Friday, May 28, 2010

Times That Try Your Patience To The Very Core

An analyst from Social Security Administration (SSA) phoned Michael yesterday about his request for disability benefits. Michael, of course, was confused since he thought the SSA issue had been resolved. Partially. The retirement benefit was approved several months ago. The disability claim continues to be outstanding. I phoned the analyst back and learned SSA has LOST all of the medical records which were obtained to evaluate his claim! LOST! We filed this claim eleven months ago and did mountains of paperwork and now they have the absolute gall to advise me that we need to start from square one with release documentation! Anger is not an appropriate word to describe how I feel. I cannot let myself cry - they are not worth it and besides if I start to cry now, I may not be able to stop.

Everything I touch/handle these days seems to get stuck, stymied or stalled. Take for instance the new roof. I sent all the paperwork and check to the mortgage company. They returned the check because the roofer needs to sign it (aforementioned roofer said they did NOT need to sign) and Michael and I did not sign the estimate page - no place for signatures on there. How were we to know? The claim for Andrea's ambulance ride to the hospital was denied by our insurance company even though the first hospital required the ambulance for transport. ( I'm contesting that one, folks.) Then, I try to make a simple withdrawal from mutual funds - had to show them proof of my marriage to Michael before they'd do that - one week later - no money!

I'm frustrated. I sat in our bathroom this morning planning my next steps with the above-mentioned items and more when Smudge wandered in. I picked him up and buried my face in his fur, feeling one tear and then another melt into the poor cat's side. He started to purr like there's no tomorrow. Whoever said animals are not a gift from above are dead wrong! I'll buy another cat nip plant for Smudge this weekend. (Buttons, our outdoor feral cat ate the first one.)

Perhaps I need this upcoming three day weekend a lot right now to re-group and re-focus. Nothing really planned except a Reds' game tomorrow night with Andrea, a sale at Joann's (batting half off!) and hopefully loads of sewing time. Michael's having a very rough time with his breathing - the heat and humidity are not good for his already knackered lungs. We turned the AC on last night and the temperature difference sent him into a harsh asthma attack. Can't win no matter what you try - his lungs just cannot handle it.

I think I'll spend a bit more time in prayer tonight. Prayers do work - Sam's getting better each day and may leave ICU this weekend. That's proof enough for me! Thank you, God!

Love ya,

Monday, May 24, 2010

Unexpected Blessings

My sister-in-law, Karen, has a nephew, Sam, who is about Tattoo Boy's age. Like TB, Sam enjoys riding his motorcycle and playing the drums. Friday afternoon, Sam lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into a sign. As of today, he's had four surgeries for a lacerated liver, fractured pelvis, broken leg and fusion of nine vertebrae in his spine. Thank God he was wearing a helmet for it could have been far worse!

Some folks would have fallen to pieces over this accident - not Sam and his family. They're grateful he's still with us. Sure, he's got a long road to recovery ahead of him, but he's here and that's enough of a blessing to keep the Taylor family praying and praising. And they're an inspiration to me.

My unexpected blessing this weekend was finally having a few hours to myself for my sewing. I worked on a quilt for my ex-husband's nephew's high school graduation. Almost done with the piecing - had it not been for a goofy error, I would have completed the top by now.

Next up - a comfort quilt for Sam.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Status Quo

The reason I haven't blogged for over a week is that there's really nothing new to report. It's just the normal day-to-day struggles for my little family tossed in with a sick kitty. Yes, Smudge is having litter box and intestinal challenges again. He's going to the vet this evening which I'm sure he's looking forward to with great anticipation. LOL

Watercolor quilt class at church on Monday night was a blast! I still can't believe how E-A-S-Y that pattern is! But, I managed to bungle it up by choosing the wrong type of pattern for the border. I've purchased some more grid fabric and intend on selecting more appropriate fabric with the next one. It's too bad we're done with these classes at church until the fall. I will miss them.

