Saturday, January 4, 2020

It is hard to live so far away



This is the Prince's grandmother.  The mother of his father and his Uncle.  The great grandmother to 14.  Living in the same neighborhood for 30 years.  Friend and good neighbor to all those around her.  Do not forget faithful church member, prayer warrior, and worrier to the list of amazing Nan attributes. 

This is what 85 looks like.  


This is what 93 looks like.
 (just a new kind of necklace) 



 There have been some challenges in recent years, but for the most part 95 has presented about the same. Independent living, with the assistance of others to get her to appointments and to the store. She however, is still maintaining her tidy living space preparing her own meals, and keeping up with her own schedule.   Until a few weeks ago.  

She (and we) because of the distance we live from her, are remarkably blessed to have family and friends that call and stop over to make sure that she is doing ok with regularity.  Of course anytime one of the kids or ourselves are in town, Nan visits are always one of the top things on our list. 

This is what 95 looks like.
(this past August )


Thanksgiving this year! 
(still 95 looks pretty good!) 



A few weeks ago on a Sunday, my brother called to say that she was struggling with her tv and remote, and if you know Nan at all, you know this is a pretty regular occurrence.  So he popped in and got things working for her again, but by the time he got home, she had called to say it was not working again.  He and I  talked that evening and he indicated that she seemed a bit "off" but could have just been having a bad day.  

I told the Prince.  

The prince, since forever, that I can remember, calls his grandmother every evening. Monday through Friday, on his drive home from work to see how she is doing.  The last year or so the calls have been a challenge because her hearing is very poor, so he spends a lot of the conversation repeating himself in an amplified fashion.  She spend a lot of time saying "ok".  

He agreed after talking with her that she did indeed seem a little off, maybe a bit more confused than normal, but again, it is hard to assess when she can't participate in typical conversations due to hearing loss. Which if you asked her, she does not suffer from. 

Within days of my brother calling me, a family friend stopped by and indicated that now there was something significantly "off" with Nan.  She was trying to use her phone as a tv remote, her words were a bit slurred and her medications were spread out around the house. 

 The ambulance was called and she was admitted to the hospital.  She was very confused.  Dehydrated and had an infection of which the source could not be tracked.  

Over the years Nan has had some falls, and broken her collar bone and banged herself up significantly, but always rebounded to the appropriate levels for her age, to continue her independent living.  

After the fall that caused her to break her collar bone, the Prince went to PA, as she was being released from a stay in rehab, to outfit her apartment with all the safety features that the case worker recommended so that she would not have trip hazards etc.  
Boy was she mad about loosing her throw rugs and that blue chair... 

Throughout her current time in the hospital, they treated her infection, and worked with her on her strength and mobility.  This time she was not rebounding so quickly.  She was still a good bit confused, and was not able to get her strength back to sustain her own weight.  

She was released to the rehab facility, a local nursing home.  Her progress was updated many times a day in direct communication between the Prince and her nurses.   We were told that they would be running tests and taking her to physical therapy. 

However, before the New Year, it was determined that she is unlikely to make any more progress and was being discharged from physical therapy (rehab) care.  

What does that mean?  We are 1100 miles away.  She can not live alone, but what do we know, since we have been saying that for years!  There is not a suitable option for her there of someone that she can live with, nursing home care/assisted living is financially not possible for her on her deceased husbands railroad pension, and what do we know about in home care?  

Off flies the Prince the day after New Years, with a one way ticket, and a ton of questions that have no suitable answers.  Upon being told of her pending discharge, he has been working on a mountain of paper work to attempt to get financial medical assistance so that she can continue to stay in the nursing home. He began to investigate in home care providers, and we began considering the pros and cons of just packing her up and moving her to Florida. 

Oh wait, but those of you who know Nan know, she does not want to stay in the nursing home, she just wants to go home to her apartment, and Florida would not be suitable because in her words it is "too cold here"!!  

We began praying about what the Lord would want us to do.  How can we make her comfortable, yet safe, and help her see her need for much more assistance in life than she is accustomed to, or that she thinks she needs.  

The Prince has been gathering paperwork, he has been working diligently to advocate for his grandmother, and even was considering discharging her, taking her home and monitoring her on his own over the next several days to see what her true functions were limited to.  To assess the situation and see if in home care would suffice.   

I think he and I both knew however that if Nan was discharged from care, which the doctors are clearly at this point discouraging, then she would end up coming to live with us.  Not to mention that she would be forfeiting her "spot" or bed in the nursing home.  To say the Prince has been struggling with major care decisions for Nan would be an understatement.  

Yesterday he had a meeting.  The meeting went well and the Prince got a lot of answers that he needed including but not limited to the fact that it seems like Nan will be able to stay on at the nursing home, as a resident as they are not seeing any reason for her medical assistance request to be denied.  

A collect of sigh could be felt, as that news makes it easier for all of that know and love her to relax knowing that she will be well cared for and in a safe place.  As you know - she is a spunky one, and even while in care at the rehab, told that she may not get up on her own, she had to try.  Of course the result was a fall, which only surprised her, not her care givers, but was a much needed consequence to make her understand that she is not as well as she thinks she is.  

So we immediately started praying that the Prince could persuade her, explain to her, why she needs to stay in the care of the nursing home.  That she would not be adamant about returning home to her apartment.  You all that know Nan, know when she gets something in her head, boy she won't let it go!  

Last night when I talked to the Prince he shared with me that she knows she is not ready to go to her apartment yet, and has agreed to stay in the nursing home.  "Until she gets better"... 

Asking for prayer the next couple days for the Prince as he navigates and plans for her care in the nursing home, figures out how long we should/can hold her apartment,  as he pays her bills, plans the mail for, gathers documents that we need here to make decisions for her while she is in care, and makes his plans for a return trip home.

Most importantly, please pray for Nan.  She is one of a kind.  She has seen more life than many.  She has buried two husbands and both her children.  Many of her life long friends have already passed from this earth.  Since I met her over 30 years ago, she has been ready to go home and be with Jesus.   
Which I will not lie, used to sort of freak me out.   All departure greetings went something like this, " "See you Tuesday honey, unless the good Lord takes me home."  Along with countless conversations in her older years about being tired, and just wanting to die at home, and meet Jesus.  

