Later in the month it will be two years since my fathers passing. I have been doing well for quiet a while now until yesterday. It was my birthday and my mom wrote something really nice on my Facebook wall that included my father. I cried off and on at work the rest of the day. So when I got to my car I listened to the voicemail he left on my birthday in 2019. Not sure why I didn’t answer the phone that year as I was on my sabbatical from work. But it cracked me up, just like it did when he first left it.
We talked about this a lot at Grief Share. How sometimes it just hits when you least expect it. So I embraced it and just cried. Brian gave me orange roses which are gorgeous. Then a bottle of his favorite wine. Like seriously ruin a great gift but I think it’s because he was afraid I’d hate the roses or something. He’s one of the most bizarre gift givers I have ever met.
Allyson gave me my gift today. And bam grief back again. She took ceramics this year in college and made me this.
It’s Isla with her weird non eye and all. It looks so much like her. She went with me to put Isla down last October. I never mentioned it on social media because it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. She was extremely aggressive and most likely had rage syndrome. She had bit both Allyson and Kayla for no reason. As well as attacked Moonie many many times. I have said all my life I would not have a dog that bit people. It’s just too dangerous. So we sent Isla to heaven with a message for my dad if she can talk. The vet tech about flipped out but Dr. Smith told her it was the truth.
So I’m sad all over again today. But I tell myself dogs will be in heaven even though Pastor Kevin told me many moons ago Jesus didn’t die to save dogs. Obviously he’s a dog hater.
Mole Moral ~ I learned a long time ago, you don’t get over death, you just learn to live with it.
Sometime around Christmas or maybe after a girl named Kathy spoke at church about a group starting called grief share. I just felt God telling me to go to this. I have done fairly well with my fathers death but perhaps he wanted me there to help others. So I signed up but only made it to about half of them. I plan to repeat it in the fall since I missed the one on heaven as well as a few others.
The very first night I met Danny. Before I proceed I asked his permission to share a little of his story because the rule is what is shared in group stays in group. That night I learned he was married for 51 years. (I thought he was maybe 65 at the most but that math doesn’t add up). His wife had passed away a year prior on a ventilator to covid. The visiting hours were horrible back then and I remember thinking I’m glad I worked in endo because I’m not sure I would have enforced the stupid visitor policies.
At the end of the session he played the guitar and we sang. Danny talks a lot. And by week two he reminded me so much of my Grandpa Miller that it made me happy and sad all at the same time. By the fifth week I couldn’t stand it anymore and asked when his birthday was because I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if it was May 23. (That is not only my grandpas birthday but Emily’s birthday who also never stops talking.) Much to my surprise his birthday is two days before my husbands. As much as he talks and is such a good story teller I would have sworn he was a Gemini.
He also had a corvette that he gave to one of his kids or maybe a grandkid. I try not to remember details and treat the group like hippa. So that just made me think of my dad, as my dad loved corvettes all his life. Tonight as we sang our last closing song I thought of Grandpa Miller and that day in January when he was struggling to breath and I took his hand and whispered in his ear it’s ok, go be with Jesus. And then grandpa took his last breath. But I knew then just like I know now, one day I will see him again.
Danny is an amazing guy who looks great for his age. He and his wife sang at nursing homes pre covid and he just started back up again by himself. I know those people enjoy it way more than I do. Everyone in the group was awesome and we all learned we are fairly normal in grief. I don’t have permission to share their stories but they would all agree if you are struggling with grief find a grief share group and just do it.
Mole Moral ~ The most growth often comes when you jump out of your comfort zone.
My life will always be a comedy of errors and todays post will confirm this.
Yesterday Brian was over at my moms house assessing what needed to be moved and a plan on how to do it. Somehow she managed to trip over a lamp cord and started to fall. He caught her before she totally hit the floor but she managed to bend her foot backwards. This morning when I got a message it still hurt and she thought it could be broken I decided to take her to urgent care. This would confirm no breaks and she could stop worrying.
