Thursday, December 4, 2008

Calm Before The Storm

Every morning I turn off the phones so I can catch up on the sleep that I missed the night before. Yeah, I know, I live like a bat. However, for the last two months, I've kept my cell phone next to my bed just in case something happened to Mom or Dad.

This morning someone called me, and I didn't dare answer. I turned the sound off, but accidentally left it on vibrate. My cell phone vibrated against the night stand periodically, to remind me that I'd missed a call. While I tried to sleep, my phone must have vibrated at least a dozen times. Every time I heard the vibrations, I felt sick inside, but could not look at my phone. I didn't sleep, but I also didn't get up.

It was just a good friend sending me a good morning text. No emergencies. But every time the phone rings, I feel sick inside. It is like we are all in a state of limbo, waiting for Mom to die. I don't want her to die, I'll miss her terribly. I also hate watching her suffer. My sister told me that Dad called her at 12:30 AM last night to say that Mom had an accident in her bed. Mom would not get in to the bath, or let Dad clean it up, so my brother-in-law had to go clean up her bedroom this morning. It was a huge mess. It is so frustrating because when we send help to the house, Mom and Dad send them away. Mom pitches a giant fit. I know it is because she is afraid. Then Dad gives in, and no one but me or Christy is allowed in to the house.

So do we put her in a care center? If we do, my mom will definitely tantrum out, and will need to be restrained and sedated. When she was hospitalized earlier this year, I had to stay with her round the clock for three days, and even then she kept crying to go home, and was terrified every time a doctor or nurse came in. My wish is that she be sedated at home, where she can die in her own bed. Having moderate medication would calm her enough to allow health care workers to help her. We tried to get hospice to come to their home, but since Mom does not have a terminal illness, she does not qualify for this service. Christy and I are hoping that we can just pay someone to go in every day and make sure Mom is calm, clean, and safe. Dad does not have the physical strength or mental capacity to take care of Mom by himself.

I wish I had the strength to go help her every day. It drives me crazy to be stuck at home. We went to visit her Tuesday evening and I got so dizzy and nauseaus, I almost fainted. Probably from just having surgery. I felt so sad when I had to leave, knowing that time is running out for me and Mom. And yet, at the same time, time is moving in slow motion. I don't get anything done. I'm just stuck in the calm before the storm.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Knee Surgery

Forgive me if there are errors in this post ... I had knee surgery and I'm still goofy. I heard that! Yes, more goofy than usual. The surgery went fine but the anesthesia knocked me over like bowling pins. My oxygen level was not high enough for Recovery to let me go home, so we waited and waited and waited. A physical therapist taught me how to use crutches and to takes steps (so much fun!), and still my oxygen level wouldn't go to a normal range. Finally they let me go home with an oxygen tank. The next day I had to go back to the doctor for another oxygen test, and failed, so I'm still attached to a very long tube that follows me all around the house. Not that I go too far, but it is a challenge going around a large golden retriever who wants his mommy every single second.

We went to the Northrups' home for Thanksgiving dinner instead of taking a trip to Mt. Pleasqnt to visit Rick's parents. I felt extremely guilty but I barely made it across the street. An almost three hour drive one way would have put me in the looney bin (possibly because Rick drives like Mario Andrettie), and because my oxygen "to go" tank did not have enough oxygen to take the trip. Dinner was wonderful. Mindy sang "You Are My Sunshine" for Janice Northrup, who cried because that song reminds her of her dad. It was so cool to be there with such a loving group. They really made us feel like we were family.

Mom is getting worse. Since I had surgery my sister has been going over to help out my parents. There has been a lot of cleanup duties and all I can say is that I picked a good day to have surgery. Our family has what I call the "Hansen Gag". We gag at smells and other gross things. We can't control it, so it can be very embarrassing. Anyway, Monday a social worker is coming over to see how we can still keep Mom at home. Please remember her in your prayers. I miss everyone, but I'll be back to bother you very soon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Was That Goodbye?

Tonight I took dinner to my parents. Mindy was supposed to go with me, so I gave Rick the night off. Then Mindy got a headache and what she called a "really bad feeling." I waited until last minute to see if she could go with me, but finally went by myself. It was a good thing Mindy didn't go visit Mom and Dad tonight.

I could tell right away that something was wrong with Mom. She wouldn't sit at her usual place at the table. She ate a few nibbles of corn and then just stood by the table, weaving back and forth. She was fretting about something, and her eyelids were puffy, so I wondered if she had been crying earlier, but Dad said they'd had a good day. Mom always, always, washes the dishes after dinner (three plates, three glasses, and our silverware). If I try to help, she shoos me away. When I washed the dishes tonight, she just kept fidgeting around the kitchen.