Now that I am older, I get it.  Now that some of those around me that I have loved, have passed away, I understand the void left behind and how much you miss them.  I see that it is her faith in the Lord and her hope of eternity spent with her husbands and boys and all those dear to her that have gone on ahead of her that fuels her hearts desire to be with Jesus.  

But today is not the day.  God still has her here with us!  In this time, it is our desire to love her and honor her, and help her transition into this "not so independent living" time of life.  

As soon as we have detailed information I will share it with you, who also know and love her, so that you can encourage her too.  Not that you need ideas, but ....

If you are local and can find 30 minutes to pop over and say hello, she would be thrilled for the company, as one of her laments once she had to give up driving, was no one comes to visit.  
(Which again, if you know Nan, and have ever tried to stop in for a visit, there is a 50/50 chance she would be out and about!) 

If you are not comfortable with the face to face of visiting elderly in a nursing home, send a card. Make a phone call (but be prepared to repeat yourself, loudly) 

If none of those options are ideal for you, then join us as we pray for her.  For the Lord, who loves her more than we do, to allow her comfort and peace and grace in her new situation.  

As she works on "getting better" so that she can go home... 



Sunday, December 29, 2019

An Update on Grumpy


For those of you that have been following the saga of Grumpy, and may have seen his photo included in my overview of our Christmas memories, and might be a tad curious... 

In July, Grumpy was struck as a pedestrian, after bolting across three lanes of traffic, struck in the 4th lane by a turning vehicle that did not see him.  He suffered from two lost front teeth, a broken foot, and broken big toe on the same foot.  He had multiple contusions on his body ( you can see a portion of them in this photo) and was hospitalized for three days.  



As with all horrible incidents, there is a range of emotions. Until the day after his admission to the hospital, I had not interacted much with Grumpy for over two years.  While we had assisted him in many ways over the years despite his repeated poor choices and chaotic situations, all one on one met up's had been largely between he and the Prince.   

Even in the face of this horrible accident, sadly it was again shown to us that Grumpy struggles to find the line between truth and fiction.  His story, because at that point we only had his side, seemed plausible, even evoked in us some rage and some sympathy.   He was coming home from work, he was trying to cross traffic with his bike, it was a hit and run, no one stopped to help, and the description of the vehicle that struck him was detailed, down to the grille of said vehicle.  He had called his boss, his boss said take as much time as he needs to heal, they would hold his job...  

The truth, once we received the police report, laid out a very different version of the events of that afternoon.  In fact, all cars did stop, in all lanes of traffic,  people witnessed the event, and claimed that he had no bike, and was seen wildly sprinting out into traffic from the area of an adjacent store parking lot.   

Knowing my dwarfs as I do, I had been suspect of the true version of the story from the beginning.  However there was a part of me deep that wanted to believe, empathize and even care for this wayward dwarf of mine.  When pressed about the truth, he did confess to making up much of the story (except for the obvious, being struck by a vehicle) He did not have a job waiting for him, he had actually quit the week before, because they wanted him to open a bank account so they could pay him.  He did not have his bike, he gave/traded or sold it (still not sure) just a couple days after the Prince gave it to him, He was on the verge of loosing his housing, and his sprint into oncoming traffic was due to the fact that he thought someone was chasing him.  

In the midst of all this, there was a silver lining.  Part of the past year's health concerns for him (fainting, anxiety, blurred vision, hallucinations, headaches, weight loss) had in part been stemming from an acute case of Graves Disease and hyperthyroidism, which until the car accident, had been undiagnosed.  When he was scooped off the pavement at the accident, his heart rate was 220, when stabilized his resting heart rate was 156.  This alone caused the doctors to look into other health issues aside from the trauma from being hit by a moving vehicle.  His "crazy eyes" along with other symptoms that had caused him to seek medical attention over the past year all came into view with this diagnosis.  

So began my journey back into the life of Grumpy.  I prayed and discussed with the Prince, that my interactions had to be limited, and that I once I started to become angry, frustrated, or felt like I was being taken advantage of by the dwarf, I was out.  

Since August, we have attended many doctors visits, (for the thyroid/broken foot/ingrown toenail/ and med pick ups and drop offs) have helped him clean, help him manage his funds for food stamps,  helped him transition when ejected from his stable living situation, assisting social workers in helping him qualify for social security, purchasing items for him to be able to secure a job, and are back on his "call" list when he is struggling with something.   Sometimes, I ignore the calls and texts.  I have to for my sanity and mental wellness.  Sometimes I pass the word to the Prince who steps in and helps out, and sometimes we just have to say no.   

However, what I have found is that no one gives a more sincere hug that Grumpy!  That when words fail him, he is able to write from his heart about his failings and his gratefulness for our support, even as limited as it is.  That at the heart of who he is, he desires to change, but is unable.  He tries, but it is too hard for him to sustain.  He gets caught up in his fantasy to escape his reality.  While I have not a clue as to how this story ends, his or mine,  they are intertwined and have been since God called me to be his momma 15 + years ago.     

So how did we get this photo after years of being estranged?  

Christmas is a time for compassion, for kindness, for grace, and when we are diligent, for seeing opportunities and taking hold of them. 

This year Grumpy's full biological brother, Bashful, worked all afternoon and evening of Christmas Eve.  Since these two dwarfs can not be together without causing issues, the Prince and I worked up a plan to invite Grumpy to Christmas Eve services, and home with us for our traditional Pennsylvania Dutch pot-pie dinner.  

His gratefulness was overflowing, but at times he was as awkward as ever.  His appreciation for my cooking was through the roof and he requested, even though I already planned to do so, to have leftovers sent home with him to share.  He noticed the changes made to the house, he appreciated the Christmas decorations and even noticed new ones.  While he was invited to stay and join the boys in some video games, we did not have any that he knew or remembered how to play, so we ended the evening a bit early.   

  

For most of the sibling dwarfs, the appearance of the wayward Grumpy, was taken in stride.  I believe that his half dwarf, Happy, was very excited to see him, and share a meal with him.  The others were polite, but know that this snapshot in time is just that, until the rails fall off with the next crisis.  