The nurse practitioner was a little snippy and no lie my mom flipped her off when she left the room. She returned after the X-ray with a total change in attitude and informed us mom had three bones broken in her foot and they needed to consult orthopedics to determine if she needed to be seen now. She comes back a short time later and says she can see them this week but she needs a splint and no weight bearing on that foot. Hopping around on one foot with a walker is not an option. Even I would veto that so I reach out to my sister to see if she has a wheelchair and she does. So mom and I make plans to swing by her apartment storage unit to pick up walker (Brian had just put the stupid thing in there the day before) then to my sisters house for the wheelchair and then back to her house.
She realizes she has no cigs so I agree to stop at gas station. She then smoked one while I’m fetching the walker. I start the car to leave and it will not start. So I have to call Brian who is currently at my moms house. He is busy power washing her siding to get her house ready to sell. Luckily he was just finishing up. So he has to drive to my moms apartment to jump start me. My mom cannot get out of the car because she can’t put any weight on her foot. So my car starts up and he tells me not to turn it off. Yeah duh!
We fetch the wheelchair and make it to her house. Luckily she never took the wheelchair ramp down from when she broke her ankle back in 2010. We barely made it in the door because the wheel got stuck on the entryway. By this time Kayla had arrived to go to the store and pack some things up. So I dropped her off and came home.
Brian backs my car out of the garage and looks at the battery. He then took old one out and bought a new one. I am so thankful he can fix anything.
Sometime back when my mom was still at rehab my sisters engine blew in her car. It’s a known issue with that vehicle but since there is no recall she was basically screwed. It would be a year wait for a new engine or she could spend four thousand dollars for a used one with no guarantee it wouldn’t do the same thing. She had been using my moms car during this time but my mom is ready to drive again so Karen has been looking for a car.
She found a used Nissan Morano which both she and our dad had owned back in the day. It only had 107,000 miles on it and was located in Rolla. Now Rolla is thirty minutes from Salem where our father grew up. I just knew that this was the car. So Brian says I guess you two bimbos need me to come with you. We were planning to go to Salem after to make sure the two hot wheels were still glued onto our grandparents headstone. Once I realized if we bought the car he could drive mine home, I was like yes come with us.
Karen called to make sure it was still there. She swore the person on the phone sounded like Flo from the show Alice (think Mel, kiss my grits). So we all head to Rolla. We pull up and it’s like a mom and pop shop next door to the owners house. The person that answered the phone was a shy timid guy who was super nice. Karen and Brian test drove it and Brian says it’s a good deal. So we talk about how to pay. They got burned by a personal check but the banks are closed for Christmas Holiday so I cannot get one. (Side note, my mom is paying me back and Karen is paying my mom). So my sister says how about if we give you five hundred cash and the rest a check. He has to check with his boss and get car inspected so we go into Rolla for lunch.
The guy calls as we are finishing lunch and agrees to the deal. So I say to Brian how much cash do you have on you. He starts counting out his money. He has exactly 480 and Karen has twenty so we don’t have to deal with ATM. In the meantime this dude is watching the entire scene basically giving him the look of you are paying that much money for two old beaters, they must be really good. Bahahaha
So when we return to sign the deal Karen notices a picture on the wall. It looks almost exactly like my dads first roadster including being red. Then she sees another with four corvettes one of which looks just like my tattoo on my arm. I was like I knew dad lead us to this car. As we were heading over to Salem underneath the sticker that said the year was a date written in white. Karen says what the hell is that. I said probably the date they got the car. Karen look at it. It was 12/21 which is our fathers birthday. He would have been eighty-one this year.
Mole Moral ~ Signs are everywhere. Often we are too busy to notice, slow down and pay attention.
If one has read my previous blog, they know that my mom was in the hospital for thirty-five days and then spent another two weeks at a rehab facility. I should have written this first but the trip home was too much of a comedy not to post first.
