Monday, November 23, 2020

When Click List Becomes an Outing

 "Covid! Who would have thought picking up GROCERIES would be an outing?" 

Yep. That's it. The excitement for today was Cory dropping off some Lactose intolerant milk, submitting a click list order and Michael picking up said well as dropping off our Christmas Blessing donations at the church so they can sit a good long time before anyone touches them. 

ANOTHER click list order?  It appears I forgot  "covid essential" supplies - ice cream, more zinc, more diet 7 up, more wipes...I couldn't find Lysol spray online. I'm sure it IS there,  I simply wasn't able to discover the magical combo of words which would have put it into our cart. ::snort:: 

Monday - Nolan's Covid test is positive. This resets the clock for him returning to work. He will be home with us at least 10 days, then he'll test again and see if he's negative or positive. Alex has 6 days left before he can retest. Michael and Krista's tests came back negative. Honestly, we know they DO have it - because they HAVE been exposed and ARE experiencing symptoms. Krista was hoping to finally get a positive so she could be assured of freedom in 10 days! 

The way the DHSS guidance reads every time one of us who hasn't testing positive comes in contact with one of us who HAS tested positive, we are to quarantine an additional 14 days. You DO see the craziness of this in a large family? It may be spring before one who doesn't test positive is allowed out...A significant amount of time was spent re-scheduling appointments - again. 

And so our quarantine has extended to Dec 6th  due to Nolan's test results and well it keeps moving as we keep seeing him...because frankly...we are ALL HOME and we are going to be TOGETHER now that Dad has shown symptoms. 

The older 3 Gherkins are so busy we rarely have us all home. One blessing of quarantine is it takes the pressure off to "rush back to health"...we rest when we need to, get up and do what we can when we feel like it, and we're together. Dinner may be jello, but we're together. We have TIME to watch Christmas movies, play games, read...unfortunately, we ARE missing out on seeing our new grands, or having all the Gherkins over for Thanksgiving. 

I determined to take one Covid photo a day and try to at least keep that current on the blog. 

Today's Covid Photo 

Alex and Stacia were bored enough to play a double game of Monopoly. Grandpa wasn't too excited about the game, but was glad to be with the group. Krista won. 

Symptom wise...I believe all FEVERS HAVE BROKEN. Alex is on the mend. Krista is on the mend with wild swings of symptoms.  Both of them had it ROUGH about this time last week. Nolan has added a lack of taste to his list of symptoms. Michael was up today, and down some of the day. I have discovered an odd lack of taste and I have been really sleepy...just 'off'.  Nolan and I were discussing how the zinc really has no taste....and the others insist they DO taste. I suspected my taste buds were off last night when I accidently dumped a 1/4 cup of garlic on my quesadilla. I could barely taste the garlic - and I wondered.  We wonder if Stacia's cold may have been covid...but she's young and her immune system kicked whatever it was. Grandpa is still having no respiratory problems - PRAISE GOD.  He isn't retching today, but continues to have GI issues. We are keeping him hydrated. He's eating a lot of sugar free jello and soda and is happy thinking he is getting lots of sugary treats. ::shhhh::

Various home health members from Ancora have called about Dad today. None came into our home. One or two were willing too, but I didn't think it was essential. They called Dad's doc and Dad's doc wants him to go get a Covid test. I suspect it's so the home health has clear guidelines on if they are, or are not, coming into our home....but we'll do it. I was told they needed a "baseline" because of Dad's age. WHUT????? Dad seems excited for an outing....and that's the sad season of life we've been in since October....getting a covid test is an exciting outing. ::snort::  

This will be dad's 3rd test. Krista has had 6 and Michael has had 2.

Sorry for the long-winded update.  This begins our 3rd week of lockdown....though Dad and I have been mostly locked down since Oct 8th.  

Isn't it ironic the ramp is complete and we CAN go out and now we're ordered to stay IN? ::Snort:: 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Covid Manifestations

There is a LOT that I have not the fact that we were on LOCK DOWN for a full 11 days before we went on the current quarantine and we added 2 grandsons....I decided I better just update as often as I can NOW and catch up as we go....

Michael was too tired to get out of bed on Thursday or Friday.  His sore throat and dizziness joined exhaustion on Friday. Nolan came home from work with a 101.8 fever and sore throat. We prepared for however Covid would manifest in our home. 