For the momma it was a bittersweet evening.  Sweet because all but one of my dwarfs were present for literally my favorite night and event of the year!  Christmas Eve and the candlelight service.  

Bitter because, when we started this journey 15 years ago, we never envisioned having a homeless son, (much less a homeless toothless son).  Never did we imagine that so many of our kids would grow up (but not grow up mentally) and suffer significant life events that we would not be able to shield them from or make better for them, because of their choices and their inability/refusal to do the "right" things. 

We did not take this journey thinking that we would "fix" anyone, but we were hopeful that we could help them overcome their past, and equip them for a better future. Better than what you may ask.  We had hoped better than their biological families, hence assisting in breaking the generational poverty cycle.  It seems in the case of our dwarfs, nature wins.  Which is heartbreaking for a mom.  

I have learned in all this, that I was only called to be the middle of their story.  I was not involved in the beginning.  I am not responsible for the end.  

But in the middle I have supported, coerced, enforced, encouraged, praised, corrected, reinforced, taught, prayed, circled around, cheered, cried, paid for, lived an example in front of them of what life could be like.  Shared openly all my resources.  Searched out new resources.  Stood beside them, and advocated for them.  

Now I meet them where they are, how I can, when I am able, and provide for them out of my excess when I feel led.   

To some this may seem harsh.  To others, they know that is a survival technique.  When I stand before the Lord, I have confidence that I have done all and can (and will continue to do so) for my kids, my husband, the Prince, and for others that we love.  Finding the balance along the journey and trusting in the knowledge that the Lord loves them all more than this momma ever could.  

I never envisioned when I titled this blog so many years ago, how accurate the title would be.... But you just can't make this stuff up....

Thursday, November 14, 2019

and Again....

"Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it. "   Niels Bohr



I have no idea who this man, that I quoted above, is or was...  the quote is however resonating with me at this time as I ponder a situation that is not unfamiliar to me, but overwhelms me just the same.      
"Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution."  When we have a difficulty we certainly are able to dig deep and find a solution, and in doing so we do have to adjust our thinking regarding the difficulty, the people involved (ourselves included) the surroundings, and the possible outcomes, to find said solution.  For those of us without mental illness, this is no mystery.  Daily we come head to head with situations that are difficult, challenging, and we consider our options, make informed assumptions, follow the natural thought process to find an adequate solution. 

What do you do with someone that you care for is mentally ill?  Is unable to process the situation and will not heed yours or anyone's wisdom (until it is too late) and will continue to deflect and make excuses for their failings and their difficulty even in light of the consequences that they have brought on themselves ? 

All these years I have been stuck in the thinking that somehow I am going to make a difference or impact or change another person (this person, being a dwarf or two) in how they think, act or behave, when perhaps it is not for them to change to conform to what I expect or even what the world would accept, but for me to change my thinking in order to let him(them) find their own solutions. If I understand their mental illness, I should also understand that I can't fix what they do not see as broken. 

I did not create their difficulties.  They have or are creating them on their own.  Are they less responsible for their behaviors because they are mentally ill?  I say I honestly do not know.  I do know all mentally ill individuals DO NOT live a train wreck of an existence.  Many are able to listen with some margin of understanding,  about their struggles, and desire to change from those ways, and are moderately to extremely successful, especially when supported and loved.  Sadly, at this point, not my dwarfs. 

Having said that I need to change my thinking is easier than actually doing it. When someone that you know and care for is mentally ill there is a huge bubble of hope that wants things to be okay, to work out, and for something that you say or do to break through.   At this point I have over 15 years invested in these dwarfs.   The struggle that I have in just letting them work through this on their own, is that I, unlike they, can see clearly the outcome in advance. This weighs heavy upon my heart.  

Knowing that worst case for one of these dwarfs (who am I kidding, two of them) could include a solution that may result in death or incarceration.  The least case, a permanent separation from all family and familiar ties. 

While we have done this before, it is not easy. Living this for multiple dwarfs (insert children) takes a toll on ones mind, heart and soul if you are a parent. Walking the same path repeatedly and for more than one of your dwarfs,  takes a toll on your well being mentally and physically.  As a parent you do not just dust off your hands and say good riddance.  Parenting (relationships) in general do not work that way. Out of sight out of mind does not apply either, especially when you do not know where they are sleeping or how they are eating. 

So we find ourselves at a cross road. Again, and again, Grumpy is unable to sustain and maintain the free gift of food and shelter.  Unable to do the hard things that would change his circumstances from grim to tolerable.  When he is given an opportunity to be in a situation that is tolerable, he mucks it up.  Again and again and again.  Self sabotage. After he is removed from a situation, he looks back and can say, boy I messed that up bad or I wish I was still at this place, it was good for me.  But is unable to understand the connection between his actions and behaviors and the termination of these services and or situations.

Given chances to make things right and make changes to his thinking by taking actions to fix the difficult situations that he finds himself in,  are always just out of his grasp. On the other side of his ability to process and sustain.   Deep within, he has the knowledge, the training and the ability to do the right and hard things, but like running water, takes the path of least resistance time and time again.  

He chooses repeatedly to fine tune the attributes of his character that make him less than desirable to be around by deflecting, playing the victim, manipulating, coercing, conniving or is out rightly rude, surely and abrasive thinking that this time those behaviors will somehow work in his favor.  He is unable to, or prefers not to comply, co-exist or cooperate with authorities, rules and regulations so that he can live peacefully with others.  

As an outsider, it is always easy to see the solution.  For Grumpy the solution is to do hard things.  To cast aside his inherently lazy nature an the false identity/reality that he has created for himself as to who he is (a thug from the inner city slums)  and listen to the advise and wisdom and instruction given to him by those that love and care for him.  He would need to ask for help (which he does not do, unless it benefits him) , admit his failures,  and begin to show that he is able to grow from them and not continue to repeat them.  Yet again, and again, we are at the crossroads.  

For some reason, Grumpy likes his disfunction more than he likes to function.  He will be turned away from more than shelter and food.  He also going to miss our helping hand, as we have told him if he is in a program and stable, we will assist him, if it is not a hardship to us, with rides,  health needs, and small things to help his life have some benefits.  Once he looses the stability, we have to withdraw from the chaos that ensues for our own well being.

