Our Holiday Letter.

IMG_0904This year I want to send a “Christmas” or “Holiday”  letter to friends.   Last year …  around this time … Pete and I were changing Assisted Living Communities.     And, I did not have the heart … nor enthusiasm … to write an “oh, it’s the holidays … and we are doing well”  letter!

Let’s see how this letter goes.

First comment: … why do I want to  write this letter?   There are many people on my Christmas card list who mean so much to us … to me.   I just do not want to lose them!!!  Students … and faculty … from at least three universities … colleagues and friends who have kept me going through this past year.  Friends who may not have our address here … or know of Pete’s stroke/fall.   So … let’s get back in touch with this “Holiday Letter.”IMG_0899

Second comment: … what format do I use???   My first thought for this year’s letter was the same as years in the past … write a letter and send it to everyone on our list.   Then … I thought of my BLOG … maybe it is not the tone of a holiday letter … but certainly it is a method to inform people of our lives this past year!!!  I thought of putting a note on facebook referring anyone who wanted to my BLOG.   I did not like that  way … too “BLOG – ISH!”   But, I could use my BLOG to update friends on whatever … and to personalize my “Holiday Letter.”  So, I found a lovely Poinsettia card that I can send to people  … and refer them to my BLOG and this essay/letter. …  I can handle that!!!

So — the Holiday Letter:  We are settled.  Pete is about the same … both physically and mentally handicapped.   We have great help here.   He is getting physical therapy twice a week.   I am OK.   I do have this “dumb” brace on for a few more weeks.  I have lovely bridge-playing friends here  … and lovely friends in general here.   I have realized this is my “neighborhood”  for several years.  Once I accepted that, things became easier IMG_0902mentally.   I have a 5th-grade pen pal … and I hope to do one-day-a-week volunteer work at a local school  — probably teaching “how to add fractions”!!   That’s OK … I certainly have the time.

Lori is in Northern California … teaching for the Hoffman Institute ,,, and doing quite a bit of traveling.  Craig is … of course …here in Denver.  He is retiring January 2, 2019 …  at age 52.   He will just take a few months to look at other positions … and volunteer work.  The grands are so loved.   Erin … as you have read … graduates Boise State this December 15.   Brenna is two years out of graduation … and has found that she loves teaching.  She did a year in Thailand teaching elementary students … and is now teaching music and dance to 1st and 2nd graders.  Mark transferred to St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota, … and is majoring in computer science in some form.

Friends have kept us going.  Ann Kirkpatrick kept me going all those first months.  Barb and Denny Burd visited and will return both going to and coming from Breckenridge.     Lori is easily in touch … both text and plane.   My brother, Ben, and wife, Jude, visited and “enjoyed” our community food!   My cousin, Charlotte did a wonderful visit that took us wandering around Frisco, Colorado!   Loved it.   See Craig and Stephanie nicely often –IMG_0900— did Brunch and Christmas “looking” with them just last Sunday.  Again, I loved it.  Loved “little” Mary and her family ‘s visit … Pete’s brother’s great grandchildren.   Colorado sweatshirts for everyone for Christmas!!!!

I certainly hope and pray for a nicer New Year … for Pete and me  … and for all of you reading this BLOG.   Our postal address is … 7825 Alameda Avenue, Apt 223; Lakewood, Colorado, 80226.   My e-mail is the same … kpedersen@selu.edu.  Let’s keep in touch.

Our sincere good wishes and good thoughts,

Pete and Katie

Love y’all

P.S.  Will try to share some Christmas decorations.   Charlotte, (our cousin), sent me some of those lovely “things” that I did not even think of bringing to Denver.   Craig brought me two lovely poinsettias.  So beautiful, I had to have some friends in to celebrate the holidays.   I wanted a Bloody Mary, and I certainly did not want to drink alone!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to cry!

And, crying, I probably will do, as I try to write this essay!

About 6 1/2 weeks ago, I broke my kneecap.  (See previous essay.)  Approximately 4 1/2 weeks ago I went again to the hospital … to diagnose and treat blood clots.   (See another previous essay!)   Saw my Doctor this past Thursday.   Kneecap is healing in exact correct position.  I am to wear this brace four more weeks … next appointment, Dec 27th.  That will give a total of 10 weeks with the brace.  The doctor did indicate I could take the brace off a little  … I am too scared of falling so I am certainly not going to be without this brace too much.

In two weeks I am going to Erin’s graduation from Boise State … obviously with the brace on … and with a cane.

