If either of us were currently working outside of the home, Honey’s surgery would have been scheduled for a most convenient time. He got released from the hospital right at the beginning of Thanksgiving break – so theoretically everything should have been pretty easy going.
I hate theoretically – cuz it is almost never in line with actually.
Let me tell ya about what Thanksgiving vacation looked like in our house this year.
I’m gonna tell you now that I will likely win any and all comical bad vacation stories with this one. (For those of you who have heard them – this even beats the “mooooove” to TX when I was 22 and The Waffle House story – both!)
So – Friday, November 16th, Honey gets sprung from MDA, the kids get sprung from school – I get sprung from any kind of sanity I have ever held. This was my schedule of events for the first official day of Thanksgiving break.
- awake at 3:30AM when Honey decided he was ready for breakfast
- go to cafe 24/7 to find something he can eat in the middle of the damn night
- wake again at 6:30 when it was actually time to call for breakfast
- eat breakfast (cream of wheat, blueberry greek yogurt, fresh berries and a Dr Pepper)
- leave MDA at 7:30am – return to The Woods for a second grade Poetry Feast for The Boy Child
- drop dog at groomer so that Honey is not offended by his dog-like stench when he gets home
- attend Poetry Feast, dismiss boy child from school early b/c that’s why they have things like Poetry Feasts on the day before vacation; so you can get your kid out of there by lunch time and the teacher can get cut some slack for once
- return to MDA to bring Honey home
- leave MDA just as evening rush hour is beginning – spend nearly three hours trying to get home
- arrive home with just enough time to get back in the car and go to pick up 10 and 6 from their mom’s house (thank you, MY mom for doing that for me – you can’t begin to imagine how much that hour off helped)
- realize that I have done all I can — yet rest assured that I have forgotten to do more than I remembered
- See – knew I forgot something – pick up all Honey’s new prescriptions and try to deal with pharmacological misfortunes.
- Shit – the dog! Forgot the dog. Good thing the groomer likes him (I think she just tolerates me at this point…)
- try to sleep, fail, try again, fail, repeat ad infinitum
- wake at 3:30AM when Honey decided that he was hungry…..
So really, it wasn’t a BAD day at all – just an extremely long and busy one. Vacay really started getting exciting after that.
Imagine for a moment – a smallish townhome with an open kitchen/dining/living area filled with big man-sized furniture, three children (6,7 and 10), two moms (one just a mom, the other a nana), one rather large man who is learning how to do many of the things that he used to could do with no thought at all (ie: shoe tying, walking, dressing, typing, etc –> all very frustrating tasks), his walker, three cats and a very needy schnauzer.
No, really, imagine this for a moment or two – then promise yourself you will never try to think of such a thing again.
I really don’t think I can even begin to do this tale the justice it deserves -but I will try. Understand that I have to downplay some of these events because if I emotionally revisit, I may have to take a valium (or seven).
As best I recall, it went something like this:
The first weekend was rather quiet. Honey spent a lot of time sleeping, Nana was there any time I needed to
escape run an errand. The kids were playing online games together with the two computers, Kitty brought us a collection of dead moles to show his gratitude for our return home. Really it seemed like we were going to be okay.
By Monday, I started to have my doubts.
All I could see was the wall in front of me that I needed to climb over to even begin to see my first hurdle in moving forward. I knew I needed to make the house handicapped accessible for Honey – I just hadn’t the foggiest idea of how to get started. I knew I had to keep on top of his medicines – but the lists were way overwhelming. I also had to learn how to monitor his glucose levels as he had developed steroid induced diabetes while in the hospital. I had finally almost figured out how to do the brain cancer thing, and now they were throwing diabetes at me. Not okay. So. Not. Okay. At. All.
I also knew that I had to take care of business outside of the home. My letter of insurance coverage had just arrived so I could get myself basic insurance through my work – and then we received a denial of coverage for 6 and 10 through state insurance (CHIPS) because we make too much money. Right – on our mutual disabilities and regular + medical expenses we have too much money for our children to qualify for medicare services.
The only way to rectify this problem that I could see was for me to add Honey’s children to MY insurance. Have I told you how much Honey’s COBRA is costing us? And that I was giving serious consideration to not insuring myself so that we could have an emergency fund if we needed it? Ya, that isn’t going to happen. We are now paying an additional $540/mo to keep insurance on Honey’s kids. That is actually $371 more than it would cost to just insure myself. No stress here. No anxiety, none at all. Hey, did I mention that one of Honey’s required meds costs $299/mo? And that’s just one of them… How cool is that?
Top priority (after insurance) was making the home accessible to Honey and his walker. To that end, we had to get a new front door and have it open from the other direction (left-handed instead of right-handed), build a ramp to the front door and have additional banisters added to the stairs. We had friends offer to help with these things – but that didn’t work out quite the way I had hoped. Our sense of urgency for these items simply was not at the same level as that of folk who don’t have to live with
us me. I will admit to a rather slight bit of neurosis in my attention to Honey’s needs – but I am thinking that a ramp could have been built within the first week that he was home…. Really.
So – because I so hate to have conflict with friends – or people I am in relationship with, the housing adaptions were causing me a lot of grief. I needed Honey taken care of and I couldn’t get into a conflict with the friend who wasn’t helping us the way I felt we needed. It was ugly. It made me cry. It brought my relationship with Prozac to a whole new level.