We planned to keep all the kids in the basement...leaving our two high riskers - Michael and Dad on the top floor.  We went to bed with a plan.... My plan included homemade chicken and dumplings.  I'm a firm believer in homemade Chicken Noodle Soup to help most ailments. 

Friday the sick "adult kids" and Michael proceeded as they had on Thursday.  Dad began cramping and well...imagine the GI tract. It was quick, hard, and nasty. Dad began retching. Krista developed new GI symptoms.  I ran between everyone. 

I called numerous doctors and it appears most take Friday off. I called the urgent care about Dad - they didn't want to see him. They said to go to the hospital if I had questions. Well - I'm NOT taking anyone to the hospital for QUESTIONS when they are so over-booked and full of germs and I know WE have covid germs. I talked with the home health nurse once - but when things got bad and I REALLY needed to talk to someone - I could reach no one.  We soldiered on.  The nurse had told me to get jello, Pedialyte and such. I had a click it order ready to pick up on Friday night.....Cory ran and got that stuff for me and I picked it up when  I got the click it contact with ANYONE....and poor Benny cried and I cried because you know - it's ALREADY been 11 days and we are missing milestone days...for babies. 

That evening I became worried about Dad retching and the many meds he is on...and the fact I had insulin to give him. Since I couldn't reach any medical professionals I called the family nurse...and she gave me confidence. 

People began texting to see if we needed anything - at this point I couldn't think of a thing we needed. 

Saturday morning the cramping and such were gone....everyone felt better. Most stayed in bed. 

Krista made up the dandelion salve she and I had begun in the summer. 

McDonald's wants a covid test for Nolan NOW. The result won't change the instructions to quarantine and no one FEELS like going anywhere,  but OK - He and Michael went in for Covid tests. We decided not to take any of the rest of us - because we know we have it and we're already locked down. Our thought is if Michael is positive we can ALWAYS call the VA and get a doc to answer questions, maybe easier than all the civilian docs who are gone Fri-Sunday.  If Dad gets sick enough for the hospital they'll do a covid test then - why make him have 2? 

Stacia and I watched Christmas movies and MacGyver. Millie reacts to dogs on the screen. 

A friend texted to see if we needed anything at Carrs. Freddies is out of zinc throat lozenges and I realized we needed more. Sweet - 2 packages delivered at home - and I got to see an "outsider" from the front door. 

I made a big pot of Chicken and dumplings. Since we figured everyone but Stacia and I have Covid (her sinus congestion is clearing up), we decided to lift the basement dweller mandate and enjoy dinner together. 

We watched a "Google Translate Thanksgiving" and laughed - a lot. We discussed this won't be terrible when folks are feeling better and we can just have "home" time with family. 

I woke this a.m. to a quiet home. Everyone slept in. Most still haven't gotten up. I drank a quart of Yogi Immune Support Tea. It can't hurt...I choose to believe God is keeping me healthy to serve all the sickos around here. 

I assumed everyone would be feeling better and made a bunch of bacon. Stacia and I are the only ones up for a meal. Krista has gone to get tested. She realized IF the rest of us test positive willy-nilly she will keep getting extended for another 2 weeks. We are praying she has enough of the virus left in her system to test positive. She WILL be here with us until at least Dec 4th as is....

Dad got up. He said he felt wonderful. I couldn't talk him out of a big breakfast. He is now back in bed with renewed GI discomfort. Sometimes you just have to let a person figure it out for themselves. He said he'll stick with the Jello and clear drinks today, too. 

I'm doing laundry, lots of laundry. Running drinks, crackers and Jello here and there... It's SNOWING. 

Snow and Ramp

 It's a treat when it warms up enough to snow. On this quarantined Sunday, the snow is a blessing.  I've been wanting to grab photos with the house now that it has a ramp and used the trip out for the paper to take a few. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

And Today in Our Home...COVID Makes an Appearance

 One never knows what a day will bring. Today was Krista's FIRST day back at work. Krista was exposed at work to covid. The entire class was quarantined. 

She was SICK. She tested negative. Alex got SICK. They both got better. 

Alex was fever and symptom free for two days before he went back to work on Monday and Tuesday. 

The good thing about Alex getting sick - even though Krista had tested negative and was the one locked down, not us - we all stayed home....we figured there was a bug and we didn't want to spread WHATEVER it was. 