After dinner Mom disappeared for a few minutes, and then I heard a soft "help me!" I found her collapsed on the stairs. She didn't faint, I think she just missed her footing and fell. I could feel her fragile body wobbling. I held on to her for a few moments, and realized she was too weak to make it any further. I picked up my little mom and carried her to her to her room, and placed her on the bed.

I carried my mother to her bed. I never thought I'd hear myself say such a thing. She was too weak to even lie down by herself. It was so weird. Mom just sat there shaking. I took off her dress, and helped her put on her nightgown. By this time Mom was starting to panic. I'm not sure why she was frightened, but since she was so afraid, I helped her lie down on her pillow. I have to say it again, it was so weird. She couldn't put her legs down. It was like her knees had locked in to place and wouldn't budge. I tried to move her in to a more comfortable position, but she stayed kind of sideways across her bed.

After Mom was settled in bed, Dad called me in to the other room for a minute. He begged me not to take her to the hospital. He called her behavior an episode, and told me that it only happens once in a while. Dad admitted that she really should be in a permanent health-care facility, but he knew it would break her heart. He's right. I promised him that I would stay with her until she was okay, so he relaxed and went downstairs.

Mom kept moving her hands nervously across the sheets, so I turned off the light, and lied down next to her. Sideways, of course. We held hands, and I softly sang her all of her favorite songs. That calmed her down, but every few minutes she would cry. She cried because each of the songs meant something to her. I asked her if she wanted me to stop singing, but she didn't want me to stop. She told me that she loved me and some other sweet mixed up words.

It felt good lying next to my mother. It felt right, holding her hand, and comforting her as one would a frightened child. Mom kept telling me words like love and wonderful and always, but she was not able to say a complete sentence. Still, I knew what she was saying. She was telling me that she loved me. She talked about loving all of us so much. She said it over and over again, and then I would tell her that I loved her. That we all loved her. Then I would sing another song, mostly because I didn't know what else to do.

It is obvious that Mom has no physical strength now. She hardly eats anything. We all know it won't be long now ... I wanted so much to tell her that I'd miss her so very much. But it didn't feel right. I thought it might make her even more frightened. Finally I told her that I was just going to stay by her until she fell asleep. She was okay with that, and closed her eyes. Pretty soon she was breathing deeply, but it didn't sound like normal breathing. I stroked her arm and cried.

I wanted to tell her it was okay to go. At times it got so quiet, I had to check to see if she was still breathing . The strange thing is, I am not afraid to see her die. It will break my heart, but I can see that she is ready to go. It won't be long before she is unable to get out of bed at all, she has so little strength left. We will have to get a home-nurse to help her now, there is nothing more anyone could do for her in a hospital

Tears spilled down my face as I rested beside her. It suddenly occured to me that she would not be able to leave while I was with her. The feeling was so strong within me. Being able to spend some time with her, as she slept in her bed, would have to be enough for me.

She only slept for an hour, and then suddenly sat up. She was incoherent and confused, and tried to stand up. I caught her before she fell again, and asked her what she wanted. It was scary because she didn't know how to tell me, and I had no idea what she wanted me to do.

Finally I figured out that she wanted me to put her slippers on and take her downstairs. I helped her down the stairs, and we found Dad sitting in the living room. Mom took Dad's hand and then told me it was alright for me to go. Dad got a look of panic on his face, and told me not to leave. But I know my mother. I knew she wanted me to leave.

I finally coaxed Dad in to taking Mom back up to bed. She told me again to go home, and that I could come back tomorrow. Poor Dad whispered to me to stay, but Mom would not go to bed until I left, so I made sure she got in to bed safely. As I said goodbye to Dad, I told him that I thought that Mom was trying to say goodbye to me.

"Are you scared, Dad?" I asked. I meant was he afraid that she was trying to saying goodbye. He understood, and said no. My dad knows as well as I do that Mom is ready to go.

As I drove home, I started to cry again. I reached in to my purse to grab a tissue, and fumbled upon a few apples and some candy. Dad must have put the treats in to my bag while I was with Mom. That made me cry even more. Tonight I probably won't be sleeping much. I'm wondering if that was Mom's way of telling me goodbye.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Princess Phoebe


David Budbill

Sometimes when day after day we have cloudless blue skies,
warm temperatures, colorful trees and brilliant sun, when
it seems like all this will go on forever,

when I harvest vegetables from the garden all day,
then drink tea and doze in the late afternoon sun,
and in the evening one night make pickled beets
and green tomato chutney, the next red tomato chutney,
and the day after that pick the fruits of my arbor
and make grape jam,

when we walk in the woods every evening over fallen leaves,
through yellow light, when nights are cool, and days warm,

when I am so happy I am afraid I might explode or disappear
or somehow be taken away from all this,

at those times when I feel so happy, so good, so alive, so in love
with the world, with my own sensuous, beautiful life, suddenly

I think about all the suffering and pain in the world, the agony
and dying. I think about all those people being tortured, right now,
in my name. But I still feel happy and good, alive and in love with
the world and with my lucky, guilty, sensuous, beautiful life because,

I know in the next minute or tomorrow all this may be
taken from me, and therefore I've got to say, right now,
what I feel and know and see, I've got to say, right now,
how beautiful and sweet this world can be.

