Little surprises along the way

My blog posts have been lagging again so I’ll do another update on a variety of things going on.  There’s been a bunch of little surprises, both good and not so good lately. 

First, last weekend I really struggled with going to a design event that I was supposed to help plan.  I say “supposed to” because things have gotten so hectic with other things in my life that I feel like I really dropped the ball and left the rest of the committee of one, do the heavy lifting.  She’s an amazing student and had so many great ideas that my old self felt like I’d be getting in the way of her momentum.  I helped day of, but not a whole leading up. So I really worried about showing up that day, wondering if people would be like there’s the lady who was a bum, even though I alluded to what’s been going on with my dad. 

I was so glad I went.  First, it was at a firm that my former boss always tells me if I want in, she might be able to help as she knows the owner well.  It’s an exciting but scary, scary thought when I allow myself to go there.  I’ve been out of school for two years now and other than helping family pick out a few paint colors, I haven’t been doing much with design at all.  There’s no way I have a portfolio even worthy of looking at right now.  But, I will file this connection in my back pocket until I’m ready to take the leap.  The visit did get the gears turning though. 

But the biggest thing about last Saturday’s event that literally gave me chills was when a lady attending the event overheard someone ask me how my dad was doing.  I started to explain about his FTD diagnosis and she chimed in that her dad has a similar type of dementia, Lewy Bodies.  I could not believe it!  We ended up sitting and trading stories for the next half hour.  Turns out she lives in the same county as me so we exchanged contact info for whenever we want to grab coffee and chat or vent or support one another.  So that, in a way, was good.

Monday, was a little more difficult.  My sister and I met with a realtor to list dad’s house.  It’s such a weird feeling to do this.  Almost feels like we are doing it behind his back, but we’ve carefully brought it up to him before as a way to ease him into what we have to do.  And we really have to do this.  All the debt he has racked up from losing the part of his brain that can handle finances is somewhere in the neighborhood of $70K.  This does include realtor fees and prepaying funeral costs, but the bulk of it is the mess that he found himself in.  So we are trying to fix it and clear mom’s name since the creditors are hounding her, even though my parents are divorced. 

While we were in the midst of this, we learned that my dad’s twin brother and entire family was going to visit him.  My cousins, their spouses, etc.  They sent us photos of the visit and it just made us feel great.  We know that dad was a miserable monster years ago, pushing away family and friends while the disease ate away at his brain, but it’s so nice to know that everyone is so understanding and helpful.  It really means a lot.

This week I finally had two doctor appointments that I’ve been waiting for what seemed like quite some time to have.  The first was the new pain management/back doctor since my guy left the hospital.  As soon as I met him, I kinda wished I had him all along – little older, been in the field longer.  We looked at my xrays and he studied where his former colleague decided to give the first two injections – a little above the area that’s bulging. He said he probably did that because getting it exactly where it needs to go is a little tricky.  It’s a small space with a big margain of error.  By going just above, the idea is that the medicine will trickle down.  Well, that makes sense as to why I felt like the first one helped a good deal but the second one didn’t change things much at all.  There just wasn’t the cummulative effect that I was hoping for.  So I was a little annoyed that we didn’t get it quite right but we talked about managing this and he said to keep doing what I’m doing – stretching, decompression/traction, yoga, moving around, running.  These things heal but they just take time.  If I’m finding that I just can’t deal, we can do the third injection and I hope he hits the bullseye this time.  In the meantime, he gave me a prescription for another type of NSAID, he called it a prescription-strength anti-inflammatory and it can be taken as needed and not every day.  So that part was good because I’m tired of taking meds that just mess with my body more than doing what it needs to do.  But, then as I read up about this particular drug, it states that women having difficulty trying to conceive should reconsider as it can interfere with ovulation and reduce fertility.  So for someone like me, that’s taking it from next to nil to absolute zero?  Awesome.  So do I try this med for a little bit and see how this goes?  Or do I keep dealing with the pain? 

Speaking of dealing with the pain, I’m still trying to train for my half marathon coming up in May.  It was going pretty good but the past two weeks have really taken a dive.  Either I haven’t been able to train as much, or I’ve just been too wiped and tired to get in a good run.  Lot of half-assing going on.  I keep trying to motivate myself by thinking about dad.  I keep thinking that if I make it through this half marathon and feel better than I did with my first two, I’d love to keep right on training for a full.  I’d love to tie it into a fundraiser for research for my dad’s disease.  So that kinda keeps me going when my legs won’t. 

