THE WRITE PLACE…

…to build a community. Share Patti Hall's journey …


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A-Z April Challenge; P is for Postcards

 

A delicate leaf skeleton from a nature walk with Kevin last month.  PHALL PHOTO 2014

A delicate leaf skeleton in a bed of moss, from a nature walk with Kevin last month.
PHALL PHOTO 2014

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has read, commented, shared and/or “Liked” my posts, A through O, for the A-Z April Challenge. I’ve met a lot of new blog friends these last two weeks, which makes the whole thing well worth tearing my hair out, and trying to lift the alphabet to a new level of weird, interesting, and hopefully, entertaining.

I’m switching it up for P, by giving my writer progress update. It’s an exciting one for me. My priority project, which has sat on the back burner these long months of romance and caregiving and travel, is now in the hands of a reliable editor. More on that later.

Here’s the scoop and a reminder of the project:

Postcards of Action and Hope; Preparation for a Medical Crisis

A Preview Booklet excerpted from Book 2 of “Souvenirs from My Heart; The Patient Patient Advocate

This booklet version is from a portion of my three-part memoir-in-progress. An edited version of this work was first published in serial form, here on my blog site, The Write Place. I have included selected comments from my blog community, using initials only. This booklet is not intended to slam the medical profession, nor will I be singing any inspirational happy songs. My intention is to inform and motivate readers to prepare an emergency medical file for each member of their household; to learn from the lessons my late husband, Paul, and I, learned the hardest way.

I intend to work the kinks out of it over the next few months. It will still have to be formatted for ebook and hard copy distribution. Still many decisions to make and actions to take, but we’re closer! I will probably be asking some of you veteran’s for some advice along the way. Of course, I’ll be sharing the journey, in hopes of helping the next writer in line.

Thank you for your patience,

Patti

 

Hey, I hope you find time to check out some of the other A-Z April Challenge blogs here:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/a-to-z-challenge-sign-uplist-2014.html


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Alaska Notes

From the front porch, Eagle River, AK PHALL PHOTO 2014

From the front porch, Eagle River, AK
PHALL PHOTO 2014

Alaska weather, mom’s new hip, photographic opportunities, smoking status and maybe a little romance.

ALASKA

The weather here has been weird. Almost all (not by Georgia standards) of the snow is gone, but we still get some nights of frost that don’t thaw until late in the day. While most of the rest of the country is suffering severe cold and snow, we have a temporary reprieve.

Out the kitchen window: a grove of beautiful birch trees, with a few fir and cottonwood tossed into the mix; recently snow-laden limbs, now free of their heavy white burden. Out the window that is above the kitchen table, is dad’s Quonset hut; once shrouded in a thick layer of snow and icicles, but now down to the rust-colored metal. Out the living room window: the front yard and the busy road to/from Eagle River; the regular work of the big colorful road plows is done for now. Everyone is guessing when and if winter cold and snow will come back.

Every single day, no matter the weather, I revel in the way that the changing light of morning, mid-day and evening touch the sheen of the birch tree bark. I have seen those trees almost neon white, and with more subtle shades of pink, purple, red and blue, depending on the tint of moment.

The longer I’m here, the more I notice that I move from window to window in this small house, no matter the original purpose of entering a room. I look out the window as I enter, and then again before I leave. I’m looking for that light. I’m watching for a moose, a bear or a flutter of wings that announce a flock of Wax Wings or Northern Grosbeaks.

Maybe I’ll spot that stealthy fox that I used to see around midnight, when I sat freezing and smoking on the deck. Often, what I see makes me rush to throw on something warm, and maybe some boots, grab a camera and head out to take a shot, or two, or twenty of the light hitting the trees. That light. That moment. Sometimes even, that second.

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The health status. It seems very much as if mom, dad, and I are trading our minor illnesses back and forth. Cold and/or flu symptoms are flying around and landing on one of us, until it morphs and moves on to the next. Our sleep patterns are crazy. Despite all of that, we’ve had days where I play DJ and we listen to the old music that we all love, and days when we laugh a lot. Yep, we also have some grump days and cry days; missing our Michaela or bruised feelings.

Meanwhile, mom’s new hip is doing all those healing things that make each day one level of challenge or the next. The pain meds are not being used much at all, no matter the challenge level. Home health nurses are no longer coming to the house. Eventually, mom’s doc will allow her to do outpatient PT, but for now he wants her to take it easy. We’re hoping that the blood thinner medicine will end soon and that mom won’t have to go in for the weekly blood draw. The walker is her pal and she has a hard time remembering that it will be many months before she is allowed to bend over and pick something up.

