Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Insanity: is it contagious?

A lot has happened since my last post.

After a disastrous lunch with my craziest niece last Saturday, where I attempted to make peace with her, I flew home on Sunday. There is no reasoning with a crazy person. Lesson learned.

I was an emotional basket case when I got home. For the first time in my life I felt like I was losing my mind. After weeks of barely sleeping, even though I was taking Ambien nightly, I felt crazy. Add to that an incredible amount of stress because of my sister's situation and my totally insane and evil niece, I couldn't stop crying. My husband couldn't comfort me, nothing made me feel better. Even sitting in the back yard here at home, with the sun on my face and the fall leaves falling around me with my kitty chasing after them, all I could do was cry. I cried for almost twelve hours straight.

I realize I had just gone through five weeks of high stress and little sleep, but I also believe the Ambien was messing with my head. I decided to forgo the Ambien that night. It was a very rough night, with a three-hour period from midnight to 3 a.m. where I couldn't sleep and couldn't stop crying. I was also having the worst migraine headache of my life. I'd been having severe headaches for three weeks, but this one was off the charts in the pain level.

When I closed my eyes all I could see were bright shooting lights. I'd been having the lights problem for weeks, but this time it was intense. I couldn't picture anything in my head, just the lights. When I finally fell back to sleep around 3 a.m. I had a dream, the first dream I could recall in the past three weeks.

I was climbing up a stairwell, dressed in workout clothes. It was similar to the Big Climb I did last March. In front of me was one of my nieces (the depressed one) and behind me was her husband but he only had one leg. The other leg was a stump sticking through his cut off pants leg. This is the niece and her husband that I spent two weeks with while we were caring for my sister at her house. We were together almost every minute during that time.

As we were climbing, each step became more difficult. I turned to my niece's husband and told him to go in front of me. He went up in front of my niece. Suddenly, I turned around and started running down the stairs as fast as I could go. I could see myself running, my ponytail swinging. I was laughing and so happy. I was going as fast as I could go. Then I reached the bottom and had to turn around and start back up the stairs. Each step was difficult. Then I woke up.

This dream made me realize I'm not crazy, and I'm going to be okay. It was a very rough five weeks, and there are more things that need to be taken care of, but I'm not losing my mind. I feel more at peace and sane than I have in weeks.

Sister update
On 9/21 we moved my sister to an assisted living home that specializes in hospice care. It's a nice place and one I found by calling all twelve of the assisted living homes in Fairbanks. Only two had a bed and could care for someone like my sister. This home has an R.N. and several L.P.N.s and a staff of 16 for 14 residents. They seemed better equipped to deal with my sister's needs.

The move was horrific. Considering how we'd had a phone conversation two weeks before her stroke about how awful it would be to have stroke and how we'd rather die, we also talked about how awful it would be to move into an assisted living home.

I've never seen my sister cry as hard as when they placed her in the bed in the home. She barely shed a tear when her husband past away two years ago (after 51 years of marriage). She just doesn't cry. But that day, she couldn't stop.

On the day of the move my sister hadn't eaten more than a couple bites of food in 33 days and barely drank any water.

Then a weird thing happened. At the home she starting eating and drinking a lot of water. She doesn't eat a lot, maybe five bites of apple pancake for breakfast or a little 4-ounce container of yogurt for lunch and some jello for dinner. But she's eating!

She's also talking non-stop (stroke talk I call it), and sometimes I pick up a word here and there. She also spells words, but jumbles her letters. Except for two days she kept spelling E-???-E, over and over. It sounded like "e-l-e" but she kept shaking her head no. Then one time she said E-???-E-R. Exercise?! Do you want to exercise?!!! A big nod yes. I asked if she wanted to move her paralyzed side. The occupational therapist had showed me some exercises to do with her to keep the muscles moving and I had pleaded with my sister for five weeks to let me do them for her, and always got an emphatic NO. Now she wanted to do exercises. So we did. I asked her if it hurt and she said "a little". I asked if we could keep doing them and she nodded yes.

I talked to her about getting a speech therapist and a physical therapist and she agreed. She wants to get better. I called her doctor and she's arranged for both the ST and the PT to come to the home. Woohoo!

Something transpired in the past two days that is requiring me to return to Fairbanks tonight. I can't go into details, but I'll write more about it later. Don't worry, I'm going to be okay. Whatever happened to me on Sunday has passed. I'm completely off Ambien and have been sleeping. I feel more calm and at peace than I have in months.

About my weight loss
I didn't forget this is really a weight loss blog. I weighed yesterday, after getting my cast removed and I'm 173.4. I was 180.8 when I went to Fairbanks almost five weeks ago on September 22. My plan was to eat carefully but not starve myself. I went out to eat often the last week while at the hotel, but I chose my meals carefully and almost always only ate half of what I was served, leaving the other half on my plate.