Andrea and Tattoo Boy received an invitation to their cousin Trent's high school graduation and party. (I wasn't invited - no shock there!) Both of my kids are broke, so I purchased some fabric to make Trent a quilt they can give him. The colors are royal blue, grey and white - the colors of the university he will be attending in the fall and I've picked out an easy pattern from the small quilts magazine I purchased last week. Ideally, I'd like to have the top completely pieced by the end of the weekend.

Michael's about the same now - he had a horrible Monday - stayed in bed nearly all day. He's maxed out the oxygen level on the exchanger he uses at home, so we mentioned this to the hospice nurse. She says there are machines with higher levels and if need be, they can rig two exchangers together. We'll look into that more seriously next week. Had an interesting chat with Michael - seems he does believe everybody has a spirit that moves on after life, but he claims that has nothing to do with God. I felt positive about this statement since it may lead the way in convincing him of God's existence and love. He grumbles a lot about Andrea and I "leaving the house on purpose" to avoid him. Of course that's not true, but we do have groceries to buy and events out of the home which require attention. Our lives cannot stop and somebody's got to do those things which keep a house a home. Why can't he realize that?

The insurance check and paperwork for the new roof are on their way to our mortgage company. Hoping to set a date for the roof work soon. Home Depot phoned to let us know the glass for the picture window is in, but that doesn't do us a lot of good since there is no way Michael can install that window. They're supposed to get back with us. I'm being taught patience........


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Love And The Joy of Being A Real Dork

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from our pastor's wife, Kay. She also teaches my Sunday School class. She wanted to know more details about Michael and to see if there was anything in addition to prayer the church could help me with. Wow! There is nothing like the love Christians have for one another, is there?

When Tattoo Boy was really irritated with me a few years ago, he called me a dork for loving musicals. OK, if that's anybody's definition of belonging in that group, I proclaim myself REALLY guilty. If TB had been around me at lunchtime today, he would have thrown me into a jail cell and tossed out the key. It's time for the annual book and music sale at my office and I hit the mother lode! Five, count 'em five CDs of musical numbers from various muscials ranging from "Phantom of the Opera" to "Jesus Christ Superstar" to "Oklahoma" to "South Pacific" and everything in between. Fourteen dollars! Very discreetly, I tucked one of the CDs into my computer in the midst of cubicle central and listened to "All Or Nuthin'" from "Oklahoma" this afternoon. I am gonna love listening to every second of these CDs whether in the car or in the sewing room.

Andrea and I play a game whilst we're listening to her teenaged taste in music during our girly outings. She tries to trick me by asking me if know the artist/group for each recording we listen to. I don't have a clue, so I answer Justin Timberlake if it's a male singer, Lady GaGa if it's a gal and Black Eyed Peas for groups. "Ah, Mom, you're just guessing. What a dork you are!"

Yep. A very blessed dork.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sharing and Celebrating

For the longest time, I've wanted to ask my Sunday School class to remember Michael in their prayers. I've not expressed that desire for the longest time because I knew I would struggle; i.e. start crying like I did when the minister's wife asked about Michael.

Something yesterday compelled me to speak up and I made it through the prayer request with no tears but a bit of emotion. And I gotta tell you, the experience was uplifting. I felt such warmth and caring from the group. It's something I won't soon forget.

I'm grateful to have spent a lot of the weekend with my Mom. All of us got together for dinner on Friday night at Outback - tres yummy - and went to the school art show to see Andrea's prize self-portrait. Mom and Ken helped us put together Michael's new armoire on Saturday. It'll be much easier for Michael to get his clothes out now. Then, Saturday night we watched the high school's production of "Annie Get Your Gun".

Mother's Day was pretty quiet at Chez Howe. When I returned from church, I discovered Andrea wrote "I Love Mom" all over the driveway in bright coloured chalk. Pity the rain tonight will wash it all away. Michael, Andrea and I went to brunch. After taking Andrea and her buddies shopping, I got my real Mother's Day gift - a few precious hours in the sewing room. Continued working on the red,white and blue Boxy Stars before discovering I didn't have enough red and blue fabrics. (Hope they're still available on the discount rack at Seams Sew Easy!) Tattoo Boy phoned to wish me a Happy Mother's Day. So, I felt loved all around!