He is being evicted on the 23rd of November.  He will be turned out to the streets as winter begins here in Florida.

In so many ways the Bible speaks to the man and character that Grumpy has chosen for himself.  "The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating. The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives." Proverbs 18:6-7

I want to help, to protect and to do what I can to keep him safe and healthy, but sadly he brings on troubles by running his mouth, and by provoking others.  You can only treat people poorly so many times (I do not care what your disability is) you can still choose humility and kindness.  People get tired of the drama and nonsense quickly.  Grumpy could attest to these things if he ever took ownership of his actions and words.

Perhaps someday there will be sustained change and growth.  Yesterday and today were not those days.

Sadly, you can not make this stuff up...


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The boy that paid the people to take the donuts away

I am sure that this past Saturday morning starting at 5:00 am, there were customers of an unnamed donut shop here in town, that were looking for the boy that last week was paying them to take the donuts away from the store.

Before you get too excited about such an opportunity existing, especially if you love donuts like me, let me tell you it was a very short employment at unsaid donut shop, and Bashful, is no longer employed there.

Bashful has been unemployed since May, however he talks and spends as if he has funds. (He makes $20 a week mowing our lawn.) His untethered reality is that money really grows on trees, and while he thinks we are poor slobs, he is never at a loss for how to spend our money. 

Since he has gotten his permit, it is pressing on him ( a wee bit) that he needs a job, to pay for insurance, so that he can practice driving in one of our vehicles.  So the local donut shop was hiring, and he applied for the position.  He was hired.  When I asked what the position was, he told me customer service and register.

Oh goodness. No way!, I think.  The dwarf can not make change.  He is a 17 year old that can't count money.  No drama from this mamma, he really can NOT do either of these things.

When he comes out of the interview he says that he starts at 4:45 am on Saturday and works all day until 1 PM.  He can eat all the free donuts he wants, but has to pay full price for drinks.  Sounds like a sweet gig!

I question him about how his interview went.  I asked if he was upfront with the woman that was interviewing him about his own fears of making change and taking money.  He claims he was, and that she indicated it would all work out as most people use credit cards anyhow.

I spend a significant amount of time with him that evening trying to re-teach, what in my personal opinion should be taught in the schools,  until the kids master it, the art of making change and counting money.

Bashful is guessing through the entire process - 4 quarters equals $.55.  A dime is worth  $.05 because it is smaller than the nickel.  The nickel is worth $.10 because it is bigger .  He has the pennies - 1 cent and 100 make a dollar, but do not for the love of God ask him to count or make change.  It is a crap shoot, in which all he did was guess.  Did I say he did not understand a bit of what I was trying to teach him.

At one point in the process I am mad.  Not at him, but at a system that fails this kid and others like him that are in the fringe.   How is it that my 17 year old can't do a simple, yet necessary function in life?  Is it assumed he will just use a credit or debit card all his life and never need the skills of counting money to pay for something that he is purchasing.  FORGET all the jobs that he can not do because he can NOT master this technique.

Day one seems to go off without a hitch.  The dwarf indicated that he called the manager to assist him several times with cash transaction, but she never came to help him, indicating that it would be okay in the end.   Saturday his drawer was off $45 but no one seemed pressed.  As a matter of fact Bashful said he did so well, that the next day would be his last day of training and then he would be on his own.

Sunday dawns bright and early, but Bashful is up well before dawn.  "Time to make the donuts!"  The Prince drops him off for day 2 at 4:45 am! 

About 20 minutes before it is time to pick Bashful up I get a call from the manager at unnamed donut shop and she is mad!!!  One of Bashful's adults needs to come down and pick him up immediately and come in to the store.  I ask what it is in reference to, and she said she is so mad she needs to see one of us and will not discuss it over the phone. Maybe eating all the donuts you want for free was not really the deal? I of course choose the Prince for this honor.

It seems that while Bashful stuck to his guns, calling the manager to assist when he got confused and could not do the cash transactions, she for the most part blew him off with her customary saying, "it will work out in the end."  Guess what this is the end.  It did not work out.

The Prince arrives, and is told by the manager that she will be calling the police on Bashful for stealing, as his drawer is $290 off.   I believe (because I was not there) that it was all the Prince could do not to laugh in this woman's face.   At some point the Prince tells the manager , who is now painfully aware that this is not going to work out in the end, that he can guarantee that Bashful did not steal the cash, and that it is no where on him. 

The Prince frisks the boy, checking pockets, waistbands and socks and shoes.  He tells the manager that unless the dwarf has the money rolled in a prison purse and jammed up his bum, he is clean of the missing money.    She is baffled.  Rattled and unsure what to do.  Again, claiming that her boss is going to want the missing money and because of the amount she will need to bring in the authorities. 
Now I think the Prince is laughing.  He says that they are leaving.  He asks again if the dwarf asked for help.  Indeed he did, and she adds that a couple times the day before she over heard customers telling Bashful that they gave him back the same amount that they used to pay for their purchases.  But no red flags for that manager... 

The Prince lets her know that if she feels she needs to contact the authorities to do so, but they will not be arresting Bashful or her for incompetence.  This is on her.  He said he needed help repeatedly and she did not assist.

Lesson learned (hopefully by that manager) as we already knew going into this that it would not be a good fit for Bashful.  However when your dwarfs are special, and they do not think that they are, some of life's best lessons are learned first hand.  My guess is he will be going back to dish work if he is selected by another restaurant for employment.

Over $300 short for a two day shift.  This means he gave away an average of $18.75 an hour in incorrect change, in essence paying the customers that weekend to take the donuts out of that still to be unnamed donut shop!  Bet there were some regulars that were sad the following week to see the blonde boy with bad math skills was not behind the counter!

Nah, there is no way that you can make this stuff up!






Wednesday, October 16, 2019

When you refuse to brush your teeth...

I have this dwarf, and he refuses to brush his teeth.  I can't recall exactly when it started, however he has had, for at least two years, shown increasing and advanced stages of gingivitis at the ripe old age of 17.