Tuesday was Michael's birthday. Dad had a dental appointment. Everyone was feeling well. Michael, Dad and I went to lunch afterwards and Alex and Nolan met us. That night Alex had a fever of 101.8 again...and a sore throat....the fact that it came suddenly, left suddenly, and came again SUDDENLY...clued me in....I was pretty sure Krista had been positive and the rapid test gave a false negative. 

I drove Alex to get tested yesterday morning.  We got the positive result today. The contact nurse hasn't reached us yet - but we can see the results.... 

The trees are GORGEOUS this week. They are covered in frost and snow. I've been wanting to get out and take photos before the wind arrives....but it hasn't worked out that way with scheduling and quarantining....I took advantage of the covid testing to stop for this shot on our way home. 

Nolan walked in the door shortly after we saw Alex's results. He had SUDDENLY gotten a sore throat and fever...

Stacia is congested - no fever - most likely a cold? Michael feels "off" but nothing concrete. 

We have our own "Ask an almost nurse" and she told us it is best to wait a few days after exposure to be tested...we'll be sure to ask when the state calls us....and so now...

We had one glorious day off of lock down...Krista went to work but the rest of us were home due to home health for Dad. I had plans to brave a Walmart run with Dad tomorrow, but we'll be settled at home for another 2 weeks. 

All the going back and forth about what to do about the kids and Thanksgiving....not a problem now. BreZaak, CoRielle and those sweet new babies won't be near us for a good long time. NO ONE will be coming for Thanksgiving....maybe Christmas. I have enough food here to serve a crowd ham dinner....we won't starve. 

We'd appreciate your prayers for Dad to be in a big ole HEALTH BUBBLE and not catch this. We're doing all the things....

Monday, November 09, 2020

Dad/Household Update

We live life fairly transparently.  I know many are praying for Dad, he's spoken into your lives over the decades as a friend, mentor, pastor, brother, uncle - you care... I will do my best to balance transparency with Dad's privacy. 

Dad has been home from the facility for a month. He is 2 months post surgery. A quadruple aortic by-pass is a big deal - made even bigger if one is 79 and has a diagnosis of dementia. 

As Dad feels stronger new challenges arise. While he CAN walk with the walker these days (an improvement from when he came home immobile), his legs (and arms) simply give out unexpectedly. One of us is ALWAYS supposed to be within arm's length. Sometimes Dad forgets this; sometimes, I suspect,  he simply balks at the dependence.  ::wink::

One afternoon, as I adjusted the gait belt for a walk, I told him he was like Peter...belted up with others leading him where he doesn't want to go. Mike piped up a loop around the house was better than prison. 

The PT and RN spent quite a bit of time this week explaining if he hits his head while on these blood thinners he can bleed out before we know there is a problem. 

Dad has gotten quite good with the wheelchair. Here he shows off his skill with doubles. 

I told him we needed to get our laps in with the walker. Um. ::snort::

Our goal is to "park the wheelchair" unless we are going outside. This will encourage more natural exercise times of walking with the walker and getting up and down etc. His muscles didn't work at ALL for a full 3 weeks post surgery. We'll get there.  He likes the wheelchair as it gives him more security and independence. It's a juggling act. 

Other than the challenge of mobility, Dad is having quite a few nosebleeds. When I check blood sugar it takes about 5 min to stop the bleeding. If he bumps his hand on the wall - it bleeds....we are to call the RN if I can't stop the bleeding within 10 min. We've been up against that time constraint many times. 

Sun Down Syndrome is real and became a part of our reality on Halloween.  After being immobile for weeks I woke at 2 a.m. to find dad at the head of the stairs, then moving to the window, in his wheelchair. This was terrifying on many fronts. The safety issues jolted me out of bed. The need for supervision ramped up. He didn't know where he was and it was a prolonged time before he DID know who he was, or where he was. He did recognize me. He told me he was glad I was here because this was scary. My heart. It was scary for us too. 

These incidents continued throughout the week. The last few nights he's slept through the night. I attribute this to prayer at bedtime, and trying some of the tips shared with us. This is the first time we've seen what they saw at the facility. We'll be discussing the cognitive breaks, vivid dreams, and hallucinations with the doctor this week. 