Michael experienced the strangest thing during brunch yesterday. His oxygen tank went completely empty at the restaurant, so I dashed out to the car to get a replacement tank. Oddly enough he didn't need the new tank for a bit. He was able to take deep breaths and felt great, as if he was cured! It lasted for just a few minutes though. He told me he felt that way once before - when he took a nap and had a dream his lungs were healthy. Woke up feeling great and for a few minutes felt normal.

Normal's nice. Even for just a few short minutes.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tidbits on Tuesday

I'm meeting with the Hospice chaplain this afternoon. Michael's already declined to meet with her - no surprise there. Please keep Michael in your prayers - that his heart will open toward God. At present, it seems like a difficult task.

During my commute to work and back home, I've been listening to some CDs my mom sent to me. They're recordings of a series of sermons their pastor did last October about authentic life - overcoming hurdles in life. Powerful stuff. I'm finding that listening to material like this is much better for me than listening to the crap on the radio. Who would have thought that I could find more of my time with God behind the wheel of Honda CR V?

Another rough night for Michael. He was up with me and Andrea at 5:30 this morning - said he couldn't sleep. He did go back to bed for a few hours once we left the house. Smudge woke him up at 9, playing with the blinds in our room. He's out in the garage at present, staring at the model train layout, not really inspired to do any work on it today. It's difficult to see him so listless when he was always very active doing things around the house. I know this inactivity imposed on him by his lungs tortures him.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Wet But Not Wild Weekend

"Rain, rain go away. Come again another day." Andrea and I chanted all weekend. Our trip to the zoo rained out, we settled for a girls' afternoon at the hair salon and lunch at Chipotle on Saturday.

Then the real FUN began.....she and I started to paint the spare bedroom. Remember, Mr. Michael was a painter (he says decorator) for years and KNOWS how it's done. AND he's not afraid to tell all us poor ignorant souls that there is a right way and a wrong way to load a roller brush. We had to kick him out of the room before we took that aforementioned roller and put it somewhere on his anatomy. The room finished - it looks lovely - and nobody got murdered in the process.

One of the things I wanted to achieve this weekend was a ruthless cleanout on the cabinet where we keep all of Michael's medications. Besides finding drugs that were years out of date, I found where Michael hides candy. Twizzlers go REAL GOOD with Prozac, don't ya know! LOL. I organized all the prescriptions and labeled them according to use so Michael will know what drug does what and when to take it just in case I'm not around. Now if I could convince him to use them as prescribed, I'd be batting .500. He refuses to use the nebulizer - claims it does nothing other than waste his time.

More serious: He had another attack on Sunday night. They seem to be happening more frequently and with no explanation to me, although Michael always seems to KNOW what causes them. He's cold all the time - wore a wool sweater for most of the day yesterday when it was 75 outside. There's always a quilt at the ready for him to keep warm in the family room or when he's sitting at the computer.

Very little sewing this weekend. I stitched up two pillowcases for the spare bedroom and made another block for the Bonnie Hunter quilt I started last week. So I have a snowball quilt, log cabin quilt and now a Boxy Stars quilt all in various stages of piecing. I have a strip tease quilt ready for the frame - destined for the spare bedroom. One of my nephews is graduating from high school next month - I'd love to give him a quilt in his chosen college colours, but it ain't gonna happen. My sewing room time is really limited these days.

My darling Andrea has one of her art works in the school district show this coming weekend. We're going to see that, plus my nephew in the school's musical, "Annie Get Your Gun". Mom and Ken will be spending Friday night with us too. So Mother's Day weekend will be busy. Hopeful that Michael can join us, but he's a bit hesitant to go out in public with his oxygen and wheelchair. We'll just have to take it one day/event at a time.

We usually do around here.

Love ya,