Saturday, November 19, 2011

I sister (well, sort of)

 Joyce, 1992...on their property in Alaska, before they built their house. This was an old travel trailer where they stayed on weekends while their house was being build. Check out those legs.

 This is Joyce November 13, 2011. She'd just had her first shower in five weeks. Since she started eating again two weeks previous to this picture (after four weeks of not eating anything), she decided she wanted to get better. I'm doing her hair. She was beautiful after the hair and makeup, but the pictures of her with the family were weird. Something was wrong with her smile. It was more of a grimace. Her best friend told me I couldn't show them to anyone because Joyce would be horrified.

Joyce update (my sister, 73 years old, had a stroke on September 21, 2011)

I'm home and filled with emotions.

My last post was the day of the court hearing. That day was actually very easy. Even though I was a little nervous sitting in front of a judge, in a court room, it went well. I was represented by the assistant Attorney General as well as the Adult Protective Services. It was a done deal before the hearing even started. I was appointed to be my sister's guardian and conservator.

This gave me full control over her medical decisions, and full responsibility of her financial obligations. Unfortunately, all her assets, her home and 100 acres, her apartment complex she owns, her savings and checking accounts, as well as a stock portfolio, were all tied up inside of a family trust. The person in control of that trust, yes, you guessed it...the crazy niece who was refusing to pay any bills.

This meant I had to hire an attorney and petition the court to become the successor trustee. It took about three days for my attorney to gather affidavits from everyone involved, including affidavits from my other niece and my brother to renounce their positions as successor trustee in the second and third positions. The Attorney General stepped in and put a lock on all assets with a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order which the court awarded in 24 hours). This prevented the other niece from touching the assets.

After all of this, "the" niece called my attorney and agreed to voluntarily renounce her position as the #1 trustee. She signed the paperwork at my attorney's office yesterday. She also left a giant box of paperwork regarding my sister's finances at my attorney's office.

I'm now the successor trustee of the trust, and now the real work begins. Sorting out my sister's finances, paying bills (including filing her 2010 income taxes), and selling some of her property. This is all on top of dealing with her doctor, her physical, occupational, and speech therapists. As well as the staff at her assisted living home, that I'm in contact with several days a week, checking on the status of my sister.

I'm returning to Fairbanks the week after Thanksgiving to meet with a real estate attorney and an estate attorney. I need help figuring out how to best manage all this stuff. Apparently there are laws regarding managing an apartment complex, either I have to manage it (representing my sister as the owner), or hire someone with a real estate license. There's also a thing called a Miller Trust that may help protect her home. All stuff to ask the attorneys.

I've taken on quite a bit of responsibility and feel a bit overwhelmed right now. Since I'm being watched by the courts, my every move has to be documented.

This morning I'm going to dig into QuickBooks, so I have a complete accounting of her finances.

The good news is my sister is eating like she's probably never eaten in her life. Yesterday she had apple pancakes and bacon. I doubt she's eaten like this since she was a teenager. For as long as I've known her she's always been on a diet. Always watching every bite she ate, being super careful. She's getting stronger and getting into a wheelchair twice a day for an hour at a time. She's totally different than she was three weeks ago. Her will to live has returned. Thank God.


The diet and exercise update
There's not a lot to say on this topic. I tried to eat healthy while in Fairbanks during my last stay (ten days in a hotel...ugh!). 

My sister's best friend flew up from Palm Springs and stayed with me for the ten days I was there. She's now my BFF. I love her! Her name is Charlie and she's hysterical to be around. She had me laughing at the most serious situations. I met Charlie a few times in the past but never spent much time with her. This gave us a great opportunity to become fast friends. Now I totally understand why she and my sister have been BFFs for over 25 years.

Charlie is skinny and gorgeous, but she works hard to look as fabulous as she does (she's 60, but my God that woman has a hot body). I followed her lead on eating, but after about five days I felt like I was starving to death and started eating a little more. 

I cropped my sister out of this picture. Even though she really is gorgeous, with her hair all curled and makeup, the picture doesn't look like her. She's always had perfect teeth (still does) and a perfect smile. It's like she can't remember how to smile. Since I promised Charlie I wouldn't show it to anyone, I cropped her out. Isn't Charlie gorgeous? The woman should be a standup comic, and she has a heart of gold. Love her!

I know I've gained some weight and I haven't been on the scales yet. Not a lot of weight, probably about five or six pounds. My clothes all fit, but I feel fluffier. Although Charlie works out at home on a regular basis, she just wasn't into it while we were in Fairbanks. In those ten days I only worked out three times. Not good.

I was back at the gym yesterday, doing the StairMaster (preparing for the Big Climb 2012, March 25). I managed 30 minutes but thought I was going to die. I only completed 105 floors. How on earth was I doing 130 floors on that thing a year ago? I swear I couldn't have gone any faster.

Today, it's the gym again, but now I'm wearing my BodyMedia and tracking my food. Just because I have some major things going on, it's not a reason to stop paying attention to my diet and exercise. In fact, it's really important right now that I stay healthy. 

Did I mention how happy I am to be home? I'm super happy to be home with my husband and kitty. Yes, in that order. :)

One last picture for you...the Fairbanks International Airport, November 15, at 2:30pm. Check out that sun. It was -20 degrees (that's below zero), and dropped to -36 that night.


Dawn said...

You know, of all your good news..and there is so much thats great to hear, I am most pleased to hear your sister wants to live and is eating again. I'm so relieved she didn't give up on herself and I am sure thats because you didn't give up on her and fought against those who wanted her patched with morphine and out of it. I'm so pleased, these happy days with your sister returned to you are priceless. I know the extra work with be challenging, but in your care, your sister will be safe and it is what every one of us would want if it was us suffering this illness and needing a great deal of be safe in the hands of a relative who loves us.
Good for you managing all of this, look after yourself too x

Heather said...

Glad you posted... I've been wondering and worrying, especially with the news reports about the bad storms in Alaska. Your sister is so blessed to have you in her life! Hang tough for her!

*hugs* heather

Jane Cartelli said...

I am so glad to hear your sister found her will again and I know it must be mostly due to your efforts to help her live. You are a great sister. I wish you well on all your efforts to make sense from what 'the' niece has done with the finances.

When I go away and there is a great deal of eating out and lack of workout, there is always a period of re-adjustment to give my body a chance to de-bloat. I eat exactly as I did before I left and I work out exactly as I did before I left - I do not starve or diet or over exercise. Within a few days it all comes off because it is all mostly water and carb retention. I hope you will be gentle with yourself and give your body a chance to heal from your trip.


Ron said...

Glad your sister is improving and you could be home for awhile.

Alan (Pounds Off Playoff) said...

Diana, I admire your dedication to your sister and I'm happy for you to have a new BFF. Glad to hear about your sister's positive turn. Best wishes in the upcoming weeks.

Anonymous said...

So glad that your updated us. Was a little concerned with everything that has been going on, including the storms in Alaska. I love the picture of your sister in the travel trailer. You can tell how beautiful she was/is. Also you look beautiful in the pictures as well as your new BFF. You look healthy and happy. Take care of yourself and keep us posted.

Mer and Mo said...

So much good news. Glad to read that it is all going well, especially that your sister is eating again and improving. Thanks so much for the update!!