Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's been almost two weeks since M's surgery, and exhaustion is starting to set in.

I don't mind the constant trips up the stairs, I figure running upstairs 5-6 times each hour for the 12 hours each day that M is awake, is probably good exercise. Shoot, don't people pay  money for step aerobic classes? All I need it some kind of exercise for my arms and I've got a whole body workout going... and it's FREE!

No it's not all the trips up the stairs, or watching bits and pieces of movies all day with M (movies that are invariably interrupted by more trips up and down the stairs...), or keeping track of the hours he's in the CPM machine and lifting the heavy thing up and down off the bed, arranging his leg just right each time, setting the speed as fast as he can tolerate (which still seems impossibly slow. All of that is very do-able. I'm not a good nurse, but when I have to do it I can...

The hard part is the stress of trying to help him deal with the pain, of worrying when he's going to really screw something up because he keeps forgetting and stepping on the leg that should be bearing no weight, and of trying to manage the psychiatric symptoms... symptoms that increase when he's in pain or tired.

As I've said before (like in my last post, I think...), it would be really nice if we had some psychiatric support. M's psychiatrist at the county mental health center is anything but interested or invested in his care. Despite the surgery, it's been two months since I've talked to her... It's impossible to contact her between appointments... all communication goes through "Nurse Sally"... who doesn't know M, has never seen him, and knows zero about his illness or developmental disability. I've spoken to Dr D, who's been M's pdoc for 5 months now, a total of about 30 minutes during those months.  She's seen him three times during that time, and there is roughly 10 minutes of appointment time to bring her up to date, share any concerns, talk about how things are going, and make any decisions that might need to be made. Needless to say he's receiving lousy care.

Friday, February 26, 2010

7 Quick Takes

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7 Quick Takes

~1~

I think caffeine is going to be the word of the day today. M was up and down (and up and down and up and...) last night, and I've been wandering around bleary eyed all morning... while he catches up on his sleep! It's days like this that I wish I liked the taste of coffee...


~2~

Despite being bleary eyed, it's been a nice morning. R spent the night at her sister's so it's just me and M home. He's asleep, so basically I have the house to myself. (woohoo!) I've got laundry going, the kitchen clean, and odds and ends of clutter put away. It feels good to be able to pick things up a bit without stopping every two minutes to run upstairs and see what M wants...


~3~

Despite all those trips up the stairs M really is doing well. Given the fact that he is stuck in bed except when he has help to get up, and there are many movements he can't make... even in his bed... he's handling things very well. Probably better than I would... (The "precautions" he has to follow are just about the same as when you have your hip replaced. He can put very little weight on that leg, can't cross his legs, can't swing his leg out to the side, and can't bend his hips at more than a 75 degree angle... it's a lot for him to remember.)


~4~

Today will be a busy day with both a home health aide, and the physical therapist coming this morning. Hopefully M will do well with all the comings and goings...



~5~

I'm enjoying Undaunted Courage so much, what a wonderful book! I've decided to read it along with an abridged copy of the Lewis and Clark Journals that I have. I'm reading a chapter in Undaunted Courage, then reading the journal entries for that same period of time. It will take me a while to finish this way, but I'm enjoying it so much that I'm in no hurry...


~6~

All I need now is a really good map of the areas Lewis and Clark traveled through. I keep finding myself wondering exactly where the place they are talking about is, and how many of the rivers and things they named have kept the same names. What a fascinating time in history that was!


~7~

Wow, M is STILL asleep and I'm feeling extremely spoiled. It's almost 9:30 and I've had the past four hours to myself... what a treat! (I think I can go back to my nursing duty with a better attitude now :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is it Thursday already?

This week is passing by in a blur... I can't believe it's almost the weekend already.

M is doing ok.  Physically he's doing very well... He has physical therapy here at the house three times a week (Mon. Weds. Fri.) and is now able to use his crutches to get into the bathroom (with help), so no more commode in the bedroom. (hurray!) His gut finally started working again, and so he's feeling better and is eating better. He's cooperating with being hooked up to the CPM (continuous passive motion) machine for 8 hours out of every 24, and we've worked out a pretty good schedule for getting that done.

