Wednesday, July 18, 2018

There's always a silver lining

So, the past week has been very trying and that is putting it mildly!

It all started a week ago.   Lately, our dishwasher hadn't been cleaning the dishes very well, and we always had to make sure they were CLEAN(as in spotless) when we put them in.  We attributed it to the hard water out here in Arizona.  But the last week or so it didn't seem that things were getting dry, so the ever handy hubby decided to look inside at the heating element at which point he noticed the dishwasher was also filled with water.

*Sidenote*  My son, who usually does the dishes had apparently been telling us about the water for a number of days, but I'll be darned if I remember that....But, I believe he did as he has been stating what a bad job the dishwasher had been doing....which as stated above, we thought was due to hard water.....ANYWAY.......

So the hubs and son baled the water out of the dishwasher and pulled the unit out so he could see what was going on and to find out about the heating element.  Only when he pulled the machine away from the wall what did we find?  Mold, it had also apparently been leaking due to the water not pumping out.  He ordered some parts, including a new pump, hoping this would solve the problem but not sure it would.

No sooner did he get the dishwasher fixed(thank you Amazon Prime and 2 day shipping) we ran into another snag.  I went out to put chlorine in the pool duck and decided to check the skimmer baskets to get rid of any debris that had been picked up due the Monsoons we have been having.  Got all that taken care of when I noticed the pool vac wasn't moving so I decided to check the hoses and accidentally broke it in the process, no big deal we have spares.   Called the hubby and he brought a spare out, only to find that the pool vac still wasn't moving.  Long story, short(or is it too late for that??) after about an hour in the hot sun of monkeying around it was determined that the pool pump and filter had bit the dust.   Now, that wasn't too big of a surprise as we had been band-aiding it for the past 5 years, just not very good timing and it was going to cost some money to get that situation fixed.  It is also a situation we can't wait to take care of, it has to be addressed fairly quickly.

We go inside to cool off as we are both overheated only to get a text from our oldest who rents a house from us state that their pool pump/filter kept tripping the breaker whenever it turned on.  They had just left for a week's long vacation and noticed it that night before they left.   So, off hubby goes over to that house to see what is going on with their pool and he figures out what is causing the breaker to trip and takes care of that, but they had also been having other problems with the pool and it was not something the hubby could figure out on his own and he was concerned it would need new filters and possibly a pump as well!!!!

So before the weekend is over, we are thinking we are going to have to replace a dishwasher and two pool pumps.  CHA-CHING!!!   Thankfully, my husband is not too proud to ask for help so he touched base with a friend whose job it is to maintain, and apparently, fix pools.  So, while it may cost some money, at least someone else will be doing the work and that is two less things we have to worry about finding time to do.

Cue Monday........

By this time, we figured we had gotten everything under control.  The dishwasher parts had come in and been installed.  The dishwasher was up and running again, without having to buy a replacement.  The pools, while not yet fixed, were in process...we could at least breathe again.

Then, Monday night came along.  I came in from taking the dog out and hear water running.....loudly.  I follow the noise to find our laundry room flooded and not just a little bit.  I find the leak under the sink, but can't turn the water off.  So I'm screaming bloody murder trying to get my husband's attention, but he is too far away to hear me.  So I have to leave Niagara Falls in my laundry room to find him and yell for him.  He finally gets the water shut off and it turns out that a valve popped off our reverse osmosis system.  Now comes the fun part of trying to move everything out of the room, which if your laundry room is like ours, it's the catchall for everything.  It's also where our pantry is.  I think we went through every single towel we owned cleaning up the water.

But the best part, or I guess I should say the worst part, was we were trying to push the water to the floor drain under the washing machine....which normally would work wonderfully.    But this week hasn't been normal has it?!?!  As the hubby is clearing things from around the washer he notices that there is water under the washing wasn't going down the drain like it was supposed to.  So, now we are moving the washer and dryer to get to the drain.  After an unsuccessful 45 minutes of trying to get the clog to move, we resort to a hose with a nozzle attached to see if we can flush the clog out with pressure.   But instead of doing that it blows the water out the overflow pipe that is under our air conditioning unit that is housed in the laundry room.  Again, thankful for my handy hubby, he just happens to have some pvc pipe out in the garage and he rigs something together so that the water that comes off the AC unit drains into a bowl we put down until he has time to actually fix it and find the clog.  Because you see by this time it is almost 10pm( and I still have to help my mother-in-law get ready for bed, which this evening was it's own separate mess to clean up).

So, we finally hit the hay at almost midnight done with what we could for the night, exhausted and not looking forward to getting up in a few hours to get ready for work, hoping that the patch job would hold and that the bowl catching the AC water wouldn't overflow during the night.