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my newly selected primary care physician.  I haven’t been to a regular doctor in years and it’s getting to the point where insurance does not want me to list my OB/Gyn for my primary.  I had been looking forward to this appointment as I heard she was very thorough and both my sister and mom have gone to her and liked her.  We went over everything and she ordered a battery of blood tests.  I thought for sure we’d find something that might help me understand why my body feels like it’s failing me in so many ways. Nope.  All tests came back within normal range, including thyroid.  So my issues are either in my head or it’s just how it’s going to be for me.  Infertile without any underlying cause except for the endometriosis that may or may not be causing problems.  Just depends who you ask. 

So that’s about it.  That’s the latest during my lapse in blogging.  Busy with all kinds of stuff and hoping to keep moving along with things, hoping that maybe I’ll even ovulate once in a while. 

Coded

I received my latest medical bill which has a few things still pending on it from my back procedures. I’m not too worried about those. What concerned and absolutely irritated me was to see that my office visit to my RE was not covered at all. I started to make some calls about this which of course was met with your typical hospital billing runaround and eventually some phone tag.

According to my doctor’s notes, the appointment was coded as “fertility” and endometriosis was only mentioned. Are you kidding me? I explained to the billing lady that I reached out to my doctor in absolute agony when my cycles seemed to be getting worse and worse. Yes, unfortunately, this was also in the midst of figuring out the cause of my back pain, but that in no way explains my cycles behaving the way they’ve been. A herniated disc is not the cause of my abdominal and uterine pain, causing me to lay down on a cot in our lunchroom at work while I waited for the Motrin to kick in. A herniated disc is not causing my clots and heavy bleeding and weird cycle lengths. I seriously doubt the herniated disc was the reason I bled for 17 out of 24 days last cycle.

I went there on a gut feeling that I should have a laparoscopy for my endometriosis. I know she isn’t keen on having surgery for that and has told me time and time again that it has no impact, especially with IVF. But here’s the thing. I’m not doing IVF anymore. We’ve decided it’s not worth the all that money for something that isn’t giving us a greater chance than trying on our own. In the back of my mind, I hope that having the surgery improves our chances naturally, but nothing more.

But somehow our discussion turned into hubby having another SA and me having another HSG and the next thing I know we’re talking about IUI and donor eggs. Wait a minute! I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for donor eggs, so why are talking about this? So now my visit is being coded as “fertility.” Almost $400 just to sit down and have a conversation that evolved from the real reason I set the appointment to wondering what hair color our donors would have. I told the billing lady that I need to know if every time I set foot in that office is going to be coded as such. If that’s the case, I’m done. I can’t have procedures and surgeries through them when my insurance will never cover it.

So I guess that answers that. I will probably have to wait for my appointment with my new OB/GYN to see if she thinks I should have the surgery. Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s in July. I’m so done with this. All of it.

Blogoversary

Apparently I started this blog five years ago today. It seems I’ve totally forgotten that, and the fact that it’s the same day as my twin niece and nephew’s birthday, too. I guess I did start this on their big day. It was a different time then. We were celebrating their second birthday and I was halfway through my 35th year. I had hope then. I had dreams. I didn’t worry about 40 even though it was the next milestone for birthdays. I had plans to flow gracefully into 40 with goals and plans having been met, crushing the notion of any of those silly birthday cards about being over the hill. Now, I can barely walk and I fear my brain will degenerate like my father’s has.

What a way to wrap up five years.

I started this blog five years ago on this day, and exactly a year later, we started trying to conceive. I kinda wish I chose a different time of year for these things so I wouldn’t be reminded of them on my niece and nephew’s birthday. I wish I had some grand post to write up, but I don’t. If it weren’t for logging on here and seeing the little trophy reminder, I wouldn’t have even realized the blog milestone today.