Briefly my mom had a big surgery to move her stomach out of her chest back into her abdomen. Leave it to her to experience a complication that occurs one percent of the time. But after five days with out of control pain I forced her to go to the ER. She was running a temp and her heart rate was in the 120’s. The ER did a CT and lab work while out in waiting room. Because I have access to her my chart I saw her WBC was 20 so I knew she was not going home. She got tired of waiting and wanted to leave. I said nope, not happening. Once we got to a room and the ER doc came in looking freaked out about CT results I knew my waiting room assessment was spot on. I just had no idea that the on call surgeon assisted with my moms surgery and said she needed to be transferred to SLUH or St Mary’s because only they had the equipment to do what he needed to do surgically. When she had a bed at SLUH and was in their ER in less than three hours I knew it was life or death. I have never known SLUH to have open icu bed for transfers (at least in my endoscopy world).
My mom had surgery that day and would have another within four or five more days. She and I truly believe the only reason she survived (she’s no spring chicken at 78) is because of the outstanding care she received at SLUH. Her surgeon had just arrived three weeks prior as the new chief of cardio thoracic surgery. Later he would tell me he treated this complication often and people were sent to him from all over the state. So she received excellent care surgery wise. However, it was the above and beyond nursing care she received that was instrumental in her recovery.
She spent the first week in ICU and those nurses were so incredibly kind, smart and attentive it made me want to leave endoscopy and work there. No worries I reminded myself why I left critical care in 2000 and how two months of it at the beginning of Covid was enough for me.
She was then moved to a regular floor. There were times when I know those nurses were working short and yet they never used it as an excuse and continued to act like my mom was their only patient. And no it was not because I was there all the time (I wasn’t) or calling them constantly (I didn’t. I still had access to her my chart so I followed her labs daily without bugging the nurses). It’s just how they are.
Now my mom was a bit of a PIA about her pillows. I swear she had every spare pillow on the floor in her bed. Well they decided my mom was like the princess and the pea. Since she nicknames people all the time they started calling her the pea princess. We all got such a kick out of it. When her chest tube came out and her esophageal stents came out I knew her time at SLUH was coming to an end. So I started thinking about a thank you gift. It is well known I can bake but I thought nurses always get food and it just makes us fat. Flowers are pretty but they die. Then the perfect idea came to me and I ran with it.
Every nurse needs a good black ink pen. And because my mom is snarky and funny, I decided on snarky nurse pens. But because not all of her nurses were snarky, I also did some custom ones that said “thank you from the pea princess”. My mom about started crying when I ran the idea by her. She loved it. I found the picture on the internet and Allyson helped me remove the background. I took it up on a weekend after she was discharged because the weekend charge nurse was phenomenal. Both my mother and sister also really liked her as well.
On the ride home from rehab just one week ago my mom thought she was going to need to buy a wheelchair. I went along with her while in my head thinking she was crazy. Yesterday we went to primary to get her blood pressure straightened out. (Rehab messed with her medicine till she was running 90’s over 50’s and so dizzy she couldn’t hardly walk with walker). The only time she used the walker that day was to see him. She’s all over the house without it. He said no more blood pressure medicine for now. A week without it and she was 120/70. He said she’s lost so much weight she may no longer need it. So my favorite saying “will continue to monitor”.
My mom was convinced no one would remember her. The fact that it’s a rarity to have a patient in the hospital for thirty five days alone is enough. But couple it with the fact she could have easily died and the fact she rarely asked for anything and was so freaking funny she will be remembered by some forever. When she left for rehab her nurse called me to tell me and said she (the nurse) cried when my mom left. A couple days ago someone called to set up home PT and said I never took care of you but I heard all about you. She left an impression on many that she will never know this side of heaven.
Mole Moral ~ So often people focus on the negative and complaining. It’s a choice to recognize the good and amazing. Focus on that and let those know how much you appreciate them.