Tuesday morning comes and goes, everything seems to have calmed down.  As long as we remember to dump the bowl of water from the patch job every 4-6 hours it will be fine until the weekend when he has the time to actually fix it properly.  Life seems to be calming down once again, or as calm as it can be given the circumstances.  That is until I go to get ice cream out of the freezer for dessert and notice icicles on the inside of the door and that the water dispenser has been dripping water and there is a size-able puddle in front of the fridge.  At this point it is all I can do to keep from crying and curling up into a ball on the kitchen floor.

I reluctantly go downstairs to my hubby who is now days behind in what he needs to be getting done, to ask him if it's supposed to be doing that.  That was not the question he wanted and not the answer I wanted to hear.   You see that reverse osmosis water system filtered the water for the fridge.   He had apparently turned off the water housing tank, and we....okay, I, had forgotten to turn off the ice maker so that it wouldn't run any more water through the system while we were waiting for the parts to repair the osmosis system. 

I don't know if you realize, I know I didn't, that you have to keep a constant water pressure going to the ice maker/water dispenser otherwise you guessed it.....a leak.   So here it is 8pm and we are taking everything out of the freezer to clean up all the frozen water inside, the whole time my husband is worried that the water line has been damaged and soon water will be pouring out the back of the fridge.   We get everything cleaned up and food put back in the freezer, get the water line attached back to a water supply and hope for the best, hope that the ice maker will work which hubby says it looks like it is. 

Once again, it's time to get the mother-in-law ready for bed so that is what we set out to do, thankfully no surprises there, so we head up to bed ourselves.  Thankfully, the hubby decided to check the freezer one more time to make sure the ice maker was in fact wasn't!  UGH!!!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!  At this point I was holding back my tears and screams.

Thankfully, again, I have a handy hubby.  He went and got some tool and took the ice maker housing out and ran it under hot water to melt any ice that had formed from all the leaking water.  He got that cleaned out and put it back in.  We have now done all that we can do without pulling the fridge all the way out to check the lines running behind it and we really don't want to do that.  I say a small prayer before going to bed hoping to see ice cubes in the morning.

So, what do you suppose we woke up to?  Well, given all that has happened you would be lead to believe that we would have water all over the kitchen floor when we woke up and you would be.......


It's still early, the day is young, but I do believe the storm of troubles has finally passed and with hindsight being 20/20 I can actually see the good in all that happened.  You read that right....good.

1) If the heating element hadn't gone out, we probably wouldn't have noticed that that drain pump wasn't working for quite awhile and the flooding could have been a lot worse!

2)  If I hadn't gone to put chlorine in the pool and clean the baskets, we probably wouldn't have noticed the pool wasn't working for who knows how long, causing even more damage.

3) Our sons pool, if he hadn't checked his pool before leaving he never would have known that it was tripping the breaker and then they would have come back to an even bigger mess and expense.

4)  If the valve hadn't broken on the osmosis system, we never would have known that the AC drain pipe was clogged for probably weeks, causing even more mold, possibly even black mold.

5) If I hadn't gone for ice cream we would have never known that the fridge was leaking until it was great big mess the next morning when we wouldn't have had time to do anything.

So you see even in the midst of all the troubles, there is always good to be just have to look for it.

Sidenote conclusion:  A friend of mine texted me on Monday night after all the stuff that my hubby and I had been through to say that one of her kids was back in the hospital right after starting school and supposed to be starting a new job that now she doesn't know if she will still have.  So, for us, all these momentary problems don't look quite so bad anymore...........

Friday, June 15, 2018

Writer's block

So often I sit down to begin writing something with an idea in mind.  I get two sentences down and that is all there is, the wall goes up and the backspace key gets a workout.  The flashing icon mocking me as I stare at the screen.

Even now, I've started 3 or 4 different tales only to get 2-3 sentences in and then drawing a blank.

Blast you writer's block!  You won't even let me write about you!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Writing your own Hallelujah

This morning in church my husband said something that punched me in the gut, a truth so deep it took my breath away, stripping me of any composure I had.   What he said was:

      "When you are in the midst of God's grace, sometimes you have to write your own Hallelujah"

Seems like an odd statement doesn't it?  And if I wasn't in the place I was at right now, I probably wouldn't have understood it.  It was a revelation for "AHA!" moment and I lost it.  If I hadn't been at the front of the church(I'm on the worship team at church and this was just as we had finished singing the last song..... Hallelujah) I would have been a heap on the floor in the back.  As it was I couldn't stop the tears from flowing.

The meaning of Hallelujah is literally God be praised.  In the struggles of life we often forget to look for that Hallelujah, and there is always one to be found.  If nothing else, it is His Grace alone that deserves one.  For it is by His grace alone that we have been saved.

You see, I've been struggling lately.  I'm normally a very happy person, almost always with a smile on my face.  But lately, the smile doesn't come quite so naturally.  Things that used to bring me joy, now seem to leave me empty.   God has given me a grace to care for our aging parents.  I know He has.   But it's not easy and at times I resent it.  I want my life back.   And I forgot.   I forgot to look for the Hallelujah.