I’m still sort of taking things day by day at this point. Good days and bad for everything. A good run, breaking my previous records one day, followed by feeling tired and crippled the next time out. Having a good day at work where I really feel on top of things, then having a day where I feel like a zombie pushing papers around, getting nothing accomplished. Months and months of nursing injuries, not just physical but also mental. Things still on hold, after five years. First putting them on hold because we were ttc, and now many of those same things are still on hold as we recover from ttc – financially, mentally, and physically. Mostly financially.

I’ve now got less than six months to go until I’m 40 and the way I’m feeling right now, I don’t think I can be a good sport about it and laugh at those over the hill jokes and cards. If I’m still shuffling around in pain by then, it will be awfully hard to convince people otherwise. Over. The. Hill. That’s about all I’ve got for today.

Checking in

Oh yeah, I still have this blog. Some days I wonder why I still come here as there’s nothing all that great to report it seems. The lapses between posts are getting greater and more frequent. What is there to say? Everything is in a state of limbo once again. Not just ttc, but I mean everything.

My dad’s situation is exhausting. Every weekend we either try to go visit him at the nursing home or spend time cleaning up his house to sell. This weekend we chose the latter and I am absolutely drained. We must have gone through an entire box of huge black garbage bags – contractor strength! We moved furniture and boxes and bags and bags and bags of trash to the garage. And we’re still not done. It’s sad to see what this brain disease does to people. The house was severely neglected and there were so many hoarding type behaviors apparent. Most of it is not worth saving, although we’ve all started a little pile of what to keep that might have some sentiment to us. For the most part, it feels like we are throwing a life away without giving much thought to it. But if we took the time to think about every single thing, it would take months. Just so tired.

And of course, I’m still in pain. Stupid back-sciatica-I don’t know what the eff else to call it-is still plaguing me. Every day, in some degree of pain since July. I’ve spent so much time and money trying everything in my power that it’s to the point where I really wonder if we’re not finding the root cause because we’re not even in the right ballpark. I sometimes wonder if there’s something wrong like some sort of degenerative disease going on. Heck, there’s one going on with my dad. I sometimes wonder if it’s genetics. I mean, if a gene can just click “on” one day for a variety of things, why not this? All the stuff we’ve tried, should have worked by now. Then, because everything in my life can be turned into ttc, I sometimes wonder if I have some sort of hormone issues. Thyroid? Adrenal? What? WHAT?!?! I can’t take living like this anymore. I want to move on, to be able to run. I already live with emotional pain, it would be nice to not have to deal with physical pain along with it.

In the ongoing saga to make doctor’s appointments, it turns out my pain management doctor has left the hospital I was going to and I now need to resume treatment with his associate. Too bad I can’t get in for another month. In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing all the same stuff that isn’t working, while I wait for my appointment. I also tried to make an appointment with an internal medicine doctor becasue we just don’t have one and I thought it would be nice to have an established doctor for the occasional sinus infection, physicals, or any other ailment that might creep up. That appointment isn’t for another month. I used to just say my OB was my primary doctor but of course I had to find a new OB as well. That appointment isn’t until July! And it’s with a doctor that I’m not entirely sure I’m going to like, based on some of the reviews I’ve read.

Today, even my FF app gave up on me. I decided to go back to temping, just to see if I’m even ovulating anymore and this month has been so unlike the others between period length lingering to mid-cycle spotting, to super erratic temps and as I plugged in today’s temp, FF issues a warning that it’s no longer able to detect what’s going on. I’m surprised they just don’t use a big “WTF? We can’t help you.”

Limbo.

Lastly, I’ve been falling away from some of the design group stuff that I participate in, just because I don’t have the desire or energy to care at the moment. In fact, once we get through our next event, I’m out. I’ve got nothing left to give. Maybe when things settle down with selling my dad’s house, or if I can finally be pain free, or when one of these doctors tells me I’m hormonally challenged and/or crazy, things will get better.

Difficulty NOT ttc

Talk about a 2ww. For the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to select a new OB/gyn since mine is no longer covered by my insurance. I could almost cry about this fact if I let myself.

No one has come close to getting reviews like my old doctor. Not even close. I’ve been polling women, mostly neighbors to start, since they’d likely have one near home. The one OB/gyn who’s been mentioned up hasn’t exactly had stellar reviews. Online reviewers have said she’s horrible with only a few good responses. I realize this may be skewed as I think more people tend to take the time to complain than to give praise in online reviews, but it didn’t sit well. So when I asked real people who I know about her, I’ve gotten the following:

“She’s ok. I’ve only seen her once.”