I have tried all the tactics I can think of to encourage him to brush, and not a thing works.  As a matter of fact, he will go to extremes to pretend to brush, all the while never doing more than putting a wet toothpaste covered brush in his mouth, spitting and rinsing.

At each dental appointment, things keep getting worse, yet even in that, he is still refusing to brush or to take the necessary steps to help combat his severe gingivitis and potential tooth decay.

Last month I took him for his dental check up.  I was told that because he was a minor that I had to stay at the office while he was in the chair. (I had hoped to run a few errands because I knew it would be a while.)

Since I was not able to leave, I situated myself in the lobby with my book and started my long wait.  Fifteen minutes into the wait, the hygienist comes out to me and says, " Mom, we have a problem."  I sort of roll my eyes in my head and think, "no kidding".

I ask her politely, what the problem is.  She indicates that said dwarf is refusing to open his mouth.  Shocked, (not really) I ask why.   She tells me that as she was water picking his mouth and counting his teeth, that his gums had started to bleed, and he is in pain and is refusing to open his mouth, so she would like my permission to give him some numbing pain relief.  Which of course is going to cost me X amount of dollars.

Now I roll my eyes for real, thinking she has to be kidding me.  But she is not.  I authorize the numbing agent, and as she is preparing to walk away, tell her that if needles are involved, she could do it twice, and I would happily pay for once on the top row of teeth and once on the bottom.  Sadly for me, it was just a numbing rub.

I settle back into my reading and am just getting to the good part, and she is back.  "Um, excuse me, mom... we have another problem."  Really?  I am almost 50 and I have never ever ever, had problems at my cleanings.

Oh, right.  I brush, regularly, and with enthusiasm, as this is my free gift to all I come in contact with each day!

Now she goes on to explain that they have to irrigate his mouth with antibiotics, as the bleeding is continuing and spreading harmful bacteria throughout his mouth. Geez, I think to myself.  All this because he refuses to brush his teeth....

Fine (and of course there is a fee for this as well) they irrigate his mouth.  An hour and a half later, the cleaning, numbing and irrigation, and I would venture to say  what he thinks has been torture, is over, and my purse is much lighter.  As we are leaving they admonish him to do a better job at his oral hygiene and that he needs to do a salt water rinse every day two - three times a day to help heal up his gums. 

As I am leaving the dentist office,  I turn and ask them, how much it would cost to have him come every month for a tooth cleaning.  " What ?" they ask.   A teeth cleaning.  If I bring the dwarf that refuses to brush his teeth (and knowing that, he will also NEVER rinse with salt water) every thirty days for a cleaning, what would the cost or the fee for that service be?

$50.  $50 is not too high of a price to assist in helping my dwarf, who will not help himself, try to keep and maintain his teeth until he at least reaches the age of 18.

So in another week we have a one month cleaning appointment.  Even though he has the knowledge of said appointment, he has not rinsed with the salt water unless I have made it, and by rinse I mean he takes a swing and spits. (no swishing, no gurgling, not getting throughout the entire mouth.) and his oral hygiene has gotten no better. 

Maybe the monthly torture sessions, I mean visits in the dentist chair, will eventually lead to the desired result, him owning his poor habits, changing them, and saving his teeth and gums... but then again, maybe not.

Know this, I will not be paying for numbing and irrigation for the "standard" monthly cleaning.  He has all the power and knowledge to fix this, or at least make it better, and his refusal to do the basics, means the same for myself.  I am committing to the basics, in the hope that he tires of his time in the chair, and the pain, and gets motivated himself to do what needs to be done!


PS- If there was a little bit of, peer pressure, aka kids making fun, like 35-40 years ago when I was in school,  I venture to say, (of course no one knows for sure), that none of this would be an issue for the dwarf.




Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Such an easy read... the dwarf, not the blog

So there are times when my mom gut instinct is "spot on".  Most times it involves our adopted dwarfs and their "squirrel-ish"  behaviors.  When they drop off the radar, there is always a trigger, and when they are in need it is always significant.  They read like a cheap dime store novel, you always, sadly figure out the end of the story in the first several chapters.

Each of my dwarfs start and end chapters in their life just like the rest of us mere mortals. The difference is because of their impairments, watching their stories unfold is somewhat like a train wreck, it is hard to tear your eyes away and you always, always despite your deepest hopes and desires as a parent, watch them muck it up over and over again.  Mental illness is a horrible and debilitating disease for the sufferers and their families.

The dwarf today that I am shaking my head in absolute fascination over is Grumpy. He can't, or won't, or is unable to make a good choice. I have had the distinction of being his mother for 14 years, and nothing is changing for the good, only getting worse now that he has no care or accountability in his life.

Many of you may have heard that Grumpy was involved in a "hit and run" accident a little over two months ago.  He was struck, we were initially lead to believe, by a vehicle while he was walking in a crosswalk, coming home from work at about 4PM in the afternoon.  A hit and run.  In his mind, he was the victim, and the story that he weaved to us and the emergency room employees, was to say the least, consistent, and compelling and evoked empathy and even some sympathy.  The Prince and I considered all things, caught the inconsistencies that others missed, and knew that the verdict would be out until we had the official police report.  Needless to say he is a pathological liar.  Nothing about the story was true, except that yes he was struck full on by a moving vehicle at 4PM on a clear afternoon.

Grumpy lost two front teeth.  His body was battered, and road rash covered his face, head and left side of his body, his foot and big toe on his right foot were broken.  While he has recovered fully from the road rash, and broken body parts, what was discovered in that emergency room visit was his serious and remarkable thyroid problem, Graves Disease.

I am not a doctor, so what exactly these stats mean, is foreign to me, but seemed to be a large enough concern for his nurse to make him aware that he must take medication daily and be under a doctors care.  His heart rate at the time of the accident was 220 beats per minute, his resting that day after they stabilized him, 160 beats per minute.   This disease caused him to among other things, have the shakes, the crazy eyes, shortness of breath,  hallucinations, and disillusions.  When he dashed across three lanes of traffic to get hit in the fourth and final lane (eventually he claimed) he was running away from the bus stop because he thought someone was chasing him.

