Saturday, October 31, 2009

World's Cutest Ninja

Of course, I'm a little biased.

It's about 85 degrees right now, so Chef shucked some of the elements of his costume. Other than the mask, everything is reusable. Let's just say I'm happy with both kids allowing me to pull together their costumes. They both are really happy with what we ended up creating this year.

Score one for Mom!

Picachu, I Choose You

Game Teen is happy with my crafting abilities. He wanted a Commander Cody from Clone Wars costume. However, my budget had other plans.

I'd suggested Pokemon trainer Ash Ketchum last week. He decided that he liked the idea a lot. I liked it, too, because my total outlay on things that were costume specific was less than ten bucks.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Homemade Costumes are Awesome!

This year, my kids had definite ideas about costumes. Chef wanted to be the Snuggie Reaper and Game Teen wanted to be Captain Rex from Clone Wars.

We'd seen a Tie Dye Snuggie on TV and his plan was to wear that, carry a scythe and he'd tell people "I'm here to kill your high". I thought it was inspired. Unfortunately, the only way you could get that Snuggie was online-the stores carry blue and pink. Oh, and it's been in the high 80's around here, much too warm for that costume.

Meanwhile, Game Teen also had considered being Ash from Pokemon. I thought that was a better idea, as he is now too big for most kid's costumes.

Tonight, we went out to the stores and got the stuff for good, old fashioned home made costumes. The end result is that tomorrow evening, we'll have Ash from Pokemon and a Ninja warrior going through our neighborhood.

Pictures to follow. Chef's turned out really good, and Game Teens requires minor surgery to a blue tee shirt-everything else, he already owns.

If you're in the neighborhood, we're giving out lots of chocolate. I'll have it on ice so it's not melted when the ghouls and goblins show up.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two Percent Girl Strikes Again

Thanks to having Factor V Leiden, I tend to be cautious with surgical procedures. Especially if the decision to have one requires lifetime medication that I cannot take because it would cause my blood to clot more than it already does.

Three years ago, I had a surgical intervention to avoid another one. At the time, I asked my doctor what complications she knew of that only happen to a small group of patients. The only one she could come up with was one I could live with.

About a year ago, I started experiencing pain and thought it was related to something different. It was intermittent, but the same every time it did occur. A few times, it was so bad that I contemplated going to the ER, even without insurance. However, there are family members with issues I thought were the same, so I called and asked if the pain sounded like it could be that problem. The answers were yes, it did sound similar.

Now that I have health insurance, my first order of business was to see a doctor for this problem and the newly emerged neck and shoulder problems. Two weeks ago, I saw the doctor, who did an exam and didn't find anything unusual, but he ordered a sonogram.

Today, I went in for the ultrasound and when that transducer went over the area that I'd said I had pain, I saw stars. The sonographer saw something she wasn't used to seeing and the next thing I know, the specialist was in the room and SHE also did an exam.

The upshot? I formed scar tissue from two c sections and the other surgery didn't do exactly what it was supposed to do. Now, I've got a pocket that's filling with fluid that can't drain (the doctor tried to do it with some lidocaine to numb me) and even if they did open it, there's no guarantee that the problem won't happen again.

So, once again, I fall in the 2% realm. This time, it's the 2% who have an endometrial ablation and now need a hysterectomy.

Yay me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's For Dinner Wednesday

Tonight's dinner was really yummy. I cheated and bought a rotisserie chicken from Sam's club, but I paired it with rosemary roasted potatoes and made a pan gravy from the drippings in the container with the bird. Then I added a salad.

Unfortunately, I sent Chef over to Jane's with her dinner and he called to tell me she wasn't answering the door. A few panicked minutes later, a check of the house and a phone call later (wonder how I memorized the hospital's number?) and I found her in the hospital.

If I had arrived at the hospital a few minutes sooner, the picture would have been Jane's Mexican Mystery Meal. She says it is good, but she started drooling at the picture of what dinner should have been tonight.

I am charged with making it for her when she gets home.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

With Apologies to Janis Joplin

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a new king size bed?
The queen size has spent many nights supporting our heads
My back, it is aching, and it won't ever mend
So Lord, won't you buy me a new king size bed?

Hey, at least it's a lot cheaper than a Mercedes Benz!

The back doesn't like me very much lately. I've got a call into a physical therapy practice for the doctor prescribed sessions. Once they check with my insurance, get a copy of the MRI and see what the doctor wants them to do, I should get some sessions going.

Part of me wonders how much this bed is exacerbating the problems, though, because what had been an issue with the neck and one shoulder is now affecting both arms, between the shoulder blades and my lower back. I know things are bad when I stopped in at Game Teen's school and the nurse asked me what I did to my back-she could see how stiff I was.

I broke down and took a Vicodin an hour ago.

This is getting old...

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Mile Long To Do List

Do you have one of those?

I'm being pulled in a bunch of different directions, between school, the kids, the nursing home, Jane, the vacuum, trying to find a physical therapist. I made a list today and there's 34 things I need to do this week. Aaaack!

I need a 25 hour day so I can get all this stuff done. Is anyone working on that? I will say this-that phone has definitely helped on one front. I can multitask while I'm waiting in line somewhere and check that email or college web site.

Someday, this stuff will ease up. It'd better, because half of that list is Mom and Jane tasks and responsibilities. When I get my normal life back, it'll seem so relaxed.

Think I can sneak in a soak in the tub?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Good Time Was Had By All

The last time we attended a council wide camping event, we camped in a field next to a busy rural highway at a racetrack. It was hot, there weren't enough porta potties and NO running water. The heat brought on a nasty migraine and sent a leader to the hospital.

That was my first scout camping trip, after a nearly 20 year hiatus from camping. The fact that I went back six months later should tell my kids how much I was willing to do for them to enjoy their scouting experience. Thankfully, that one was much better.

This time, the council utilized three of the Boy Scout campsites for what would normally be called Cub World. There were six activities during the day, then a costume contest, carnival games and a 'spook trail' at night.

As the site is huge, and we didn't know how far we'd have to hike into our location, the leaders made the decision to provide meals for everyone. I am here to say how much I LOVED this. No cooking gear, no cleaning (well, only for a meal) and the cooler only had to get stocked with drinks, fruit and yogurt.

The last post gave a little idea of the fun the kids have. The afternoon session sent Chef off with the other boys and Game Teen stayed behind in the screen house, where he napped right in his chair, to the surprise of others around us. (The kid can sleep anywhere!)

After a nice dinner, we hiked over to the council ring for a costume contest. During the afternoon, we were brainstorming for costume ideas, as each pack was allowed to enter one boy from each rank into the contest. We needed to improvise for one and we used my idea of duct taping plates together, then stuck forks in it for a porcupine, but it got rechristened the FORKupine! All four entries won a prize.