Now, during all this time … my horrible last 6 1/2 weeks  … this Assisted Living Complex has instituted an order that anyone taking Pete … or a similar resident … from bed to chair … or from chair to bed … MUST use the machine to lift him!   Pete no longer will help transfer himself!   That means he will no longer use his body to move himself from bed to a chair or back.   That means he will not practice this movement in context.   That means … whatever ability he now has to move himself bed to chair or such … that ability is the max he will attain.   He will not get better.   Pete’s health … or lack of good health … has been my total focus since his fall/TIA.   And, now, this institution has ordered a stop to his physical growth!!!   I am just devastated.  Y’all know I spent over 50 years teaching math … and I remember an analogy … when a little one is beginning to walk … what if we carried the little one each time he or she tried to walk!!!  Sure, they would get where-ever sooner … but they would not learn to walk!!!   That is my feeling on using the “lift” with Pete.

I did take the opportunity to explain myself to Rose … the nursing health director here.  The situation:    in a similar case at another nursing home, such a resident … i.e., heavy in weight … fell while being transferred by hand … and those involved are suing the nursing home.    It is also true that the staff/aides could be hurt if the resident fell … and the resident could also be hurt.   I mentally understand all of this … but I do not want Pete’s growth to be stopped!

And … all this time, I am in my brace … can’t even take a shower without help!

Pete is so confused he does not know if he is to help in a transfer — or just wait for the machine to lift him.   So, of course, if he is asked to help, he does not understand what to do.  He only learns something by repetition in the exact same circumstances.

I will grant that rather than the “lift” machine the staff here has brought in a “sit-to-stand” machine.  It does have him “hanging” from two arms … but in a position similar to sitting.   I am still trying to follow that machine … but it is so close to the machine they used at Belle Maison that it is difficult to watch them use the “sit-to-stand” with Pete.

And, my reaction … I can’t talk about it to Rose, the aides, Craig … without crying.   Not very professional in a serious argument!  Craig and I know that we will not move.  Their arguments are solid, and we will find the same situation where-ever we might go.   We are continuing our private physical therapy for Pete — 30 minutes, twice a week ($45.00 per session.)  In this therapy, the goal is to have Pete develop a solid practice of transferring … chair to bed and back … so the assisted care institution will not worry about his falling.

People … it is difficult … and expensive.

 Love y’all.

Sunday, October 14, 2018, Was My 81st Birthday!

I still cannot believe it … 81 … me!!!   This last year has  certainly done its best to make me more aware of my age.   I am in an assisted living complex;  I have a brace on my leg with the broken kneecap;  I am walking with a walker;  everyone around me has white hair … or maybe it’s gray.  Of course, my birthday happened before the “broken kneecap” episode … so a walker had yet to be part of my life!!!  How did this year’s birthday compare with last year’s …  let me think!!!

Last year, I was … on my birthday … in our Louisiana home … Pete was at Belle Maison … a nursing home facility in Hammond.  I had been so happy there was room for him in Belle Maison … only, after a bit, I was not happy he was in Belle Maison.  By my birthday, last year, we had decided to move Pete and me to Denver.   I am sure we had tickets for November 9th, last year.   I know I spent my birthday afternoon with Pete at Belle Maison.  Not sure what I did that evening!   Knowing me, it could have been “with a Bloody-Mary .”

Now, this year.  First, Craig and Stephie took me out for brunch.  We have this very nice place in the Belmar Shopping Area … named “T-Street.”  It does have a very good menu with mostly mexican-influenced food — and it is really good food.  But, even more notable than that, you can buy  “Bloody Marys” and/or “Mimosas” with “infinite” refills … well, not really …  but I certainly have not reached the max  allowed!!!  And,  Craig, Stephie, and I just ate and drank and talked.   It was so nice.   And, we were in an outside patio!!!  I could not have asked for a better Birthday present!!!

Still this year!  Ben and Carol, my brother and sister, both sent beautiful flowers.  I asked them to this year.  Flowers add a beautiful touch to a room … and, I wanted real large, beautiful bouquets … these were.   Of course, the last days of the flowers saw me in the hospital for my broken kneecap!!!  (Just thinking … Ben must have sent flowers last year, too.)  For this birthday, I had asked my cousin, Charlotte, to send artificial plants … and she found the perfect plants … in perfect pots.   One is among my buffaloes, one is on a high set of shelves as you enter our apartment, and one is on the desk with the South African rug.

And, I received many “Happy Birthdays” from fellow residents.  That was so nice.   No matter what, this year, I was sitting in our lovely apartment knowing that I could put together a foursome for bridge if I wanted!!!  Birthdays are good … even if I am 81!!!