My mom had surgery to move her stomach out of her chest and back into her abdomen on September 9. Her surgeon is the best for this procedure and I knew she was in good hands. He went over risks which seemed small compared to the benefits. She had lost about fifty pounds and was continuing to lose weight. Did fine overnight and then started with what we thought was gas pain from the CO2. Post op day 5 the pain was so out of control she was suicidal so I made her go to ER. I’m going to condense the next 50 days. She ended up with a huge chest infection where her stomach was. It later turned out one of the stitches in her esophagus ripped out causing a hole in her esophagus. So everything she had eaten and drank leaked out making the infection worse. They ended up placing 2 stents to cover the hole for three weeks. She was on IV food and not allowed to eat. She was on a total of five different IV antibiotics to clear the infection. She spent 35 days at SLU hospital where she received excellent care. She loved all the nurses and they loved her. She was then sent to Mercy rehab for 15 days to recuperate. She is doing better but needs to eat and get her strength back. She lost a total of twenty one pounds during this ordeal. It was one thing after another during this time and why I thought discharge would be smooth is beyond me.
My mom called around 10:45 or so for me to come get her. My sisters engine blew in her car so she has been using my moms car. My mom felt my SUV would be too hard for her to get into so I was driving to my sisters work when I got a text from Kayla. Are you at work? I just blew a tire on highway 40. So I call her to make sure she’s not hurt. We have triple A so I tell her they can put her spare on. She informs the last time she blew a tire (on the way back to Springfield) the tire store threw the spare out because it was dangerous to drive on. Now to say my stress has been off the charts for two months is an understatement so I say let me call your dad because I don’t know what to do. So I call Brian and tell him what happened, he says call triple A and tell them to tow to nearest tire store. I said thanks and call Kayla. Now Kayla was on her way to school and can’t leave the car. So originally I was going to wait with Kayla and then go get my mother. I call her back to update her. Then my sister was like I will wait with Kayla, you go get mom. So I call mom back. I don’t think rehab has ever discharged anyone as fast as they did us. Well as we come upon Kayla and my sister I see my husband has arrived so I drive on by. Then turn around to go back towards home. I tell my sister Brian can wait for tow truck because I know he is not going back to work and I need to get my mom home. So Karen leaves. Brian calls me and says are you coming back to get Kayla I have no room in my work van because his partner rides with him. I’m about to lose my mind so I turn around again and head back to them. Now mind you my mothers back seat is jammed packed with her crap so I ask Kayla if she wants to put it in the trunk. She is as stressed as dance competition days and said no I want to get off the side of the highway now. She shoves all of my moms stuff over to the other side and gets in. Then Brian calls and says he needs her triple A card so she gets back out runs it to him and gets back in the car. She is so shaken up she no longer wants to go to school but wants to go back to her place. She puts her address in and we start down 40 East. All of a sudden she realizes her apartment keys are with her car keys and she cannot get into her apartment. So we end up taking her to school and then I take my mom home. In the meantime Brian had to wait over an hour for the tow truck but followed them to Dobbs and arranged for a new tire.
I seriously cannot make this stuff up. It is very comical and before we pulled off I said to mom this is like who’s on first. She looks at me like I’m nuts and says what. I said you know who’s in first, what’s on second, I don’t know is on third. She then starts laughing and says we have a gift of being able to laugh through trying times. I said who did that routine. She says Abbot & Costello. I said oh yeah all I could think of was the Hardy Boys. She informs me they were detectives. Yes I know I read their books.
So Kayla is safely home. I got my mom all set up in her house. She looked at Facebook briefly and then fired up the switch to check in with her villagers on Animal Crossings. She was suppose to take a nap when I left but instead started checking email. She needs to eat eat eat to get her strength back and put on a little weight. She got around very well with her wheeled walker and in the words of Dr. Heavey “I think she’ll do just fine”.
Mole Moral ~ Everyday is an adventure. It’s a choice of how you tackle it. The moles choose turning it into a comedy!!
As you read todays blog, please keep in mind the year was 1979-1980 and I had seen the movie The Jerk with Steve Martin. As usual my sister was getting on my nerves so I had the brilliant idea to tell her she was adopted from a black family. In true form she gets all upset and then breaks the rules of no calling my mom at work unless it’s an emergency. I’m sure my mom was fairly annoyed with this phone call so Karen got in trouble for being gullible and I got in trouble for getting her all upset. This has been an underlying theme throughout our lives. When I started going to my sisters chiropractor I told his assistant to say to my sister I heard you are adopted. My sister about killed me but the entire office died laughing.