I had a lot of fun with the carnival. The boys had to buddy up, and I got one of the wolf scouts. He and I had a great conversation walking the mile from one activity to the other, as he's got very sophisticated culinary tastes. The games were not too easy, not too hard-and every participant got a prize.

A hike back to our site, a little down time and then the kids were sacked out. Then came my favorite activity, sitting and laughing with the other parents. I will really miss this part of camping with scouts when we just do family camping in a few months.

This morning, it was rather nice to just have to pack up the sleeping bags, two air mattresses a cooler and a tent. Especially since a camp staffer came back to our site and had us load up our gear, which they brought out to the parking lot.

When I've got a lot of walking to do, I typically use a wheeled walker. That was out of the question with the dirt, sand and gravel trails of the camp. Instead, I was sure to bring the cane with me that Jane keeps suggesting I use.

It really helped BUT now I'm feeling the same thing I did back over the summer in the ball of my foot. Three times now and I have confirmed what I suspected, that the left leg will not tolerate that kind of uneven terrain for any length of time.

That said, I'll figure something out if this type of camping happens again, because all three of us enjoyed the overnight. The only thing that could have made it better is if Ed had the opportunity to come along.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Camping We Will Go

It is 90 degrees and there's barely a cloud in the sky. This means we're camping with the cub scouts.

The usual camping trip is just our pack, but our council coordinated a 'Spook o Ree' at several Boy Scout camps for all the local packs. As I am posting this, Chef is enjoying BB shooting. Next, they'll be doing the pumpkin launch. Game Teen, by virtue of being small for his age, got to participate in archery (his favorite sport).

Our days of cub scout camping are drawing to a close. Next month, Chef goes on a special Webelos/Boy Scout camping trip, so we will miss the Cub pack trip. Then, the next trip is in February-and Chef crosses over to Boy Scouts at the end of the month.

So, I will enjoy the communal camping while I can, because it will feel weird to not have boys congregating in my tent and parents to sit around the camp fire with until 2am.

If you told me four years ago that I would be bummed at the prospect of no camping, I would have told you that you were nuts. Interesting how scouting shapes adults along with their kids...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lunch in Sarasota

Guess who drove all the way to Sarasota and was operating under the assumption that everything was in the damn box? Especially since I was told that the items were indeed put back in the damn box last night?

Yep, that would be me.

I left Lakeland at 9am and didn't get back until 1pm.

I got to the place to return the damn vacuum and the woman assisting me asked "where are the parts?"

"They're in the box, aren't they?"

"No ma'am, they aren't." She then got a manual to show me what was missing.


Today's original plan was to work on my Power Point for my mid term in IT Ethics, then head out to the campsite for this weekend's activities. The four hours spent on this errand meant that I didn't finish the assignment until 7pm. There was no way I'd get to the campsite in time.

We're leaving at 6am.

Oh and the attachments? I have to overnight them on Monday.

If a Kirby salesperson shows up at my door, they're going to run screaming when I get through with them...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A New 'Do

My hairdresser is on a leave of absence. I got my haircut the week before she was going in for some surgery, and she expected to be back in about six weeks.

At the appointed time, I would pop in to the salon each week and see if R had returned. I was growing concerned, but the other stylists assure me she's doing okay and looking good, she's just not ready to return yet.

I had my first 'event' as part of the Leadership Society and felt I could wait no longer. My hair was looking scruffy and uneven. Even headbands weren't enough to tame the wayward locks.

Yesterday, I went into the salon again. As R still hadn't returned, I bit the bullet and asked one of the other stylists to even up the current style until R could work her magic. We conferred and she agreed that my hair does grow unevenly, and was about to start on it when another hairdresser came out of the back and I loved her hair.

So I commented that I wish my hair was thicker, because I love that cut. "Oh, that? I cut her hair last week." Not only did I like the cut, but the stylist is the one who did her hair AND she said it would work with my hair. Sweet.

I don't have a good picture yet, but my head had a razor put to it for the first time ever. Not the whole head, but the back is shorter than the front. It's gotten raves from everyone who has seen it. Even Ed, who is not a fan of me sporting short hair.

Let's see if we get some better pictures over the coming weekend, but here's one:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Three Hours and 180 Miles

On Friday, I will be driving over to Sarasota and returning the @#$%@$@%@$ Kirby. I explained to the company manager that Jane is incapable of standing and doing her dishes, do you honestly think she's going to be able to push a vacuum?

She asked if it was obvious that Jane might have clouded judgment to the average person. I said to our lawyer, yes, but the average person, not so much. I would think that the fact that the woman used a walker to get to the front door and is tethered to an oxygen machine wouldn't really be able to use their product might cause them to think twice about selling the product to Jane or any other disabled individual. I mentioned that Jane's DPoA is sitting at the lawyer's office, ready to go, that we felt that it could wait until she was in assisted living to activate- but I could change my mind and do it now.

After a few minutes on the phone, she said she would call Jane to verify what I had told her. She did, asking Jane why she purchased it if she wasn't happy with the item.

Let us count the ways shall we?
-The young lady that came to the door said she was a new employee of Kirby and was participating in a contest to clean the most floors.
-Next, a guy did the demonstration and hard sell. He told Jane that it would clean up the cat fur, and that opened the door to Jane thinking it might help with the allergy situation for me and Game Teen
-They were there for THREE AND A HALF HOURS. Jane gets tired easily, so to have strangers in her home for that length of time is just insane. They pushed her past the point of exhaustion and circled like vultures.

A few months back, similar people tried the same tactic on me. A young lady came knocking on the door, offering a free shampooing of my living room. I said I was NOT interested. Ed was really annoyed, because the rug does need to be shampooed.

I explained what the shill was, and he told me how they shampooed his mom's rug. Part of me wonders if this was the same outfit and they came back around when Jane didn't have Mom to say NO anymore.

Sorry, my mindset is if you have to come door to door to sell your product, it is not worth owning (except Girl Scout cookies and Boy Scout popcorn, that is). There is no recourse if something goes wrong. How do I get the thing fixed if it breaks? Where do I return it if someone came door to door? There was a time when reputable companies went door to door (Fuller Brush, anyone?), but those days are gone.

The extremely quick search of Kirby Vacuums Sarasota found the company (Pivitol, Inc.) and several reviews. Curiously, any site that had actual consumer reviews, all of them were one out of five stars, but despite the fact that they were CONSUMER review sites, employees would also post ratings of FIVE stars and the comment "This is SUCH a great place to work. I love it here." or something of that ilk.

The worst part of all? The list price on the vacuum is 999.00 when you search online. If you look at yesterday's pictures, the list price Mike the salesperson printed is 2399.00, but he was giving Jane the bargain price of 1299-still a full 300 bucks over LIST PRICE.

Oh, and I was curious about what I'd find in the bag. Would it have more than Jiminy and Scamp fur and gray carpet threads? I was going to open it up and see-but that bag is FULL. It supposedly vacuumed one stuffed with furniture 15x15 room. There is no way that the bag should be full.

