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Another New Normal

After a long recovery from his hip replacement surgery in May we were settling into our new normal.  This included 3 days a week home health aid to assist with showering and dressing and give me a chance to go to the store and run errands.  We were getting ready for a week of respite care for my husband at the VA and I was going to have a weeks vacation, time home alone to myself and a short trip away for 2 nights with my sister.  But the week before we were to go our washing machine broke.  So in order to get the laundry washed and get him packed for his week of respite I had to take the laundry out to be done, while I did this I left him home alone.  He was alone for 30-40 minutes while I ran the laundry to my mom’s and to a friends and loaded up their washers.  But while I was gone he fell again and broke the other hip.  So respite care became acute care for fractured pelvis.  And life has once again become hell.

In the meantime we came to realize our house was NOT going to sell unless we were willing to lose $30-40K in equity.  We are NOT, we CANNOT.  So, we took the house off the market and started the process to use our adaptive housing grant here in NY.  We need an accessible bathroom months ago and waiting years to sell or losing our shirts was no longer an option.  So sadly I have given up on my dream of living in Florida, near the beach, where it is warm, where my bones don’t hurt.  I am excited about the addition we are adding, a new massive master suite will be added to our home with a walk in closet (a dream) and in the HUGE bathroom a large, deep soaking tub for me.  We will have room for a King size bed and lots of room to get around in his power wheelchair once the doors are widened and the hallway widened as well.  It’s going to be a messy and annoying project, massive BUT in the end so worth it.

And as we settle into this new normal, he fights me all the time on safety issues.  Last week I had to change the doorknob going into the basement and add a keyed lock to it because he insists he is fine to walk down there. I fight with never leaving him alone.  I have to find friends to sit with him to get out for work 1 night a week.  I am thankful the VA pays for 10 hours of home health aid’s for him each week but they are in the AM and no help with work.

Life goes on.  Depression always looming, staring me in the face, keeping me awake at night, making me fall asleep during the day.  The constant struggle between what he wants to do and what is safe (he tells me at least once a week to give me his keys). Just sad to have to give up on one more dream but also glad to be staying where we have amazing friends and my family all around us.

Just taking time to adjust to this new normal, again.  MS is a cruel, cruel disease.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2017 in Daily Living, Uncategorized

 

The streak is broken…

The streak being the sheer number of times that my husband has taken a tumble and NOT broken a bone is broken.  On May 4th while I left him alone for a few hours, he oh so wisely (sarcasm of course) decided to climb a ladder to look at some boxes in the rafters of the garage.  He fell, while standing on the 4th rung of the ladder he fell.  He landed on his hip and he broke it at the head of the femur.  The next day he had a total hip replacement surgery and started his very long and slow recovery.  That was 5 weeks ago today.  He moved from the hospital to a rehab center and has spent 4 weeks there doing PT and OT and getting better.  He comes home this Friday.

And once again life changes, no more leaving him home alone.

 

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2016 in Caregiving, Daily Living

 

Winter Sports Clinic

This was my husband’s 5th year attending the Winter Sports Clinic for Disabled Veterans and my 2nd year.  He loves it, held in Snowmass, CO each year it is truly an amazing event.  He gets to ski, curl, scuba in the pool, hang with other veterans and socialize.  It’s wonderful for him.  The first 3 times he went it was wonderful for me because I got to stay home alone.  But he can no longer travel without a caregiver so I have to go.  I know complaining about a trip to beautiful Colorado seems silly but it cost me about $2000 to go with him for 8 days and my body HATES high altitudes so I can’t breathe the whole time we are there.

Chip is my constant companion in CO, his love helps.

chip

Pete enjoying the winter sports.

curling Pete

I hope once we get settled in Florida he can continue to participate in this clinic each year it’s sooo good for him.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2016 in Caregiving, Daily Living

 

Long Overdue Update

So we did it – we were snowbirds from Dec 15 through March 15th.  We lived in approx 300 square feet of space, with two adults, 3 large dogs and one small cat.  Talk about Tiny House Living!!!!  But we had a good time, we moved around a bit.  During our travels we spent 2 weeks in Georgia, 2 months in two different places in Florida and about a week in the Carolina’s on the way home.

On the way down we spent two nights in Morristown, TN where I got to see my cousin that I hadn’t seen in at least 25 years. She loved my dogs and helped me walk them while we got the camper set up and then we all went to dinner!  🙂
dale-n-me

We had a great campsite there in TN but it was raining the whole time so we didn’t spend much time outside.
camper-in-TN

We moved on after just two days to Georgia where we spent 11 days and had Christmas in the park with my mom and dad who were working and living there in their RV.  It was a bit strange having Christmas in the camper but I still had my decorations – this was my tree.  It reminds me of my grandmother and I painted it myself.  🙂
Christmas-tree

On January 1st we moved into a campsite that was a bit more crowded but was at a resort and had lots of amenities!
camper-setup

We spent all of January and February at two different resorts in Florida.  We found the town/city where we’d like to live once our house in NY sells.  We visited the VA in Tampa and got to check out their emergency room (not fun) and emergency dental as well!  We visited with family and friends.  We saw manatees, we went to Busch Gardens twice (flamingo encounter), we went to a spring training game, the dogs played in the dog park, we enjoyed sunsets over the bay, I swam, I played bingo, I LOVED it!  🙂