My mom has now been in the hospital for over a week from complications from her hiatal hernia surgery. She was told there is a 99% chance she will have surgery in the morning because the infection is getting worse on antibiotics so surgeon needs to go in and clean it out. My sister went up to visit her today. My mom said to her I really need to tell you something in case I die during this surgery. You really were adopted from a black family.
Mole Moral ~ Hard scary times are made easier by keeping a sense of humor and finding the funny in things.
Its hard to believe it had been three years since I attended my first camp Kesem with Washington University. I had taken the summer off between jobs to spend with my three girls, Emily had a travel assignment in Missouri, Kayla was close in Springfield and Allyson would be leaving in the fall for college. I had started looking for jobs to try and figure out what I wanted to do next with my career when I came across a listing on Indeed for a volunteer camp nurse to spend one week with kids whose parents who had/have cancer. I thought wow that might be fun and with my school nurse experience and Big Stuf camp experience I might just get the position. So I applied and it wasn’t too long before I was called for an interview. At the time I had no idea I was speaking to two college kids with the camp names of Beaker and Pele, I really thought I was talking to some office people on an official interview. Anyway they told me I had the position on the spot pending background check so I was pretty excited. I had a blast that year! We had around thirty-five campers if I remember correctly. The other nurse could only attend the first half and her name was Chaco. She showed me the ropes and I really liked her. I think she was from Alabama. The second half of the week Seven showed up. He picked his name because he fell like seven times while hiking a trail. I knew we were meant to be friends. I had an amazing week and could not wait until next year. I even got asked to do a second camp in Maine two weeks later. It was also amazing and you can read about it here.
I knew three years ago that if my new job wouldn’t let me off to attend Wash U then I would quit and find a new job. Well I didn’t have to be quite so dramatic since covid hit and shut down the entire world. Camp Kesem would be virtual in both 2020 and 2021 and obviously there wasn’t a need for a nurse. Last week I was stalking their instagram account and I discovered that Gibby and Fin were the directors last year. This just made me hate covid even more than I already did. In person camp would have totally rocked with those two in charge. All the girls had crushes on Fin and everyone loved to say Gib by Gib by over and over. So this year was all new college kids because all the old counselors had graduated. Beaker is in med school and Pele had a full time job after camp in 2019. I text these kids from time to time to check in on them and see what they are up to. Back to the present, all the counselors this session were just as wonderful. It just blows me away that they become involved in this organization while in college. They raise money all year long to pay for camp as it is free for the kids. Then they give a week of their summer up to spend non stop time with the kids. I do know that usually when you give of your time and talents you tend to get just as much if not more than what you give.
The nurse this year was Birdie. I liked her the minute i met her on zoom a few days before. For starters she was currently doing Mizzou’s camp Kesem which meant Wash U would have the camp site to themselves. Birdie just finished nursing school and passed boards. She went through an accelerated one year program which means she’s super smart and can handle stress like a champ. Of course she kept denying being smart but this old nurse knows better. She lives in Florida and after Wash U she left for Maine to do the camp I did three years ago. I was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts at my job but I am thrilled she is there this week. Anyway we had a great week together. We both agreed messy games were the best as you can see by our before and after pictures.
I still cannot believe she has an orange Kesem shirt from Mizzou and hated it, so used it for messy games. I told her if she ever receives an orange shirt again, save it for me. Everyone knows orange is the best color and my camper Froggy agreed with me!
Three years ago, Violet was my partner in the pool. Everyone paired up and she chose me. I was hoping she would be back this year and she was! She even remembered this and going down the slide a million times. I did not swim the first day as it was a little cloudy and cold but the second time it was game on. This campsite by far has the best pool set up I have ever seen.
The slide is amazing and so much fun. There is also a whirlpool that is pretty strong and will whip you into the wall if you aren’t careful. There is a hot tub area but the water is normal but the jets are super strong. It’s nice to sit and relax. I took this picture when no one was around because I will not post pictures of other people’s children in my blog.