I'm prepared to do battle. I was told it could be returned after being made to feel like I was making them lose money because they already paid the commission. The manager told me I could ship it back or bring it to Sarasota. I don't trust them if I send it back, so I will be spending a chunk of time earmarked for doing a midterm project and driving the thing over.

If someone complains that it has been used and wants to charge Jane for a 'restocking fee', I'm going to insist they cut open the bag. The full bag, even though the thing supposedly has only been used on Jane's carpet. I'll even bring samples of each cat's fur and the carpet fibers. If that bag has different colors or types of animal hair, they're going to be really sorry they even breathed a word of restocking fees.

The frustrating thing about it is that now I worry about what scam artist is going to knock on her door next...


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

$58 a Month For 30 Months Gets Me

Extremely hot under the collar.

I swear, it's like the salespeople see an easy mark from miles away. On October 13th, someone felt the need to buy a Kirby vacuum cleaner. A very EXPENSIVE Kirby vacuum cleaner.

Why? I do not know. We cook meals for her, because she really isn't up for the standing at the stove. Heck, she's not even able to clean up after the things she does prepare, so pushing a vacuum around while lugging around oxygen lines? That is so not happening.

The salesperson got their hooks in good. They went on and on about how it's so good for picking up cat hair (Game Teen and I are allergic, and current plans are tentative that we will move into their house after our lease is up, but I was fully expecting to rent an industrial shampooer to do both houses before that happened) When I said I Dyson Animal could do the same thing for a quarter the price, she was crestfallen.

I'd pointed out what a bad idea it was and that wasn't cool. Unfortunately, that's what I have to do these days. I've held my tongue for years on these kinds of purchases, because it's not my money, but this is one that they'll be hunting her down in the assisted living to pay for.

The thing that cheeses me off the most? Is the fact that I'm sure that there are probably thousands of gullible people who are suckered in by the sales pitch. When I repeated the fact that a Dyson will do the same job for a fraction of the cost a few hours later, she countered "but does it shampoo, too?"

I had use the analogy of having a toaster that's also a microwave. Yeah, it'll do both, but that means it does neither job well. Shampooers need different features. If you need both items in your home, spend the 400 bucks for a good vacuum and rent the shampooer from the supermarket, because that's not an item the average person needs to use frequently enough to justify the expense.

Want to see what you get for $58 a month for 30 months?

The call has been made to Kirby (or rather, Pivitol, Incorporated, the company that sells these vacuums). I was polite, but firm in telling them that a woman who needs oxygen 24/7 will not be able to use this product. Tomorrow morning, I'll be getting a call back from the manager about returning it past the 72 hour cancellation period. Let's just say that I'll be nice now, but if they don't take the thing back, this will escalate.

Tomorrow, I think I need to go make a purchase of a 'No Soliciting' sign...

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Lesson For Today? Ethics and a Cheater...

I'm taking an Ethics class this semester. Internet Ethics. Yes, I willingly chose this class, then when I read the syllabus, worried about what I was getting myself into. There was a lot of reading, and SIXTY percent of my grade would be based on group assignments. I don't know about you, but when the majority of my grade depends on other people, it is disconcerting.

Fortunately, there's one other person in my group who has been fantastic. M has the same work ethic and we're keeping each other sane with the workload. Another student, E, has moved here from Cuba recently and he and I talk each Friday night before turning in our book assignments because some words have dual meanings in English and they conflict with the one in Spanish.

As I said, the majority of the work is submitted as a group. There are ethical dilemmas that are presented and each member is expected to submit their interpretation to a private group discussion board. One of the two main projects involve each group submitting a Power Point presentation, and the remaining nine groups offer a collective critique from their members. Students submit one or two individual assignments AND one or two collaborative works with our group. We rotate who within the group compiles and submits group assignments, because it is a little time consuming.

The first week, I volunteered to do it. I'd read most of my fellow teammate's works when lightning took out power in my neighborhood. It came back after a half hour, but the cable and Internet didn't come back. As soon as Ed came home, I trucked over to the local McD's and spent a few bucks on bandwidth, getting our assignment submitted with a half hour to spare.

When I was reviewing the stuff, one guy's work seemed familiar, like I'd read it before. I was under a deadline though, so I chalked it up to reading it prior to the power outage. The assignment was turned in, we got a check plus and I didn't think about it again.

However, the next week, no one had signed up to do the critique of the power point presentation, so I stepped up and worked on compiling it. Again, one member's work seemed really familiar. Too familiar. Like I'd written it.

Because I had.

He took my critique form, with the myriad formatting changes I'd made, removed my name and slapped his on the form and submitted it. I was pissed. I mean, seriously pissed. This was an ETHICS class.

Curiosity piqued, I went back to the previous week, the one where things seemed familiar and found that he'd copied M's assignment. I sent her an email as my group leader and debated emailing the professor, too. Part of me wanted to give Mr. Cheater McCheaterson some rope to hang himself, the other part wanted to call out his cheating butt to the group.

Ultimately, I decided to email the professor and cited the two examples, stating that I wanted to see if he did it again. I asked that if she wanted us to handle it differently, let me and M know. I got no response (unusual for this professor), but figured that meant that our plan was acceptable.

The next week, I was neck deep in the family stuff, so I just concerned myself with turning in the two group assignments by Thursday night to allow the team member responsible plenty of time to do the work and didn't even give anyone else's assignment a look.

This week, there were two group submissions, and I was responsible for compiling one of them. I don't know why I was surprised, but once again, my words were staring back from the computer screen. I had written:
2. In my opinion, Revlon breached the agreement. If you purchase a car and stop making payments, the repo man will come to your door and take what the car away. It doesn’t matter if you paid one payment or 55 of sixty payments, they’ll still take it away.
Why shouldn’t Logisticon have the same rights? They had access to Revlon’s computer system to work on the program, it’s not like they broke in illegally to take down the system. It’s simple-don’t use what you didn’t pay for. Any 5 year old can tell you that it is stealing.

And Cheater McCheaterson's submission:
2. in my opinion they should not break a contract and then continue using the software. Its like buying a car and then stop making payments on it , there will be consequences. It doesn’t matter if you paid one payment 10 payments, they’ll still take it away.
Why shouldn’t Logisticon have the same rights? They had access to Revlon’s computer system to work on the program, it’s not like they broke in illegally to take down the system. It’s simple-don’t use what you didn’t pay for. Any 5 year old can tell you that it is stealing.

I looked at the other assignments due and found that he'd copied my critique verbatim, slapped his name on it and submitted it. Then, I'd found he copied M's critique last week. If you're keeping tabs, 4 weeks, five assignments blatantly copied by one student.

Blame it on the pain from the EMG or disgust that someone in an Ethics class was blatantly cheating, I sent an email to him and emailed M and the professor. I went on a tear, even posting on the group discussion board without using any names. The email went like this:

If you are going to take somebody else's work and use it as your own, don't you think the person might notice their own words on your paper?

