Praise the Lord! Granny is now dancing on streets of gold!

“And the twelve gates of the city were twelve pearls; each single gate was made from one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” Revelation 21:21

There is some debate on whether or not there will be “literal” streets of gold in Heaven. That fact aside, my 92 yr.. old mother-in-law passed from this earth at 3:10 am this morning.

It just never ceases to amaze me at how God works. Granny has been in my care for the past two years. This week she was at the Hospice house for a 5 day break. Every 30 days (approx.) we would send her for “respite”. She was supposed to come home this afternoon. Instead, she went to her heavenly home at 3:10 this morning.

God knew that Granny and I both did not want her to die here in our home. She didn’t want me to have that final memory. Isn’t that neat how God spared me that sad memory and how Granny got her wish?

For the past 2 months, my husband & I have been praying, fasting and working diligently to try and save the possible loss of a major client he’s had for 21 years. Our income would be negatively affected in a drastic way if we lost the account. We received word just 2 weeks ago that we would not be enrolling them this week as planned and that they have chosen to go somewhere else for their benefits this year. Since we’ve recieved that information we have been shuffling our schedules and figuring out ways we would still be able to take care of Granny and do more outside (income producing) work. Isn’t it amazing how God just freed up our schedules so that we could do what we need to take care of the needs of our household?

The jury is still out on exactly what that will be for either of us, but we will seek God for direction and not do anything impulsive or make any major decisions on the direction we should go during this time of heavy heartedness.

I had planned to go to our church’s monthly bible study today at Noon, called Women of Worth. I will still be going to draw from the strength of my sisters in Christ.

My husband and I have laughed and cried this morning. We are joyous, yet overwhelmed. Granny’s in a much better place and suffering no more. We believe that, with all our heart.

I will close with this story: Her oldest son passed away last March. He was my husband’s only brother.
See my post from March 27th entitled “A Good Man”. We did not share his passing with Granny. Her mental state and health was (in our’s and Hospice opinion) too precarious. When she would get upset with my hubby for something he had done or information he had withheld from her she would always call him a “dirty bugger”. This morning when she crossed over she was greeted at the gate not only by her husband, but by her oldest son. My husband heard her say, “you dirty bugger, why didn’t you tell me he was here?”

RIP Bertha Mae Stevens – you will be sorely missed.

I don’t know what to “title” this blog…so get your coffee!

They say your title should “grab” your audience, but what if you just want to ramble? I have so much I want to say and just don’t know how to categorize it into a “topic”…ever been there? A lot of thoughts running through my head most of which you, my reader, are probably not the slightest bit interested in. Back in the day I was a “journal” girl. You were just writing, keeping a diary, so to speak..you weren’t trying to be interesting, creative or trying to grab the attention of anyone. Bloggin has taken journaling to a whole new level now hasn’t it?

Let’s see where do I begin…well, last week was my first week to take care of just Kash, my two yr. old grandson, by himself. His 5 yr. old brother had his first week of kindergarten. I’ve spoken to Ethan and he claims his first week went well. He said he learned “science”. By science he meant he had learned how popcorn kernels become popcorn. I thought that was pretty neat. Kash and I had some good quality time together. A week ago today, (last Wed) we had a bunch of errands to run. Kash likes to get in the car seat and go errand running with Maw Maw, but when Ethan was here we rarely did, because Ethan was such a homebody and didnt’ like running errands.
One of the stops we made was to Walmart to pick up a few groceries and a potty chair. (I know, he’s a little slow on the potty front).

Kash w new potty chair

Kash w new potty chair

I love this next one, especially…

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Kash and I had a nice neighborhood walk last Wed, before we went errand running, so it was a full morning. We purchased a bucket of chicken to bring home for lunch. I was lifting him in and out of the car several times that morning, and took him to see his mama at work also. While there she asked me to lift him up over a counter so she could kiss him. That was the “straw that broke the camel’s back”…not literally…but I have been (as they say in Texas) “down in my back” ever since. Seems kinda ironic since Kash’s mama was scheduled to have back surgery on Friday. I told her I was having “sympathy pains”. LOL

On Thursday, Paw Paw had to help me care for Kash more extensively since I had had a pretty painful and sleepless night and couldn’t hardly straighten up. I’m not sure if I had pulled a muscle or if it was the sciatic nerve problem I’ve had in the past, but I alternated heat and ice Wed, Thurs, Fri and was able to move a little better by Saturday. Turning over in bed is still quite painful, but I am at about 90%. Of course, this is what usually happens when I am fixing to take some time off and plan to go for a fitness walk or run each morning. Kash was gonna be at his other grandmother’s and with his dad from last Friday thru this entire week, and Granny went to the Hospice house for 5 days on Monday. Needless to say, no dedicated exercise has occurred as planned. Which takes me to the blog topic I was pondering: “MY LIFESTYLE, THEN & NOW”.