SMOKING– Nope, not me. 20 days. I’m awesome:>)

THE ROMANCE– oops, no time to report on this right now. All is just peachy though!

Peace out and I’ll write more soon,

Patti


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Beach Farewell…Again

It has been nice to be home this week, but Mrs. M. has called and I will be returning to Oregon tomorrow. One last, late afternoon visit to my beach, and I collected some sand to make her a beach scene in a glass dome. She loves the beach too, so I will take her one of her own. (Beach therapy in glassware)

The driftwood bull carving was still there and I told him how much you all enjoyed him:>) Here are a few other beauties and oddities that I gathered with my camera today.

What? PHALL PHOTO 2013

What? Don’t ask me…
PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Results of stormy weather. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Results of stormy weather. Some incredible finds. This is my therapy and I see stories here too!
PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Beach art. PHALL PHOTO 2013

Beach art. Another view, still odd.
PHALL PHOTO 2013

I could actually smell winter at the beach today. I didn’t last long outside, but found some pretty beach glass, a Westport moonstone (round, smooth, clear rock), a heart-shaped stone and a piece of petrified wood. No agates, but still, some goodies to make Mrs. M.’s mini-beach!

Have a great week and I will be back online as soon as I can.

Peace,

Patti

 

 

 


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4 Days of a Caregiver, Writer on Hold

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Friday & Saturday

Friday was busy and full of smiles and hugs from Sara & Jon and the little grands. I am so glad that it worked out that I could watch the my gr’daughters get their awards before I headed to Oregon.

It was a beautiful fall drive from Washington to Oregon, and my truck remembered how to get back to the nursing home just fine. I spent some time with Mrs. M at the nursing home, and then I followed her gr’daughter over to Mrs. M’s duplex. It is a 2 bedroom in a little community near Gresham. After the gr’daughter left, I unpacked and did a little freshening up around the place, then went to explore the area in my truck.

Yes, I did get lost once, but it was worth it. I now have a better idea of where I am and where most of the places that we may need to go are. Mrs. M doesn’t drive, and I know that it’s hard for me to get to know a place if I am a passenger. I bought a map:>)

I made it back over to the nursing home the next morning with no wrong turns. Mrs. M was ready to go, after fond farewells with her roommate and the staff. It was obvious that she was well-liked there. I packed her up, and when her gr’daughter got there, we left. By Saturday afternoon, Mrs. M and I were as settled in as two strangers could be. She seems to take well to changes and is amiable about the big and little things. Ahhh, that makes things easy for both of us.

White Picket Red Berry Gate Wood Village, OR PHALL PHOTO 2013

White Picket Red Berry Gate
Wood Village, OR
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Sunday & Monday

Mrs. M and I had an exciting day and evening yesterday. The nursing home sent a nurse to look over the meds and check her vitals. We should also have visits from physical therapists in the next few days. We were sitting here filling out some papers after the nurse left, and we heard a loud boom; the electricity went out. With Mrs. M’s directions, I found the flash lights and batteries, but didn’t have the right batteries for the radio. We still don’t know what happened, but we were in the dark for only an hour or so.

Once the power came back on, I turned the thermostat up to get us warm. I smelled something burning and got up and looked around. It was coming from the wall heater, so I turned it back off. Then 3 smoke alarms started screaming out. I turned those off and Mrs. M called the landlord; he got here pretty quickly. It turns out that dust build-up inside the heater caught fire. As he was testing the heater in my bedroom, it started smoking too and set the alarms off again.

Please vacuum out your heaters for winter use. Might as well check your flash lights and emergency radio for batteries while you are at it.

PHALL PHOTO 2013

PHALL PHOTO 2013

That was our crazy Sunday. Yesterday I took a long walk around the neighborhood. I had my camera and found some of the season’s last flowers and some other great colors and textures to take photos of. We had a big plan to go get groceries, but at the last minute, Mrs. M’s back pain flared. She called the gr’daughter to come over while I ran our errands. Yep, got the batteries. It was nice to be back in Oregon, where an attendant pumps your gas. Everything else feels pretty much the same as Washington.

My little grandson, Tiven has been gone almost 6 months, and November 3rd would have been his 4th birthday. I have been fighting tears for several days, but yesterday I was able to get away and let them come as they wanted to. I miss my little guy every single day. That’s all for now.