Unfortunately the psychiatric piece has been tricky... When he's hurting, or tired, the psychiatric symptoms increase and it gets pretty scary. He's not aggressive, but he becomes paranoid and that interferes with being able to care for his physical needs. One night, in the hospital, he was so tired... and hurting... and became agitated and then disconnected... believing that the oxygen he needed to keep his O2 level up, was really poison. I eventually convinced him that it was safe and he accepted it... but it was a rough episode. Also in the hospital, during physical therapy (and the reason they decided to stop doing PT with him) he got tired and was hurting, and became extremely anxious... to the point of panicking... and froze while still on some PT equipment. He's too big to just lift off, and even though we tried to calm him down and reassure him, in his panic he got himself down and walked away... putting full weight on the bad leg! (Which increased his pain dramatically, of course, and led to more agitation.)

We've had a few of those kinds of episodes since we've been home... two minor ones and a major one last night. Yesterday had been a busy day, with an HHA (home health aide) here, and the PT... and he was overly tired by evening. His agitation level got very high, and he wasn't safe (towards himself mostly...). I was so worried that he would  start grabbing at the incision... or get up and try to run out of the room. I was able to get him calmed down, but it was a very tough evening.

The hardest part of this operation is dealing with the psychiatric issues... not the physical recovery.

It's too bad he doesn't have a psychiatrist, or any decent mental health support.  (Technically he has a psychiatrist, but all she does is write prescriptions...  Back in January when I told her that M was having this surgery... rather than offering, or arranging, extra support during a difficult time, she told me to call her three weeks after surgery and let her know how things had gone.)

A bright spot this week was a package that M got from "Coach John" (from Special Olympics), who came to visit him in the hospital. John had told M that he was going to send him something, and I was looking for a card (or something small) to come. Imagine my surprise when this box came in the mail for M...



... and inside was this very cool Avalanche jersey, personalized with M's name on the back!



M was thrilled... and has the jersey hanging in his room where he can see it from his bed.  We have run into some of the most amazing people through Special Olympics... what a blessing they are in our lives.

I'm hoping that today will be a quiet day, giving M (and I) a chance to recover from the drama of yesterday. Hopefully he'll be more settled, and it will be a good day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

*~*daybook*~*

simple-woman-daybook-small
FOR TODAY

February 22, 2010

Outside my window... it's still snowing. It's been snowing off and on since Saturday, but thankfully it's been a light snow so we only have about 5" on the ground.

I am thinking... that this might just work out after all. M had a couple of really rough days (both physically and psychiatrically) this weekend, and I wondered if he'd been discharged from the hospital TOO early... but yesterday evening was a little easier... hopefully today will go well.

I am thankful for... the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurses who cared for M last week. Especially the surgeon who took a chance with M (because of everything else that M has going on, I think his first inclination was not to chance the surgery) and "Dr Tom" the anethesiologist who spent so much time researching M's meds before the surgery, and so carefully monitored him during and after surgery.

From the learning rooms... I'm not sure if M will get back to his school work this week or next. It would probably be good for him to have the structure of school. I'm just not sure if he'll be ready. R will for sure need to pull the books back out.. :)

From the kitchen... I've got a craving for navy bean soup... but forgot to soak the beans last night.  I guess it will have to wait until tomorrow night. After 5 days in the hospital, it's been so good to have a kitchen again... I'm happy to be able to cook anything!

I am wearing... jeans, red tee shirt, navy blue hoodie, crocs

I am creating... a recovery period that will (hopefully) result in a child who can walk pain-free, and has as close to a full range of motion as possible. (M will never have full range of motion... the surgeon fixed as much as he could, but wasn't able to make the joint "normal".)

I am going... nowhere, except to the barn, for awhile. Our first trip "out" will probably be M's follow-up visit with the surgeon in about 10 days.

I am reading... Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose; a story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I read part of it years ago, but always wanted to read the whole thing. I started it during M's surgery and am LOVING the escape it provides. One minute I'm dispensing meds and handling urinals, and the next minute I'm on my way up the Missouri River with the Corps of Discovery.

I am hoping... M has a good day, and his gut starts working again.

I am hearing... R's stylus quietly tapping the screen of her Gameboy as she plays whatever game she's playing. (She's got her earphones in, so the Gameboy is quiet...), the hum of the refrigerator, and the tick of the clock.

Around the house... the laundry is almost caught up, and everything else is in pretty good shape.

One of my favorite things... M and R's sweetness... They are teenagers in many ways, but still have that child-like sweetness about them.

A few plans for the rest of the week... I need to draw M's blood today, and pick up meds tomorrow (Joe will have to do that), I also need to arrange the home health aides and try to figure out when it would be most helpful to have them here.