Back in late 2010 and early 2011 prior to Granny coming home to be under our care, I was leading a very active, fit and healthy lifestyle having lost 55 lbs with Weight Watchers. I lost the weight in 2006/2007 and maintained the loss until I quit working for them as a leader and was forced a few months later to become Granny’s full-time caregiver. (I only say “forced” because we had no other options). Since, I was already stuck and home caring for her I volunteered to also take care of my oldest daughter’s two youngest children. Combined with these two facts was a third: The gym where I worked out also sold out and went out of business. I could no longer go anyway, since there was no daycare at the gym, and Granny needed me – suffice it to say, my lifestyle drastically changed …

PRE-GRANNY:

Ladies Workout Express

Ladies Workout Express

POST GRANNY

At church, 15 lbs heavier

At church, 15 lbs heavier

My lifestyle then, was going to the gym 3 times a week, walking or running a 5k at least 2 – 3 times a week, weighing and measuring all my food and tracking every BLT (bite, lick or taste), inspring others to do the same blah, blah, blah…sorry if I’m boring you. My lifestyle now, is cooking, cleaning, taking care of Granny and children, reading, writing/blogging, some TV, snacking, and quilting/crafting. I’ve also done some DIY home improvement. Moral of the story: I stay busy, but healthy eating and dedicated exercise has fallen by the wayside. I want to get back to it and am working on a plan. I know from experience that my head has gotta be in the game before I begin! And, although I’ve begun tracking my intake again this week…I’m still struggling with my eating. I’m not beating myself up or complaining because I know this is where God has chosen to place me at this time. He also knows that I preferred my previous life to the current one. But, that being said, it’s not my will but His to be done in my life. So, for now..I stand because

we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

I also enjoyed a visit a week and a half ago from my baby girl. I was gonna blog and title it “My baby girl has arrived” thinking it would grab someone’s attention and they would think I’d had a baby LOL !! At 62 and post menopause that would truly be an immaculate conception! 🙂

Arriving at Mom's house

Arriving at Mom’s house

Everytime Tanya arrives you would think she was moving in for a month! This was a quick weekend trip. She lives in Wichita Falls, TX…so if you are ever in need of a realtor – she’s one of the cities top ones!

We got a sitter for Granny and while Tanya was here she took her step-dad and I out for dinner.

Linda, Jerry & Tanya 0813

We relaxed most of the time she was here but some of the time I had to share her with her older sister and her neice and nephews. Fun was had by all! I will see her again at Thanksgiving when she & her husband, Rob will be entertaining us in their new home (we haven’t seen yet).

So, having a break from Kash and from Granny has allowed me some free time for my most favorite hobby: Patchwork quilting!! “Online tutorials, where have you been all my life??” I began in 2012 with simple patchwork, but thanks to these tutorials have evolved! I’m having so much fun learning and doing and am now paying it forward by teaching some of my girlfriends the techniques I’ve learned.

My baby step-son his wife are expecting in Feb. This is my second baby quilt:

Baby quilt

Baby quilt

Colorful 9 patch

Colorful 9 patch

Chevron Pillow Sham

Chevron Pillow Sham

Country Lace

Country Lace

This Saturday I will be having my third fellowship with some ladies from church. We will enjoy refreshments and I will have at least 2 cutting and sewing stations set up so we can get started on our quilts for Christmas.

Layout4

Last but not least…since we weren’t able to go anywhere for this time of respite (you will recall, we went to Fort Worth for Anniversay Celebration last month), my sweet, thoughtful hubby planned a little excursion to Lake of the Pines lastnight to visit one of our favorite older couples from church. We just had a relaxing visit and a walk in the woods. (I’m an outdoors, camping type person but hubby is not). That’s why this was especially thoughtful and kind of him. He knows I like to go to the woods!

Well, I hope I haven’t bored you to tears with running my mouth…Church fellowship tonight and two more days of sewing and (depending on my back) maybe a walk in the park or two before Granny returns.

There’s no rhyme or reason

When you are dealing with a terminal patient you never know from one day to the next what kind of day it will be.  Yesterday, Granny was having difficulty sucking through a straw.  I had to coax her every step of the way.  She only ate about half of her breakfast and half of her lunch.  She just wasn’t having a good day! 

Today, on the other hand, she was “bright eyed and bushy tailed” or at least as bright eyed and bushy tailed as you can be when you are confined to a bed 24 hrs. a day!  She ate a good helping of greek yogurt and cheerios for breakfast and an applesauce flavored with strawberries. 

Her yogurt is flavored with strawberries and honey and I grind up honey nut cheerios in the blender and stir it in.  Honey Nut cheerios was always her favorite cereal, but since she’s on a pureed diet I had to figure out how to give it to her.