And after three long months I was very ready to leave the crowded camper behind:
dogs

And while I really miss the cheap gas in the south I am enjoying the space I have in my spacious home in NY.  Can’t wait to have a spacious home in FL instead.
cheap-gas

And my husband?  He is ready to be a true Floridian.  This is him wearing long underwear and jeans, a shirt, sweatshirt and winter coat at Busch Gardens.  The outside temperature that day was 65.  Yep if it’s below 70 he’s freezing – he will fit right in with the natives.  🙂
floridian

So this was my winter in a nutshell!  Of course since we left NY it was the mildest winter in decades and they never had a single snowstorm that required plowing or shoveling the entire time we were gone.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2016 in Caregiving, Daily Living

 

The Importance of Choosing an NSO for VA Claims

There are lots of veterans service organizations who have National Service Officers who are trained to assist veterans with their VA claims.  The VFW, the DAV (Disabled American Veterans), the PVA (Paralyzed Veterans of America).  And depending on your disability there may be one better for you.  If you or your loved one has a spinal cord injury or illness (Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, etc) then the PVA should be your service organization of choice.

And here is how I know this, for my husbands latest claim we used an NSO from the DAV.  My husband was bumped from 90% with unemployability to 100% with Aid and Attendance and several SMC’s.  His legs were rated at 20% and 40% and that was a bit ridiculous considering he can barely stand and walk.  However he was only bumped up to 40% for both legs.  Our NSO from the DAV told us that there was no need to appeal that rating as there was no difference in payment between 40% and 80% which is more like it.  So we listened to him.

Then we went to an appointment at the SCI Unit at the VA and we met with an NSO from the PVA – they specialize in helping those with spinal cord injuries with their claims.  Unlike our DAV Rep, our PVA Rep tells us that if my husband’s legs were rated 50% or higher that he would INDEED get paid more.  He also is going back through the claim to see if there are any other things that need to be reviewed and appealed..

So choose your NSO carefully it does make a difference!

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Caregiving

 

We’re still here and things are moving along.

I’m sorry my posts seem to come in spurts, it is how my life seems to work these days.

While I was missing many positive things happened for us.  I took the bull by the horns and MADE the VA get his fiduciary claim set up ASAP in September.  When our NSO from the DAV told me I just had to wait and that the VA does things at their own time and there was nothing to do about it, I was not willing to accept that so I sent an email to the undersecretary for benefits in Washington DC, yep went straight to the top. I had heard she was very responsive and lo and behold I emailed her on a Friday, I received a reply on a Wednesday that something would be done.  The following Friday we had a call from the Fiduciary Officer to set up an appt and two weeks later on a Monday he was at our house we were filling out paperwork and it was done!  And thankfully as a spouse being named fiduciary is super easy and I did not have to make any changes at all to anything.  It’s life as normal here for us.  🙂

With that being settled we are now free to get going with our plans for the winter!  WooHoo so we are leaving mid Dec and heading south.  We will be arriving back in NY mid March.  3 months in our camper, 2 months in Florida and a month of traveling to and from.  I’m sure there will be challenges BUT we will avoid the coldest two months of the year in NY and that will be a true blessing!   While we are there, a lot of work has to get done meetings with VA peeps, housing office, realtors, and contractors.  Our house is listed here in NY and hopefully will sell before the end of 2016 so we can get back to Florida permanently before next winter.

When we get back home in March we will have  just a few weeks to get ready for Pete’s Winter Sports Clinic trip.  And like I assumed, no one else is willing to step up to the challenge of watching Pete for a eight days and being totally responsible for him and his dog so I will be going to Aspen once again.  Our fundraising is going really well and I am socking away every penny I earn at my 8 hour a week job towards this trip as well.  Also working on funds for the Wheelchair Games in Salt Lake City in June.  Pete really enjoys these trips so much!!!!

http://gofundme.com/TravelWithPete

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Caregiving, Daily Living

 

Respite Care…

For my sanity I need to use the respite care that is available to me for my husband.  What all does this entail?  Well because he is part of the Spinal Cord Injury and Illness Center at the VA he is entitled to spend up to 30 days a year there in respite care.  This means I can drop him off and the nursing staff will take care of his meds, and his physical needs.  He will be fed three meals a day in the dining room.  A recreation therapist will work with him and other veterans during the days to prevent total boredom.  He will get time in physical and occupational therapy.  Any appts he needs can be taken care of while he’s there too.  And I get a break, my house all to myself.

They encourage me to use this service and until now I have not done this.  I should have.  He has been part of this clinic for almost a year now and I could have had a month off?  Why didn’t I do this?  I will be using this going forward. I plan to schedule one week each quarter to just unwind.  I hope to take at least one great beachy or tropical vacation with a friend or my sister during one of these visits.

I think I was afraid that his family would object, but after our camping trip last week and they saw just how bad he has become they have no complaints at all and understand why I need a break.

So I’m planning – will get him a MiFi so he can use his laptop as the VA in Syracuse has no open WiFi for patients.  Will send him with a stash of his favorite snacks.  Will send some DVD’s he can watch on his laptop as the cable there is not full of choices.  Hoping that the first one goes well so I can enjoy these breaks 4 times a year without guilt.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Caregiving, Cognitive Loss, Daily Living, Dementia

 

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