A picture I am sharing...
The kitchen chalkboard wall, with M's Valentine's Day message still on it~


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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hurray, we're home!

M was discharged yesterday afternoon, and the ambulance brought him (and I) home...



A deep and heart felt thank you to everyone who kept him in their prayers, came to visit, or sent him cards and things...



It's wonderful to be home... R is very happy to have us all together again, and the dogs were happy to see us, but my biggest "welcome home" probably came from Murphy. He's been aloof since we got him... he seems to tolerate us, and do what we ask him to, but not to be very connected to us. Since he has a history of being abused, it makes sense for him to not to be quick to trust and become attached to us... But part of the joy of owning a horse, especially when, like me, you don't ride often... is the connection between horse and human. Anyway... Murphy always seemed like he could take us or leave us, he didn't really care much one way or the other.

When I went out to feed last night, he was up on the hill above the barn and when I called to him to come for dinner, he came running down the hill... bucking, tail held up in excitement, whinnying. Needless to say this is NOT his usual reaction to dinner. I think he was happy I was home... He must trust us and be connected to us more than he lets on.  This is just huge for me... I wasn't sure that he'd ever learn to trust humans again, or have a true connection to us.

So... we're home but it's going to be a challenging month or so. M isn't nearly as independent as I anticipated him being. He isn't able to bathe, use the bathroom, or move around at all without help. He's also at great risk of falling (he moves very impulsively, often forgetting he can't use one leg) and he needs pain meds every 4 hours round the clock.  The good news is he's in good spirits (despite the pain medication making him sick to his stomach), psychiatrically he's still stable, and he's home.



When I woke up this morning it was snowing, the big pine trees are frosted with white, and little by little the dry winter prairie grass is being covered by the soft pure whiteness of the snow. Just before sitting down to the computer, I looked out the dining room window and saw a small herd of mule deer in the back pasture... does and their mostly grown babies... including one young buck with his little two point antlers. As I watched, two of the does stopped to groom each other, while the others wandered past... nibbling and walking... always watchful, but at the same time seeming almost serenely calm.

It's very good to be home...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It looks like we're finally going home!

We originally hoped M would be ready to come home on Thursday, but there was no way... He hadn't even been out of bed yet, and was so drowsy from the pain meds that he slept through most of the day.

So the going home plan moved to Friday. But M had a rough night Thursday night... mostly due to very poor nursing. We've found that if his pain level gets too high, his psychotic symptoms quickly and dramatically increase. After talking to his night nurse for Thursday, and agreeing how important it was for M to 1) get as much sleep as possible (which he needs to stay stable), so to "bunch up" the necessary night time checks as much as possible and 2) keep his pain controlled... she was unnecessarily intrusive, even chatty, with him during the night... at one point even coming in and waking him apparently just to check to see if his ice pack had leaked  (it hadn't) and to ask if he needed another blanket!  So for part of the night she was waking him for nothing... but also ended up being almost an hour late with his pain medication, then couldn't figure out how to give it to him (I had to do it for her).

It was lucky she did ask me to give it to him though, because after I went back to bed I kept thinking about what she'd had me give him, and finally got up to see if she'd left the label from the pain med he'd received. She had... and I found that she'd shorted him his pain medicine! I went out and asked why she hadn't given him the full dose and she said she'd forgotten.

When you are a nurse, especially in a children's hospital, HOW do you just "forget" 1/3 of a complicated patient's pain medication?!

Anyway, she brought him the rest of the medication, but by that time he'd been up and down for hours, and his pain had built up quite a bit, and he never really did catch up.

So yesterday was not a good day for going home...  M was feverish, not able to keep his oxygen level up, and as the day went on he was edgy, irritable, and at times, extremely anxious (to the point of being non-functional).. All this was mixed with hours of being so sedated that he couldn't stay awake. He also didn't eat much yesterday, and was too anxious to participate at all with physical therapy.



He's really been a trooper through all of this, and so sweet to the nurses and doctors (shaking their hands and thanking them for everything they do...), his surgeon has even commented twice on how M is doing much better than he expected him to, and better even than many typical kids who have this same operation. Fortunately, I'm getting most of the edginess and irritability... but I do think they are ready to have M (and his demanding mother) gone!

So they've approved an ambulance to transport M back home and get him settled into his own bed, and home health care for an undetermined period of time. The surgeon also wrote orders for M to have physical therapy, at home, with his regular PT.  The discharge papers are already signed, and the ambulance should be here right after lunch.