Of course, the next Friday. after my birthday, I break my kneecap … and Saturday morning, I am off to the hospital!!!  I have a little while longer with this brace.  I think all is OK.   I once wrote in this BLOG that when I am hurt … I think of myself first … instead of Pete.  And I do.   The staff is practically taking full care of Pete.  And, I find myself, now, in an assisted living complex with the staff helping ME dress and shower!!!

This surely brings about a lot of reflection.

Love y’all.

Just Life: Part Two

Never would I have believed what happened to me!!!  But, it is “JUST LIFE.”  It is Thursday, November 1st.  I came back to the Villages Friday October 26th from the rehab institution, POWER BACK.  Friday to Thursday passes … my doing whatever.   Thursday, November 1st, the PA (Physician Assistant), Charlotte,  visits Pete and me.  Pete is doing well.  My blood pressure comes in at 100 … usually 130 – 140.   My pulse is running 70 and up … and the pacemaker is set for 62.  I am just sitting at the table … maybe just a little heavier breathing.   Charlotte looks up and says, “I want you to go to the hospital right now.”   When I realized she was talking to me … seriously, I suggested the next Tuesday … I thought I would be organized by then … after all, I had just been at the hospital and there were loads of clothes to put away.   By then, several aids and nurses had entered our room.  Charlotte explained that there might be blood clots somewhere in me … and I should go to the hospital immediately to check things out.   A couple more minutes of thought, and I realized Charlotte made sense.   I texted Craig on the change of plans … i.e., going to the hospital instead of staying in our room!!!

The ambulance came.   I was taken to St. Anthony’s Hospital — again!!!   They began taking samples, measurements — and more blood samples.   They found blood clots in both lungs.   Don”t want to exaggerate … but I was told that it was serious , and it was obviously good that I was in a hospital.  After various tests, they found that I could go on a relatively new medicine to dissolve the clots.  I stayed the next day,  Friday, November 2nd, at the hospital ,,, to make sure the medicine did really begin to dissolve the blood clots.   It did … and I went back to the Village late Friday.

A couple days of rest, and, of course, I am wondering what caused the blood clots.  A general supposition … supposed but no verification  … was that my four days of relative inactivity at the rehab institution might have been involved in causing the blood clots!!!  I hesitate to say even that much since we are dealing with a well-known … in Denver … rehab institution.

I am home … in our apartment.   I still have clothes to put away!!!  I saw Charlotte this past Tuesday… it was the first time I had seen her since she sent me to the hospital.  I could not hug her enough … or thank her enough.  The general consensus is that she saved my life!!!   I will go along with that.

JUST LIFE!!!   Thank goodness for competent professionals and “huggable” friends.

Love y’all.

Just Life: “I Fell And Broke My Kneecap.”

Seriously… I did just that.   Last Friday evening… October 19 ,,, the girls had just put Pete to bed … so I went into his room to check things and to give and get that “goodnight kiss.”  I am leaving his room.  He has carpet … the living room is wood flooring.  I remember my left foot … as I leave Pete’s room …hitting the wood floor and stopping.  The shoes are rubber based and my left foot hit the wood floor … and did not move.  So, my body still goes forward and my right knee hits the floor … bearing all of my weight!!!   I obviously get up … go to my chair … and fall to sleep for the night.

Comes morning, and I need to get up.  I get out of my chair and head for the bathroom … and scream.   I cannot put weight on my right leg — and the knee is swollen quite a bit!!!   I said a quick “Yes.” to the suggestion that I go to the hospital.  St. Anthony’s is the hospital of choice for the Assisted Living Complex.   Early Saturday morning, the hospital is moving quickly.  I ask for a warm blanket and get exactly such.   X-rays are taken … and the crack in the kneecap is there.  The only question is whether surgery will  be needed.  By mid-day, the decision of “no surgery” is made.   Saturday at St. Anthony’s and Sunday at. St. Anthony’s, too.   Saturday is collegiate football,  and Sunday is professional football.  Monday, I will be moved to a rehab institution.

Now … how is Pete???   When I left for the hospital Saturday morning, he was still in bed.  Craig stopped in to see Pete before he came to the hospital … and Pete was dressed and eating his breakfast!!  Craig said Pete had a quizzical expression on his face, but that was all.  By Saturday night both Craig and Stephanie have visited Pete, and the reaction is that Pete is getting great care and is content.   By Monday, Pete asks,Where’s Katie?”   The girls, Craig, and Stephanie explain several times that I broke my knee and am in the hospital.  No questions.  That seems to be all he needed.   I am away from our apartment until the next Friday morning … and Pete is good for all of my time away.  Seriously, we are in the best of situations.