“She dropped an f-bomb during my first visit, but otherwise it was fine.”

“I like her but I don’t LOVE her.”

One neighbor said she harassed her about her weight (I don’t even think she’s heavy), but when I looked up this doctor, she’s not exactly trim herself.

But the thing that is giving me a hard time is she has a lot of interests listed as well as specialties and what is included on her list? You guessed it, infertility. So I decide to make an appointment thinking what harm could one visit be? If I don’t like her, I can move on.

She’s not available until JULY! Ok, seriously? Is that how it will always be when something happens where I need to be seen? I’m not even sure how I feel about this doctor and I’m already bummed about this. Besides needing my annual appointment next month, I kinda wanted some guidance or some hormone testing done. I don’t want to wait halfway thru summer for this.

So then I went back online to ask some of the groups I belong to. I realize that not everyone is local, but it was worth a shot. The first person who responded asked an innocent question. “Where do you want to deliver?” Ugh. I wanted to say “I’d deliver on the moon, if I could just get pregnant!” But I decided to explain that “It seems I can’t get pregnant, so I guess less emphasis on the OB part.” A couple responses came thru and then to my horror, I realized this group is not “private”, so there on my FB feed was my question and my fertility-challenged reality in print for all to read. I was absolutely horrified and deleted the whole damn thread. I sent a private message to those who responded and explained why I deleted and they totally understood.

Finally, I just decided to call the fertility center as they know me well and asked if any of the RE’s also see general OB/gyn patients. Unfortunately none of them do, but one of the super nice nurses called me back and gave me a list of names that come highly recommended. Of course they are all over the place, but a few are either near my home or near my office. I just need to decide.

And to think this all continues to be this difficult, even when we are no longer trying! There’s no reason for the hoops anymore.

In other related news…my old high school friend that I ran into at the fertility center back in July, had her baby last night. I am truly happy for her as she went thru hell and back to have her – a little girl. Coincidentally, she was named one of the names on my short list for girls, but it was absolutely fitting for her. It made me stop for a second and wonder if my last IVF had worked, how much longer it would have been.

Then today on the elevator I overheard two guests that must have left a meeting from our office. I overheard bits and pieces of a conversation that I was instantly able to piece together and decode.

Man: “Name will be busy soon.”
Woman: “Oh yes. One is challenging enough.”
Man: “May will be here soon.”

And there’s my answer. I would have been due in May. They were talking about the coworker I saw at my fertility center around the same time I was there. We never spoke about it, but recently I’ve noticed the growing bump, and based on the conversation I just overheard she gets to have two babies – in May.

I would have been due in May.

Six months

Well, technically, yesterday. Six months from yesterday I turn 40.

I originally wanted to embrace 40. I wanted to be healthy and strong, to have established a career that suited me, and I really thought we’d have a family. I started this blog when I was 35 and at the time it had a name that fit not only my age but my hopeful plans in life. I was in school for interior design, hoping to find a new career path and we were ttc. Eventually ttc took over and we experienced a horrific journey of infertility. Somehow I still managed to graduate with my new degree, carrying a 4.0 GPA the entire time. I met new design friends, and got involved in design committees, but there was still a void. Some of those friends have gone on to get pregnant, along with almost everyone else around us.

Work became torturous but I battled through because we needed every penny of my salary to dig out of IVF and medical bills. Thankfully I stayed the course because things have gotten much, much better at my job. New team members have come aboard and I really do work with a great bunch of people. Is it what I’d like to do the rest of my career? Probably not, but for now, it’s ideal.

I did start to be more health and fitness conscious by picking up running and have run two half-marathons and a handful of other races in between fertility treatments. But I’ve also never felt more old in my life when nagging injuries turned into more significant ones. I’m now a regular at physical therapy, the chiropractor, and the yoga studio. I’m hoping to emerge strong and healthy and not old and falling apart, but it’s a fine line.

Then there’s ttc. People ask if we still try. Of course we try, although I don’t know if you really call it trying or just normal getting it on. I have started temping again, but mostly out of curiousity to see if I’m even still ovulating. I do try to stay up on vitamins and supplements and still have to nudge my husband to do the same. But, if not for fertility, just for general health. A vitamin isn’t going to hurt anything, so just take them, especially if our diet is lacking.