She always drinks coffee and juice in the morning.  Her juice has her ground up meds in it.  She also drinks some water.  Yesterday she only drank about 1/2 her coffee (150 cc’s), only 40 cc’s of water, and her 150 cc’s of juice had to be given in several offerings.

Today, on the other hand, she SUCKED IT ALL DOWN! Juice w meds was sucked down in one fell swoop with no problem, 300 cc’s of coffe and another 150 cc’s of water!

The moral of the story:  Well, I’ve learned that often, if not always, it has nothing to do with me and what I do or don’t do as caregiver and all to do with her and how she’s feeling on any given day.  I try to provide her the love and care I’m capable of and the rest is just going with the flow.

 

 

Families, please take care of your elderly

Through the years I’ve witnessed so much of our elderly being neglected, abused or just plain ignored by their loved ones. I know there are two sides to every story and some elderly family members are just plain cranky and difficult to get along with!

Example!!

No two women could be more unalike than these two. The one on the left is my ex-mother-in-law who is a saintly, sweet, soft spoken woman. The one on the right is my mother. The woman who gave birth to me. She is the difficult, cranky one I referred to earlier. She is very difficult to please. And that is putting it nicely. She looks cheerful and pleasant though, doesn’t she? And she can be! She just chooses not to be! Key word: “Chooses”

Suffice it to say, they are both elderly and loved by their family and friends, but I digress…

For those of you that are following my blog, you know that I’ve just returned from an anniversary celebration in the DFW area. You also know that I am the FT caregiver for my almost 93 yr. old mother-in-law. We are pictured below:

[caption id="attachment_509" align="alignnone" width="169"]Granny & Linda Granny & Linda

My current mother-in-law aka “Granny” is also a saintly, soft spoken, gentle woman. She wouldn’t harm a flea even when she was able bodied. Every 30 days we are entitled to 5 days of respite. During that time she is transported by ambulance to the local Hospice House for alternate care since we will be away. Although we very much look forward to the break from taking care of her, we hate leaving her in the care of “strangers”. It’s just not the same!! She never returns in the condition she was when she left. Please understand the Hospice place where she goes is one of the best in our area and on a day by day basis we are very pleased with the services that they provide. We love the nurse that comes to visit Granny once a week to check her vitals etc; We also love her Aide that comes 3 times a week to bathe Granny. We get a visit from a social worker once per month and a nurse practictioner each month. They are all very kind and competent individuals.

You also need to understand that as a team (Hospice and her family) we are not trying to prolong her life. She is terminal and there is no hope of her improving. We are just trying to keep her as comfortable as possible for whatever days the Lord decides she has left. BUT REALLY???? She came home with ugly purple bruises on both arms, hands, and feet!! I don’t believe for one second she was abused. But, I do believe at least one person that was caring for her was too rough handling her. She also came home with a very croupy, ragged cough!! We have repeatedly warned them against leaving Granny near any kind of draft. Thirdly, she came home with a UTI which wasn’t discovered until day 5 (the day she came home) and an anti-biotic had to be prescribed! What’s up with that?

I remember when I was in college writing a paper in English class about nursing homes etc; and the care that the elderly receive. I know that nursing homes probably get a bad rap in most cases, but I know for certain that the elderly do not get the kind of care from an institution that they will get from loving family members. It’s a HUGE sacrifice, I know. And now that I’m getting to retirement age I worry with who will care for me in my declining years. How many of you have ever heard an older family member say, “I don’t want to be a burden”? Only to hear, “you aren’t a burden”. Tell them another lie! It is a burden. Anyone that says it’s not a burden to care for an aging family member regardless of the condition they are in, is lying!! It’s tough. It takes a toll on you. Emotionally, psychologically, physically, mentally – you name it.

You know how they used to vote and put in your high school year book – “most likely to…”??? Well, it would have said above mine “least likely to lovingly care for an elderly person” – and yet that is exactly what I am doing and have been rewarded in so many ways that cannot be measured. And yet, if we hadn’t been out of options for Granny, we too, would have continued to allow someone else to care for her. I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit that.

Approx. every 30 days we will continue to take advantage of the respite that Hospice allows us, but know in our hearts that she will not get the love or care that she gets right here at home.

The best patient!

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My Mother in law was told two years ago that she had two months to live. Since she is still alive, obviously, God had a different plan from what man had. As I was feeding her breakfast this morning, and thinking of the “control” I had to give up – and all the surrendering I had to do – I was overcome with emotion for what a great patient she has been and just how easy she has made it on me! God just does things RIGHT! He doesn’t screw up like we do! He’s always RIGHT ON TIME!

aka “Granny” is under HOSPICE care which means I do have an aide come in three times a week to bathe her and a nurse that visits once a week to check vitals etc; The rest is up to my husband and I. I am the sole person that feeds her three tiems per day. She is on a pureed diet, therefore all of her food has to be pulverized in a food processor before I can feed it to her. Ninja, you are a lifesaver! Granny is entirely bedfast and not in control of her bowels, so I am the person solely responsible for keeping them moving and keeping her cleaned up. (She has a catheter for her urine which sometimes doesn’t work real well thus the need to change the sheets etc;)

God knows the beginning from the end. He sees down the road where we don’t see. That’s why I am confident that he knew (WHEN I DIDN’T) excatly what I WAS & AM capable of when he brought Granny into our home for her final days – how ever long they may be.