The highlight of his day yesterday was probably when "Coach John", one of his coaches from Special Olympics, stopped by. John is a dentist connected to this hospital... he found time to stop for a long visit with M and even took our address and told M he would be sending him something. It was an extremely kind and generous (with his time, I know all these docs are seriously overworked!) thing to do. What a special guy...

M also ran into "Nurse S" yesterday (the one he met in the pre-surgery area, who visited him later), and there were hugs all around... You would have thought they were long lost friends.

I will be very happy to get home. I've been here, with M, since he checked in on Tuesday... I think they do everything they can to make the time here as easy as possible for kids and their parents, but I miss home., and my animals, and the quiet of the country... and the dark there, when the sun goes down.



This is the nighttime view from M's window, looking west. It's beautiful... but it's never really dark here.



 The big building on the right is UCHSC (the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center... the hospital connected with the CU School of Medicine. The large street, going at a diagonal on the left side of the picture is Colfax Street... which used to be the longest continuous street in the U.S. Hmm... I wonder if it still is?

We are in the newly built Children's Hospital, which relocated from downtown Denver a few years ago. It's built on the site of the former Fitzsimmons Army Hospital... a place I have vivid memories of from childhood visits there with my sister.

Anyway... with any luck we'll be leaving this place behind and home by this afternoon! :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The sky outside M's hospital window is just starting to lighten, it's that hazy gray time of dawn...

(the view from M's window)



If I were home I'd be just finishing up with the barn work, probably giving Tucker a treat or a hug before calling Emma back from whatever bunny she was chasing and heading back to the house.

M's doing ok, but the past 24 hours have been hard... The transition from the epidural to oral medication for pain control was tough, and triggered agitation and some instability. Thankfully he settled down again once the pain lessened. Getting the bladder working again (after having the catheter) was also a bit of a trick, but hopefully (knock wood) all his "plumbing" will work the way it's supposed to today.

A bright spot yesterday was a volunteer stopping by with her "prescription pet" dog; a little cocker spaniel named Delia, who was happy to sit on his bed and keep M company for awhile.



He slept better last night, but woke up early this morning with a fever and just feeling bad all over. They gave him more pain medication, but he's still struggling... alternating between being awake... scared and a bit panicky, and dozing off... moaning in his sleep.



Hopefully he'll feel better as the day goes on.

One of the docs just stopped in and said he's not concerned with how M's doing, that overall he's still doing well... but it might end up being Saturday before we go home...

edited to add: M's fever is going up and he's needing extra oxygen... it's looking like it might be a rough day for him. :(

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I'm sitting in M's hospital room, enjoying a quiet moment amidst a morning filled with medical people coming in and out, machines beeping and needing to be reset, and M asking for this or that.

M's surgery was yesterday, and overall it went well. The surgery ended up lasting about 4 hours... The anesthesiologist had been concerned about keeping M's blood pressure up during surgery (his blood pressure is unstable and can drop quickly and for no apparent reason), and they did end up needing to give him blood pressure medication twice during the surgery when it started to drop, but each time it came back up and settled down again. Unfortunately there was more damage to the joint than the surgeon anticipated, so... he was able to make it much better... but there is already permanent damage done to the joint and M will probably always have problems with it. He should be able to get back to Special Olympics though, and enjoy the sports and all the fun he's be missing for the past six months.

He's still hooked up to two IV's, a catheter and has an epidural in (they just turned off the meds going into the epidural, trying to transition him to oral pain meds). The central line is out though, and he doesn't need any extra oxygen... so that is good.

How he does with oral pain medication, and how well he can get around (once he's back on his feet) will determine when he (we) go home. Maybe tomorrow... but maybe not until Friday.

A very cool thing happened just a little bit ago...

Yesterday, when M was in the pre-surgery area one of his nurses was "S"... and in typical M fashion he talked to her about his favorite food, his girlfriend, what he wants to do when he grows up, etc. He said he was adopted, and she said that she was too (and then they high-fived each other!). She was just a wonderful person... so kind to him... and seemed to genuinely enjoy M's company.

M in the pre-surgery area, laughing about the funny hat he had to wear...

Well, just a few minutes ago, there was a knock on M's door and Nurse S came in. She had a card and gift for him! As he opened his gift she told me that she had been very touched by M, and had thought about him all night... How he has so many struggles and yet enjoys life so much and is such a neat kid.