So, starting today I'm going to try harder to walk in that grace and if I have to.....I will write my own Hallelujah.

When I started writing in my blog again my hope was that it would be helpful to others, yet still lighthearted and fun.   Yet, every time I sit down to start writing an entry, most with the intention of being fun and lighthearted, they get shut down....pushed to the side and I struggle to find the words that seemed all to clear to me before I opened my laptop to write.   Instead out comes words from a completely different direction.   So, it is what it is and I will just go where the keyboard takes me.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The importance of Flexibility defines flexibility as:

     1) capable of being bent, without breaking; easily bent. ie a flexible ruler
     2) susceptible of modification of adaption. ie a flexible schedule
     3) willing or disposed to yield; pliable : ie a a flexible personality

Back when I lived in Colorado our pastor always used that word when talking about going on a mission trip to a foreign country.  Our mission trips always had us staying in people's homes, which meant some meals would be home-cooked meals.  Our hosts were always generous and always went out of their way to provide for us.  But every once in awhile you might get something that you weren't expecting like flavored lard or blood sausage.  Our mission trips always had a tentative schedule, but through past experiences knew that it was always subject to change.  So our pastor always made sure that "flexible" was a staple word used and understood and because of that our trips were always an adventure filled with lots of fun and wonderful experiences that we wouldn't have had if weren't flexible.

Flexibility is also a wonderful word for a caregiver to have and to know and all three of those definitions can be applied to caregiving.   Because if you aren't flexible as a caregiver, life is only that much harder and you'll only make yourself miserable.  It's not easy, especially when you are thrown into that position due to circumstances and not as a career choice.

But as a caregiver I've learned that it's also important to be flexible as the person that is being taken care of.  If you, as the caregivee( I think I made up a new word ), the person being taken care of, can learn to be flexible life just might be a little bit more enjoyable.  You have to realize that it's not only your life that has been turned upside down.  Now, when you are dealing with someone suffering from Dementia or Alzheimers, this is a much more difficult choice to make.  Which is why you have to learn to be flexible early on, so that when memories fade, your personality won't.

So I glean what I can from these experiences, learning to be more flexible.   Life is one big mission trip and I want to enjoy all that it has for me, including the flavored lard and blood sausage that may come my way. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Apparently, I'm a little stressed.

When you are a full-time caregiver for a family member it's important to remember to take care of yourself....mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.   If you don't, you may find yourself in a worse position then the one the person you are caring for is in.  You have to learn to accept the help when it is offered and not worry about what someone might think.  You should NEVER have to do it alone and shouldn't. 

Which brings me to today's post.  I went to the doctor today because I've had sore jaw for almost two weeks.  I've never had it hurt for this long before, maybe a day or two but that is it.  This time it has been lingering, almost excruciating at times, shooting pain in to my ear.  I thought for sure I had some sort of ear infection.  I finally got tired of fighting it, so I made the infection.  After a brief exam and some questions, the doctor recommended I see a dentist.  So I popped over to my dentist to see when I could get an appointment, only they got me right in instead.(Score!!)  She was polite, asked me questions, and listened to what was going on and informed me I have TMJ....which is the fancy letters to mean pain in the jaw. LOL

The part I'm leaving out is the question both the doctor and dentist asked me......Are you under a lot of stress?   Who me???  Why, I have no idea whatever they could mean.  Having your in-laws move in with you?? Stressful.  Being the primary caregiver for your mother-in-law?? Stressful.  Working while taking care of your mother-in-law?? Stressful.  So, yeah I guess you could say I might be under some stress.  Enough stress apparently, I must be clenching and/or grinding my teeth in my sleep.

Sidenote: The doctor did get a little more prodding in her questions because not only did my jaw hurt, but apparently my blood pressure was a little elevated......okay, more than a little.  I didn't think about it at first, but one of her questions was if I ever experienced chest pains.  YIKES!!  Now, disclaimer....the high blood pressure is not strictly from the caregiving, I could definitely eat better and lose some weight, but it is a factor that doesn't help.

This is why I say it's important to take care of yourself, to take some time FOR yourself.  I am fortunate that I have a great support system at home.  My husband and youngest son (19) are a big help, so I'm not truly alone in this journey.  BUT, I do still have to make sure I pay attention and take the time away when I need it and that is something that is still a work in progress, a lot of work apparently.

As the caregiver, you think you are the only one that can do the job and do it correctly and that is a mindset I, myself, need to change.  It's like the wife that rearranges the dishwasher after the kids or husband load it.  It's okay if things aren't done the way you do them.  Sure there are certain things that need to be done in caregiving, but that doesn't mean your way is the only way to do them.  All that does is add more stress to an already stressful situation, and it's an unnecessary stress to add.