Which brings us to discussing Dad's mental recovery. He's happier at home. He's smiling. He's reading the paper. He holds conversations. He needs verbal cues for several tasks. He is remembering family names. He's remembered most functions on his phone. He laughs and tells jokes. He gets angry from time to time. He followed the election results for 3 days....and then decided we'd best just keep praying. 

I am becoming an OT/PT assistant - now if I could just fit my exercise in as well as I keep up on his. ::snort:: Both the Occupational and Physical therapist have given him daily exercises. I thought he was about ready to be discharged from their care. They told me they will not discharge him for quite a while and there is still a lot of improvement they think we can achieve. From those first few skeptical appointments - we've all become one team. All have commented throughout the week how he is making good progress, has good caregivers, and is lucky to be at home. They've been pleased with his progress in the past month. 

I spilled my heart about the new dementia incidents to the speech therapist on Monday morning - the first home health into our home. At the end of my story I said, "I'm sorry. You're here to check on swallowing, not all this, but I don't know who to contact about this." Um....I'd forgotten. Speech therapists deal with dementia. Perfect timing. She gave us some tips, is writing a referral to switch her treatment from swallowing to cognitive support. 

The new sun downing wrinkles brought shift work to our home. Michael and I trade off so someone is aware and awake at most times of the day....though all are slightly punchy at all times of the day. ::snort::  We've added a monitor and will have a fall alarm as soon as Amazon gets it here.  The wheelchair (which is easier for Dad to get into quietly) is no longer in his room. We can hear him as he moves the walker - because Michael rigged a soda can alarm on it.  Hey - we may be redneck but we are getting it done up in here. 

See! Doesn't he look happy to be in the middle of family activity? He helped color fondant this week. 

He helped with party decorations.

My days are full. Dad can no longer get his own breakfast or lunch. There is a lot of laundry, lifting, watching and interacting. There is a lot of checking levels...blood sugars, oxygen, heart....

I can't get a routine worked out which includes Jesus time, workouts, reading, blogging, yard work, Bible study breakfasts with Stacia, time with friends....I have attempted to be disciplined and work it out. I've not been gentle or realistic with myself. 

I attend a weekly zoom small group focusing on my wellness journey. Frankly, I wrestled with whether I should attend this week. I'm not working out. I'm not moving forward. The last 2 weeks I had to leave mid-meeting as Dad woke up and rang. I attended and sat quietly. At the end of the meeting the leader (Tamara) and one gal asked me to stay and chat a bit.  

They observed  1. I'm doing this well. I started crying.  I didn't realize my emotions were so near the surface. It doesn't FEEL like I'm doing it well. I feel frazzled and off kilter.  2. Tamara used to work in a hospital and told me to consider my early hours as shift work, and to sleep rather than work when others wake up.  For the first time in weeks I realize it's OK if I choose to sleep over a task or working out. It's o.k. if I don't lose weight just now. I'm in a transition season and I need to recognize it. Going to bed at 10 and waking up at 1:30 for the day is wearing this "middle aged" gal down.  I HAVEN'T been able to nap  during the day...but I'm prepared to do so next time Dad takes a mid-day nap. I've kept him too busy Saturday and Sunday to nap...and BTW less mid-day napping seems to help with sundowning too... and 3. I realized I lost chunks of some of the kids' childhood because I was so focused on getting "back to weight." I don't want to lose a minute of this special time with Dad because I'm fussing about weight.  We'll figure it all out. 

On a personal note, I am learning to walk in TODAY and not worry about TOMORROW through all this. In our discussions with various professionals about Michael's Parkinsons I've been determined to get healthy so Michael can stay home when we're "old"  rather than going to a facility.  I plan to be the little old lady who can bench press 200 lbs, and lift her 6 ft husband without a thought. As I take on Dad's care, and fight the exhaustion, I began to think, "There is NO WAY I CAN DO THIS FOR MICHAEL."  And that, my friends, is the enemy of my soul, trying to wiggle his way into my soul with lies and fears when I'm in a tired state. Those thoughts are captive to the lordship of Jesus and I'm going to focus on walking this season well, learning all we can in this season, rather than fretting about what a future season MAY look like. LOL 

One last thought...Dad has some amazing friends. Thank you to those of you who call or listen when he calls....thanks for laughing at stories from past decades, helping him recover a detail or two when he stumbles, and not pointing out when he shares the same info with you 3x in one call. You all are the best - our family appreciates you. 