Thursday, November 13, 2008



My daughter wants to take
a framed oil painting to school,
a nude with loose breasts and a belly
ripe as the full moon. Why? Because
we're studying frogs, she says,
and it's a frog. I cock my head
to consider the angle of the draped arm
but can't get past the female form.
My daughter, though, is swimming
in amphibians, bringing home
scribbled pictures of tadpoles sprouting
splayed feet. At night, she sleeps
in the bedroom I painted pink,
her shelves lined with confectionary
teapots and cups. By day, she wants
to be her brother when she grows up.
Lately, she's morphed into
a creature who'd rather squirm free
than be held. O, how we see what we
want to see. My daughter, looking at
a nude, sees a frog for show-n-tell.
I look at her and see myself.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Goodbye, My Friend

My friend, Shelly, passed away this morning. Jake called us, sobbing, to give us the news. Last week her body started shutting down. Although they were prepared for it, Shelly's family is devasted. She was only in her forties. Now her family mourns her departure. That's the hardest part for me, watching them lose her.

She was suffering so much. Her fragile body weighed less than 70 lbs. But she loved her family with every ounce of strength she had. She was a wonderful wife and mother. I imagine Shelly without any pain or worries, flying free and so very happy. I also imagine her watching over her loved ones, wiping a tear, or tenderly placing a hand on their cheeks.

Shelly's favorite flowers were sunflowers and daisies. Just a couple of days ago, Mindy took a beautiful bunch of sunflowers to Shelly, knowing that this would be the last time she saw Jake's mom. That sweet woman, on her deathbed, teared up when Mindy gave her the flowers. The last words she said to Mindy were "I love you." Such a beautiful woman. Goodbye, my friend.


by Susan Windle

I have seen
the shape
of my soul.

The stem
I struggle to keep straight
is a fluid thing:
the head I would hold up
has not trouble
bowing down.
And what I would keep
new and moist
with such ease,
as if my soul enjoys
every second
of its changing form,
and hidden
in each anxious fear is
a long
mellifluous laugh -

I have met the shape
of my soul.
What cannot be seen
is perfectly

Monday, November 3, 2008

Little People, Big World

Sometimes having agoraphobia makes me feel like a prisoner. Once a woman told me that I was lucky to have agoraphobia. "Wow, how lucky, you don't have to go to work. You can just stay at home and hang out." I was so hurt by that remark. Sometimes I look out the window and feel so lonely and isolated. It feels like Life is passing by me. The irony is that I am a prisoner of my own fears. I miss out on a lot of fun things. Evenso, I have so much to be thankful for.

Tonight I watched a program on TLC (The Learning Channel), called Little People, Big World. The Roloff parents are both little people. They have four children, and one of their sons is also a little person. I watched the first show of the season, where Matt (the husband/father) took a trip to Iraq to visit a family with three dwarf children. So many feelings surfaced as I watched Matt fly to Kuwait, and then to Baghdad. Matt had to wait a few days in Kuwait before he could fly in to Baghdad, first because of the weather, then a scare where the plane thought missiles were coming at it and automatically sent out flares. You can see a CNN interview with Matt Roloff at

The men and women (in the military) that helped Matt through the whole process looked like young kids. I was so surprised to see a guy who couldn't have been more than 20 years of age handling problems and responsibilities that I would have thought someone older and wiser would have been doing. But the young men and women were very professional. It is hard to describe how I'm feeling. Here these kids are, in a country that is so far away from their homes, making decisions and taking risks that are downright frightening.

As Matt flew in to Baghdad, he had to put on protective clothing because he was going in to a war zone. During the flight, he sat next to a bunch of guys that looked so innocent and YOUNG. It amazed me how upbeat everyone was to Matt, joking and happy even as they were driving him to the Green Zone, which, as you know, is a dangerous journey with suicide bombings and all of the other horrible things that happen in a war zone. Matt looked frightened, and I thought, those men and women face that kind of danger every single day. Their fears are real. I know it's their job, but still, they looked so young, and so many of them are killed, and yet they go out and face that danger round the clock.

That was enough to make me cry, but then Matt went and visited the family with the three dwarf children. Their home was extremely humble. The children, who have such severe disabilities that one is almost completely paralyzed, all had smiling faces. They greeted Matt with such enthusiasm, and one of the boys kept telling Matt he loved him and gave him kisses. He is 9 years old. The oldest daughter, who is 13, has to crawl on the floor. Matt's purpose in visiting them was to get pictures and x-rays to take back to a specialist in California who would then try to help the kids in whatever ways possible.