For the five weeks I was gone, I had to stay in a hotel for two weeks. The hotel gym was pretty decent, and I worked out there as much as I could.

In case you're wondering, I can't stay with crazy niece because, well, she's crazy (mean crazy). I can't stay with depressed niece because even though she's nice, she doesn't clean her house. So not only is she incredibly depressing to be around (she cries all the freaking time), my allergies go nuts at her house. We went there one night for dinner, and I thought I was going to stop breathing because of all the dust and dog hair. My brother, who I adore, lives out of town and is married to an alcoholic (she went on a big drinking binge while I was there). Ha! And you thought your family was nuts!

My broken wrist update
Well, it's indeed a miracle. My majorly fractured, almost broken in two pieces, scaphoid bone in my wrist has healed and grown back together after three months in a cast. My orthopaedic doctor (Dr. Callahan) and the number one orthopaedic hand/wrist surgeon in Washington (Dr. Buckmiller) looked at my x-rays on Monday. They couldn't believe it, but the bone has grown back together. This almost never happens since this bone has difficulty healing because of a lack of blood supply. They had even told me to expect to have surgery even after three months in a cast. Now no surgery is needed (thank you Jesus...and I really mean that!). I told my husband it was all that wiping my sister's butt after we had to give her an enema at the house (that was three days I'll never forget!).

They made me a custom molded type splint/cast thing that fastens with Velcro. It has a cotton liner (like a stocking thing), and I have two of them. They're washable!

I can take it off to shower or wash my hands. I can take it off to watch TV. I have physical therapy and lots of exercises to do here at home with my wrist. Since it was in a cast for so long, some of the mobility is gone and I'm working on getting it back. I'm still not allowed to lift weights to do bicep curls, but I can use that arm for any machines where the hand isn't doing the work (like lat raises and some other machines). My left wrist (the one that was casted) is 1/2" smaller than my right wrist and my left forearm is a a whole inch smaller than my right forearm, and same for my left bicep, it's one inch smaller too. Definitely some muscle loss and a lot of flabbiness in my upper arm. Probably a little of my weight loss, maybe a pound or so, is from this muscle loss. Oh well, I can get it back, it'll just take some time.

I go back to work on November 16, and I'm really looking forward to it. I have this thing to take care of in Fairbanks this week and I'll get to visit my sister, but life isn't bad right now. In fact, being home for a few days has made me realize just how precious life is and how much I appreciate what I have here. My job, my husband, my kitty, and most of all, my sanity.

Thank you
Lastly, but most importantly (for the few that have read through this incredibly long post), thank you for all your kind comments and emails. I haven't responded to any of you or comment on your blogs because until this week, I only had one hand to type with and it was pretty difficult to even get a post typed up. Soon I will be back to reading blogs and back to my real life. Thanks again for all your support. You really have no idea how much it meant to me during a very difficult and dark time in my life.


Diandra said...

I hope everything will turn out well for your sister. It is a good thing she has not given herself up completely, as it appears.

Good luck and strength to all of you.

Lyn said...

Gosh, you have been through so much the last couple of months. But I can tell you really are going to be okay. More than okay. You are one strong woman. Never doubt yourself Diana, you have it in you. Hugs!

Dawn said...

I'm so happy to hear your sister is improving and wanting to get better. I'm so happy you are doing ok too. Hope the trip back to Fairbanks goes well. So happy to hear about your wrist too and that it is healing so well. Don't over do it though now that you're free of the cast :) big hugs :)

Ida said...

I haven't read your blog for a while (or anyone else's) and a so sorry to hear what you have been going through. Life is often tough. I will be praying for you and for all concerned.

Dawn said...

I think about you all the time and just hope that things will become happier and today I think they are looking up. I KNOW you have to deal with a lot of crazy but your sister sounds like she's starting to fight to live. The healed scafoid is against the odds and wonderful news...fantastic. Even having a good long, very long cry might be just what you need.
You will survive this awful time and look back on it and remember the good bits of time with your sister.
Like you - thorough reading about this I'm reminded that life, and those we love in our families are precious. Don't worry about replying to our posts as we all understand where your time is needed right now.
Take care xxx

spunkysuzi said...


Mer and Mo said...

Got so excited to see that your sister is trying to get better and eating again. You really are on a huge roller coaster and I am praying and thinking of you often!!! Stay strong and hoping that you don't have much more to deal with that will take so much effort! Thanks for the update.


Sarah G said...


jinxxxygirl said...

Diana i haven't visited your blog for a while and i'm so sorry what you've been going thru. I think you are an amazingly strong woman being there for your sister. After reading several of your older posts i'm so happy to hear she seems interested in life again. I hope with all my heart this continues. Above all keep in mind that 'this too shall pass'....that little saying has often given my much strength in the past.......If i could i'd give you a big hug, nothing heals like a good thinking about you girl....deb

The title of this post is a joke, there's no new me. It's just the same old me, doing the same old stuff. Just for fun, I went back...