Mom’s breakfast out for her in the morning at the table.  One day it is cereal and the next oatmeal.  She likes to pour a little milk in her oatmeal and drinks about a half glass of juice.  I cook the oatmeal and add some frozen blueberries and cinnamon on top and she and Kate share a banana.  So this day I put the bowl of oatmeal on the placement, with a napkin, half banana, the gallon of milk, a glass of juice and a spoon.  I was helping Kate with her oatmeal when we hear Mom say, “Did I do that?”  I looked, sure enough; she poured her juice in the oatmeal.  Sweet Kate asked to do the same with hers.  Not sure if it just looked good or if she didn’t want Grandma to feel bad.  They both said it was yummy though and Kate has asked for it that way ever since!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Where Did I Put My Cape?

So right now in the house, I have a wonderful supporting husband, Kate and four dogs and my Mom.  Sarah and Patty are both away at school.  Sarah is in Grad School – finishes up next December and Patty is in the final semester of a Post-Secondary Transition Program. Why would anyone want four dogs in the house?  Well, there are four good reasons, let me explain.

We will start with the oldest and work down.  Bear is our German Shepherd – the biggest four footer weighing in at close to 100 pounds.  We got him when he was about 2 from German Shepherd Dog Rescue about 7 years ago. I wanted a dog for Kate, one that would be her friend and would protect her.  Did I mention that we soon found out that Kate doesn’t like dogs?  So, he became Art’s best buddy, being the only other male in the house.   Two acl surgeries later and he still says “I Love You Mom” and will sing for me.

Major, a four year old Boxer/Pit mix is our foster dog.   He was sold on Craigslist to a very bad man who went to prison  and poor Major was left chained to a fence.  He was taken in by animal control and rescued by Black Dog All Breed Rescue. He is the third dog we have fostered from them and I must say he has stolen my heart.  He is such a love bug and wiggle butt.

Then there is Payton, an Aussie mix from Wright Way Rescue who is 2. I got her as a puppy to be trained as a service dog for Patty who has a seizure disorder.  She is one smart dog with the coolest butterscotch colored eyes.  I would take her everywhere with me in her vest from the time she was potty trained and had all her shots. 

Funny story here- I would often get asked about her training when we were out and about and I was always more than willing to share the information and educate people.  However, people who asked me what my disability was were the idiots that really got under my skin.  This is how I handled one:

Payton would ride in the back seat of the car, with her front two paws on the console and have her head between the driver and passenger seat.  I always said she was giving me directions.  One bright sunny day I was stopped at a stop light and Payton had her head there next to mine with her red vest on.  A lady to my left motioned for me to roll down the window, so I did.  She asked me what kind of dog she was; I said I got her from the shelter, but probably an Aussie Lab mix.  She then asked if she was a service dog, I guess she noticed the red vest with the service dog patches on it. I responded that yes she was.  She then asked me why I needed a service dog.... so I responded –with a smile – that she was my seeing -eye dog.  The lady just kept looking at me with her mouth open as I drove away.

After jumping through hoops at work and signing my life away, she was allowed to come into work and sleep under the desk.  All the employees knew not to pay any attention to her while she had her vest on, but at 4:45 p.m., we would go through the building (naked) and everyone could pet her.  She loved it as much as they did.  She went through several obedience classes and we do agility and nose work and she is just a great dog.  From the beginning my husband said I would never be able to give her up – even to my own daughter.  Well, again he was correct, but for different reasons.  I would have broken heartedly given her to Patty but it seems at this time it would be too much responsibility for her.  So darn, she stays with me.

Peanut is Sarah’s dog who is a temp.  He won’t live with us forever, just while she is in school. He is from Blackdog Rescue also and is a Pit/ Lab mix about two. We think he missed out on socialization when he was a pup and is just a little off. He is like an ADHD kid – 24/7.  He is also anxious and skittish.  Most dogs are pulling the lead to go for a walk; he is pulling the lead at the end of the block to get back home.  The world is a scary place to him.  We are working with him to get past this, with TTouch, aroma therapy and behavior modifications.    

Now – add on to all of that my 89 year old Mom coming to spend the winter with us and you would be looking for your cape also!   

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kate's Mom

For a very long time that is all I have been called, Kate's Mom.  Everyone knows Kate and I just tag the Mom.  Kate was born a preemie and has Intellectual and Physical Disabilities - but she was also born with a "Joy Gene".  Most people comment they have never seen anyone enjoy life like my Kate does. The joy she brings into our lives and others is such a blessing.  My friends and family have been asking for years for me to blog it for them.  A writer I am not - but I do love my Kate so I will share my Katie-Girl's love for life  and our family antics with you!