The Lonely Battle

So I was insulin dependent for about 7 years and things were okay. I lost some weight and managed to keep it off. Life was manageable.

Then I got a job and the Marketplace Insurance. They told me my A1c was too low for insulin. I’m like “You do realize my A1c is this low because I’m on insulin, right?”

Apparently they didn’t care. As doctors they had a script they had to follow and that script said Metformin. It didn’t work for me. It messed up my eyes, kept my blood sugars at 250 or above all the time regardless whether I ate or not. I took it for a month and then stopped it and changed doctors.

But I kept my A1c down because I watched what I ate and exercised. (Before Metformin, I was walking 3ks. I can’t do that now but I’m gradually recovering from what that medication did to me.) So low in fact I was informed they could never, ever prescribe insulin for me. So I was literally on my own with no medications to treat my disease except those which would make me sicker faster.

Enter natural medications. I know some people are skeptical. But I kept my A1c down below 6.5 for three years. However, I’ve got a problem. I’m getting older and all this stress of caregiving is really starting to take a toll on me. I’ve been through a lot in the last 2 years and although my To Do is like 7 pages long I don’t ever seem to make much progress or, if I do, manage to accomplish something, it then creates another page of stuff to do as a follow up to what I accomplished.

The lonely battle is that I had some kind of reaction earlier this year to something I was taking. My heart rate sped up. I started feeling like I was on speed or seriously over caffeinated. I stopped everything and took myself off all my herbs slowly over a period of about four weeks and managed to get back to normal.

In every way but one.

I stopped the Bitter Melon that had been working fantastically and started up with the Fenugreek, another herbal that affects blood sugars. And it worked great for two weeks then mysteriously stopped. I can’t figure out why it stopped but I’m not at my best. Exercise with Bitter Melon meant that I burned up sugar and was okay. With this new stuff, I can exercise until I drop from exhaustion and it has no effect on my blood sugar. So, back to Bitter Melon because the next step is going back on insulin. Because I’ll never get down to my goal weight if my fasting blood sugars are in the 160s.

When I was extra, super, overwhelming stressed caring for mom in her dementia, I stayed on the insulin and my fasting blood sugar was always high because I was under so much stress! Now it’s the same. I’m back in an uncomfortable place and hoping I can get out of it as soon as I can. I don’t feel great. I don’t feel terrible but I don’t feel like I want to feel.

So here it goes. Half a Bitter Melon. And if that doesn’t work then I’ll call the doctor and tell them I need to get fitted in somewhere on the schedule so I can fill them in on my situation. They already know most of it and everyone agrees I’m doing too much. But there’s no rest for the carers of the world. You just have to keep soldiering on and hope that a Higher Power can make things work whenever things just aren’t working at all.

 

Big Pharma

So we went to the PCP and she does her little spiel about all she can do for us. Then she suggests this new medication because, she says, it will grow new nerves. Uh, if that were true, you wouldn’t be telling us about it. Word of mouth would have us asking for it.

So we get the new med and Dad starts it and the doc says take it for a month so we’ll know if it works. Wait. What?

Fast forward one month. Dad was cleaning out his wallet and lost his ID cards. His memory is so bad he started asking me, “We live here?” I mean, it was night and day, a bad example of what medications can do to the elderly. And some cognitive impairment is normal with age. All of the horrible things he did when I was a kid he has absolutely no memory of. That’s completely normal and I know this because all the people my age have parents with the same lousy memory of their tragic childhoods. But for him to misplace his insurance card in the five minutes he was cleaning his wallet – that’s not cool.

So we’re not taking that anymore. It got so bad even the dialysis clinic called me and we had a bit of a discussion about it. So I know it’s not just here at home that it’s happening. And I know it freaks him out too. No one wants to have that happen to them. No one wants to be forgetting things that are important and insurance cards for someone in his position are very important. Yes. The doctors already have copies but you have to be able to produce proof that you still have that insurance. Just in case they ask.

So I’m hoping things return to normal here and he can go back to remembering what I’m fussing at him about. It’s hard when he forgets what I’m nagging him for. Takes all the fun out of it for me.

The Father’s Day Gift

So I got Dad what he asked for, a new razor for his face.