I noticed M's words repeated in the first assignment I turned in for the group. Then my own in the second one.

Tonight, my words are AGAIN used by you.

THIS IS AN ETHICS CLASS!!!! If you have no concept of the irony, then perhaps you have a bigger issue.

It has been brought to the Professor's attention.

His replies were rather interesting. I'm leaving them intact, spelling errors and all. The first:

Well dont u think i look over other peoples work it is agroup. The first one i really didnt know the format that shrwanted nor who or how it was going to be combined and submitted it wasnt intentional. However it is group work and there are things i agreed with .

And soon after, this one:

Next time instead of including it. I will say i i agree with so and so that ...... Sorry again that u feel that way im not used to group assignments.

After I responded that the remaining seven people weren't familiar with group projects, either, but they seemed to be capable of submitting their own work. Further, to preserve academic integrity, I don't even look at anyone else's submissions until I've completed mine. Then, this reply:

If no one looks at anyone elses assignment than wht is the point of group work

Then I explained that the purpose of the group is to compare and contrast, possibly to learn from opposing points of view. At some point in all of this, I directed him to the specific pages of the syllabus that spelled out exactly that what he was doing would earn him an FF in the class, failure due to academic dishonesty. Which would suck for him, because he needs this class to graduate his major.

The professor weighed in at this point (early the next morning), demanding that he redo the assignments and stating that he should review the slides in the syllabus I'd pointed out in the previous email. It was then that I realized that she probably hadn't seen my first email, because five incidents would not get such a tame punishment. That email was resent, with links to the original posting from M or myself and Cheater's post which was time stamped later the same day each time.

I got a response from the professor that no, she hadn't seen the earlier email, or she would have handled it differently.

So, how would YOU have handled this?

While I was dealing with the pain and unable to sleep, I googled his name and the third item was an entry on He was a TA at our university last year and a student rated him poorly.

Why, you ask?

He kicked the student out of the class for cheating.

Irony. Pure irony.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Our Day At Sea World

Every October, Sea World has a Halloween Spooktacular and we've made a point of getting over there for it at least once. Today's original plans involved a potential meet up with an online friend, but that fell through. I'm glad that I mentioned the visit to Maureen, for she, Coaster Kid and his friend Big Guy joined us for the perfect weather.

While I had the Nikon in my bag, today was a perfect day to test out the iPhone camera's ability in normal use. It passed with flying colors, taking decent pictures without a flash.

Some new things I experienced: Manta and adjoining aquarium, the revamped Wayfarer's Inn and A'lure, the Call of the Ocean.

Yes, I went on a coaster with neck pain, because the newer coasters at the Busch InBev soon to be Blackstone parks are the smoothest you'll ride. Manta didn't disappoint on that or any fronts. If you're intimidated by the fact that your weight is held by the shoulder harness and ankle restraints, then don't do it. It had a great loop and several Immelmans that gave good air time.

Definitely will be going back on that one, but I'll probably bring socks for just that one ride because the pressure on the left leg made me itchy for about an hour after wards. The aquarium placed alongside the ride was pretty neat, too.

We alternated between what the kids wanted to do, and mine wanted the Penguin Encounter. The switched the entrance around on us! The old exit is the new entrance and you visit with the Puffins first. The penguins still look like they're ready for their close ups.

It was unanimous that we had to see Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island for the Pirate Mime. Today, we scored the best one, Tom! I got some great pictures of him in action, which I'll probably crop and edit and add here. This one doesn't show any other faces and is a good example of what the pre show is full of:

Oh, and they updated the bad jokes in this show, which is all about bad acting. Probably the funniest thing is when one of the sea lions decided he wasn't going to participate and he hid in the boat. The actress needed a few moments to regroup, she was laughing so hard.

The very first trip to Sea World, we saw a great circus type show, Odyssea. It has since been replaced with A'lure, which was very cool. These shots were taken without flash, so they're a little blurry, but give an idea of how the show is very colorful and full of action.

Oh, and the Wayfarer's used to be a pizza place. Now, with the arrival of Manta, the BBQ joint is gone, so Wafarer's got a chunk of that menu. The kids meals are now 7.29-ouch! Too bad none of the adult fare appealed to them today, because they weren't much more than those kid meal prices.

We couldn't have asked for better weather-60's all day, with bright sunshine. Park touring season has arrived. More pictures to follow after I do some editing, but it was a good day.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Yesterday, I drove back over to Tampa to undergo two tests to determine what nerve was being pinched and what was causing it.

First up, the MRI. The last time I had one was in 2001 to figure out what was causing my benign positional vertigo. That was not a pleasant experience, because the tech basically put me in the air conditioned coffin for 45 minutes and didn't say a word to me while I was hyperventilating and going deaf in the darn thing.

When I got there, I asked if I could listen to music. Alas, based on where they needed to scan, no dice on that. The machine was a 'wide open' style, but again, they needed to scan my neck and shoulder, so I dealt with being closed in once again.

I probably would have been okay with the top of the thing being inches from my nose IF my arm wasn't shoved against the side while I was sliding into the machine. If you need an MRI, as soon as they get you situated on the table, close your eyes and keep them closed-it won't be as bad.

The tech was great. He handed me a little call button and as soon as I started panicking, I squeezed the thing and asked if my arm was okay. I explained that I was fine until that happened. He told me to skooch over and told me he'd talk me through the whole thing. That made a huge difference in how I handled it.

Last time, I had no ear protection whatsoever, but this tech gave me ear plugs then put me in a neck support that would help prevent movement, then put these strange wedges next to my ears to ensure my head didn't move and helped protect my ears.

Instead of wondering when the migraine would start, the sound was dampened enough that the first round sounded like a techno vocoder saying "duh duh duh" over and over. Three of the cycles would have made good beds for techno music, in fact. Not the last one-it sounded like a 24 pin dot matrix printer overheating.

When it was done, instead of a huge film to bring to my doctor, I had a DVD for family movie night. Or not. Anyway, I had a nice vertigo episode for about an hour afterwards. I got myself a candy bar to help the woozy feeling, then headed upstairs to the neurologist's office for test number two.

This test is one I've never had, and it surprised the neurologist when he started it and I told him I didn't know what he was doing! I had a nerve conduction study (NCS) and an Electromyography (EMG). The doctor was looking to see if I had any permanent nerve damage that was causing my current pain issues and apparently ruling out RSD in the process.

The NCS was like a controlled tasing, bro. Electrodes were placed on my pinky finger and side of my hand, then different muscle groups were electrically charged. It caused my hand or arm to flex or jump uncontrollably. Then various fingers had two metal rings clipped to them and the charges continued.

Next up, the needles. It wasn't like acupuncture, though. The purpose of this test was to test nerve response in the muscles. A needle was inserted into a muscle, then the doctor listened to the muscle at rest. It should be silent. Then, my doctor would ask me to flex that particular muscle and listen to the sound of resistance. It was like listening to a geiger counter on top of some plutonium.