We checked this system out again on Saturday. It still works. Glimpses of outings to come. 
I think we've all made remarkable progress in one month. I bet we have this thing flying high by this time next month. 

Sunday, November 08, 2020


Nolan worked at McDonalds. Krista drilled from home - virtual drilling - it's a thing. It's not a GOOD thing - but it's a thing during COVID. Michael, Alex and Stacia went to church. 

Dad and I watched last week's service from OUR Alaska church and last week's service from our OREGON church....

Michael and the kids brought home a "picnic" so Dad and I could 
"eat out" too. It was nice. 

Aaron and Elise came over. I enjoyed visiting for a bit while Aaron smoothed out the ground where the ramp is being built before it could freeze.

We have had snow, then an afternoon of melt, and refreeze and more snow...and the deck and stairs down to yard were TREACHEROUS. Today was 40* and RAINY....I got the deck and stairs cleared. 

We had the same weather-induced problem with our driveway. Michael "squeegeed" the driveway.... We call this our TX snow shovel. LOL 

It was a valiant effort. It began snowing while he was out there. Heavy, big, fat flakes. 

Honestly, we brought Dad home early the week we had set aside for fall cleanup.... snow began.  It usually snows, warms up, snows, warms up before winter really gets a grasp on us. It has stayed cold this year until today. We may settle for a giant breakup clean up this year. 
Look @ the snow coming down

The girls and Dad watched Christmas movies. The guys played video games, read, and prepped for their early work day tomorrow. Michael wrote, I blogged.... 

It was a nice Sunday. 

The Ramp

Why don't you build a ramp? Are you building a ramp? CAN they build a ramp during the winter? Why don't you pay someone to build a ramp? Why isn't the ramp done?

These are all questions we've been hearing. No doubt, life WILL be less complicated when we have a ramp.  So here's the scoop. 

At first we were told we couldn't bring Dad home without a ramp. Michael talked a contractor friend - a man of God who loves us and whom we love  - he and his wife. They talked the 2nd weekend in September. Dad had just moved to the facility and we were told he would be there at least 2 months. Aaron gave us an estimate. We gave the green light. There was no big rush. 

Dad began falling in the center. We told them we'd be bringing him home as soon as we got the ramp done.  After the 2nd ride to the ER (and the 7th fall) we had those conversations where we insisted Dad be "discharged a month early," regardless of the ramp. 

In other words -WE sped up the time table of the need for the ramp. We also proved we could bring Dad home without a ramp - we just couldn't leave home again. LOL We brought Dad down the back of the house to the basement door, and took the stair lift up to the 2nd floor. That only worked because there was no snow or ice on the decline to the basement door. It snowed the WEEK we got dad home. If we'd waited, he wouldn't be home until the ramp was finished. 

 Aaron came over and worked on parts of the project as weather permitted... we ran into things like the ground being frozen solid, clay that had to be dug out before concrete could be poured, which ended up requiring a truck to bring much more concrete.....

As Dad feels better he wants to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! I understand. It WILL be easier to juggle schedules if Dad can come WITH me to run errands. We will both be happy to be back at church. It will give us peace of mind to know if we need to take Dad to the doctor we don't have to call the medivac. I'm desperate enough for social interaction I may take him out to lunch with me and the girls. LOL 

Dad begins most mornings asking, "Is that young man here?" ::snort:: 

Yesterday the answer was, "Yes."  He was here in the bitter cold, working on the ramp. There was more ground that needed to be thawed...but the platform is done....the concrete pad looks nice and is done. He couldn't smooth out the ground because it was frozen solid....

He set up a warming tent again around the frozen ground and warmed it up....after church he was back here smoothing out the ground before it had time to freeze again tonight.  

He'll be back tomorrow to work on the ramp. I'm not sure if it will all be done tomorrow, but he says I'll be able to get Dad down the ramp by Monday night. Dad has a doctor's appointment on Tuesday. ::snort:: 

I attempted to wheel Dad out of the house to the landing so he could watch yesterday. I had a "spot of trouble." OK - so it alarmed Michael and Aaron...and they are thinking of another element to make it easier to get Dad over the threshold...I guess it may have looked like I was going to lose control of Dad and send him down the steps. I quickly learned to back over even small bumps...but the space is tight and I thought we could manage a small bump in the road. 

There's the story of  "the Ramp."