2013: Where Did You Go?

Goodbye Smiley Face
   GOODBYE 2013

Adieu, Farewell, Good-bye, Hate to see you go, Adios, See Ya…..NOT!!

If you had a year like we had a year you would know why I start this remembrance of 2013 the way I have. Now don’t get me wrong, no everything in 2013 was bad, then again not everything was good. Just a brief back ground for those who don’t know me and my background. In 1993 I was rear ended by a drunk driver causing severe lower back damage and over time have been considered disabled and placed on disability. I also am the primary family caregiver for my mother who has COPD and several other medical issues.

Now for 2013, not only did I start on and finish my first full year writing my blog (PickYourPain.org), throughout the year I also posted blogs ont Caregiving.comwhere I participated in many online chats, MC’d the Men’s Health chat room, administrated the 101 Things to Do, SPOT (Stamp Procrastination Out Today) and a Task A Day (To Bring Cheer Your Way) groups. I  was Co-Host of the Caregiving.com Quiz Show, played Solitaire Showdown (which I won one month then went down in the year end Champions Round.)  I also provided an ear as a “WAIT Buddy, Phone Buddy” to other family caregivers waiting for or with a loved one in an ER, surgery center, waiting rooms, etc so they knew someone was there if they needed them.

Over the past year I have also taken on the testing of several medical or caregiving devices and iPhone applications for companies and then will post a blog about their pros and cons.  Just a few of these included, ID My Pill “app,” Simply Health, Back Care “app,” On Time “Medication Reminder” and several others. I look forward to doing more of these in 2014.

 January brought into the family another sister when my older brother finally married his then girlfriend of eight years. We rescued another black lab puppy (3 months old) and my beloved 49ers were in the Super Bowl and lost.

As February rolled in, Denise (@Denise) of Caregiving.com and I were guests on a internet video chat regarding, “What is the Future of Elder Care?,”  hosted by Huffington Post Live.  Mom was admitted to the Travis AFB Hospital (75 mile drive) for an eight-day vacation for COPD and edema backing up on her heart. My son, who serves in the USAF, was home on a two-week vacation.

March brought a large number of trips to Travis AFB Hospital for testing and follow up on Mom’s condition.  Also, Mom takes a tumble in her kitchen and breaks four of her toes and the bones that run across the top of her foot. We start April by moving Robert, my brother-in-law who has dealt with epilepsy since birth, in with us to ensure he receives the best possible care he can get. We intended to convert the garage into a full bedroom suite with walk-in shower  but when the contractor said with his costs. with “ALL” of the fees and city permits, would run $30,000 – $35,000 to complete the project, sorry.  So we are now looking for a new home that meets our needs. April then ends with mom getting her boot off and a week later breaking her foot again and, yes, back on with the brace.

Other than the usual blogs, chats and my doctors appointments, May was the slowest month for us in 2013, other than Robert being admitted again for pneumonia and sepsis. Mom was also diagnosed with having acute depression with acute anxiety issues, not something else.  June made up for that; USA Today asked me to join them to discuss my views on caring for my mom who has COPD and edema as well as other medical issues and what I thought would be the future needs for care. Between us for some reason, we had a lot of appointments (kidney, back, pain, dental, pcp’s, cardiology, neurology, lab work, Coumadin test).

2014 is a good time to change.

July brings me accepting to become the Director of Sponsorship for Caregiving.com, along with the next day getting sick for five days.  Mom’s appointments continued between McClellan AFB, Travis AFB, the Neurologist and Kidney Specialists and weekly trips to the lab for Coumadin testing. My appointments included the Pain Management Specialist (monthly), pharmacy (three to four times a month), Massage Therapy (monthly) and Bowen Therapy (twice a month).

At the end of July first part of  August we tried a part-time in home care agent this month, one that we knew from the previous care facility Robert was in. This gave me time to get house work done, keep up on day job without stress and gave me and Trish (my wife) some time to go out and get some mini respite time. This lasted until she went to Europe on vacation (the in-home care agent, not my wife) and then we never heard from her. The appointments between me and Mom continued at a dizzying pace.