Apparently, the test requires 20 measurements from each muscle, so that needle got moved around. Some of them weren't too bad at the time. I gritted my teeth and got through it without complaining-until the last one.

The last one needed to test a neck muscle. Initially, my doctor had some trouble, because one muscle is tensed so tightly that he thought it was bone and asked if I had scoliosis. I don't, so I had to sit up for him to figure out where he was going to place this needle.

Alas, the first one wasn't big enough to pick up nerve activity. I had to get a bigger needle (thankfully, I didn't have to see that one!) inserted to pick up the nerve activity.

The good news? For once, I am in a GOOD 10%! I have suffered no permanent nerve damage on my right side at all. Dr. M raved about the other Dr. M's (my orthopedist in Maryland) handiwork on my carpal tunnel and reconstructive surgery. Not only is it difficult to see the scars, he succeeded in not damaging a single nerve. My neurologist said that 90% of patients have some degree of permanent damage somewhere in there for the issue I am complaining about.

Then he looked at the MRI DVD and found the definitive culprit. I've got a bulging disc in my neck. At least it hasn't affected me permanently and the prognosis is good that physical therapy will resolve my issues. I guess I'm predisposed to this, since I've had issues off and on over the years-this time, the pain is different. Once I get into PT, I will try to find out how to prevent it from happening.

At the time, the tests were uncomfortable. However, as time passed, the sites that the needles were inserted became more and more painful. I knew I had an issue when I was holding my phone and the pinky and the wrist site were giving me trouble. I had to drive over to the main USF campus to pick up GameTeen's meds and the other sites made their presence known. I would not be doing anything involving weight bearing or flexion for the rest of the day. The worst part was the non stop throbbing out of the neck that started about 20 minutes after the test was done.

I took a Vicodin last night and could have used one today. The day involved a lot of dozing off in positions that kept my neck and arm free from pressure. Sitting in a chair is NOT comfortable, even 36 hours later. In short, an EMG is not a walk in the park-it HURTS, dammit.

I can deal with it, because it got some important questions answered. Now don't mind me, I'm going to break down and take another one.

And if you were wondering what a bulging disc looks like, check out mine in the middle of the image below:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Things That Make Me Happy

The local supermarket I frequent just started carrying Zweigle's White

Thank you, Sweetbay.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Isn't It Ironic?

The other day, I finally saw the neurologist. It was something of a relief to hear his expert opinion that what I've been enduring is probably not a spread of RSD, but a pinched nerve.

That's not a complete diagnosis or answer. What is causing this pinched nerve? Is it muscular or skeletal. Based on some of the symptoms I've experienced, I'm pretty sure this thing is skeletal. Why is that? When I'm not in a ton of pain and actually lift my arm higher than chest height, I feel the two bones of the upper arm 'pop' in and out of place.

So, tomorrow, I get to experience two lovely tests. First, an MRI to look at what's going on in my neck and shoulder. Then another test, an EMG or Electromyography, in which my new neurologist places some needles in my neck and arm and then does a nerve conduction study. He feels this is the best way to get at the root cause.

I also have an order for some physical therapy. What is a bummer for me is that I can tell you of a half dozen excellent physical therapists in Maryland, because I've had the wrist surgery and previous neck/shoulder issues. Here? Not so much. I'm flying blind. The neurologist really encourages me to find one in Lakeland, rather than driving to and from Tampa and undoing all the good work that therapy should produce.

Probably the best part is that we see eye to eye on not using chemicals to deal with this. Instead, he'd like to find what is causing it so that I can avoid it in the future, or if I can't, how to mitigate the effects.

The irony? The past two nights, I have been so exhausted that I've fallen asleep on the couch. I'll be the first to tell you that I sleep much better on the couch, because I don't toss and turn like I would in bed. It results in better quality sleep, because my leg isn't rubbing against sheets over and over. Also, the couch is the ONLY place I can successfully sleep on my back.

Two nights of good sleep without tossing and turning means that my neck and shoulder feel better than they have since July. My doctor is not going to get the most accurate information about the pain that was reaching 7's and 8's for most of the past week, more like what it's like when my pain is at a 5.

I hope that enduring an MRI when I'm not in as much pain actually shows enough info to get some answers.

Cross your fingers.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's For Dinner Wednesday

A few months back, Chef came up with his idea of a good sandwich. He started with asiago cheese bread, slathered on honey mustard dressing, added applewood smoked ham and cheddar cheese, then grilled them.

These panini's have been a family favorite ever since. Tonight, the boys asked for pizza, but we also had some last night. I decided that I was having panini instead.

The only thing I altered from Chef's 'recipe' was that I used sourdough bread in place of the asigo. It was a good replacement. I fully expect Ed to ask me to make some when he gets home from work in an hour...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finally, Caring and Compassion

After the past few weeks of dealing with the not so lovely social worker at the hospital, I was starting to get jaded about the prospect of finding professionals who actually CARE about the patients to whom they are charged with providing service.

In visiting several nursing homes, I found several places where the initial impression that the staff had a lot of compassion for the residents. A gentle touch, a kind comment, using their names-they go a long way. At one facility, a resident had wet herself, and the administrator who was giving me a tour promptly found two caregivers and explained that the resident would need a change and one jumped right on it.

One of the places we visited seemed a little hectic, noisy and smelled unpleasant. The staff, however, was just as pleasant and helpful as any of the other places we'd visited. This facility jumped when I explained what our needs were-contacting the insurance company on our behalf and getting an approval for Mom.

Since she's been there, we've encountered several staff members and without fail, they're showing that compassion that was missing in the hospital administrative staff.

Today, I went to fill out Mom's admission paperwork. I got the call yesterday while I was in Tampa for a doctor's appointment and asked if it was okay to do it today. "No problem, we understand you're busy" was the response.

Both the admissions director and the social work manager were fantastic through the whole process of completing the many forms. The social worker even said she'd do the Medicaid application for us as soon as we'd spent down some assets to get Mom's account to the $2,000 allowed by law. (there's a prepaid burial and some home repairs that are long overdue).

They'd gotten the verbal from Mom's insurance that she would be a Medicare patient come November 1st-and they had all the information in place for what we should expect and the tasks ahead of me.

It was clear that Mom wasn't just taking up space in a bed, she mattered to them. They wanted to know details about her likes and dislikes, asked for an okay for various doctors to see the extent of her issues and develop a treatment plan. I asked if it was okay to bring Mom a Keurig in, since she loves her coffee so. That was given a green light.

When they made mention of labeling all of Mom's possessions, I showed them the labels I'd purchased for the boys earlier this year and mentioned these labels were washable. It was nice to give a little information back, as they provided so much of their own.

The best part is that I was worried that I might offend them by stating that I was still looking at other options for long term care. They understood this and stated that they'd give her the best care while she was their resident.