I was given access to all the photos the college counselor/photographer took for the week. I’m pretty sure there are over one thousand photos on the google drive. I found two of these that were unposed and I really feel they capture exactly how I feel about camp. I had to do some cropping but you will notice that I blacked out the campers name tag for privacy. We all wore them all week long and by the end of the week, I pretty much had all the names down. This in itself is a small miracle as I am terrible with names.
It was a great week, we had seventeen campers I believe. Very little medicine so I was out playing and crafting and tie dying and just being crazy for the week. I cannot convince any of my nurse friends to take a week vacation and do this. They just have no idea what they are missing and I cannot properly put into words what this means to me. I can only say, if I cannot be off for camp next year, I truly will leave my job and do something else. Luckily, the director thinks its awesome that I do this so it shouldn’t be an issue. However, it’s alway fun to be dramatic.
Mole Moral ~ Acting like a kid and being a little crazy is good for one’s soul.
Session five is always the night where the speaker leads kids to Jesus and at the end if they believe (for the first time) Jesus is who he says he is and that he died for us they stand up. Then after the session ends the group leaders chat with the kids who stood up.
This was a weekly thing in the Baptist church I attended from the age of six to twelve. Every Sunday at the end of church we would sing Just as I am with heads bowed while the preacher would say things such as if Jesus is calling you to come down to the front and you ignore him and die this week you will go to hell. As an adult I can see where they fully believed this and were passionate but as a kid this was as frightening as the thought of Hell. I am not even sure what age I was when I finally got the nerve to go down front and then was taken into a private room where a nice lady had her Bible out and we read some scripture and then prayed for Jesus to come into my heart. A lot of Christians can tell you the actual date they were saved, this hot mess here can’t even tell you the age she was much less a date.
Of course we sing before the talk started and I don’t even know the name of the song we were singing. It was new to me so cut me some slack. Anyway as we were singing it was like the room changed and all of a sudden I realized my father and his parents are singing straight up with Jesus and I could feel that presence which immediately made me start crying. And then all the kids who passed away in the burn unit came flying into my head. It was rare to lose a kid but we did and they all came back and most I hadn’t thought about in twenty years. But they are all up there too with my dad and Jesus. How awesome that day will be when I’m reunited with my Heavenly Father and all the special people who have gone before me.
Mole Moral ~ Earth is temporary while Heaven is forever!
We changed speakers this morning. We now have Justin Warner and I really enjoyed him. Plus he’s easy on the eyes. He did not give a title for the talk (like the other guy did which I ripped off) so I came up with this on my own.
He focused on the world which is fast talking and self serving. He spoke about Instagram, tic toc and internet browsers that spend millions to research each individuals clicks to see what they like and use the algorithm’s to provide everything you want at your fingertips. I swear the phones listen in. Emily got a fancy cat litter box (I’m blocking the name) from my sister and I’ve had non stop ads show up for it. I don’t even own a cat. My toddler on crack jammed into a bull terrier suit is about all I can handle. Anyway it’s not the first time something has been mentioned and then ad after ad on Facebook appears.
Anyway these apps and browsers spend every minute you are interacting with them to what they feel will make you happy. As we all know stuff and likes only bring temporary happiness. I have never down loaded tic toc because it scares me. I read an article from a lady who got sucked into the Qanon movement by watching a couple and then that was all she was getting in her feed. If someone sends me a funny tic toc, I will watch it but the app would lead to even more wasted time for me. I know myself too well.
So he then started talking about babysitting and how a baby sitter is a hired hand and your parents are your owners. The hired hand lets you get by with all sorts of stuff because they are just looking for a paycheck and they do not have your best interest at heart. The hired hand will abandon you in rough times every single time. They have no investment except what they can make off of you. Sound a little like social media? They are only interested in profit. Your parents and Jesus are your owners and they want what is best for you even if temporarily it seems like they don’t. I would die for my children but I certainly wouldn’t die for anyone else’s. I guess that’s just life.
John 10:14-15 I am the good Shepard; I know my sheep-just as the father knows me and I know the father-and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Mole Moral ~ Do you love what Jesus does for you or do you love who he is?