And then, I went back on the ttc boards. I haven’t been on there for the better part of a year now. I ran out of things to say and had no advice for those still trying. I flipped through my groups and I just didn’t seem to fit the mold anymore for any of them. Actively Trying? Not really, and the average age seemed to be like 25. Fertility Issues? Always. But most of those ladies know their issues and are taking measures to overcome them. My issues are just that my parts are probably covered in scar tissue and not working. High Tech Methods? Not exactly doing anything advanced or IVF anymore. So for the heck of it, I signed up for Over 40 TTC. Wow. Never thought I’d see that day. Ok, so I’m a bit premature by 6 months (less one day), but it’s probably the only group that fits. Although maybe not as most of those women are there for their second or third child, trying to finish their family planning to-do list.

I guess I really don’t fit in anywhere…

Last couple days

For the past several months now, I’ve been focusing on other things, either by choice or because life’s thrown me another curve ball. Either way, I’m pretty distracted from ttc, infertility, or thinking about what’s next in my quest to find a new OB and or a plan for what to do with my reproductively challenged body.

I’m no longer symptom spotting, unless something really extraordinarily different happens during my cycle, and even then I don’t dwell on it. Until I get to the last couple days. Then I’ll wonder about the arrival of my impending period, trying to decipher the spotting and if it’s a period or something else. And then a battle begins in my brain. At first I’ll tell myself to not give it another second of my time because I’m only setting myself up for disappointment. And then for a second, I’ll actually be mad and think I just finally put my mind toward other things that I want to accomplish and now it will happen. Now?? Now that I’m on the brink of acceptance. I’m in the middle of training for a half marathon, with serious thoughts to training for a full. I’m finally enjoying work again. I’m considering other side ventures and projects. And I’m emotionally consumed with dad’s issues. Now??

But of course I’d be over the moon, dropping everything else I put on my plate this year, well, except dad. :) And then my period comes, dashing any hope I had and making me angry that I even went there again. I should know by now that once I reset my sights and goals, I should just stick with them. It’s a battle I fight every month, especially the recent months, and probably each month going forward as I creep closer and closer to 40.

The thing that remains, though, is I still need to find a new OB. I’m so bummed that my OB, who I LOVE, is no longer covered by my insurance. She always took the time to review my files and listen to my concerns and she was up on the latest and greatest studies, even suggesting things I could try and do to improve my fertility. I’ve been asking around, polling every woman I know about their OB and so far there’s been no clear-cut winners. Some of my friends have even said, their doctor is Ok, but they don’t LOVE them. I guess I’ve had doctors like that in the past but for something like an OB/Gyn, how could you not want to love them? Especially when they will potentially guide you through one of the most amazing, important things a woman will experience. And if no baby in the picture or plans, they should be your guardian for cancers or making you as comfortable as possible as you go through the change. So, I’m going to keep searching for an OB I will love. It’s just too important to me.

Letting go…almost

And now we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming where I gripe and moan about infertility and being stuck in life. Well, sort of.

I thought I was getting pretty good about moving on and giving up on ttc. I’ve been consumed by stuff with my dad, and trying to throw myself into work, and distracting myself with starting to train for a half-marathon. Every time I start down a new path, it starts to feel good. I start getting focused on new goals and things I can feel good about. I start thinking about “just the two of us” goals and wishes. I start thinking about a bucket list of things I’ve neglected the past few years.

And then some random thing will happen like how I was at the hospital for my back injection and the first thing the nurse asks me to do is provide a urine sample for a pregnancy test. I don’t recall having to do that last month and wondered if maybe it had something to do with the timing of having a minor surgery with my impending period. I complied but for a moment thought, what if? It happened to be Valentine’s Day and what a great surprise that would be. Especially since we had horrible news two years ago when our second IVF failed on this very day. Of course the result was negative and I instantly was annoyed. I wasn’t even thinking about pregnancy! I was there to fix my back and get healed so I could run again. I was thinking about our dinner reservations later that evening, and even our tax appointment we had planned later that afternoon, and some of the ideas on how we’d like to spend our possible return. None of it had to do with a baby because it’s unrealistic. But now there I was, waiting my turn for surgery for the next 3+ hours drumming up ttc thoughts again.