Sometimes, there are rough diamonds where you least expect them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chef Explains Why He Likes Bad Guys

Scene: My car, Saturday morning. Chef Jr and I are driving to his popcorn show and sell. I realize that my phone is in my bag behind me and I need it. The days of old are gone, I can't reach behind me, so I appeal to the child to grab it for me. He does and I comment "You rock, kiddo." This is what commences:

Chef: Well, I dabble in the good.
Me: What do you mean? You're a good kid.
Chef: No, I'm evil. I am a bad guy.
Me: Why is that?
Chef: Because I feel bad for them. They always lose. Good always triumph. I figure I can help them to win a few. See, the good guys can't resist my curly hair. No one can defeat the wonderfulness of my curly hair.
Me: Is that so?
Chef: Yeah, and when I add my secret weapon, good guys are vanquished.
Me: What weapon is that?
Chef: This pout.

Chef; No one can defeat the pout, not even the bad guys.

He does have a point. Think I should line up the interviews with the FBI, Interpol, Scotland Yard and other law enforcement?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

What am I listening to the most these days?

Not songs. I wish that were the case. However, a house with two kids who are loud and like their video games and tv shows is not condusive to studying. Add my ADHD, and any songs I might have playing in headsets will cause me to focus on the song, not the text book.

I've turned to white noise.

No, I don't have the television tuned to a channel that doesn't have anything broadcasting, I've been listening to rain storms, lightning and waterfalls. THEN, I got the iPhone last week and got an app that Jill suggested, Binaural Beat.

It's pretty cool. I can tell it what I'm looking to do and it will give me appropriate soothing sounds. Sleep? Gotcha covered. Relaxation? There's a format for that, too. Study aid? That's what I'm listening to.

It has a steady rainfall track, interspersed with some deep wind chimes and thunder. Underneath it is an oscillating tone that helps brain function. Sometimes, I hear the tone more than the rain, but I suspect that's the way my brain works. It's still quite useful.

Especially when the kids are both in the living room doing whatever while I'm trying to study. That is music to my ears!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happiness? Just Add Cat

Word to the wise: Double check that something has indeed posted to the blog by using the "View Blog" feature. In my rush to get back to schoolwork, I didn't-and this was stuck in draft!

Jane and I stopped by the nursing home today. Mom seems much better with a good night's sleep. She likes the caregivers, the roommate is nice and it appears all will be well with this temporary arrangement.

However, we know she misses the creature comforts of home. We brought her television and a few more items that she needed. She has a Jiminy Cricket plush that normally sits next to the TV, and we brought that, too. She was happy to see it and gave it a hug.

We saved the best for last. She has been moping, just like a certain feline has. I asked last night and was told, yes, we can bring the cat in, so long as he leaves when we do.

When I lifted the cat carrier onto her bed, her face lit up like it was Christmas morning. Her Jiminy climbed out of the carrier and into the crook of her arm. He stayed that way for the majority of the visit while she nuzzled up on her buddy.

Later, I came to bring Jane and Jiminy home and Mom had perked up considerably. (Jane got a few scratches when she put Jim back in his carrier for a trip home) If ever I doubted the therapeutic nature of pets, the evidence was right in front of me. Mom is happy when she has her cat.

Now, to work on the other thing that makes her happy-a good cup of coffee...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Crossed Another Hurdle

Ed's mom is sleeping in a bed in a nursing home tonight.

We're getting somewhere, and I feel less of a burden hanging over me, now that the insurance approved this placement. Interesting story there: I stopped by their local office today and the patient services rep that I spoke to had NO RECORD of any requests for rehabilitation placement until the place that she is currently placed at submitted one yesterday.

Yes, I do have copies of her two screens, but the woman didn't understand what I was saying when I asked if she would be able to see any requests that were denied. After all, she's supposed to be able to speak to their clients about their accounts, right? Monday, I call their headquarters and get the answer to that one.

If the hospital didn't request rehab, and fed me a line about the insurance company denying her because she has dementia? Well, they're going to be sorry they were leaning on me about a hospital bill.

I'll have TWO major incidents for the state Ombudsman and one for HIPPA.

Yeah, can't explain the other incident yet, but suffice to say that someone said something they shouldn't have to our lawyer. When I addressed this with the party, she freaked out and hung up on me. That was rather telling.

I am weary and looking at a pile of schoolwork that I've neglected this week. Now that the pressure is off getting Mom out of the hospital, I can now spend the weekend studying. Oh, and sleeping. Sleep would be nice, too.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Jumping the Hurdles of Health Care For the Elderly

Today, I share some of my learning experiences of the past few weeks in the hopes that you don't have to cross these hurdles someday with your aging relatives. You will have planned ahead.

1. The elderly are eligible for Medicare once they reach age 62. This coverage does NOT cover all medically related expenses. Oh, and if you receive Medicare and are offered the opportunity to go to a PPO or Managed Care Option? DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST!

Some of the crappier companies will sway the elderly into signing up for their plans by inviting them to a free presentation, give them a meal and a couple of cheap items with the plan's name on it (like pens, credit card holders or refrigerator magnets) and the gullible will think "they are so NICE, they fed me, therefore they must care." No, they don't. Such is the case with my in laws. (They're sweet people, but savvy, they are not.)

A good rule of thumb: if it's a big name and you've heard of them before (United Healthcare, US Healthcare, Principal, etc), then they're backed by a large consumer base and offer good benefits. If it's a name you've never heard of before, for the love of all that is holy, do as much research as you can before signing up.

Don't be swayed by how low (or nonexistent) the premium is. Look at how much you'll shell out for prescriptions, how long they will cover rehabilitative nursing care, and out of network doctors or facilities.

2. Make a plan, have a plan and WORK the plan. What this means is BEFORE you get sick, have a living will, durable power of attorney, living trust, and all legal paperwork filed. It is a LOT cheaper for you when you're not scrambling around like a madman to get a guardianship because the patient is deemed not mentally competent. We're talking six thousand dollars cheaper.

Thankfully, we got a durable power of attorney, but on Monday morning, it really looked like we would be spending six grand to go to court for a guardianship.

3. Think about who is the best person to advocate on your behalf and ask them if they are willing to do this job before you're in a position that they are doing it. What this means is don't pick your daughter because she lives in the house with you, pick the person who gets stuff done. Pick the person who will breathe fire on the powers that be if they are not acting in your best interests. Pick the person who will work relentlessly on your behalf. Sometimes, this isn't a family member, but a good friend. Leave other people's feelings out of the decision-you have to pick the person who will do everything they can for YOU.

4. Make plans and prepare that you or your loved one WILL go into a nursing home and budget accordingly. No one wants to go that route, but having that fall back makes it easier to choose a placement. To not do so limits where someone can go if the worst happens and your parent/loved one can't walk, talk or otherwise care for themselves and you can't do it yourself.

