Saturday, December 27, 2008

Good Times in San Antonio

We had a great day today in San Antonio. Dear Husband and I slept in, which is always nice. Dad made us a great breakfast this morning and then we hung out for most of the day. We watched TV, played on the computer, and just relaxed. Later in the afternoon, we got ready to go to dinner at Fortune Cookie Chinese Buffet. It was really good.

We followed dinner with a drive through downtown San Antonio to see the lights on the trees at the Alamo and also the annual Christmas tree in front of the Alamo. It was beautiful! We then headed to the dollar movie theater. Dear Husband saw Eagle Eye and my dad and I watched Beverly Hills Chihuahua. It was an ADORABLE movie and definitely worth seeing. I love movies that are just plain fun. It's fun to see the thrillers and action movies sometimes too, but for the holidays, I was just in the mood for something cute and Beverly Hills Chihuahua definitely fit that bill.

We came back to my dad's house and kicked back, each of us doing our own thing and watching some TV. It was so much fun and a very nice, relaxed evening. Today we will be going to Half-Price Books (a huge favorite of mine!), dinner at a nice steakhouse, and then to the comedy club, which is always worth the trip. I laugh so hard every time we go there. There's nothing like a good dose of laughter to set your mind right so to speak.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Clean, Wrapped, and Ready

I spent the evening last night doing some housework so that it will be clean when we return from San Antonio on Sunday. I dusted and vacuumed the living room and I cleaned the ceiling fan in the living room. I always forget to clean the ceiling fan on a regular basis so I decided to do it and I'm glad of it. Lots of dust up there.
Dear Husband (DH) was terribly busy yesterday too. He worked late and then stopped on his way home to help a friend with a computer problem. He got home around 9 p.m. and changed into his pajamas, and sat on the couch for some down time. It wasn't to last.

He got a call around 11:30 p.m. that there was a work problem he had to go and deal with. He left and was dealing with this problem (with the help of some colleagues) ALL NIGHT! Poor guy. He got home around noon. He basically worked 24 hours with a couple of hours off. He's sleeping right now. I made him lay down when he got home because we are doing Christmas Eve tonight with his family and I know he needed some rest.

I have to give kudos to DH here. He works really hard and is very good at what he does. I am terribly blessed with the men in my life. My dad is paying for my M.A. degree and if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have been able to go back to school right now. DH works hard so I can work less hours and concentrate on school. I am blessed in ways I can't possibly put down in a single blog.

Today I've been trying to bless our house with more cleaning. Our kitchen was a mess because we've both been busy this week so I straightened it up, started the dishwasher, and started a load of laundry. I wrapped five gifts (the final ones needing to be wrapped).
I also did one of those chores that need to be done, but I never get to: I glued the pieces back on a magnet that had broken, but that I love so I saved it to fix. It was in four pieces and I had put it in a container to glue at a later time. That was a few months back. I finally did it today and it went back together beautifully.

I'm planning on taking a nap soon and then getting ready for the Christmas Eve festivities tonight.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cold Christmas

Houston, we have a cold front. It's sweater weather here, but that's just today. It could change anytime. It was in the 70s on Saturday and today, it was in the 30s. The weather is confused and can't make up its mind what it wants to do. I'm grateful for hot baths and hot tea tonight.
I can't believe Christmas is three days away. I just haven't gotten into the Christmas spirit this year. A lot of that has to do with having been in Oregon for two weeks and worrying about my mom. I just can't concentrate on the holidays. My mother is fine and recovering well so that is a definite blessing.

Dear Husband and I will be spending the holidays with my dad in San Antonio. We're going to spend Christmas Eve with the in-laws here in Houston and then drive up to San Antonio on Christmas Day. Christmas evening will be spent hanging out with my dad at his house. Friday evening we'll either see a play or go to dinner and a movie and Saturday will be spent at the comedy club. We'll go home on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to it because it will be a chance to just relax and have a good time.

Happy Holidays to all in the blog world! Remember to count your blessings this year - there are so many for all of us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Rules of a Health Crisis

Let me first say that my mother is doing better. She was hospitalized again this past Saturday because of blood clots, but she is out now and healing. We knew blood clots were a possibility when they had to take her off the blood thining medication due to the initial internal bleeding. It's been a long road, but we have faith in God and in each other.

While I was in Oregon and dealing with my mother's illness, several things occured to me that I feel would be helpful to pass on. I do not want to sound ungrateful for the support we received, I just feel the following things are important to remember when dealing with health crises among friends/family. I refer to an ill person as IP and the caretaker of the ill person as CT. If you are in the position of being a friend of the IP, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. When you call and leave a message on the IP's home phone/cell phone, leave your full name and a phone number. It may very well be that the IP is not the one checking the messages. I was checking my mother's home answering machine and half the people who left messages didn't leave their full name or a phone number, but wanted a call back. I finally changed my mother's outgoing message to ask for the full name/phone number.

Don't assume that your name/number will come up on caller ID. Make it easy on the person and leave your number. Oh, and please don't speak like you're in some kind of verbal marathon. If I can't understand your phone number, you're not getting a call back so slow it down and speak up!