I was very touched by her stopping by... it really brightened up the morning.

Monday, February 15, 2010

*~*daybook*~*

simple-woman-daybook-small
FOR TODAY

February 15, 2010

Outside my window... the sun is out, the sky is blue, and there is new snow on the ground, but it's still bitter cold... (the thermometer is reading about 5 degrees)

I am thinking... about whether or not to call Dr B.

I am thankful for... the fact that I can still walk fairly well despite smashing my big toe the other day. Unfortunately wearing a shoe is still a problem... Hopefully the swelling will be down enough by tomorrow, and M's surgery, that I won't have to wander around Children's Hospital wearing only one shoe!

From the learning rooms... both kids are doing so well in school right now. I HATE having to stop the good momentum we've got going for the surgery.

From the kitchen... I think I'm going to make a batch of rellenos and green chili tonight. I'm in the mood for some comfort food and homemade rellenos top my list of foods I love to eat.

I am wearing... blue jeans, red henley, denim shirt, and one slipper.

I am creating...still just working on some guitar stuff right now. Once M is home from the hospital, and we're stuck at home for awhile, I'm going to finally finish up the refinishing project (the little rolltop desk) I started ages ago. The desk itself is done, and I've been using it for a year... but I never completely finished all the little pieces of wood that make up the rolltop itself. All they need is a little more sanding, then stain and finish. It will be a good project to work on while M is recuperating.

I am going... to draw blood again today (these weekly blood draws sure come around quickly!), and hopefully get it couriered up to Children's this morning, so I can pick up M's clozaril today. (The blood work results  have to be back to the pharmacy before I can pick up the next week's worth of that medication.)

I am reading...  and still enjoying, the The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss (I haven't had much time to read lately, so it's taking me awhile to finish...)

I am hoping...that M is settled down today, and not more unsettled.

I am hearing...R upstairs in the shower, the tick of the clock, and an occasional sleepy sigh from one of the dogs laying at my feet.

Around the house... I'm getting used to 1/3 of my living room being taken up with boxes of wood for the floor. They make a handy table or even seat, when you need one...

One of my favorite things... the companionable way Murphy and Tilly walk with me to the barn each morning.

A few plans for the rest of the week... M's surgery is tomorrow, the rest of the week is filled with the uncertainty of how he's going to handle the surgery (psychiatrically), how well they'll be able to manage his pain (because of the psychiatric meds he's on), how cooperative he'll be with what he needs to do to recover, and how soon he can come home.

Here a picture I am sharing...

the view out the living room window this morning


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Sunday, February 14, 2010

I woke up this morning to snow...

There were several inches of snow on the ground, and it was still coming down. It snowed through mid-morning and then the sun came out and it was cold... but beautiful, with the sunlight twinkling off the fresh snow.

R decided to take advantage of the sun and tack Murphy up for a ride...



They do so well together...



I think he really tries to do what he thinks she wants him to do.



It was cold, but such a lovely way to spend a little time on a snowy afternoon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

7 Quick Takes Fr.... I mean Satuday

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7 Quick Takes

~1~

We watched part of the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies last night, it was on too late for us to watch all of it... but what we saw we enjoyed. M especially enjoyed the parade of nations, and trying to figure out where all those places are!


~2~

The Winter Olympics will always be special to me I think, because it reminds me of when my "big" kids were babies. E, our oldest,  was born in Jan. of 1980, B came along in Jan of 1984, and K in Oct of 1987. So... during  the Winter Olympics of 1980, 1984, and 1988,  my girls were tiny babies, nursing all the time, and I spent many hours (especially through the evening and into the night, when the first two were especially fussy)  in the rocker, nursing and rocking, and watching the Olympics.


~3~

M has a date with his girlfriend, today. It's going to be kind of a family date, R and I will be going and probably M's girlfriend's twin brother. After a half dozen dates since last fall, this will probably be the last date for awhile... :( I'm hoping they'll be able to pick up where they left off, once he's back on his feet again.


~4~

We're going to see the movie Leap Year today... M would rather see something: 1) funny, or 2) action packed, but he thought his girlfriend would rather see more of a chick flick, and since Valentine's Day is tomorrow.... (M has a box of chocolates and some silk roses for her, who'd have dreamed he'd grow up to be such a romantic?!)