5. Be prepared that you will have to be nasty to people to get things done properly.

6. Know that if your loved one is being released from care and you feel the situation is unsafe, you can appeal to Medicare AND refuse the release to home. If Medicare denies the appeal, the patient will be liable for hospital bills, but this is an avenue to use if someone lives alone and cannot care for themselves while you seek a suitable placement.

7. Nursing homes have waiting lists. Really good nursing homes won't even accept names, because their waiting lists are too long. Good ones are out there, but you will be doing a lot of leg work to ensure the one you choose is a good one. Never choose a nursing home sight unseen. Names are no indicator of how good the home will be.

8. You can apply for Medicaid to cover skilled nursing care, but it takes between 30 and 90 days to get a decision. Many nursing homes will take a patient in while awaiting approval and take the retroactive payment.

There are so many things we've learned, and several things have been accomplished, but I'm on hurdle two in the Elder Care 800m hurdles. We have a potential placement that both Jane and I liked. Now I have to fire Mom's lousy Medicare PPO, complete the Medicaid application, drop off a copy of the PoA to the hospital, drop off the letter to the lawyer modifying the PoA and do a few dozen other things before I can breathe.

Oh, and if you're a lying, crappy, hospital social worker? Know that I will call you on your lie and report you to the hospital administrator, the state Ombudsman and to HIPPA for violating their law. If you backpedal later, it won't change the fact that you violated the law and there were a few witnesses to this who can and will testify to what you said. And being sweet to me after I tell you off? That won't get you off the hook, either.

Once we get all that taken care of, we get to the matter of sorting and getting rid of all the stuff that has accumulated in the house that neither one of them will be taking with them. I guess it's a good thing I don't have a full time job, because it looks like this will be it for a while...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What's for Dinner Wednesday

There are many meals in this house that we disagree over. I love pork chops-Ed can do without ever having them. He likes veal, I refuse to prepare it because I lived near farms with 'veal calf jails' for many years.

The number one, don't make it for me because I won't eat it meal has always been Shepherd's Pie. It seems that Ed's college cafeteria would take the previous night's leftover meat, slap a bunch of mashed potatoes on it and call it Shepherd's Pie! Even veal parmesan (one of Ed's favorite meals that I refuse to make). It sounds gross, so I'm not surprised at his aversion to this meal.

When we worked for the meal prep kitchen, they had a version of the dish that used shredded beef that was divine. Knowing he wouldn't want it, I made my portions into micro-mini portions for me and the kids, and then Ed blew that concept by liking their version.

Lately, we've seen a commercial for a sausage based pie, so tonight, I did my spin on it. The recipe on tv is extremely different from mine and I'm really happy with these results.

I still want to make it with ground beef seasoned like swedish meatballs and top it with that gravy. There's always a next time...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Scrambled Sue

There was a lot on my plate today:
Fill out Mom's Guardianship paperwork
Visit the hospital with Jane and Ed
Talk to Mom's doctor to find out why they approved her release
Call her insurance and see why they won't approve a nursing home
Visit as many nursing homes as possible so we can pick one
Do my Lit homework

Well, the hospital visit took twice as long as I expected, but that was good. Initially, Mom didn't recognize any of us, but ten minutes later, she did. She told interesting tales-that her doctor told her she was losing her house, didn't have one anymore, either. I don't know if she was imagining that or if it was really said. If so, I'm sooooo reporting the doctor.

She is on board with going to a nursing home. That doesn't mean she likes the idea, because she really feels that Jane should be taking care of her. However, she understands that Jane can't, so she'll go.

So we grabbed lunch and dropped Jane off at home. I sat down in front of the laptop, planning to look up a nursing home or two to visit by 5:30 or 6pm. (It was after 3). Instead, the sleep deprivation of the past two nights caught up with me.

I took a nap instead.

Sometimes, you have to take care of your needs before you can effectively do things for others.

Tomorrow, after class, I'll look at more nursing homes...

Sunrise on Lake Parker

Taken with the iPhone. I really need to find out if this thing will zoom, like my old camera phone did.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Smart Thinking

At the beginning of the semester, I printed out hard copies of the three syllabuses that were available online (my Intro to Counseling Skills did not have one posted, we got it in class). It's partly due to my desire to have something to mark up, to show progress, that I'm completing something. Mostly, I do it because I know there will be times when I'd like to review what I need to do when I know I'll be away from a computer. Like for instance, while I sit in a doctor's office, waiting for an appointment.

The ingrained need to have a paper syllabus, like the old days, is one that seems to have served me in good stead this semester. One instructor had a syllabus that was posted by the former instructor, but she then wiped it off, preferring to only post two assignments at a time. Interesting note: they match up with what I have, if not the order that they were assigned by the previous teacher.

Yesterday afternoon, there was a power outage on the main USF campus that knocked out the generators that run the computer system servers. Power came back on, but one of the servers kept failing the tests to bring it online. Thus, the system was offline until two hours ago.

One class had an assignment due at midnight last night, another has a project due during class tonight. I knew the reading required for the one due at midnight, but not the specific directions tied to Chapter five. Meanwhile, tonight's class? The power outage occurred while doing the observations for the project.

Recently, my classmate who is in both on campus classes friended me on Facebook. She pinged me in chat last night to ask what we had to do for tonight's class. I thought the assignment was more in depth (there are two parts to this project, and they are the foundation for our APA style paper early next month). Aha! I think I've got the directions that were posted on Blackboard.

I did.

Sure enough, Jessica was right-we only had to write a brief summary, but saving a copy of the information? It saved me hours of work!

As for the other class? When I awoke this morning, the servers were back up-and the midnight assignment was wiped off the Blackboard. It's not a surprise, because the instructor has set up our pages to wipe off an assignment as soon as 12:01 on the due date arrives. Several of my classmates sent emails out to the entire class, hoping that someone, anyone, would have submitted theirs early-and could provide directions.

I pulled out my copy of the syllabus and realized that it didn't give the specific instructions to any assignments. That said, I then realized (at 5am, mind you, not my best time of day!) that I had made a Word document of all the assignments. They're out of order, but this instructor is giving us the same things to do, just in a different order. As I reviewed the instructions for Chapter 5, it was obvious that luck was with me, for this seems to be the case once again.


It's amazing how a need for the old school ways have come in handy in the age of technology...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

I have a confession, one that my friends and family have known for a long time.

I like punk rock. Since I was a kid, and heard the Ramone's "Rockaway Beach", the driving rhythms have my toes tapping. The Clash and the Sex Pistols came along, and yet again, the driving beats of "This Is the Radio Clash" and "Anarchy in the UK" were incredibly appealing.

Probably the most notable punk experience I've had in my life is seeing ex Sex Pistols lead vocalist Johnny Lydon's Public Image LTD perform at my college union's ballroom. The room was one giant Mosh pit-and I had plaster from fingertip to elbow!

I was sure that someone would end up with stitches or that the cast would be slammed off me. However, someone decided to tick Mr Lydon off and he left the stage with the comment "I don't like be'in 'pit on by ahs' holes!" He did come back, but the crowd calmed down.