So apparently, once upon a time, about 50 years ago, razors were really simple to operate and didn’t require any operating manual or special knowledge.

Apparently this razor can do everything but make coffee, my Dad’s favorite expression. The used car I bought last year can do everything but make coffee. The tablet where he listens to recordings of the church services we miss also can do everything but make coffee. Coffee is really important to him.

So after about two hours of him manhandling this poor razor I finally convinced him to just plug it in and let it do it’s thing.

“But these metal things are supposed to touch these metal things and they don’t!”

“Um,” I said, looking at it for a moment. “Actually, they do.”

“They don’t lock together!”

“They’re not supposed to! They’re just supposed to touch and from that touch they gather up all the electricity they need.”

“Well, how is that a good idea? That’s not how it was when I was younger.”

Anything I say after that point is going to get me in trouble. So I say the next best thing. “All those razors you had when you were younger broke, didn’t they? Well, here’s one that works. Just let it charge up some.”

I know I’ll get old too but I hope that my “old” isn’t like his “old”. I need to be a nerdy old person who can plug and play.

 

 

 

 

Terrible Days

Life is hard enough when you have a job to go to. For a caregiver, it’s so much more complicated. Now, caregiving encompasses all sorts. Moms, Dads, grandparents who are raising their grandkids. All of that is caregiving although the word traditionally refers to those who are caring for someone who is incapable of caring for themselves.

My Dad’s PCP prescribed a  new medication for him to help with the neuropathy that he’s not having issues with. The way she stated it the medication can actually help some nerves to grow back.

I don’t believe that.

Fast forward a month and my Dad can’t focus long enough to hold a conversation. He’s very unsteady on his feet and is sleeping 12 – 16 hours a day. It’s gotten so bad that dialysis is calling me to tell me what happened during dialysis sessions because they know he won’t remember to tell me or remember instructions they gave him.

This is sad to me because I know on some level that the PCP meant well but my Dad has lost ground. I only hope he gets it back.

Yesterday was hard. I had to do a bit of all three jobs and I had to do it all in one day. Dad ‘remembered’ that I need to order his medication like five times so he told me all five times about it. Then there’s the endless probate. Thank heavens we’re nearing the end of that. I hope. And then there’s working. I’ve had people tell me I shouldn’t be working, not with all the responsibilities I have. But I get something out of my work. I get personal growth and I learn how to not to murder people who intentionally irritate me because they think if they make a big stink and get messy and loud I’ll give in and give them the fan they’re not eligible for. Um. No. I will, however, call security.

So it’s today now and hopefully will be a slower day, one where I can think more and not make snap decisions that end up getting me stuck in traffic because “I haven’t gone home this way in a long time. I wonder why.”

 

Who really knows what time it is?

Part of my job as caregiver is to put out fires. By fires, I mean the little things an old guy just can’t manage to accomplish on his own. This morning, it was breakfast. Yesterday, it was all about time.

So an alarm clock is necessary because my Dad’s on lots of medications and doesn’t just hop up out of bed in time for events. So we’ve been on the search for the perfect alarm clock. As is typical, it’s more like a tale of Goldilocks. We have yet to find the Just Right.

So the first clock was a purple flower that Dad wore out. And also he couldn’t always count on the twelve being up. If he wasn’t careful it would read five o’clock instead of eleven. So I got him a digital. Joining the 21st century. That thing was going off at all hours of the day and night because my Dad and digital are two objects never in the same sentence. He hated that one too. Then came the tiny wonder. It was loud. He accidentally pulled one of the little dials off the back, the one to set the alarm time. Then came the dynamic duo. One is a wind up – more his century – while the other has a battery and a little light that illuminates the clock face at night.

The only issue with the dynamic duo was that the dials are all labeled in writing Dad can’t read. “And there’s too many! Who needs this many dials on the back of a clock? I don’t know what any of them do!” So I come out with my sharpie and label the clock dials. Works great on the white clock. Not so much on the black. My Dad is not into glitter pens yet so I had to come up with another solution to label the black clock.

Pink Nail Polish!

He seems satisfied despite his declaration of “that stinks!” But it’s the point. It’s not the huge issues of everyday life that caregivers must smooth over. It’s the little things. Like how to work a clock.

Ironically enough, Dad has kept every single clock.