Autumn Rose for Tiven. 3 Nov 2009-26 Apr 2013 PHALL PHOTO 2013

Autumn Rose for Tiven.
3 Nov 2009-26 Apr 2013
PHALL PHOTO 2013

 

Let me know how things are going with you. Still getting our routine down here, so I haven’t got back to editing the memoir postcards. Not online much either.

Peace,

Patti


23 Comments

A Writer/Caregiver Packs For A New Journey

Tokeland, WA PHALL PHOTOS 2013

Tokeland, WA
PHALL PHOTOS 2013

Tomorrow (Friday) I set off on a new journey. It may take a week, a month or maybe longer. The timeline is open and so am I. I’ve detailed my truck, except I need to vacuum it. I’ve re-potted and watered my houseplants. I stirred the compost pile and planted the lilac and rose by the fence, and a handful of mini-crocus near the pond’s edge.

I’m fairly certain that I can come home once a week. Mrs. M.’s grand daughter lives near and should be able to manage a day and night with her. It’s over 300 miles, round trip, so I hope I can break that into 2 days. I’ve got the edited hard copy of my Postcards manuscript packed and I’ll also be working on the middle book of the memoir series. I’ll take my laptop, but I will hold off on taking my printer until I have a better idea of how long I’ll be needed.

The biggest thing I will miss is my little cave/home (Maggie) and the beach. It will just be the two of us and I’ll have my own room, so I can still be a part-time cave woman:>)  I look forward to getting to know Mrs. M. better and seeing what mischief we can come up with in Portland. I’m certain to get a better schedule going and get outside more often.

Journaling is a strong habit for me, so I do plan to journal about my time with Mrs. M. I know I’ll take a lot of photos of my new surroundings. I am sure that I will be online and checking in with all of you at least a few times a week. As you can tell, until I get settled, everything is up in the air. That would frustrate many people, but I really look forward to the mystery of it. I am very adaptable and change doesn’t bother me.

The big difference with helping out this time is that I don’t know Mrs. M. I have met her maybe 3 times over the years. She has passed the main part of physical therapy and does not need a lot of assistance there. Also, there is no stress or heart break related to her care. She may be almost 91, but she is mentally sharp and physically on the mend.

These links will take you back to the posts where I talked about this new adventure and my other caregiver experiences. Here and here.

Did you notice that I changed to a static “home” page? Check it out when you get a chance and let me know what you think. I am still working on the site…

Take care,

Patti


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Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 2

Bridge Along The Journey PHALL PHOTO 2013

Bridge Along The Journey
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Metaphor musings. Bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity…into the horizon…

Continued from Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 1

An executive caregiver position came open many years later. (No phone call this time.) By then, my children were out on their own and I had divorced their step father. I was 4 years into the best relationship that I could ever have imagined. And then, my partner in life and business, was diagnosed with leukemia. I became Paul’s 24/7 caregiver. The hats I wore covered all aspects of our lives during the year of his illness, treatment, stem cell transplant, our hospital wedding and his final battle with graft vs host disease. We were fortunate to have a strong group of supporters in our family and friends. We all learned so many lessons during this time, that Paul and I began to plan a book about it. My 3-part memoir series of love, illness and loss is a work-in-progress.

I readily admit that nepotism was involved in my next caregiver position. The patient was my mother. My family (2 parents in their 70’s, and 6 siblings in their 40’s and 50’s) were still reeling from the loss of my sister in February 2012. Two months later, my mother had an accident that left her with two broken arms, 2 black eyes and a variety of pain, from head to toe. Yep, I got the call. I was back on an airplane heading north. It had only been five weeks since I returned home from Alaska after my sister’s death,

When I arrived back in Alaska, my brother picked me up and took me straight to the hospital. I stayed in my mother’s hospital room that night, and we took her home the next day.  Mom was unable to care for herself at all. I became her right-hand and left-hand person, and slept beside her at night. I would like to break off and tell you what an amazingly strong woman my mother is, but I will leave for another day.

Two of my siblings live nearby and they circled the wagons to provide support and relief. I stayed in Alaska 4 months and wore many hats while I lived with my parents. My most rewarding role was that of adult daughter to my parents, but the second best was that of caregiver to my mother. I was also able to spend some special time with 2 of my sisters and their families, as well as both of my brothers. I flew home to Washington in August, on the 3rd anniversary of my husband’s death.