2. If you ask for a call back and don't get one within a day, don't freak out and call five times. You didn't get a call because there is too much going on. You will be called eventually. This holds true even if the CT says they will call you back the next day. You have to remember how much information the CT is having to deal with on a daily basis including doctor's advice, picking up paperwork, prescriptions, and on and on. Be glad if they remember to call you back within the week.

3. If you live nearby the IP, pick a task and offer to take care of it as long as the IP is hospitalized. For example, offer to come over and water the plants or take care of the pets on a specific day or ask when it needs to be done and let the CTs know that you will be there to do it. Little things like that make a big difference. Yes, we could have asked that those things be done by someone, but it didn't occur to us because there was so much to be done, we had mental lapses over keeping it all straight. Toss something out there that you would like to be done at your home if you were ill. Chances are, it will help your friend and their family in a situation like this too.

4. If you really want to help, BRING FOOD. I can't stress the importance of this. My cousin and I ended up eating out a lot because we simply didn't have time to stop and cook. She works full-time, I was completing a lot of school work, taking care of my nephew, and driving back and forth to the hospital every single day at specific times to meet with the doctors and visit with my mother. I stayed for hours at the hospital and my cousin worked well into the evening. Cooking just wasn't even in the picture as a priority. It would have helped a lot if people had told us they would bring dinner and exactly when they would do so.

5. Don't call a person at the hospital frequently. It's nice to know that the IP is cared about and loved, but having to answer tons of phone calls while trying desperately to get what little rest you can in the hospital is just really tough. My mother fielded tons of phone calls and I think it was hard on her at some point.

6. If you are part of a large group of friends of the IP, appoint ONE person as the information gatherer. It would have been much easier if one person had called me and then passed on the information to the rest of the people. Instead, I had to explain the same details over and over to several different people and you wouldn't believe the distortions that came from that. People were calling me from the church my mother works at and attends saying that they had heard some (usually outrageous) tale about my mother and what was happening. Give it a rest people and get ONE PERSON to get the facts. Don't make up stuff based on one detail you heard from someone who doesn't know what's going on.

A great example of exactly what to do and how to do it came in the form of an offer from a friend that I went to high school and college with who is visiting our hometown this week. She offered to do whatever she can to assist my mother including bringing groceries, flowers, etc. That was super helpful because she was specific with the dates she'd be in town and what she'd be able to do. That kind of offer is so very appreciated and helpful. Thanks Angi!

I have to say that I am truly, truly grateful for all the support we received, and continue to receive, from family and friends during this very difficult time. I don't want to seem ungrateful, I just feel that it's important to pass on what I learned from being the caretaker. It helped me see things differently in terms of what can be done to assist those who are going crazy with the details of a health crisis.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Coming Home

I arrived in Houston on Sunday night after spending 15 days in Oregon. It was a very difficult 15 days consisting of visiting my mother in the hospital, living out of a suitcase, completing my homework/term paper late at night, and getting no sleep. I also spent about 4 10-hour days cleaning my mother's house so she could recuperate in a safe environment. Her house was filled with clutter and hadn't been cleaned well in quite awhile because she had been too ill over the past few months to get to it.

I am grateful for my cousin, C, who helped me out with everything. She's a true gem and it's nice that we've become friends as grown-ups. She is 8 years older than I am and we weren't close as kids because of the age gap and because we didn't live near my aunt and cousins. We really bonded the last couple of weeks. That was a silver lining to the difficult situation.

My mother is doing a lot better. She was released from the hospital after 12 days. The bleeding stopped, which is a good thing, but the cause of it has not yet been identified. We may never know what caused it. The best that can be done sometimes is pinpointing the general area and running tests to see if anything is amiss. That was done with my mother, but nothing was found. However, there are some things that general tests cannot see, so my mother will go to another hospital two hours away from our hometown to have a camera pill test. She will swallow a pill containing a camera and it will take pictures as it goes through the digestive track. That will allow doctors to see things conventional tests cannot see. The appointment for the camera pill hasn't been made yet, but it should be done within the next week or so.

I went back to work today for the first time since arriving home. I love my job for a lot of reasons, but one of the big ones is that I can take this kind of time off to care for my family without it being an issue. My boss is fantastic. She is also the owner of the company and the flexibility she allows us all is one of the many perks of the job.

I am still trying to catch up on sleep, while also completing the last of my school assignments for this term. While I was in Oregon, I wrote a 25-page term paper, which was not easy by any means, but I felt great after I completed it. This week, I've already taken two exams (one yesterday, one today) and have my last one tomorrow. I am looking forward to a little rest and relaxation (OK, A LOT of R&R) once school is done tomorrow.

Keeping with the theme of positive things to come from this ordeal: when I got home late Sunday night from the airport, I found the entire house clean. Dear Husband had done it so I could come home to a clean place. He also did the following things while I was gone:

1. Installed new faucet in the kitchen, which is SO much better than our old one.

2. Caulked the master bathtub.

3. Put new weather stripping on the back door.

I'm considering leaving for extended periods of time more often.:)