The entire Iraqi family went to a health clinic to take x-rays. The children were so brave, but I could tell they were frightened. The oldest daughter cried, and wanted to be put back on the floor. Their father had been a soldier and was hit in the head by shrapnel (I think), and had some brain damage, half of his face was paralyzed. And yet, his every thought was for his children, who were suffering from some of the physical problems dwarfism and the lack of any kind of medical treatment. I could see fear in the father's eyes, and in the mother's eyes as well. Their fears were real fears. They watched their oldest daughter's mobility deteriorate to the extreme, and now the second child is showing the same pattern. All of this worry and dispair, and they live in a war zone.

Matt gave them Crayola Markers and other art supplies. The children and parents were so tickled to receive something that I don't think twice about buying at Target. When Matt had to leave Iraq, I felt a little bit of panic that the children had not received any medical treatment yet. The son who kissed Matt told him that his home was Matt's home whenever he came to visit, and the parents nodded in agreement. Of course Matt got to go home to his farm and all of the comforts that we enjoy every day. At the end of the show, there was a picture of Matt and the family from Iraq, all smiling for the camera. It made me cry ...

I guess I cry a lot. Looking back at my posts, there have been many tears shed. I think for the most part, they are good tears. Tonight I'm feeling lucky that I cried because I was going to miss a puppy that Gracie gave birth to in my lap. I've had the wonderful opportunity of seeing the puppies grow and thrive, and to see Gracie's love for them. I cried the other night when I got off of my horse because I was so grateful that I had a horse to ride, and that when I was on Scamper, I did not feel the heavy weight of agoraphobia. I was so thankful that Rick and I were able to ride the trails around my home, and could stop and visit with friends along the way. I think the neighbors heard me crying, they must think I'm a crazy woman. But it was happy crying.

I have agoraphobia. Sometimes I feel like a prisoner in my own home. Sometimes I miss out on a lot of fun. My fears are very real to me. However, I appreciate what security I have here in my little city by the mountains. I'm grateful that I'll be able to have knee surgery to fix an injury (and YES, I will be complaining about that, but it is going to hurt, darn it!). I am so thankful that I can see how others live and struggle to overcome their trials through television and the internet, because as I watch the sorrows of the world, it helps me to appreciate everything, and not take things for granted. I cried for that sweet little family in Iraq, and I cried for the soldiers and their families, who are tangled up in a deadly war. I won't ever forget that picture at the end of the show, Little People, Big World, because they were all smiling.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Oh, this is bad. This is so bad. Linus is going with Sierra tonight. I thought it would be okay because I wouldn't have to say a permanent goodbye to him, but I can't help but cry. He's so cute, and so loving. And he has to leave his mommy. I just watched them play together, and I feel sorry for Gracie and Linus. Do they feel like we feel when we say goodbye? Ouch. I don't know if I want to do the puppy thing again.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Aliens Are Back

Thanks to Tiffany, the aliens are back. My sweet little puppies have turned in to mini-coneheads. Apparently, to get a Yorkie's ears to stand up, one has to tape them together in a unique way. When Tiffany first told me about it, I imagined some masking tape that would attach in one piece to hold both ears together. I wondered how the tape would stay on, and that should have been my first clue.

To prepare for their ears being taped, Mindy and I had to shave them as short as possible. Tiff said that it will make it easier on the puppies when we pull the tape off, which only stays on for two days. (But it sure seems like a LONG two days.) The puppies fought me and Mindy with all their strength when we put the little nose trimmer to their ears. I finally had to wrap them in a flannel blanket to hold their legs tight, and then hold their heads as steady as possible while Mindy did the shaving. After a few minutes they all settled down and accepted their fate. Except one. Which puppy is the most spoiled and naughty? That would be the one that I am keeping. Chloe. She has a LOT of strength for such a teeny little thing.

So. I went on a horseback ride, and when I came home, my puppies were gone (except for Linus, who was spared the taped ears), and out came happy little aliens jumping around my feet. It really is quite a sight to see, and I must admit that I am so happy that I didn't have to help Tiffany to put the duct tape on their ears. She is a brave soul, and she did a great job. Tomorrow the tape comes off, and the puppies ears should be sticking up instead of flopping down.

Tiffany is going to remove the tape for me. I think I might have to run out on an errand for a few minutes while she does the unveiling. I know, it is so mean of me to leave her alone to do the dirty work. But I am going to tell her that there is something I just HAVE to do (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!). I'll have to give Tiffany one of my lungs to pay her back for all of the help she has given me through this whole puppy process. It has been truly wonderful, and I love my little aliens so much. Still, I'll be glad when the tape comes off ...
On the left, tape! On the right, just shaved.

Side view

Front view - my Chloe

Thursday, October 23, 2008