We then meandered our way into…

…September, which includes six family birthdays and our anniversary (17th). On top of that, my Pain Management Clinic was in the process of refilling my internal pain medicine pump and accidentally injected 40ml of Fentynal directly into my stomach, causing a “Major” overdose and putting me into the ICU for four days on an IV antidote and then another ten days at home continuing to work it out of my system.  This also required testing of the pump and catheter to confirm both were working.

However only a week after I left the hospital, Robert is put into it again for a week long visit, with his third bout in ten months for pneumonia and sepsis. Yes, third time and it’s not over (spoiler alert). Then when at 10:30 p.m. I reach down and scratch my ankle all of a sudden feel liquid running down my foot. I put my hand down a grip whatever (my ankle) and hobble to the bathroom to inspect a 6- to 8-in. stream of blood squirting out of a little hole. It seems my edema had pushed my blood vessels close to the skins surface and in scratching I nick a vein and open up the flood gates.

My PCP decides to use a magnesium stick to cauterize the scratch, wrap both my legs from the knee down with ace bandage, a foam sub-layer and finally a few layers of casting wrap. I had on for four weeks to push the retained fluids up and hopefully out.

Things picked up again in October with Mom having to go to the ER three times, me going once for the edema again. My brother’s 24-year-old stepson of only 24 years ran his first half marathon in San Francisco when only 15 to 20 feet  from the finish line he did a face plant due to a heart attack. All the doctors on site said if he had not been at the end of the run, did not have all the marathon medical staff and vehicles on site, was not only five miles from SF Medical Center, he would be dead. To date they are still unsure as to what caused his episode.  Must be  “It runs in the family.” Again, he was running to get ready for this race, down to  low body fat, only 24 years old and he has a heart attack. Boy was he lucky.

November took us to Miami for a few days with myself and Trish where we were joined not only by three of my family members who help care for our mom but local Florida area members of Caregiving.com, (@worriedwife, @thpurplejacket and @ejourneys). It was the start to the first ever Caregiving.com Cruise Vacation were we cruised the Bahamas.  We were joined by Denise Brown (@Denise, mentor to many and the name and  face behind the Caregiving.com web site) and Kathy (@kathy, who cares for her husband). It was an amazing four nights, six days of learning more about each other, even though we’ve been speaking on the internet for almost 2-1/2 years. To bring a face to a name, well, who needs a Christmas gift. Mine came early.

Which brings us to December, which went real well, overall.  Robert was again admitted for pneumonia and sepsis, the shortest stay on record I believe, only four days. Because of my back issues and Robert being dead weight, for lack of a better term, we have to call 911. The firemen, paramedics and such are getting to know us now to the point Trish had a conversation with one of them regarding our 10-ft., 6-in.-tall Christmas tree.

The family welcomed with three newborns in the same number of months with a fourth addition expected in just a few months. We had two great Christmas parties (large and small family), along with a great Christmas dinner with my mom, the girls and their boyfriends. Only downfall was not having Christopher (my son) here; he is stationed in Minot, N.D. We found the perfect trees, actually it was the first one we walked up to and pulled out, a 10-ft., 6-in. Douglas Fir for the living room and, because of the large number of ornaments we have, we grabbed a 6-ft. Douglas Fir for the family room. Great holidays all around so it seems as if 2013 is going to end in a positive and will (we hope) keep rolling right into 2014.

Thanks to all of you, my family, friends, readers and listeners near and far.  Thank you for taking the time out of your busy days, which as a family caregiver I understand every spare second you find you can be doing 100 something else’s. I am honored that you take that second to read or listen to me.

Please have a respectful, safe, dedicated, fun and humorous 2014.

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3 thoughts on “2013: Where Did You Go?

  1. Avatar of PegiPegi

    @Richard, I’m exhausted just reading your year! In true Richard and Trish mode, you did end on a positive note. Watching your pics and reading your blogs here and on fb really brightened my holiday season also. Here’s to good friends and a good year, go 2014! Bless you and all the family.

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