While Grumpy has had a rough go of it, homeless for almost two years and in and out of facilities, he had somewhat settled in a program that offered him a second chance.  A room in a home, food stamps, rent free, with a case worker to help him with life's issues.  While this is not his first program, nor are we foolish enough to think it will be his last, we were somewhat hopeful that after being struck by a motor vehicle, something would start clicking for the dwarf.

From the time of the accident until two weeks ago, Grumpy was heavily dependent on us for care from everything to showers and bandage changes, to grocery and med pick ups and transportation to and from appointments.  Because of the missing front teeth and loose teeth, he also requested soft foods, so we bought groceries and occasionally, when the Prince was headed over,  I made mashed potatoes as a treat.

While he was "incapacitated" he desired to read books, do word search puzzles, and write letters to his siblings and his old friends.  In said letters he encouraged everyone to do the right things, listen to authority and to obey the rules, so that they do not end up like him!  Most excellent most would say.  However, when the rubber meets the road and the healing began, the red flags started flying!

First, he stopped calling every day.  Why you may ask?  My guess was two fold.  He was feeling better and was going out of the house more, and some how managed to get his hands on technology.  Some devise with wifi.  Which as soon as he has access to social media, he starts living life untethered.  As a matter of fact, the day that I told the Prince that Grumpy was up to no good, I heard through the grapevine on snapchat he was attempting to buy a gun... shocking no, but if you think you're a thug, absolutely appropriate, I guess... I mean don't all thugs buy their guns off snapchat?

Second, while not much more than another week of extended silence... it was still silence. When the Prince "pops" in after work one night to check on his groceries and meds, he is a) not home, and b) his room shows all indications of having a house guest.  This is how and why he was removed from the program the last time!  There is a very strict policy about house guests, while they can visit in the day light hours they may not, any under circumstances, stay in the group home over night.

The Prince reminds Grumpy that this is how he got kicked out of the program the last time.  He also reminds him that the program will not give him a third chance, so get this kid and his stuff out of the house now, OR, you forfeit all that your mother and I are currently doing to help you.  Grumpy says that he will immediately have his friend leave, he just was trying to help out this homeless "friend"  and that he is really sorry.

More silence.  A red flag to us that he did not do as he has been instructed, and is now putting not only his position in the program at risk, but putting the other men that live there and follow the rules in a tight spot. 

Yesterday, I pick him up for an appointment for a thyroid check.  Their first option in treating the Graves Disease is with medications and regular monitoring.   When we arrive, we find out I have the wrong day.  (it doesn't happen often, but sometimes I get confused... )   As we are leaving the doctors in record time I might add,  Grumpy sees a side table in the back of my truck and asks if that is for him.  I said, yes, that I picked it up at the Goodwill so he could put his bed side lamp on top of it instead of the cardboard boxes he was currently using.   As we make the trek back to the halfway house, he says he has something to tell me.  He has a friend staying at the house.  I look at him, and shake my head.  In no uncertain terms I again, lay out for him what the Prince said to him, he needs to go!  Under no circumstances  can that "friend" be staying in his house, room, garage etc.   Grumpy says that he feels bad and that he just wants to help him out.  He feels like he wants to give back to someone else (oh how liars lie).  I tell him, he is helping no one including himself.  If he wants to give back to others, get himself situated and then do what he feels led to do when he has his own funds, home etc.  Grumpy agrees that the friend has to go.  I remind him that he was removed from the program before because of this, and if he looses his placement again, he also looses our current supports.  Choose wisely...

Today, the correct day for the doctors appointment, I show up at the halfway house and the driveway has a car in it.  Not like a cool car... a mini van.  Clue one for me... an adult in charge is on location.  One of the roommates is on the front porch drinking coffee, avoiding eye contact with me. Clue two, as this gent is usually super chatty.   I enter the house and there stands his new case worker and her supervisor.   Grumpy is mad, flying around like a hornet, spouting lies about what is going on, as they are calming explaining to me that the "friend" was found in the house this am by them, and that Grumpy is being evicted.  Just so we are clear, the day before, he assured me that the "friend" was out. (Insert eye roll here and the reminder that pathological liars will tell you whatever they think you want to hear.)

As he was creating a verbal mess to contend with, I told him to shut up and get in the truck.  I took a moment to speak to the case workers.  Found out the situation by asking a few pointed questions, thanked them for their time and left.

We went to the appointment.  He tried to talk to me about the situation and what were we going to do?  First of all we? I don't think so... but I hold all my words in!   I told him this was not a conversation we were having while we were at the doctors.  During the appointment, it became obvious that while initial treatments from month one were working well, as Grumpy was taking his meds regularly, and we were checking in regularly, this last month that he has been off the grid,  he has also not regularly taken his medications.  His blood levels were elevated, and his symptoms are starting to partially return.

This doctor (God bless Him!) is more than aware of Grumpy's situation and we have all indicated that we are in this, as long as Grumpy does what he needs to do.  If Grumpy jumps the rails, he looses the significant assistance (financially) this doctor is providing and without medication will return to the previous issues sufferers from Graves Disease struggle with.

Now because it has been over 40 minutes in the office (of which I have the pleasure of paying for) and Grumpy has been stewing in the error of his ways and his eviction, when we get to the truck, he is dying to talk this out.  I think the Prince would be proud of me... without emotion, without raising my voice, I clearly told him to shut up and listen to me.

This was a mess that he created, and chose to keep allowing to happen, even though his father and I advised him against it, and more importantly is against the rules of the program.   That all of his life he has been a follower, not a leader, and that this behavior will lead him down the road of destruction if he continues to follow those only interested in using him for their own gain.   ( Insert a small chuckle here... oh the irony...Grumpy is in a halfway house with nothing to his name that is actually his, and is being used by a homeless friend for free shelter and food.)

My advise, I tell him is that after I drop him at the house, he should clear all his "friends" belonging out of the house and put them in front of the garage, and call him to pick them up. Tell him not to come back.  Never let him back in the house, and if he comes back on the property,  call the police or his case worker.  After he does that, he should call his case worker and apologize for breaking the program rules, ask for forgiveness and beg for them to help him find a new and suitable housing arrangement.  Here is the sad situation.  He can not, currently be successful,  on his own in a minimum accountability situation.  He needs a placement where he has no technology, has assistance in making and keeping appointments, has transportation available to him, is given his medication at the appointed times, is fed three hots a day, and can continue learning life skills. 