~5~

Everything seems to be pretty much in place for M's surgery... more or less... as much as it can be when the surgeon (Dr S) has been in Sweden for a week, and won't be back at work until just hours before the surgery. Both the anesthesiologist and the consulting pdoc called me this last week and said they had questions for Dr S, and would need to call him and get back to me. I haven't heard back from either of them. I guess Dr S isn't returning messages from Sweden.


~6~

They delivered M's wheelchair the other day. It's bigger and heavier than I expected. It stresses me out to have it here... I guess this is really going to happen.


~7~

I recently reconnected with a girl who was in my class in high school. She and I weren't friends back then, just acquaintances, but her family knew Joe's family well. It turns out she lives just about 4 miles east of us now, and has both donkeys and horses.  She very generously offered to be the "back up" person in terms of the animal's care while I'm at the hospital with M. K and R will be taking care of things at home, but if anything weird comes up, (or anyone sneaks out of the back pasture!), she'll come over and help. She came by yesterday to see where everything was, and meet the animals...  I feel better having someone who really knows animals (besides R) available if anything comes up.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Murphy...

... tried to live up to his name again today, coming just a heartbeat away from running full tilt into a 5' tall cattle panel.

He's pretty, but he's not the sharpest tool in the shed.



He snuck out of the big pasture this afternoon, Tilly following behind him, and I found the two of them in the front.. unfenced... pasture.

I walked out to get him, and he started trotting off.  I could see he was in the mood to play games, so I tried to maneuver myself to keep between him and the road.

That's when he decided (in the carefully thought out way that horses have of making decisions) to get away from me by running down the narrow space between the garden and small pasture fences.



Unfortunately for him, there is a cattle panel blocking one end... That cattle panel has been there for at least a year. He HAD to have known it was there...  It blocks the way from the big pasture to the front pasture (where I found him), so he had to go around it to get out front. It's always closed but it's hinged on one side, and he's had to wait while we open it and walk him through from front to back.



Anyway... he thought he'd outsmarted me. He turned away from me, kicked up his heels and went running down that narrow fenced area as I watched in horror and tried to call him back.

He was about 5' away from the cattle panel when he finally saw it. He tried to stop so fast he turned himself sideways, hooves and chunks of grass flying as he tried to avoid crashing into the fence... Unfortunately, the ground was very wet and he was slipping and sliding in the mud and wet grass.



Luckily for both of us he stopped before crashing into the anything.

Incredibly (stupidly) he turned and tried again to run past me, but I blocked the exit...  just angry enough to force him to either stop running or run over the top of me.

He stopped running.

I grabbed his halter and led him back to the barn muttering under my breath about how lucky he was to be on his feet, and not laying on the ground tangled up in a cattle panel.

He wasn't happy with me either... and was still giving me dirty looks when I went out to feed him this evening.



He's a good horse... really... I guess a little freedom just went to his head.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Living vicariously

I rarely blog about my "big" kids... Our older daughters are all grown and on their own, and I've just thought they probably would not appreciate being blog fodder, so unless it's something really big (like graduating from college or getting married!), I try to respect their privacy and keep them off the blog.

But E, my oldest daughter, did something so cool (and almost scarily impulsive) this week that I have to blog about it.

What did she do?

She dropped everything to drive across the country with her three little ones (R who is 7, J who is 5 and K who is 3), to surprise her husband who is in Florida on business.

It all started Sunday afternoon when she called asking how crazy I thought it would be for her to take the kids and go to FL as a birthday surprise for her dh. She would have to be there by Wednesday morning because he was scheduled to fly home that afternoon. I liked the idea (I used to LOVE road trips before M got too ill, psychiatrically, to take them) but, since it's February and the weather is a concern, I thought she should fly out. It had been snowing lightly all day here, and the east coast had just been dumped on by that massive snow storm... so it seemed like flying would be the way to go.

Unfortunately the plane tickets would have been a LOT of money... more than she thought she should spend for a surprise.

But she really wanted to go.

So she arranged a pet sitter (not having time to bring the pets to me, her regular pet sitter ;) ) and left Colorado at 5:00 pm Sunday evening for Florida...

She figured she had about 29 hours of driving ahead of her, and not quite two and half days to do it.

Since she and the kids drove off Sunday evening, only half of me has been here at home, going about our daily routine... the other  half (or maybe 2/3's)  of me has been in that car, as it works it's way across the country.

