Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

We had a wonderful Christmas! On Christmas Eve, the children and I spent some time at Mom & Dad's (Jack wasn't feeling well). Mom had wrapped some gifts that she had bought earlier in the year, and that she had picked up on two brief shopping excursions we have taken. She was so pleased to have us open them at her house.

We were also able to deliver plates of homemade candy to her neighbors, that have been such a help with snow removal. What a great thing to live in a neighborhood where people truly care!! Mom walked to the houses on both sides, even to an upstairs apartment. It is great to see her getting stronger.

On Christmas Day, Mom & Dad came to the house where we're staying for Christmas dinner with us. That was a blessing as well.

On December 23 we met with a nurse from the home care service, who came to Mom & Dad's house to do an assessment of their situation and determine what assistance is needed. It was decided that someone will come twice a week to do housework and errands. The good news is that they qualify for a reduced rate for the services, which will be a great help.

We are looking forward now to a 40th anniversary party planned for Mom & Dad at West Paris Baptist Church in West Paris, Maine at 1:00 pm on January 17. We plan to mail invitations this week, but if you are reading this blog, please consider yourself invited. It will be a celebration of all God has done throughout their lives, but especially this year as we rejoice that they are still here together.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday, December 19

Sorry it's taken a couple of days to post a report from our meeting with the social worker. I thought she would want to find out Mom & Dad's condition in detail to help us make decisions. But it wasn't like that. She talked pretty much nonstop, giving us information about agencies and programs. I was thankful that she spoke clearly and loudly so Dad could hear. He listened at first, until he dozed off. Mom took a few notes. I did too, but most of it I already knew from my job experience.

The outcome is that the social worker said she would send a referral to an agency. After January, Mom and Dad should no longer need nursing or therapy, but they will continue to need homemaker services to help with housecleaning and running errands. It is possible they will qualify for a reduced rate, which would be a great help. And the social worker reassured us that if and when their savings get below a certain point, Medicaid covers help in the home, to keep people out of nursing homes as long as possible.

When she asked if we had questions, I did express two of my concerns.
1. That Dad would veto the services because of the cost, not realizing how frail Mom is. (Since she has come home, he has asked her to do several things that she has had to refuse because she is not able.) We addressed that directly with him, and he agreed that help is needed.
2. The many falling hazards in the house. Even as we were meeting, the social worker expressed her concern about the humidifier placed in the middle of the floor, directly in front of Mom's chair. She gently told Mom that moving stuff around (such as having to clean off the washing machine every time it is used) adds to the risk of falling. Mom said she is careful. We moved the humidifier in front of a footstool piled two feet high with newspapers. And that was the end of that conversation.

The greatest concern I still have is that Mom and Dad both get confused. The numerous doctors that Mom saw during the first couple weeks she was having the mini seizures changed her medication several times, and she got completely mixed up as to what she should and should not be taking. If I hadn't gone to every appointment with her and written everything down, there would be no one to straighten things out.

Dad is adamant to continue living there, and despite the concerns, that has not yet been clearly shown to be impossible. Therefore, we will continue trying to put help and support in place for them, keep hinting at how warm and sunny Florida is, and trust God to make it abundantly clear TO DAD when they MUST move to a more manageable place. Mom & I simply cannot go against his wishes yet.

Thanks for praying for us!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday, December 17

Mom and Dad and I are meeting with a social worker this afternoon, to plan for the time when I will return to Florida. I am looking forward to this meeting, because it will be a good opportunity to speak frankly about things that have been difficult for me to say on my own.

It still is not an easy situation, so I feel a little apprehension as well. Mom and Dad don't seem to, which is a blessing. :-)

We'll let you know how it turns out! Thank you so much, as always, for your prayers.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday, December 13 - An encouraging week!

This has been a very encouraging week, in that Mom seems much stronger now than she was a week ago!

She is able to do more around the house without feeling wobbly and getting so quickly exhausted. And she is starting to transition away from needing so many home health aide services.

Some confusion is still evident, as we had a couple of mix-ups this week about appointments and medications. But we trust that will continue to improve as well.

She and I have had fun this week, making a couple of batches of candy and fudge to give as Christmas gifts. That has been a tradition of hers for many years, and I'm pleased to be able to help her do it again this year. It didn't seem possible a month ago!

We will be getting the help of a social worker to meet with us and discuss plans for when Jack & I return to Florida at the end of January. That is encouraging too, to know that type of support is available.

Thanks for praying for us!! May our eyes stay focused on the One Who came as the greatest Gift of all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday, December 8 - Doctor visits

Mom & I had a good trip to Dartmouth-Hitchcock today. So thankful for roads that were mostly clear of snow & ice.

We saw her oncologist (cancer doctor) and learned that her recent PET scan was completely CLEAR! Praise the Lord. Six months ago there was a shadow on her liver that he was concerned about, but it has completely disappeared. He said it may have been inflammation.

We also saw the interventional radiologist who inserted the coil in her aneurysm. We discussed the TIA/stroke-like episodes that she's been having. His opinion is that because the symptoms are always the same, involving her speech and her right arm, it is probably not TIA's caused by blood clots in the brain. If it were, the symptoms would probably vary, as the clots would be unlikely to always occur in exactly the same place.

Also, he looked at the CD of the recent ultrasound of her carotid arteries, and reported that they look good! So they are unlikely to be the source of the problem.

He suggested the possibility of slight "electrical disturbances," neurons occasionally misfiring, due to the blood that still remains in the brain from the aneurysm. If this is happening, it is actually a mini seizure.

Both doctors were very caring and attentive as she described her symptoms, and shared their opinions; however, they both admitted that the problem is out of their specialty and recommended that she see a neurologist.

Her left leg has been giving her severe pain, which her primary care doctor thinks may be her longstanding neuropathy acting up. If so, she needs a neurologist for that anyway. (The one she used to see for it has retired). So when we find one, we can give him or her two mysteries to solve. :-)

Our trust continues to be in our Lord who has brought us this far and will never fail. We are looking to Him for clear guidance regarding what arrangements, probably changes, need to be made regarding Mom & Dad's living situation. This is a great burden on our hearts at this time and we really appreciate your prayers!

We are also planning a 40th wedding anniversary party for Mom & Dad on Saturday, January 17 at the West Paris (ME) Baptist Church. Lois & Chris will be here, and so will we, so it seems a good time even though their actual anniversary is May 24. We are praying Mom will be feeling better and stronger than she does now.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday, December 5 - more tests

This past Wednesday, Mom had an ultrasound of her carotid arteries (in her neck) and also an MRA, which is an MRI of the head/neck area. Both were done at AVH in Berlin.

The test results were sent down to Dartmouth Hitchcock, and they immediately called her to set up a vascular study down there.

This coming Monday (12/8), we leave at 6 am to see her interventional radiologist at 9 am, and also her oncologist at 11 am to get the results of her recent PET scan.

The following Wednesday (12/17), we'll go down to Dartmouth again for the vascular study, which is another ultrasound as well as an appointment with a vascular surgeon. We pray that these appointments will result in identifying and remedying whatever is causing her frequent TIA's (mini strokes).

With the help of Pastor Jon Howry and three of his sons, we were able to rearrange some furniture to make Mom and Dad's living area more practical for their current situation. Mom has a dresser downstairs now to keep her clothes in, for which we are grateful.

Thanks so much for continuing to pray for us. We appreciate all the prayers and gifts so very much!! And also, that the price of gas has come down!! :-)