So, I'm going to take the muscle relaxer the dentist prescribed and get better at taking care of myself and taking time for myself....because I deserve it.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The dangers of commercials

My mother-in-law is a hoarder.  Not quite worthy of an episode on the tv show, but I think that is only because of her husband.  Left to her own devices....well.....

So it's been quite the change of environment for her when she moved in with us.  She did really good leaving a lot of stuff behind, but she did still have the urge.  We would go out to eat and she would grab any extra napkins she could.  If it was a fast food restaurant it would also include any plasticware she used.  We would find spoons and napkins in the travel diabetes bag we used and used straws on her stand next to her.  Upon finding them, we never said anything, we just quietly tossed them out and she really was none the wiser.  We knew not to question the action, it only ended in an argument. 

Fast forward the eight months since the in-laws moved in with us.   When they moved in we got them each a DVR so they could record and watch all the shows they like to watch.  They had DISH back in Colorado so they were also spoiled being able to fast forward through the commercials and my mother-in-law talked incessantly about how she hated commercials for the past 6 of the last 8 months.  Then she had a mini stroke and was in the hospital for a week, followed by skilled nursing for another 3 weeks.   Well, they didn't have DVR's or the ability to fast forward through commercials so she got out of the habit of doing it, plus after the stroke her memory had gotten a little worse.

So, now she has a tendency to forget to fast forward the commercials and ends up watching them.  The only problem is that it tends to "wake up" that hoarding complex and the need to buy things.  Most of the things are not something she would EVER use or need.....but that isn't the point with a hoarder......they just want things.

Some of the things she wants: 

1) New insurance.  She has STELLAR insurance and with the diabetes needs it.  Most of her prescriptions cost pennies.  I think between all doctor visits, hospital stays, etc. they've had to pay hardly anything.  But the ad for Medicare insurance programs convinced her she needed new insurance and asked for 2 weeks straight about it before moving on.

2) Microwave egg cooker.  She thought the Egglettes cooker looked like a great idea and she wanted one.  The problem here.....she doesn't eat eggs.  She hates eggs.  We pointed that out to her, which she replied, " I know, but it would work for eggs in potato salad".  To which we shook our heads and silently giggled, because.....she doesn't cook anymore and hasn't for YEARS!! I think the last time she actually cooked anything was Thanksgiving 1998 or somewhere around there.  Her cooking mostly consisted of heating up a microwave dinner.

3) Plexaderm.  This is apparently a cream for the bags under your eyes and wrinkles on your face.   She's suddenly decided she wanted to get rid of the bags and wrinkles.  Which she really doesn't have many wrinkles, and the bags are because she doesn't sleep.  Plus....she's 80 and sits in a chair(now a bed) all day.  What on earth would she need Plexaderm for???  But it's free to try she says and we should go to the website to find out about it.   Thank goodness she doesn't have access to the internet.

4) Better Clean Silicone Sponge.  This one is the kicker.  She told me she would love to get this, and thought anyone that owned a home would love one.  What made this the best one, especially for my husband, is that fact that I'm not sure she's cleaned a dish in her life.  Remember those microwave dinners??  Yeah, no dishes there.  Somehow this is something she needs to have though.

Thank goodness she hasn't found HSN or QVC.  There is a reason we don't keep the phone or her wallet by her bed.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Go with the flow

One of the things I've learned being a caregiver, is to be flexible.   Not flexible as a caregiver, but flexible as a person.  To learn to go with the flow and not be so set in my ways I end up being miserable and causing the people around me to be miserable.  Life is too short for that.

I love my mother-in-law, but things have to be a certain way and there is no such thing as wanting to try anything new.  Oh, and it seems she hates everything.....except ice cream.....strawberry ice cream, not chocolate, not vanilla, but strawberry.

Making meals for her is a challenge because there isn't much that she will eat and the things she does eat she gets tired of and says she never wants to have again.  It's a balancing act trying to spread out what she will eat so that it doesn't come off the menu.   Of course, if we go long enough we can sometimes "reintroduce" the things she has sworn off.   I don't think I've ever seen her make a happy face when giving her options to choose from, it's usually a turned up nose.   The only time she gets excited is if I mention ice cream.

Even when we go out to eat, it's the same thing.  She turns up her nose at whatever they have and usually wants a combination of something that isn't even offered.  We had to stop letting her pick her food.  She would say she wanted something and then when she got exactly what she said she wanted, she picks at it, making faces as she eats.  Oh, and don't argue that it was exactly what she ordered, she'll deny it all the way to the grave.

Somedays, I don't think she knows how to be happy.  She definitely doesn't know how to go with the flow and that is not a person I want to be.  I want to enjoy life and all the experiences it wants to throw at me, even the caregiving.