Then a few days later I was thinking about an opportunity that sort of presented itself when a neighbor decided to stop being a consultant for a home-based business for a product that I really like. I started giving serious consideration to become a rep and pick up where she left off. Living in a large community that we do, would prove to be a steady stream of sales and I always think about ways I could bring in a few extra dollars. I started researching it, only to find out some new stay-at-home mom in the neighborhood decided to join. I don’t even know who this lady is and thought there could be more than one rep, we probably don’t have the same friends. Then I watched her start up a playgroup for all the mommies and a lot of the people I’d hope to sell to, joined the group. She’s pretty much got it made now. Playgroup + sales rep = a winning combination. I can’t compete with that. I think these are the types who upset me the most. They get to be a mom AND do a fun job to make a few extra bucks.

And then when I try to flip the switch back to other goals, like running and training for races, I still get a hint of worry that I’m going to be putting my body through too much, jeopardizing the sliver of fertility I have left. When I get into training mode, nothing stops me. I needed to put in three miles today, knowing there was a good chance I couldn’t run tonight, so I got up at 6am (so not my thing!) and drove through unplowed streets after a heavy snowstorm to get to my fitness center. Of course their parking lot was also not plowed as no one in their right mind would be going there at that time. But I made it there and climbed through snow drifts to make my way to the door. It was empowering. But then I’ll have weird symptoms that come up that seem foreign and new to me like an acid reflux the past two days for no good reason, or really strange, sharp zapping cramps low in my uterus during an exercise class. Cramps that literally made me stop and say “ow!” outloud. Oh and night sweats the past two nights. I just washed the sheets tonight.

So stuff like this will happen and I’ll consider enjoying some wine, but wonder “what if” and I’ll drag myself to a store to buy a test. It’s almost an embarassment. I don’t want to run into anyone I know. I don’t want the cashier to say, “good luck!” Do I buy something else along with it to hide it? So I went to a dollar store, forked over a buck and bought one test.

Negative. Yep, that’s what I thought.

I’m still alive, I think

Every now and then I fall off blogosphere only to return and point out that it’s been a week or so since my last post. I think this is now officially the longest I’ve neglected this space. Not just this space, but many others’ spaces as well. I haven’t paid much attention to my feed or given many replies and I feel terrible about it. It looks like I’ve missed births, pregnancy announcements, new homes, new adventures, new milestones both baby and otherwise, new goals, injuries, and a few rants that needed a cyber hug. And I missed them all.

Today, I will try and recap what’s been going on, although some of it feels like a blur. Since I last wrote, things have gotten overwhelming with my dad and his situation. But prior to that and even during, other things happened that I haven’t had a second to digest or write about.

First, I had an appointment way back on February 3 with my RE to discuss my endo situation. About a month prior to that, I reached out to her via email in desperation because NOTHING was helping my back/sciatica issues and every period seemed to intensify the pain. I couldn’t take it anymore and practically begged for surgery, which she was against. She encouraged me to make an appointment to discuss other options.

So the appointment went well and we chatted for over an hour. Of course the simplest and best way to ward off endo pain is…stopping ovulation. Since that’s not an option for me, I had to turn it down. As long as I’m ovulating, I still feel there’s a chance for us. We discussed a few other options. One being I go get another HSG just to make sure things are still looking good with my tubes and uterus, and the other would be surgery after all. After hearing me plead my case, she said we could consider a laparoscopy for my peace of mind, and of course to help the pain, although it would only be temporary and could create more pain later with potential scar tissue. Either option could clear the path to trying IUI again, which is a drop in the bucket in terms of cost and we would never do IVF again since it doesn’t improve our odds any more than natural. So there’s that. Of course the first step before making any decision would involve hubby running his quick and easy, although ego-bruising test. Not so sure he’s game anymore.