She lived a quiet, gentle existence with a life dedicated to God before getting sick – and now she’s unable to read her bible or even being in church! And yet He had spent at least 20 years building up a fire in me for the things of God, so I could be her caregiver and substitute. God knew what he was doing! She never complains! She is the BEST PATIENT! While eating breakfast this morning (Eggs, Sausage & Cheese) with coffee & water – she had to be reminded to suck. She was weak and was very slow in drinking her coffee thru a straw. I had to encourage her with every sip to “suck harder”.

Let me add, we are not trying to “sustain or prolong her life”…we are ready for her to go, when God is ready to take her. We are just trying to make her last days on this earth as comfortable and enjoyable as is possible considering our circumstances and limitations.

Yesterday afternoon (see pic), while eating lunch (because she was eating very slow), I asked her three times if she “was full”. She shook her head “no” each time, and so I continued to feed her. She has a great appetite most days and she cleaned the entire plate of food!

I just think how smart God is! He knew that if I was put in charge of my own mother’s care that it would be an entirely different story!! My mother is a whole different person from whom I describe in this blog. She would be complaining non-stop and nothing would ever be right! Proof that the old adage is true “distance makes the heart grow fonder”…my mother lives over 2000 miles away! My sis and bro have to put up with her and she’s in much better shape than Granny even though she’s only 3 years younger.

I just wanted to PRAISE GOD PUBLICLY for knowing me, urging me to surrendar entirely (wasn’t easy), allowing Him to shape me and mold me, and for TRUSTING me in the care of a marvelous woman of God! I will do it, until and when He calls her home.

A time of respite…

The term “respite” as it pertains to caregiving is defined as: a temporary rest period. Respite care is a temporary break for caregivers of the ill or disabled.

Every 30 days my husband and I are entitled to take his mother to the local Hospice House for 5 days of “respite”. This is a time for us to refresh, renew and recharge our batteries. Almost two years ago when Granny first came to us we had no intention of sending her away for 5 days!! It meant having her picked up by an ambulance and transported to new surroundings with strangers taking care of her etc; Perish the thought!! It was probably 6-9 months before we took advantage of our first time of “respite”.

After sharing our exhaustion with our social worker and some personality quirks we were noticing in Granny, we realized that “respite” could also be needed by the patient as much as my her caregivers!! We came to the conclusion that the trip to and from the Hospice House couldn’t do Granny any more harm than the change of scenery could do her good.

Now, every 4-6 weeks we take advantage of “respite” even if it just means we sit at the house and stare at the boob tube!

So yesterday, as we headed to Waffle House for a “respite breakfast” (NADA, no tracking, weighing, measuring food, or eating unusually “healthy” during respite – sorry!), we were excited to get on the road for a little trip to the Austin area to visit a son & daughter-in-law and 3 grandsons we don’t get to see very often.

Last evening was spent receiving lots of hugs and kisses, some playtime before bed and bathtime, enjoying a home cooked meal (that I didn’t cook) and just catching up with the daughter-in-law while hubby and son watched Swamp People etc; LOL

Today, while hubby spends his day with his son (daughter-in-law working/grandsons in school) RESPITE for me means sitting in a motel room enjoying a little peace and quiet. I can blog, watch TV, curl up with my Maeve Binchy book, take a quilting tutorial online, take a poop when the urge strikes (without worrying about who else might have taken a poop), or just get back in bed and take a nap! AWESOME!

Tonight we will take the family out for dinner since they cooked lastnight. Us girls are leaving it up to the boys to decide where they want to eat. The son has to be up early (4 am) for work in the morning (Travis County Prison system), but we will spend time with the daughter-in-law and grandsons before heading back home. We are in no hurry, since we’ve taken Sunday off from church responsibilities. We may do a little antique store browsing on the way home. We might even stop somewhere else along the way and spend another night in a motel or take in a movie. No plan – we are flying low and just enjoying the scenery as we go. After all, it’s East Texas! We just gotta be home in time to watch “Call the Midwife” Sunday evening. Grandsons will be back Monday morning and Granny will be back Monday afternoon.

I have to say – not terribly exciting, but I have had some really “unique” Mother’s Day Celebrations. Aside from this very relaxing one, I recall one in which my two daughters and I got together and scrapbooked all weekend! That’s was truly fun and memorable as this one will be.

God is Good!

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