HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MY BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, AMAZING READERS! I love you so much for being a part of my life, for commenting, for advising and for sharing in the crazy life of a caregiver. You have no idea how much easier you make my days with your pillars of support !
Here’s a few words of wisdom from the mouths of babes. I take no credit for these and have no idea from whence they came, but God and children seem to be a wonderful way to let go of the past and revel in the fresh, clean future. See you in 2016…laughing all the way!!
“Dear God, I say your prayer every night, ‘lead us not into temptation and deliver us some e-mail’ but I never get an e-mail from you. Do you have my right address?”
“Dear God, thank You for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy.”
“Dear God, it must be super hard to love all the people in the world, especially my brother. I don’t know how You do it.”
“Dear God, is it true my father won’t get in Heaven if he uses his golf words in the house?”
On Sat, Dec 19, 2015 at 4:30 PM ( MY NEPHEW Wrote)
Could you find it in your heart to take a few minutes out of your busy day and send me the mailing address of the ( my brother and his son)? It would be most helpful of you and I would owe you my gratitude.
Mr. J Doodles ( A NAME WE ALL CALLED HIM WHEN HE WAS A TODDLER)
Here is the requested information: (Info redacted to protect those unsuspecting relatives)
I will be sure and keep the ‘chit’ you owe me for this great burden and use it in the future when I find it most necessary!
By the way, love our thermometer, except it’s broken . I debated telling you. I don’t want you to go to any additional expense but thought you’d want to know. Hope you all have a wonderful Merry Merry Christmas. We will try and call you on Christmas day before we go to your other aunt’s for dinner. Love you all! So excited that you’re coming to thewedding!!! Love A. Cathy
Cathleen S. Sikorski, Esq.
My Darling Aunt,
I am so sorry to hear about the damage incurred by the United States Postal Service. I was quite concerned about the thermometer making the arduous northern trek unmolested, as it is such a fragile thing. Thank you for telling me about this calamity and rest assured this wrong shall be righted.
Thank you for the addresses. It makes physical correspondence with the New Jersey relatives much more convenient. You have made the impossible, possible. You can add that to your long resume of assisting others with their most dire needs. And as for the ‘chit’, you deserve it, as I am sure you have a huge pile of chit from your years of caring for those who need it. Every time I see your face I think of all of the great things that you have done for me and my family and all of the chits that face has garnered. So in my eyes, you are always chit-faced.
Thank you again, and may your holidays be filled with friends, health, and good cheer,
Did you ever notice that in our zeal to be loving, caring, giving and kind during the holiday season, that sometimes it can go terribly wrong?
I am fortunate enough to be able to volunteer for a cause called “Wills for Heroes.” Lawyers, paralegals, law students, and notaries gather together at various times throughout the year to provide free wills, powers of attorney, and living wills to first responders and their spouses at no cost to them.
This requires the lawyers and other volunteers to attend a two hour training before the event to learn the general software and concepts before the clients arrive. There are experts in the field of wills and estates who review every document before the papers are signed and notarized and the first responders are sent on their merry way with up-to-date documents.
Some of the volunteers have no experience in this field and may be first time volunteers.
My table partner was one such volunteer. We hit it off quite well before any clients arrived. We were the last table to be assigned so we waited an additional hour before we met our first couple. During that hour we had a nice conversation about our law practices, our children and our midlife careers.
We agreed that she would type the answers on the computer and I would do the talking, as I have done these events for several years, and my practice deals with these types of issues on a regular basis. Her practice was only tangentially related to wills and powers of attorney, mostly as a courtesy to her litigation clients.
I love this gig. As lawyers, we really have a wonderful opportunity to give back something that is desperately needed by these local heroes, and is often pushed aside, mostly because of cost. So we are blessed to be able to share with our brave firefighters, police officers and emergency workers just one small gift of thanks.
But in the first five minutes of our first interview, I was in volunteer hell. My partner began peeling through the questions on the screen at warp speed. While I was discussing question 13 with the clients about a glitch in the law, Computer Cruella was on question 17.
I told my partner that I was troubled by the way the document was playing out based on the information she was entering, She just kept plowing along. So I asked her, very calmly and politely, like I would with a kindergartener:
“Would you mind if we just went back a few questions? I just would like to see where the document is going, because this is weird?”
With that she got up and walked away.
The client looked at me and said, “I guess she would mind.”
I was horrified. I was humiliated in front of the client and when “Don’t-tell-me-what-to-do” returned with the expert to give me my come-uppance, as I suspected, the expert agreed with me.
This happened at least four more times, in various ways. Each time, when she tattled on me, the expert agreed with me. Basically because I am an expert in this field. I take a back seat so I can sit with clients and help them get what they need. That’s the part that I enjoy.
I was tempted to leave Tattling Tessie to her own devices and go home. I just couldn’t desert these nice, unsuspecting first responders with the possibility of documents that didn’t meet their needs.