And with everything going on with my dad, maybe I’m not game anymore either. The unknown genetic piece to his disease still looms over us, although we keep hoping we can blame it on Vietnam/Agent Orange. Since I last wrote, we successfully moved him from jail to the nursing home, in the middle of a blizzard. When we picked him up for jail, we didn’t know what to expect from him. Would he be angry? Would another part of his brain be “activated” from his experience, altering the calm, agreeable person he’s been lately? My sister and I picked him up and as soon as he saw us, he gave us a big smile and a wave which both warmed and broke our hearts. As he got in the car and told us that he was able to work on his crossword puzzles, watch tv and was fed, he actually said it wasn’t too bad. It was then that I told him, “well if you liked jail, you’ll really like where we are going next!” We explained that he’ll have way more freedom and care at the Veterans Home.

Or so we thought.

Once we got there, he seemed pretty keyed up. Not sure if it was anxiety or just the fact that he’d been unable to smoke the last five days being in jail. We were greeted by wonderful staff, a social worker for the unit, nurses and even got to meet the doctor on staff that day. We started to assemble dad’s desk and get his belongings sorted out for him. He must have stepped out for at least a dozen smoke breaks. At one point we encouraged him to do some of his crosswords in the dining hall while we talked to the doctor and nurses about his care. We were thrilled to learn that while he did that, he was fed dinner. It seemed like he was getting a sense of his new surroundings and we instantly started a routine where he would need to ask the nurse’s station for his cigarettes. We thought this would help slow down the rate in which he smoked, and also help him from just lighting up wherever and whenever he wanted. It all seemed good and by the time we were leaving, he was quietly doing his puzzles in his room at his new desk. It was hard to leave but it felt like the right time.

The very next day, I called him to see how he was doing and it really made me feel great to hear that he was liking it there and that he found activities and met other veterans to talk to. It wasn’t until he mentioned that one of the guys said they start serving beer around 1:00 p.m. that I started to raise a red flag. I thought, this can’t be right? A nursing home allowed to sell beer? After discussing with other family and even a few coworkers, I thought this had to be one delusional resident leading another. The next day my sister took a turn calling him and same thing, he brought up the beer. She said he sounded off and something didn’t seem right. She questioned him some more about it and we now believed him. He found beer within the first 24 hours arriving there!

Beer and FTD do not mix. We instantly started making a flurry of calls to the social worker and nurses, only to find out that yes they do have a veteran’s hall, which many of the independent living veterans like to frequent, which is fine as they can probably handle it, but there’s no stopping nursing home residents from making their way over there. They probably figured most of the nursing home guys are wheelchair bound and 85+ with no interest in beer anymore. Unfortunately this is not the case with my 64 year-old father. They put him on a “do not serve” list and said they have police there monitoring things. Well, we didn’t exactly want dad to feel like he was being punished and banned from the area that also has pool tables and activities he enjoys. It was a mess.

A few days later, my sister and I decided to go visit and check this hall out ourselves. We were right. We didn’t want to ban dad from entering that building as he truly enjoyed shooting pool, although we were noticing that he seemed like he was bouncing off the walls and we learned he hadn’t slept in four days. Surely this is not a good thing for anyone, let alone someone with a brain issue! A few days later we got the call that he was moved to the dementia wing – lockdown. We were absolutely crushed. He made it one week before being moved and was now being reduced to a couple hallways, a room he shared with the oldest veteran in the unit, and none of the active things he was able to do a week prior. I don’t think he’s even allowed to light his own damn cigarettes!

Turns out we learned that it might have been too much for him and that his OCD tendencies were getting worse. He would pester the other veterans for beer, smokes or money to buy them. It got to the point that they were ready to cause him physical harm, which made us angry at the unfairness that some veterans get to live on their own and have no clue how terrible FTD is. Dad doesn’t even look like he belongs in a home, which is also part of the problem. He probably poses a slight threat looking like an outsider, even though he’s harmless.

So we’ve come to accept this change in the program for now. There’s a chance he could have some cognitive therapy and maybe the longer he’s there, getting settled in, trying out some zoloft and getting some proper sleep, maybe he can be moved back, but we aren’t holding our breath.

As for other non-dad things, I had another mammogram scare, needing a repeat scan which ended up being fine for now. I just need to go back in six months to be sure. I also had my second spine injection on Valentine’s Day and couldn’t think of a more romantic way to spend it! But so far it’s helping and the doctor thinks it will provide a cumulative affect on the first one a month ago. I’m still doing my physical therapy and yoga and still trying to run. In fact, I even signed up for a half marathon in May! At the time of signing up, I still couldn’t even tie my shoes without pain, but we shall see. So far, so good. And with everything going on, running is my saving grace.