I missed our older granddaughter’s, Brenna’s ,  university graduation :  Louisiana to L,A, was too far to travel,   The next granddaughter, Erin,  graduates from Boise State University, Dec. 15, 2018 … Denver to Boise is obviously just one Bloody Mary …   and I have made plans to go!!!  (Of course, that was before I broke this kneecap.)   At the time of making the arrangements to go to Erin’s graduation, my only concern was how Pete would do without me.  I had never been away from him in this  place.  I kidded that I should have done a “test case” to see what would happen without my being here!  Well, test case concluded, and the results are great!!!   I returned to our apartment Friday morning about 10:00 … Pete was wonderful..I think there was some recognition.  He was dressed, clean, and in his wheelchair.   We do lunch in the room, but we do dinner in the dining hall.  The girls push his wheelchair , and I am using a walker!!!

Rewind a bit:  Monday about 1:00 P.M., I am transported  from the Hospital to “Power Back, a rehab institution”.   Before I left the hospital, a therapist showed me how to use a walker:  walker, bad leg/foot, good leg.  Monday at Power Back must have been paper work.  Every single motion from Hospital, to Power Back, to the Villages is governed by the insurance companies.   Tuesday, the occupational therapist introduced herself, and  taught me how to dress myself … certainly needed with a brace on my leg.   I do explain to the therapist that I will be returning to an Assisted Living Complex where there will be a person to dress me.  I think the therapist and I did a practice run on my using the walker:  walker, bad leg/foot, good leg.   I walked from my room to the dining hall, and then about that much further.  I then walked back to my room.  Wednesday, I was taught, again,  how to put clothes on with my bad leg; Wednesday, also, I walked from my room to the dining area:  walker, bad leg/foot, good leg.    Wednesday, Craig began to put together the people and paper we would need to get sign-offs from to leave Power Back, Thursday or Friday.   I think our insurance company would have allowed me to stay over the weekend … but I had really watched all the television I could.  Thursday I was helped to dress, and we walked, again, from my room to the dining area.   About 8:45 AM  Friday, Craig showed up  to take me to the Villages.  I was not quite dressed nor bags packed.   I was maneuvering in a wheelchair.   He brought our walker so I switched to the walker.  My 9:30, we were in the dining hall … I could walk there (!) … signing the last of the insurance papers.   I walked to the car, and Craig helped me in.   We drove to the Villages, and I was never so pleased to see such a building and people.

Pete does just sort of looked at me.  He was doing breakfast when I arrived at our room.  He and I skipped lunch and did dinner in the dining room.   Within about a hour and so after I arrived, I was greeted with so many marvelous hugs.  I had been right when I told Power Back I was going home!  Greg, Rose, Christina, Cat, and several others … each with a hug.   My friends and students before this complex know how I love hugs.

It is Saturday … October 27 ,,, , I am writing this essay.  My kneecap is broken, therefore I have a brace on my leg.   Pete is OK.  I had my first real shower this morning for a week.  The hospital said 2 to 8 weeks on wearing this brace.  I am OK.   If I have to break a kneecap, I am so glad I am here!!!   And … I am so glad I am here for many more reasons.

Love y’all. 

 

 

“What If I Don’t Feel Well?”

I don’t think I would have ever thought of writing “this” essay … if I had not been somewhat sick these last two days!!!   It was not really that bad.  I woke Sunday morning with an “icky” stomach.   I just could not get up.  I did manage to get Pete out of bed and into his wheelchair.    The thought that I needed to get Pete … and me … ready for breakfast was too much to handle.  So … let the girls get Pete dressed, and we will have a tray sent to our room for Pete.   That’s it!!!

So … I stayed in my chair … I sleep in my recliner … all the time they were dressing Pete.  His breakfast came … Ida fixed the tray so the food was ready to eat … (the food comes to the room with liquids and such covered with plastic wrap).  It was Sunday … so I turned on the television looking for professional football … at least broadcasters talking about football.  Then Pete needed to be brought into the living room … and bib removed.  I did it … not fun!!!

I am back in my chair , and Pete is  in his wheelchair.   I am in my jeans and a sweater … same clothes through yesterday, last night, and so far on Sunday.   As I am “snuggling” in my chair, the thought of my bed that I used to have in Louisiana came to my mind … and I wanted to be in that bed … I wanted to be “home” … and I wasn’t.  I told myself I could not think like that, and the thought of my Louisiana home was replaced with thoughts of our apartment  here and my “icky” stomach/.