Over the years, there have been bands that follow the tradition of stripped down, straight ahead, take no prisoners music. I may not have purchased their albums, but every time I hear a new Green Day song or something from Pink, I'm once again drawn in. In a nod to my fellow punk rock chick, Donna, her designated ring tone on the old phone was a Green Day song. Give me time, I think I'll make her ring tone "So What?"!

Now the strange part. I was going to use the Ramones "Suzy is a Headbanger" to show that they knew what you didn't. Instead of the Ramones being the first thing that Google brought up, I got these two guys:

Is it just me, or is it just WRONG to hear a punk song played on a ukelele?

Excuse me, I need to figure out why my punk rock stuff didn't transfer out of iTunes into the new phone!


Proof for the northern relatives that we do know what pumpkins are and
can get them in Florida.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

I Caved In

Lately, my phone has been underwhelming. In one week, I have had 20 calls go to voice mail because it didn't ring. Thus, I was considering a crackberry. The access to email has become more important since returning to school.

Today, it came to a head. I received critical phone calls from Medicare and the hospital that were time sensitive and my phone did not ring once. Time to go track down a crackberry. After visiting Walmart and the AT&T store, I walked out with a new phone.

An iPhone.

Let the geeking begin.

Friday, October 02, 2009

When the Solid Excrement Hits The Oscillating Cooling Device

The hospital called Jane several times this morning. "Your mother's release paperwork has been signed by her doctor. You need to come pick her up." The patient that is incoherent, incontinent and cannot get out of a bed unassisted is going to be sent home to live with someone who is marginally able to care for herself, so long as Ed or I make food and run errands? Right.

Jane couldn't handle the phone calls, they were upsetting her, and she shut down again. The social worker was then told them to call me. This was after Jane cried on the phone and told them that she can't take her at home several times. She's devastated that she can't do for her Mom what Mom did for Nana. The social worker played the guilt card "Shouldn't you be a good daughter and bring her home?" Finally, I happened to call while she was on the phone with them the third time and told her to have them call me.

I called the lawyer's office, leaving a message to tell her about the phone calls and that we were refusing to accept the release. I wanted to know if there is anything else we needed to do. Forty-five minutes later, the social worker finally called me. I pulled out the NY nasty card on her. Everything she said got thrown back at her. We cannot care for her, The Elder Abuse laws in this state will put the burden on Jane and prosecute her if mom comes home and falls out of bed. the only way she can come home is if you make sure there is 24 hour care in the home, Jane's drivers license has been revoked by her doctor due to her disabilities, she will NOT be coming to pick Mom up today or any day, Put it to you this way-if this was a patient with no one else in the home, would you be releasing her?, so, if Virginia needed to go to the bathroom on Monday, you're saying she'd have to wait until the home health aide showed up on Wednesday to do so?" and finally, I understand you will be charging for additional days. Go right ahead, I'm still not picking her up.

What I understand is that if a bill comes in Mom's name, and she has no income or assets, they can eat static. So threaten me all you want, idiotic social worker, I can't be held financially liable for this, but I could be criminally liable if something happens to her at home after discharge because she was released from care before she could get into a nursing home.

In the interim, I had to explain to Jane that if she's having issues with these phone calls, then she should NOT be designated as the PoA. I had to be the bitch again, pointing out that if Jane is in the hospital herself, how the hell is she going to answer for mom's needs? Point was taken, but she screwed up the paperwork.

I went back to the lawyer to drop off Jane's paperwork and redo Mom's with Ed as primary Durable Power of Attorney and me as secondary. This way, Mom doesn't freak out so much, but I'll be making all the decisions, as both Ed and Jane say that I am better at dealing with this crap.

At the office this afternoon, the lawyer asked me several pointed questions, because she perceived that Jane wasn't comprehending what was going on yesterday. I explained that Jane asked if we were going over to the hospital to get Mom to sign the PoA right away-she didn't get that our lawyer HAD to do it. Jane also said "I'll use money out of the account to fix the van", when the lawyer specifically said we couldn't, since the van would probably never be used for Mom's transportation needs anymore.

The lawyer seems to think the same way that I've been thinking, that we're not going to get a PoA signed. It's most likely we'll be doing an emergency guardianship. It's going to be expensive, but in the long run, it's better to spend it and know that things are well in hand.

After leaving there, I went the other location of the assisted/skilled care place Jane and I visited on Tuesday. This one is strictly Alzheimer's and memory care. Both locations are very nice and the vibe is good.

Another relative brought up a good point. We've been charged with spending down the small savings account Mom has on things for Mom. Her wishes are to be cremated and buried in the plot with Ed's dad at a veteran's cemetery. My job on Monday is to contact them to see how much that would cost and pay for a prepaid burial out of the funds.

Oh, and I spoke with Medicare about an Appeal, since Mom's horrible PPO refuses to let her go to a nursing home. It bought us a few days to get stuff squared away. I was avoiding the hospital since they started bugging us about bringing her home-I didn't want to open that can of worms. Now that we have an appeal in place, we're heading over there tomorrow to give his mom a head's up that the lawyer will be visiting.

I want a big drink...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Taking Some Steps

Ed, Jane and I visited a lawyer today to explore options for Mom's situation. She's still not coherent, cannot get out of bed or a chair without help and has other issues. The hospital has called Jane a couple of times to ask if anyone could care for her at home. That answer is a resounding NO.

So, thanks to my landlord's suggestion, we visited a lawyer today who specializes in Elder law. She was wonderful, guiding us through what steps we need to take.

First up, she and a notary need to visit Mom at the hospital to see if she's coherent enough to allow us to make Jane power of attorney. I think that means we need to visit her this weekend to let her know we're doing this for her. If she's not cogniazant enough to agree to a PoA, the next step is to appoint a guardian. The lawyer really wants us to try the PoA first-it's cheaper and easier to work with.

Then, she explained how their assets worked and can be protected. She agreed that we have to refuse Mom's return home, because Florida has Elder Abuse laws on the books that require health care providers to do everything they can to keep her safe. If she's released to home, and falls out of bed, it can cause trouble not for the hospital, but for Jane, because it would be charged that she wasn't caring for Mom properly.

There were a few annoying things and a few revelations that made my jaw hit the floor. I asked Jane to list all their credit cards, amounts due and who's name was on them. Instead, she just made a list of what they pay out every month. It ends up the lion's share of their debt is because they CHARGED the purchase of their swimming pool! Yikes. Oh, there was another money thing that really ticked me off-but Ed did warn me that when I found that one out, I would be furious. He was right.

There's other things that we have to do, and after we take care of Mom's situation, we'll have to do the same all over again with Jane, but knowing what needs to be done is a huge help.

Now, if only I could wiggle my nose or blink my eyes and make all the work finish itself. Alas, I'll be doing most of it. Yay.