So I sucked it up.
We were volunteers. We were not getting paid or competing for clients. I just could not figure out why she had to be such a right fighter.
When we finished with our last clients, we said our farewells, and she said to me:
“It was so nice to meet you, I am definitely going to go home and buy your book!”
Even caregivers should have a Christmas blog…if they can find it.
As my brother-in-law’s caregiver, every Christmas I was worried about how I would get Larry and that monstrous wheelchair he needed because of the devastation of MS, to my house. We had to create a makeshift ramp to get his behemoth wheelchair up the two steps into my front door. Luckily, along with my 7 siblings, I have 6 in-laws. These are very creative people.
Willy devised the ramp, and provided that ubiquitous van that appears in a few of these blogs, where he also created a Cirque de Soliel mock up of clips and straps to keep the wheel chair from swinging around like a carnival ride on the way to my house.
My husband set up the holiday table in a manner that Larry could enjoy his dinner, manipulate around the room and enter and leave for smoking with my brother, Chip and his wife, Linda who kindly refused to give up smoking so Larry would have a partner in crime.
My sister, Maggie and her daughter, Julie cooked dishes that Larry liked so he could have a real respite from institutional food. Her husband, one of those sainted in-laws, Jim, carted every dish and pie to the kitchen in special carriers he made.
Every one of my siblings, Tina, Caren, Bill, Heidi, and those fantastic in-laws, Randy and Hap all contributed in some way. Then there were the 8 grandchildren who could come, some with spouses, some with kids, some with dogs, all who brought a smile to Larry’s bearded Santa face, just like the Christmases of old when my sister, Cindy used to be with us.
And then it happened.
Larry turned that monster truck of a wheelchair around on a dime in my hallway and put a big gouge in my red painted wall with the special textured finish. Hmmm.
It was reminiscent of the year, Willy had a weird heart episode at my sister’s house and the ambulance crew put a big divot in her hallway hardwood floor.
We looked at each other and let out a gasp.
And then we had a real Steffanci Christmas. We just laughed and laughed. it’s a wall, not nearly as great as China would build, and so what.
Merry Christmas to all caregivers everywhere, walls were meant to be taken down, especially when it’s done with love. How ’bout that Mr. Trump?
For the last three or so years, I was trying desperately to get a medication removed from my brother-in-law’s med list. The medication was called Metformin.
Larry was put on the medication to keep his blood sugar under control. One time…ONE TIME…when he was in the hospital or was having a particularly difficult medical time, he had a blood sugar test that was way out of line.
His doctor decided that he would put him on Metformin and keep an eye on his blood sugar just to make sure it wasn’t an aberration.
It was an aberration.
Every time he was admitted to the hospital in the last years of his life, which was at least a dozen times and because he was on Metformin, a drug used for diabetics to keep blood sugar under control, he had to eat a diabetic diet.
Larry hated a diabetic diet. Diabetics hate a diabetic diet. But Larry wasn’t a diabetic and about the only thing he enjoyed besides smoking and honey or sugar in his tea, was eating. None of which were permitted on a diabetic regimen.
He also had to have his blood sugar tested. This they did by pricking his finger before every meal. He despised that too. He couldn’t do it himself because MS robbed him of dexterity. Poking and prodding had become a daily occurrence in so many ways. Adding one more prick to the pile just…well pissed him off.
With each hospital admission, I would request that they review the medication list and his daily blood sugar and try to get him off the Metformin. In the meantime, he had to stay on that god awful diet and be prick insulted.
I won’t lie. I’d bring contraband into the hospital. I’d bring sugar for his tea. I’d bring hoagies and Peppermint Patties. Yeah, I did it. Sue me. If I could find one less thing to make his life miserable, I would do it. Because, by the way, he was NOT diabetic. Oh that.
I lobbied for that damn Metformin to go away with doctors in hospitals, doctors in nursing homes, doctors in rehab centers, and doctors’ offices. I even got some doctors to agree.
But here’s the rub.
Once a drug is on your list of meds at a hospital and you go back to the same hospital again and again, they never change that drug list. I’m pretty sure it takes an Act of Congress to make that change. Pretty sure Congress hasn’t agreed on anything since the 1800’s.
I went so far as to change hospitals and was successful for a few days, until they decided he needed a heart healthy diet. It stopped the pricks (in so many ways) but he still couldn’t have sugar in his tea.
Yesterday, on a long drive to the airport during rush hour, I heard Robin on the Howard Stern show (yes, you now know one of my dirty little secrets….I love Howard) report that a new drug may help us to live to 120 years old!! Howard loved that idea, if you are lucky to be healthy and enjoy another 50 or 60 years.
This miracle drug is…………..you guessed it…………….Metformin. If you can navigate your healthcare or you want to live in a world of pricks.