If you made it this far, my goodness, thanks! My posts will likely not be this long going forward and I’ve started a new blog devoted to all the dad stuff so this space doesn’t need to be so heavy.

Thanks again.

Never more than you can handle

I’ve been meaning to write a new post the past few days now but have either been too busy or too tired to even try.

Just last Wednesday I had a nice talk with the sergeant about my dad and his latest stroll around the neighborhood, asking people for cigarettes, I hoped we soon get news from the VA home. This hope didn’t last long as just two days later we received another call that dad was in jail. It knocked us for a loop. We’ve been getting soooo close to getting him to a safe place. Been battling for so long with lawyers, doctors, administration, etc. and we were almost there. And now this. On Friday my dad went for one of his walks and when he didn’t have any luck bumming a smoke from anyone, he took it a step further and started looking in cars. It makes me sick that his brain no longer functions in situations where he should know right from wrong. The officer who spotted him, even had some hesitiation, knowing our dad’s situation and what we’ve been trying to do. When he called the station about it, they said they had to arrest him and bring him into the station.

All sorts of questions swirled in our brains. Would this jeopardize him getting into the home? We’re soooo close! We were told he’d have a court date, but the soonest date was almost two weeks out. There was no way they’d keep him that long and sending him back home would only create this situation all over again the very next day. Having him stay with one of us longer than a day or two would require either family medical leave from work, or finding an aide on short notice. Without knowing how much longer he would be on the wait list we were stuck with unknowns on how to manage his care in the interim.

After getting some guidance from the police about our touchy situation, we agreed to let him sit in jail a few days. It was a difficult decision but it was for his own safety and also might force the court to move up his court date. The last thing we needed was to get the call from the nursing home, get him settled, then have to sign him out for court a week later. My sister and I spent most of Friday night on the phone discussing what we should do and then we decided to take advantage of this situation and made some major headway. With dad out of the picture, we would approach and ask those squatters to leave his house!

The next morning we went to the police station with some meds for dad and asked if they could help us with our situation. Here’s the real kicker. Since those squatters have been there for a few months, they now have rights! Are you freaking kidding me?! The police can’t force them out, but could go there for our safety while we ask them to leave. Otherwise, we’d have to go get an eviction notice even though there was no contract or rent being paid. Unbelieveable. So we went and they said they would try and scare them a bit to see if they’d leave and thank God, it worked. They had them sit down at the table so the family could say a few words and we told them they had been taking advantage of our father, who is ill, and that they need to leave immediately. They were cooperative but didn’t leave without throwing my dad’s “lady friend” under the bus. We’ve learned all sorts of great thing about her that day. A crack whore who had been using dad and taking advantage of him for quite some time. Ok, not a complete surprise, we did suspect, but it was interesting to hear it come from those who she was helping by giving them a place to stay at my dad’s.

So then it was on to find this lady friend and reclaim my dad’s car that she’s been driving around while he pays for her insurance. It felt like we were on an episode of Cops, I swear. Or the Lifetime Movie we keep joking we’d write a script for. The police located the car and found where she lives. They went in to get the keys from her and she actually cooperated. So in previous weeks, after asking her several times about getting the car from her and hearing excuses, we finally got it! It was a mentally draining day but we got a lot accomplished so it’s almost a blessing in disguise that my dad was in jail, in some weird way. We changed his locks and got him a new cell phone so that none of these idiots will have his new number and it’s doubtful he’ll remember theirs.

Sunday night I decided to go to church. I’ve been meaning to get back there for so many reasons and I was just so emotionally drained thinking about our entire family and what we’ve been dealing with. I sort of sat there like a zombie and prayed.

The next day, by some stroke of luck we were informed that a bed opened up at the home! We scrambled to get things ready for the police to hopefully release him today and we plan to take him to the home tomorrow. My sister and I ran out last night to pick up a bunch of supplies and things for him to take and have been running around today to get things ready. I haven’t had much time to stop and think but decided to write this all down as a record of the latest developments.

This is all finally falling into place but is far from over. I just hope he can make the adjustment. I hope we all can.