So now he has five. Oddly enough, none of them have the same time.

Saturday

I don’t want this to take the place of my journaling. However, maybe sometimes I want to post things that might be read by someone else, versus the diary, which I don’t want anyone to read but me.

It’s so nice to have a day where I can rest and – Who’m I kidding? I’m a woman! I’ve got laundry and chores to do! There’s no rest when you’re a caregiver!

But I’ve also got some shopping to do and I think I might dip into the mad money today just so I can get some of that old retail therapy. Something has pricked me and I feel the need to go to Mardel’s. Haven’t been there in years. And I might swing by Joann’s on the way to get cat food and people food. I’d better leave soon because in about ten minutes, it’ll be a 110 outside.

 

The Evils of Probate

First off, let me start this by saying I’m doing my best today to stay positive. Still fighting the good fight. Second, let me say that I too was once one of the masses, one of the lucky who had never experienced probate. I’d heard about it, of course, mentioned with a shudder by those persons who’d had to handle that. Up until now I’d always managed to avoid it.

Second, let me state that attorneys are these useful people who are versed in the laws of the land and how to handle certain situations that might get sticky or otherwise hairy if not done in just a certain way. I had an attorney service I’d kept for a very long and I told everyone how great they were. Well, you don’t know you’re getting bad advice until a judge says that it’s bad advice.

Third. Probate always starts with a death. Kind of like a murder mystery. The mystery here is why probate is still the same as it was in 1810. So the point is to make sure that when someone dies their property goes to the person they wanted it to go to or, if there is no will specifying who gets what, that it goes to the legal heirs. Okay. So probate also makes sure the bills get paid and all of that. Sounds great. Simple.

Holy Frijoles! This has gone on for a year and for the most part that is because the court is ineffectual, loses stuff, mismanages documents and just really makes a big mess of everything. Keep in mind that this stuff they’re managing is what you’re paying an attorney thousands of dollars to do. Probate does not come cheap.

Uncle died. He never probated his mother’s estate. Guess who owned the house? Okay. My mom died. The attorney from the service said do nothing and it will automatically go to my Dad. I took him at his word. Turns out he knew nothing about probate. I wish I could say the same. Judges who take things out of order just because they can and create legal nightmares for constituents whom they are allegedly serving are also part of the nightmares. I understand there are procedures and codes about how to do things but for the love of PB&J please, please, at least try to know what case you’re working on. I swear, I think the man forgot my name about five times in that two hour period.

Additionally, the judge talks this weird, legalese that makes absolutely no sense. “Did you sign the release of something something and waiver?” Um. I don’t know what that is. “Did they tell you that you were getting something?” Yes.

Why not just call it the waiver of you’re getting something?

In addition, in order to start a probate you have to have an attorney. Dallas requires it. You cannot have a probate without at least one and possibly more attorneys. Everyone expects to get money from you. Each document you must submit comes with a submission fee of at least $400. Each. Document. Each time you submit it. If it’s faxed to them upside down (How do they know?) it will not be accepted and must be submitted again and they expect that fee. I mean, really, how do our roads not get paved? I know I have submitted a lot of documents in this last 15 months!

We are making progress. For a simple probate ( i.e. there is a will and only one heir ), it has taken a year, an insane amount of money, a lawyer who will call multiple times a day to remind the clerks that if you lose the depositions we spent thousands of dollars getting from the elderly lady in Michigan who’s still fighting cancer and can’t come to Texas, we will be speaking to your supervisor’s supervisor. (Yes. They lost them. But they did find them again. Eventually.)

In all honesty, you can really see on their faces that they don’t care. They’re there for 8 hours a day and just sit there in their suits and nice outfits and listen to people drone on and on with that legalese that will slowly drive you mad while the AC churns away to keep us all in comfort and luxury. I wanted to jump up and yell, “Ya’ll talk right now!”

The only good thing I can say about probate is it’s almost over. The attorney promises it’s almost over.

She said that last year too.

The one and only enjoyable part of probate so far has been the view. The 22nd floor of Renaissance Tower. Because the court house is being remodeled/updated, they moved to a flashy high rise in downtown where you can see forever. Yep. That’s what I was doing while they were droning on and on. Watching traffic stack up on Woodall Rodgers.