Working Smarter


In February 2011, I had client ask for several quotes on short notice.  I worked my tail off for four days straight and finished before the deadline.  However, in the process I really wrecked up my right shoulder and was in such pain – I kept thinking it would soon relax and right itself, but it didn’t.  Not only was it the ice pick in the back of my shoulder, it was the stiff neck and very sore and inflamed shoulder joint.  To be honest, I was a mess.

That began the most intense three years of my life.  I started seeing Debye for massage for the shoulder pain and found it hard to do anything for quite a while.  I hurt so much and had trouble sleeping at night – not one of my of my better periods.   I started doing better after I began massages with Debye in May or June – way too long to get help – and then things began to really show up with Mom and dementia.   Around  July and August was the time when I couldn’t leave her by herself any more.  It was a very difficult time because I was recovering from the shoulder and it meant I couldn’t go out any more.  By December I was way past overwhelm and far into over my head.

I waited to long to find help – I kept thinking “It’s not that bad” but it was.  I was brought up with “Don’t ask for help, don’t bother or burden people”.  It finally hit me – I had been doing that all my life, especially with RA!  I remember talking to my sister Ellen on the phone around that time; I mentioned the Don’t ask for help thing and she had three words for me  – Ditch it, Girl!  She knew exactly what I was talking about, all three of us had been doing it for decades.  So I asked for help from the Alzheimer’s Association and finally had the help I needed.

February of 2012 I broke my hip tripping over my Mom – that sent me to the hospital and rehab for 8 weeks with another 4 in outpatient therapy.  By that time, my doctor, my family, my friends were really worried about me.  The therapists at rehab told me if I went back to what I was doing, I would be back in rehab permanently.   I realized I couldn’t keep taking care of mom without some major help.  I had arranged caregivers during the day so I could get out for a few hours a week for a break, but it was also time to think seriously of long-term decisions.

I went through paperwork to enroll Mom in the Providence Elderplace program – they would take care of all her needs and provide caregivers when she wasn’t at the Center.  It was good for her to go to the Center and be with other people – all the staff there is wonderful with all the people.    Also, her new doctor, PT, OT and anything else she needed was there.  They helped me find a really good adult family home for Mom because she was needing more and more care.  In October 2012 we moved her there and it was just the right time.  She was still able to socialize, any longer and it would have been harder.

More paperwork, then even more to apply for Medicaid – by that time I had gotten her checking account down to $2000 and sold everything to pay her monthly bill for Providence.  At the same time, we were applying for a loan and vast amounts of paperwork for that.  February 2013 Mom was approved for Medicaid but it wasn’t until the beginning of June when the mortgage went through.  Then 4 or 5 weeks of kitchen remodel for a wonderful kitchen.  So many other things still to do for the house.  I have been trying to sell the furniture so we can have our own things around us, but not much luck.  I don’t know if I just don’t know how to do it or if something is holding me back.    Plus, so much cleaning out!

February of this year I past the 2 year mark of breaking my hip.  My rheumatologist said 70% people who break a bone will break another one within 2 years.   I was determined to be in the 30% and I made it – no falls or broken bones since the hip. So here we are in 2014 and it feels like a brand new start.  I have decided to move our furniture upstairs and my parents down to the basement.  We need to paint the living room and I want Brad to create a new mantle with crown molding.  it has been raining so consistently I haven’t had enough clear days to move furniture and not get it wet.

So what does all of this have to do with working smarter?  I had a call from the client I worked with 3 years ago when I spent four days straight on her quotes.  I had a week to update them and this time, I paced myself over the week.  Yes, it meant I worked a lot on Easter but I wanted to be able to finish on Monday and feel human.  By George, I did it!  I took my time, took breaks, went out to do things and didn’t allow myself to get antsy in the that “Got to get it down” mindset.  She has a board meeting today where she will present i – no idea if the board will go for it this time or not.  They vetoed it three years ago.

So here I am, 3 years older and a whole lot smarter and wiser.   I have been doing a lot of quotes and very happy to report a lot of them have turned into orders.  I am surprised to look up and find my life has changed a lot from Feb 2014 – I’m not sure how it happened, I know I have changed a lot as well.  I am better at asking for help, knowing that when something comes up, I can handle it, especially knowing I have friends and colleagues I can turn to for help.  If it hadn’t been for Dave Gagley and all his help with Mom’s stuff, I would have been in a rubber room.  So many people are willing and happy to help, now I have ways to help other people when they are dealing with some of what I have been doing.

The hardest part is going to see Mom twice a week at the adult family home.  She can’t really carry on a conversation in worlds I understand, though it is in a very conversational tone – she understands it but the circuits between her brain and her mouth have too many shorts now.  I read to her, take my iPad to play music she likes and of course, she loves the chocolate and cookies I bring every time.  I don’t ever want her to think I have abandoned her, so I visit and enjoy what I can with her.  She is usually glad to see me, whether she recognizes me as her daughter or just a familiar presence.

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2 Responses to “Working Smarter”

  1. Charlotte Trayer Says:

    That’s where I was the last three years or so of my mom’s life, too, Liz….only by the last couple of years, she had no words left, and she could no longer feed herself. But we played taped music (hymns, and I sometimes sang along), and I told her what was happening in our lives, or reminisced about things from my childhood, just to fill the time. I don’t know how much she absorbed, but I couldn’t just sit there….it didn’t seem right. I think sometimes I brushed her hair or put lotion on her hands, too.
    I doubt my brother knew quite what to do or say, so his visits were probably different.

    • Lee Kaplanian Says:

      It is a constant education with no right or wrong answers. I do my best to enjoy the visits and let Mom know I love her. There is still a lot of her inside, it’s just harder for her to express it- guessing games are not my strong suit.

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