Oh,  and get a freaking job!!! Because by the way, back to the "hit and run", coming home from work... nope... all a lie. He told us he called his boss, and his boss told him to get better and call in a week or so to let him know how he was feeling, and that they would hold his job for him.  He even produced a work shirt!!  Truth,  he had worked for a week with a landscaper and the landscaper was paying him cash.  When his boss told him that he had to get a bank account, so that they could direct deposit his check, Grumpy told them no thanks, he was not getting a bank account, and walked of the job.... The only job he has had since Jan of 2017.

Today, as he started to sputter and wanted to tell me his side of the story, I told him to not say another word.  We are past talking.  I told him that today, he has a choice to make.  All this mess is because he has been making a series of poor choices.  At the end of the day, this is his life.  He can follow my counsel and trust that I may know a bit about life or he can continue to do what he has been doing for the last two plus years. Muck it the heck up... but the choice is his.   I told him to weigh the options.  He has 15 days to figure this out, without our help.  He knows right from wrong and continues to choose poorly.

When we arrived back at his house, I handed him his appointment cards for the next round of doctor visits and blood draws, gave him the adjustments to his medication, reinforcing the warning from the doctor that he had to take these meds regularly, and told him not to forget to pick up his medications tomorrow... I hugged his neck, told him I loved him.   I backed out of the driveway,  a little sad, as I know already, how this chapter will end.

You really can not make this stuff up...






Wednesday, August 28, 2019

"Officer, really, can you please take ME!"

I tell you, when I started having children, and even when I adopted, never did I think that my conversations in my own home would involve police officers.  Unless of course, one of my darling seven dwarfs grew up and became one, or married one.

I have had the sheriff at my house a bit more than I would like to recount, as well as children and youth and a visit from the agency that protects special needs adults.  Why you ask?  Because I am raising RAD kids.  Kids that as they "matured" into adults, figured out that they had this amazing "power" to report the abuse that they endure in our home to the authorities. 

So for this particular visit yesterday, I am sure that the dwarf who made the phone call thought that  I would be satisfyingly hauled off in the paddy wagon to the jailhouse to pay for the great travesty of  asking him to stop doing his chores halfway.

On a personal note, I find that it is very hard to live in a home, and parent a dwarf, where you never know what phrase, word or situation is going to set them off.  In particular, this dwarf has a very bad habit (especially when the Prince is out of town) of refusing to do that things that he knows he ought to do (like chores and taking his meds or cleaning up after himself)

I have not blogged much recently because, life is a series of situations like this.  Until yesterday I felt like no one would "get it" or that no one would want to hear the serious side of the not so cute anymore, adult-ish people that reside in my home.  Perhaps, however that when I have time, and there is a situation like this one I that I can retell with humor, it would be beneficial for another to read, if for no other reason than to know that they are not alone.  Raising mental health special needs kids is hard, and it has that ability to isolate you from "normal people" with normal kid and family issues. So if you are reading this, and understand, because you live it first hand.  You are not alone!

This story actually starts on Monday.  I had to work outside the kingdom, a longer shift than normal.  Dopey picked up Bashful from school, and brought him home for me.  I had no contact with the dwarfs while I was at work, but it was apparent when I got home that night that one of the dwarf's did not do anything at all. Meaning his things from school were dropped on the table and floor of the kitchen, and his chores not done.

He woke up Tuesday morning edgy, because he knew he had been a slacker the day before for no good reason, so while he was searching for his shoes (insert eye roll here, if you took them off and put them away they would be where they are supposed to be.) I said, "they are in the upstairs bathroom, and while you are up there, since you did not clean it last night, please bring the towels down to the laundry room.  Instead of a "hey thanks mom", his head swiveled as if he were possessed and he growled out, " I am not going to f-ing clean the bathroom because Happy doesn't. Those towels are not mine I wasn't even home all weekend.  Happy was supposed to clean it Friday, and did not, so I am not!"

What?!  Wait a minute.  I offhandedly replied (sort of like a mumble to myself) "If you boys do not clean the newly and (a bit expensively) remodeled bathroom, then you can shower outside." 

Bashful, who never hears me when I speak clearly and directly to him, manages to hear me mumble and then began a tirade of curse words and rants explaining to me that I can't make him do that and that the Prince wouldn't make him do that. Finishing out the tirade about how he is not bringing the towels down, and that if the Prince was home, he would not have asked him to do anything this morning.

Of which, I told Bashful, he was absolutely right!  If the Prince was home, this would not be a conversation that they would be having in the morning because the Prince would have made Bashful not only bring the towels down, but start the laundry, scrub the toilet, clean the sink and mirror, remove the trash and sweep the floor; last night!!  The day that it was Bashful's day to clean the bathroom!!

This is the greatest way to start the morning, says no one ever.  I finally,  loosing what bit of half a cup of coffee, tolerance for nonsense I have, and tell him to shut his mouth and get in the truck.   By the time I refill my coffee cup and get to the truck, like a switch, now he wants to be my BFF.  Can you say personality disorder...yikes.

The day proceeds (and no I did not get the towels and bring them to the laundry, because my towels in my bathroom are clean and fresh!) eventually I have to return to the school to pick Bashful up at the end of the day.  The dwarf jumps in, and picks up where we left off with conversation and tales of the day.

Because he is still aware that Monday he did nothing; and that I am on to him, and because he was a jerk in the morning, (of which he will never apologize for because in his mind he is right) after he enters that house and has a snack, he sets about doing his chores for the day.

Now you would think, oh never mind, that is why I have these situations, he doesn't and never will think like me!  He pulls out the vacuum for his "vacuum the steps and upstairs landing" chore.

I am working in the room adjacent to the staircase so I am very aware of what and how long it takes him to vacuum.  He plugs the vacuum in beside me, runs it across the first step and then walks the vacuum to the landing and makes a few passes around that area.  He then turns off the vacuum, comes downstairs and unplugs the vacuum from the plug beside me. 