It was still snowing when she left so Sunday was stressful... I spent lots of time pouring over weather maps, trying to track the storm that was bringing us snow... hoping the weather would improve (and NOT get worse!) as she drove east. She planned her route to get there as quickly as possible, but also to avoid the weather systems we could see on the maps. She texted me when they stopped for the night (Russell, Kansas) and I was happy that they'd driven out of the snow and hoped for good weather for the rest of the trip.

Monday morning I pulled out the big U.S. highway map and a sharpie and started tracking their path. She's called frequently during the trip, and it's been fun trying to help her plan a route. Her GPS was acting weird the first day or so, so she called so I could  mapquest things, and send the results to her phone when she needed me to.

I kept the weather maps handy too, trying to decipher what the various colors and symbols on the different maps meant and watch for storms.



I (unsuccessfully) tried to help her find a teacher supply store of some kind in Wichita, Kansas, so she could buy small maps so the kids could follow the path they were taking to Florida and dad...

 ... and as they headed south out of Kansas into Oklahoma, I heard about how pretty it was (I don't think she was expecting eastern OK to be so pretty). Later in the day she marveled over how big the Arkansas River is, the huge trees in the  National Forest they'd driven through, and how beautiful Arkansas was.

~



As I followed the route she was taking on the map, I told her she was getting close to the Mississippi and I wanted to hear what it was like.

But they didn't quite make it to the Mississippi that day... They ended up stopping in Brinkley AK for the night. As we talked that evening, she told me about all the cars she was seeing in the ditch and wondered why that was since the roads were just wet, not icy. It was dark by then, and the weather was getting worse so she decided to stop for the night. She woke up to realize there was about 2' of (old) snow on the ground (and guessed that explained the cars off the road), and found that the motel parking lot could have easily doubled as an ice skating rink.



She quickly left Brinkley behind and headed toward Memphis... Unfortunately, the Mississippi River was a bit of a disappointment (she said it was so big it looked like a lake, and the bridge that took them took over it blocked much of the view), but she was taken by all the huge trees in that part of the country, (here on the high plains of Colorado it's pretty dry, so not too many big trees... not like back east), and surprised at how many lakes and marshes she was seeing.

 She slipped through the corner of Tennessee and headed southeast and into Alabama and Georgia.  (As I followed along at home, sharpie in hand!)

She told me that she and the kids were (unhappily) surprised that the McDonalds in the south seem to cook their food differently than the McD's we are used to. It wasn't a good kind of "differentness" and she and the kids vowed no more McD's until they were back home.

And mentioned how, when shopping in Alabama, she'd been surprised at how often "bless you" was used the way "have a nice day" is used here in Colorado.

When I talked to her last night, she was heading south through Georgia on a beeline to Florida... She had three more hours of driving to go, and even through it was getting late she hoped to be able to put the kids to bed in Orlando last night.



I woke up to this text, sent when they had stopped driving for the night...

"We made it ! We're just outside Orlando ten minutes from______." (where her dh is)

I would LOVE to be there when she surprises him (I think "shock" is probably not a strong enough word for the look he's likely to have on his face when E and the kids "drop in" this morning).  I hope she gets a picture. :)

After a day or so spent at Disney World and just enjoying the Florida sunshine (it was about 8 degrees here this morning!),  they'll be making their way home (in a more leisurely way!),  following a different route... so they can see as much of the country as possible.

M's illness may keep me close to home, but being able to "tag along" (from home) on this trip was SO much fun... although I still can't believe how gutsy that girl is... and I will be happy when they are all back home again!

Monday, February 8, 2010

*~*daybook*~*

simple-woman-daybook-small
FOR TODAY

February 8, 2010

Outside my window... the sky is dove gray and there is a lovely soft snow falling. I don't know if it will last, but it's really beautiful out there right now...



I am thinking... about the last few things I need to do to get ready for M's surgery next week.

I am thankful for...  so many things right now. For everything falling into place for the surgery, especially after it came so close to blowing up last week, for things going well while S was here, for E (dd#1) and the grandkids getting safely through the snowy weather on their trip east, for the pharmacist letting me know we are going to have to go back to weekly blood draws... BEFORE I missed one, and it was too late, and I ran out of the medication M takes that requires the blood work (the new pdoc should have told me this but didn't...) not doing the required blood work on time could have been really bad!

From the learning rooms...I'm going to get things somewhat wrapped up this week in preparation for not being able to get much done school for the next couple of weeks. We'll finish up as much as possible, and hopefully even get ahead a bit.