A holiday bonus. The patriarch (I call him “dad”) sent Ms. Daisy (mom) and I on the vacation of a lifetime in late November 2012. I joined my Alaska family for Thanksgiving, then mom and I toured the Hawaiian Islands for weeks. We spent Christmas and New Year’s with my Arizona sister (it was her twin who we lost earlier that year) and her family. Mom flew home from Washington in January, after visiting her sister and the rest of our Washington family. [3 months later my grandson died and mom flew back to Washington to mourn with, and nurture our family here]

To make a long story short (hahaha), I received another call. It was the call from my sister that I wrote about in the first paragraph of Part 1 of this post. I’m still not perfect, but I guess I will keep on practicing this caregiver role, until I get it right. I am looking forward to this new adventure of giving care to Mrs. M. in Oregon.

I’ve taken some time this week to ponder the meaning of these calls-to-action that keep arriving in my life. They seem to be bridges to the next part of my journey, rather than minor side trips. So, now I have to wonder where this next bridge will lead me…

You can be sure that when I get the call that Mrs. M is being released, my laptop, printer and works-in-progress will be traveling with me, so please hang out for more.

How will you answer the call? Has a caregiver call been a bridge in your life? We would love to hear your thoughts and experience (in the comment section).

Here are these Helpful Links again:

http://www.caregivers.com/caregiving/ All things caregiver.

http://alzjourney.com/helpful-resources/ An incredibly helpful list of resources for dementia, Alzheimer’s, and caregivers.

Peace,

Patti


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Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 1

Holding You Up A bronze statue on hotel grounds in Kauai, Hawaii PHALL PHOTO 2012

Holding You Up
A bronze statue on hotel grounds in Kauai, Hawaii
PHALL PHOTO 2012

by Patti Hall

They Say That Practice Makes Perfect

Technically, I wasn’t looking for practice or perfection when I answered my sister’s phone call from Alaska a few days ago. Just last week I was deep into my grieving cave-woman mode. Tuesday, I traveled about 350 miles (round trip) to a convalescent facility in Oregon. I met with the care team of my sister’s mother-in-law, Mrs. M.  Yesterday I started cleaning, packing and planning for an extended stay at the home of Mrs. M. in Portland, as her caregiver.

Caregiver: Is This A Calling And/Or A Bridge?

My caregiver internship began within the parameters of my first parenting role when I was 28 years old. That’s what parents do, they give care. Care-giving starts when you wake up in the morning, extends throughout the day, and continues into the night. It is wiping snotty noses, changing diapers, feeding, clothing and loving those in your care. Care-giving is sleepily welcoming a tearful dreamer under your covers, and into your arms, in the middle of the night.

To further my caregiver qualifications, I answered the phone and agreed to join a caregiver group in California. A troupe of his sisters and nieces, gathered at the home of my maternal uncle, when he was in the last stages of his battle against cancer. We came from 3 states; sometimes one at a time, sometimes overlapping, but one of us was always at his side. Despite my uncle’s sad prognosis, he basked in the songs of this Florence Nightingale choir. The songs were expressed in our laughter and love. We nurtured, laughed, cried, reminisced and took care of his physical needs. It was the first time that I truly considered how fragile life is.

A few years later, an interim caregiver position came available via an out-of-state call from my children’s father, aka my former husband. His mother was in her 80’s, living alone and had recently been widowed. She was not doing well emotionally, although, she was physically fine. I packed my bag, drove 100 miles north and left my own family to fend for themselves (again). K and I had known each other for many years and we had remained friends.

K was in deep grief and needed help with the mounds of paperwork and legal procedures that come after a death. While her son handled his job and household transfers from Utah to Washington, I helped K negotiate the details at hand. The signs of dementia came on fast and I consulted her son over the phone. I took K to her doctor and explained our concerns. She was poked and prodded and tested.

I received a promotion. Along with K’s paperwork, legal matters and emotional distress (grief), I had to keep her physically safe. From herself. Household hazards suddenly loomed everywhere. She was a fragile child one moment and an angry woman in the next moment. By the time her son came, K and I were exhausted and traumatized by trying to navigate the chaos brought on by the changes taking place within her brain. I returned home and wished that I could have done more.

Stay tuned, Part 2 will be posted soon…more caregiver experiences and I ponder whether this role is a calling or bridge to the next step in my life.

Have you answered the call? We’d love to hear your story in the comment section.

Helpful Links:

http://www.caregivers.com/caregiving/ All things caregiver.

http://alzjourney.com/helpful-resources/ An incredibly helpful list of resources about dementia, Alzheimer’s, and caregivers.

Peace,

Patti