I turn from what I am doing and say, leave the vacuum, I will sweep the stairs since you did not.  My voice is level, no anger, no frustration, just simply state, " leave the vacuum, I will do the stairs". After stating that he was not done with the chore, (then why were you unplugging the vacuum) he proceeds to loose his mind.  His words follow in no kind of order, escalating and of course where appropriate if you are a cursing person, (insert any curse words you would like into the dialogue), says the following sorts of things.

"If you want me to leave, then I will".  (Not what I said, I said,  "leave the vacuum.") " I don't know why you never get on anyone else about their chores."  (Sure, let me yell at Happy since Monday while I was at work he did his chores and mine, and because he knew I was sick, came and picked me up at work on his scooter so I did not have to walk home. )  "It would be better for everyone if I left."  (Says who? While I won't lie, I think that, in times like this, I do not ever say it to his face.)

I then text the Prince and say "CALL HOME NOW!" thinking that he can be the voice of reason in this situation because I am about to loose my marbles.  At one point I even said, "look Bashful, go to your room.  I will leave.  I seem to be the trigger for you, so give me a minute and I will go."

To which his response was (keep the cursing coming) "that is stupid. That because I live here and pay the bills and he does not pay for anything he should be the one to pack his stuff and leave. "

Let me say at this point I am like, "no please let me help you pack", but again that is just my inner dialogue.  (Gosh how do you get credit for all the stuff that goes through your mind that you do not say...please someone tell me how!)

The Prince calls at that moment, so I hand the phone over to Bashful, which just proceeds to make him angrier.  Hard for me to imagine, but I saw it with my own eyes.   I am still working and Bashful abruptly stops talking and hands me the phone.  The Prince says, "Hang up and call 911."

So I hang up and Bashful asks what his dad had said to me.  I tell him, and he again starts verbally attacking (insert your curse words here) peppered into phrases like this:  " I'm leaving, you can't stop me." You are such a puss because you actually listen to what he says."  What are you waiting for, are you afraid to call the police because they might arrest you?"

Now, I have reached about the end of my self, and I am not proud of it, but reached out and punched him. (in the arm; and again I'd like credit for not dropping him to the ground and pummeling him)  I was hopeful that a change in the situation (a physical sting to the arm) vs this word battle we were in would cause him to pause and think, "wait a minute this is going a bit far".  Again, who am I kidding.  Instead he is now claiming abuse and he wants to call 911.

So I did what any parent would do in this situation.  I dial 911 for him and hand him the phone.  While he is on the phone with the dispatcher, I am still working, and listening to his conversation.  He gives his address, my phone number, and my description (age, hair color and clothing that I am wearing)  When he gets to the abuse part, I interject from my workstation, "Make sure you tell them what you did that lead up to the point where I punched you."  So he tells the dispatcher that he didn't want to do his chore and was yelling and cursing at me.   She must have asked then if he felt like he was in harms way, to which he answered no, because I was working.   He then tries to bring up years of the past with the dispatcher of all the ways he has been abused over the years.  I say,  "hey Bashful, can you ask how soon the sheriff will be here?"  He does, and the dispatcher indicates that there is an officer on our street.  He is super excited about that and tells the dispatcher that he will go get him "so my a$$ can go to jail".

He throws the phone at me without hanging up as soon as he spies the officer, I greet the dispatcher, she asks who I am, I say Bashful's mother, and thank her for her time and tell her the officer is at the end of the drive.

Bashful literally skip runs to the end of the drive to meet this officer, because in his mind (even though they have been here before) since he called them, surely they will be on his side! 

The officer and Bashful talk and then come inside the house.  When the officer asks for my version of the story, I start to tell him, and then just stop.  I look at him and say, "Look, really, can you please take me?  Really... I am tired of living this way.  You can handcuff me, but I think that is extreme, because I will go willingly."  I think he thought I was joking.

Bashful, who thinks I deserve to be hauled off, is now encouraging the officer to do it, cursing about me and using the F word.  At that point the officer draws himself to full height and leans towards Bashful and says,  " DO NOT, use that word in your mother's presence again.  I will not tolerate that disrespect, or we will throw down, do YOU UNDERSTAND ME?"   Bashful has enough sense to respond with a "yes sir".

Another officer is now knocking at the door.  Bashful looks at me as if I should answer the door.  I say "go let the officer in, you invited him."   When Bashful walks away to let him in, Officer 1 asks me what the situation is.  I say in what felt like was a defeated, and exhausted voice, he is the youngest of 7.  The youngest sibling of a set of four we adopted.  The highlight reel is he has,  RAD/FAS/and is on the spectrum.  Officer 1, says "I'm sorry."  I feel like saying, "not as sorry as I am."

So by now the situation is mostly defused.  Officer 1 tells Bashful, that if any time I hit him or other wise physically disciplined him,  I have the right to do so because he is a minor living in my home.  He continues to elaborate on what abuse looks like.  Marks have to remain 8 days.  He also explains that if I had been abusing Bashful, he would not be standing there in front of us whole and unmarred.  That his experience is that if Bashful was being abused he would have marks all over him where I punched him and would be bleeding and swollen.  That if anytime, either of his parents physically discipline him, and they leave a scratch mark with a fingernail or even a hand print from a slap, that is considered an unintentional mark.  Not an intentional sign of abuse.

Then Officer 1 asks Bashful how old he is again, and reaffirms that it seems to him that Bashful does not have a very good exit strategy for life on the streets when he turns 18.   He indicates he should work hard at school, get a job, and graduate and not screw up what seems to be a pretty good situation that he currently has. 

To make this officer, maybe my favorite of all that we have met under these type of circumstances, he also elaborated and said,  "You son have to live here until you are 18.  I suggest that when your parents ask you to do anything, you do it.  Furthermore, if either of them say that the task is not done to their liking, guess what?  They can ask you to do it again.  You should do it again until it meets their standards, not yours.  So I suggest you just do it right the first time.  Grow up and start acting like the adult you think you are!"


You can't make this stuff up, and even if you could, who would want to live this way on purpose?