From the kitchen... the cookie jar is empty and I have a craving for peanut butter cookies. Guess what I'll be doing this morning?

I am creating... R and I have been enjoying the new drawing book I bought, so we've been drawing more. I've also been working on a guitar strum I'm trying to get down.

I am going... nowhere today, tomorrow we have the pre-surgery tour at the hospital, and Friday we work at the library.

 I am reading... The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss, it's a novel  but it's good and was written by someone who seems to really knows horses. We're still reading The Cricket in Time's Square for our read aloud, and should finish this week.

I am hoping... that this week is easy and calm, with no surprises.

I am hearing... the rumbling and gurgling of the boiler, otherwise all is quiet.

Around the house... nothing much going on, just waiting for the new floor to be installed in the living room.

One of my favorite things... the it's-a-staying-home-day feeling. We've got nowhere to go today, it's nice not to have to schedule our day around whatever errands need to be run.

A few plans for the rest of the week... finish up the pre-surgery stuff; take the tour, get the equipment delivered (wheelchair, etc), find out for sure if M needs to donate blood in case he needs any during surgery, make a list of instructions (for the animals) for while I'm gone, get the month's shopping done (a little early, but I won't be able to go for awhile so it has to be now), draw blood (today! don't forget...), work at the library, make sure the home health people are arranged, call the CNA and makes sure she knows what's going on and that we'll probably need her for more hours for awhile, make sure the pdoc on the CL team knows to include M in their rounds each day... riding lessons (another one I'm in danger of forgetting!). Hmm, I think that's it. (This will make a good reminder list for me this week.)

A picture I am sharing...

Snowy Emma, in the gray of early dawn, after keeping me company while I did the barn work.




Visit Peggy's blog  for more about The Simple Woman's Daybook

Sunday, February 7, 2010

the dance....

The highlight of the kid's social calendar each year is the big "Night to Remember" dance put on through our Special Olympic team... It's a family event, and our SO team coordinator goes ALL out for it... It starts with dinner, and the opportunity to have professional family portraits taken and wander around the Wings Over the Rockies Museum where the dance is held each year. Then the dance (complete with DJ and disco ball), starts...

The dance is, of course, the highlight of the evening for the kids.

When we found out a few weeks ago that M needed surgery, I told the surgeon we could do it anytime... after Feb 6th. There was no way M was going to miss this party just to get his hip fixed... the hip can wait... this party only comes once a year!

Here are a few pictures...

R, M and S at the house, ready to leave for the party



S and R at dinner...



...and later, dancing.



M dancing with his friend E..



S, a friend from both our homeschool group and Special Olympics came, he and R and S hung out together a lot...



S seems to "channel" Michael Jackson...



M's girlfriend R got there, and, to his delight, he got to dance his first "slow dance" with someone other than mom. (poor R, I think I caught her in mid-sentence).



They all had such a good time...



~



One last slow dance... on stage!... before it was time to head for home.



Many thanks to Rocky Mtn Team Special Olympics for creating such a wonderful evening for us...

Friday, February 5, 2010

7 Quick Takes

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7 Quick Takes

~1~

I've spend the whole week "putting out fires" at Children's Hospital. From the way this is going you'd think nobody with schizophrenia had never needed surgery before. I like the way the kid's pediatrician put it... "If M was injured while skiing or something and needed his hip repaired, there would be no discussion... they'd just get in there and do it. This shouldn't be any different..."

~2~

She's right, it shouldn't be... but it is.


~3~

Earlier this week, I thought I was going to have to postpone the surgery until after M turns 18 in August (to work around one of Children's Hospital's policies), but it's looking like we're set to go as scheduled on the 16th. I'll find out either today or Tuesday what the plan is...


~4~

Children's Hospital made me so angry yesterday, that I had all kinds of extra energy...


~5~

... energy that got the taxes done! :)


~6~

We also picked up the wood for the new floor in the living room this week. It ended up being about 30 boxes, with a total weight of  just over 1,400 lbs. (I had to find out the weight, so I would know if we could take it in one load without flattening our little light duty truck.) I learned that it only takes about 30 minutes for the kids and I to unload, move into the house,  and stack 1,400 lbs of wood. My legs were TIRED afterwards!

~

This is what that much wood looks like... It takes up a lot of floor space in the living room.            


~7~

We're off today for lunch with friends and then the homeschool group ice cream social. Tomorrow is the big once-a-year Special Olympics party and dance... The kids can't wait!