Understand, I am the administrative assistant in our home. I call the insurance companies, I call the doctors’ offices, I deal with pharmacies and their divas, I am the chauffeur, I am the mom, the wife and the caregiver. I can do all these things with strength and (usually) kind manners. I cannot do the same with people whom I know. This is my great personal failure. I am working to overcome this issue, but I have been less than successful thus far.
In an effort of avoidance, I got in touch with a contractor whom had been highly “recommeneded” by the customer service people at Home Depot. They came by, looked at the house, went to price bannisters and come back with a proposal of $450 for the ramp and stairs and said they could get ‘er done on Thursday. Our 2nd opinion came in with a quote of $465 to build the ramp, put in two bannisters (rather than the just one that I thought we needed) AND removed the carpeting from the stairs so that I can sand and finish them (so they will be less of a slip & fall hazard). AND, AND, AND they could do the work right away. It was more than worth the money to get the job done expediently and without conflict.
In the meantime, we were still adapting to some major changes in our world. The least affected of our (human) boys seemed to be 6. He just rolled with it – as long as he could use the computer or was otherwise entertained, he was cool. In fact, this week just past may have been the best vacation we have ever had with him. He has grown up so much in the last year it is simply amazing.
I think that 7 rolled with things pretty well. This has been his everyday for the past coupla’ years. He is also a really empathetic and just seems to accept the reality of his world without any great stress (so far, I think). The hardest thing for him during the week was adapting to not being the only kid in the house and having to give up his room for Nana. When there is only one child in the house, there tends to be less interpersonal conflict. T(7) needs to learn how to work out issues with his brothers – more to the point, he has to learn how to be a brother. Not easy. The hardest thing for him was when he asked his dad if he could spend the night Thanksgiving Thursday since he would be weekending with him anyway – his dad said no ‘cuz his girlfriend was in town. Seriously? What kind of a dad does that?
10, on the other hand, was having some significant problems dealing with the day to day. He is the closest to his dad. He and Honey have always had an extremely deep bond and they are both so introverted that they are unable to express their feelings verbally (or in any way that I understand and am able to help foster). The acting out of emotions that were apparent to me included such behaviors as lying, whining, ignoring directives, demonstrating lots of exasperation and acting out physically with the youngers. These were the minor problems that I had rather expected from all of the children. No big deal, I am a behavior specialist after all. This is what I do.
The more significant problems seemed to revolve around the bathroom. At one point both of the littlers (6 & 7) came downstairs saying they could not use the upstairs restroom because it was too disgusting. Now, I tend to try to avoid that bathroom b/c I think boy bathrooms are nasty to begin with – but this required at least a look-see in case I actually had to tend to anything (flooded commode, maybe?). That would have been easy. Grab a plunger, go to work on the potty, flush and be done. No, this was not as simple or pleasant as a blocked toilet –> this was shit wiped on the shower curtain right next to the toilet at just about the height that a 10 yr old hand would be were the child sitting down.
Mind you, this discovery was made right in the middle of dinner. I toughed it out, took down the curtain and put it into the wash. Done but for the residual ick and ruined appetite. No accusations were made – all of the family (Nana included) were informed of proper toileting behaviors and it was let go. Until the next time something shitty happened. The next afternoon, 10 ran into the downstairs bath to do whatever it was he had to do. He got sent back to wash his hands and that was that (I thought). The next lucky person to go to that room was me. Probably a good thing. There was poop on the toilet seat, 10 was called back in and shown how to clean up such an unfortunate incident himself rather than leaving it as a gift for someone else. We got out the bleach-water (I know this is environmentally incorrect, but this was shit on the place where I was gonna put MY bum), a rag and some rubber gloves. (Initially 10 thought it would be acceptable to simply run the bowl brush along the seat – thus smearing it around rather than actually cleaning). Lesson was given, seat was cleaned, rag thrown into clothes washer so nobody else would have to touch it.
Done, right? You would think so, but you would be wrong. When I went back in to do what I had to do, I found soiled toilet paper lying on the floor next to the toilet. How does one miss dropping paper into the bowl by such a vast distance? How does one not notice that they have missed the bowl? What is going through the mind of the person who does such a thing? 10 got called back once again to clean up after himself and was informed in no uncertain terms that if something comes out of his butt, he is responsible for taking care of it immediately.
At this point, I was aware that something was clearly very wrong here. And that I was completely unequiped to deal with something of this magnitude. I called the counselor that the family had been seeing and asked for an emergency visit for Honey and 10 to attend together – without the rest of us. Hopefully, they will be able to communicae with one another and maybe 10 will stop punishing us in such a vile manner.
Oh, he (10) also smooshed silly putty into 7’s flannel bedsheets and blanket. I am never purchasing silly putty again – there was nothing silly about this at all. And the true coup de gras was when he hurt a 5 year old at Thanksgiving dinner. Apparently, the 5 yr old started it by poking 10 in the stomach. 10 felt that twisting his arm would be the best way to handle such behavior. To be factual, it did stop 5 from bothering him – but it didn’t stop 5 from coming and telling me that my big boy hurt him. Nice.
One top of all this, Honey is still trying to learn how to compensate for the consequences of his surgery. He did a very good job of keeping his temper about him all week – thank goodness – or I might really have lost it.
So, THAT was our Thanksgiving break. Bet yours seems much better in comparison.
Don’t get me wrong – I am extremely thankful – I am also extremely tired and nearing the knot at the end of my rope.
There are more stories. They will come in time. I still have “the parking lot confrontation” and the “key incident” to tell you about.
Love you (and the day school vacations end)