That was the first time I looked at my situation here … and did not want to be here.  I wanted to be in my big bed with many pillows … and the mattress positioned just like I like it.  I knew those thoughts were not reasonable … but that was how I was thinking.  I thought of that situation many times during the rest of the day.

Pete had to have lunch … again. a tray from the kitchen.  I wanted nothing.   Get up, push his chair to the table, fix the food, get him something to drink,   Back to my chair … not worrying about Pete getting what he wants.  I just want to be left alone … and I won’t be!!!  After lunch, the girls came to put Pete down for his nap.   At the end of his nap, he calls for me.  Oh my heavens … his presence is just irritating .   It is now time for dinner.  Tray and such!!!  I do not feel any better … he brushes his teeth … and the girls come to put him to bed.

My day is over … and I realize that I do have some negative feelings about this change in my life.   It seems as if all is right and good when I myself feel right and good.  But, if I need something big … such as “fix my stomach” … or, at least, someone concerned about my stomach … then my needs can be more important than Pete’s needs.   I think it is good that I have realized this.  I expect to have more days when i do not feel well … and on those days I will need extra help with Pete.   I am also forewarned that I will begin to wish that I were not in this situation.

Love y’all.

FYI:  I ate little on Saturday and Sunday, and by Monday morning, I felt much better.

 

“Put Your Shoes On.”

I want to describe how life is here … my interactions with Pete.   Interactions are relatively passive on his part …  I push him to places in his wheelchair;  I get him up in the morning; I fix him coffee; I get him coke or 7-up … he chooses!  A very few times, he speaks.  Let me describe a couple …

I will begin with last  Saturday morning.  While Pete is eating his breakfast, I showered and put on jeans and a shirt … no shoes!   He ate breakfast, and I brought him over in front of my chair.   He looks at me and mumbles something … his first vocalization since he got up … 3 1/2 hours ago!!   I ask him what he said.  He clearly says, “Put your shoes on.”  

I related this story to everyone who came into our room.   It made my day.   Craig brings some mail.  He hears the story.  I am “all smiles.”   Pete’s showing any communication skill is just wonderful.  Thus, my day is good!!!   It is also worthwhile … while I have this story on paper … to note the level of his communication.  This is a very good example of his speaking at a very concrete level … about something that is visible in the current time.   Craig and I know not to ask him for the definition of a “group.”   (Just a little  inside joke!!!)   

An example from last  Thursday:    Pete wakes about three o’clock in the morning.  I tell him it is too early to get up.  I ask him to go back to sleep because “it is not time to get up.”   He does go back to sleep!!”  He wakes for the day around 6:00 or 6:30 A.M. … I do not remember.   He is adamant that he get up right then.  I ask him, “Why do you have to get up right now?”  He tells me, “Because it is time to get up.”   It is going to be a good day!

Still Thursday.   Therapy is cancelled.   Barb, the therapist,  has the beginnings of not feeling well;  we all know that this is not the place for someone who might be getting some shareable illness.  Pete and I should use the time.  We will go for a walk … I push Pete in his wheelchair.  About a city block away … but still part of this complex … is a lovely collection of individual gardens … a community garden where residents have their own plots.   This part of the complex houses residents who are capable of taking care of themselves … basically individual apartments with very minimal services.  The gardens are lovely … tomatoes, marigolds, petunias, pumpkins … and a lovely squash that seems to be on a race to be the largest “thing” in the gardens.   Pete and I had done the gardens the day before … and he had clearly told me … when questioned … that that object was a “squash.”    I expected the same lovely reaction on this Thursday.  Instead, close to the gardens, he says, “I do not want to go there.”   So much for the walk … but he talked.   I smile and relate this sentence to everyone I see.

I have been thinking of other examples to add to this essay.  Pete’s favorite line these last few days is “Close your mouth.”   Now those who know Pete know that the old Pete would never say anything “nasty” to me.   I wouldn’t think the existing Pete would either … and he wouldn’t.   I was apparently sitting in front of the television with my mouth open … literally “Close your mouth.”   It is apparently the dryness of Colorado … and not my astonishment at some pathetic television show!!!

Another example … a little deeper.  The staff apparently woke Pete too early from his nap.   I came in soon after they woke him.   We were close enough to dinner so when he asked to go back to bed, i explained that we would go to dinner … then he could go back to bed.   He asked me: “Why won’t the girls come back and put me in bed?”   That sentence is pretty much in tune with what was happening at that time … and it was not really concrete … more like a reflection on … then current … activities.   I have pondered over that sentence quite a few times.   Those times make me so happy that Pete is getting such good care.

Keep in mind that words are so beautiful … and I grab everyone of Pete”s.

Love y’all.