Friday, November 28, 2008

Loving the New Floors and More

I am loving our new floors. They are really much easier to care for and definitely more beautiful than our old crappy carpet. Now that we are farther on the other side of the chaos that was getting them, I can say it was worth it. The cats are still getting used to them. There is a lot of sliding and slipping and scampering. Hee.

On Monday Bob received a lift recliner. He was so excited. It's a beautiful chair and Bob really likes it. Basically he has only lived in his wheelchair or his bed for the past 3 or 4 years. Other regular furniture is just too low for him to be able to get out of comfortably. So rather than sit down on our regular furniture and then struggle to get out of it, he just didn't sit in anything else. Now he has his own lift recliner and it's been heavenly for him.

Speaking of Bob, today we went to the clinic to meet with a team who assessed him for a new wheelchair. His is over 5 years old and has some mechanical problems. Also, it's not as good for him as it was over 5 years ago. His new chair with have some adaptive additions to help him with posture and pain. We are still a good 4 - 6 months away from actually getting said chair but we are on the road and we had a good start today. Now we wait for the medical supply company rep to call us. He will come out to our place to look over Bob's current chair and today's assessment.

Our Thanksgiving was OK. We had one with family yesterday and today we had one with neighbors. Yesterday's was one where I didn't have to do much other than host. Today I did everything and it was lovely. I made a turkey (of course), mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potato casserole, dressing (do not STUFF the bird), green bean hotdish, and left over scalloped corn and cheesy potatoes from yesterday's feast. Oh, and Sarah Lee rolls. It was so good. I don't usually toot my own horn, but I do admit to being a good cook. Everyone ate everything and pronounced it yummy. There were seconds and thirds offered and taken. People were sent home with leftovers and we still have some ourselves. Overall, a very successful post thanksgiving Thanksgiving was had and enjoyed. Plus I am using the turkey carcass to make a yummy wild rice and turkey soup. Score!

Things at school are winding down but are still going well. I am improving in my picture taking skills and finding new things to love and enjoy in it all. I had to take outdoor twilight/sunset photos of a skyline and while it was freezing, I got some of the best photos I've taken all semester. Tomorrow Bob and I are going to the Como Conservatory so I can complete a couple of other assignments. Classes end in 3 weeks and then we have a nice break before they start up in January again. When new classes start, I will be taking a black and white film photography class, a digital darkroom class, a photographer's assistant class, and a photography business class. I am really looking forward to next semester.

Leaving work in August was the scariest thing I've ever done and yet we haven't done so badly. Yes we are behind in some bills right now but we will catch up in January. Also, I am still waiting for some money from one of my Big Bank Co accounts but it's taking a long time for the paperwork to go through. Once it does we can pay off a bunch of stuff. Yay! Not so yay is the fact that since I've been home, I've seen how badly Bob's disease has progressed. He really does need someone to help him prep meals, get dressed/undressed, and be here in case he falls. He is being assessed for new life helps for showering, eating, dressing, etc. We even have to replace our current dressers with something more accessible for him because he can't pull the drawers out any more. Leaving work in August was the best thing I've ever done.

We found a new church. We think. We haven't been to a church regularly for nearly 2 years. We left our old church for a variety of reasons and never felt called or comfortable in any other church we visited until we started attending Sanctuary Covenant. On Sunday after the service we are meeting with the pastors and we are excited about attending church for the first time in over 3 years. We are also excited about what God might have us do in service to the body there.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Settling Down

Well, Bob did his best and he did really well but when I got home from school, there was still a lot to do. Even though it was 10:00pm, I pushed up my sleeves, turned on some tunes, got out the cleaning supplies and went to work. I managed to get the kitchen and living room cleaned, organized, and arranged before the exhaustion really caught up with me and I had to go to bed. It was 3:00am.

The next morning I got up and started in with the cleaning once again. I had to work fast because Bob's physical therapist was coming over at 11 and another man from the county was coming over at 1:00. I managed to get our entertainment center set up and all the electronics working by the time the PT showed up.

Bob's PT is super nice and was very surprised at Bob's range of motion and flexibility. He really does have an ability to move and lift the muscles he is left with. It's kind of amazing. There are exercises I have to help him with, but surprisingly, those are few and far between. Bob does most of his exercises in his bed before he gets up in the morning. (He's less tired and more able to get them done first thing in the morning.) He's ingenious in the way he uses his bed for resistance.

After the PT left, another man from the county came by to talk to us about the program Bob qualified for. It's one that gives his an annual budget and with that budget he is able to pay people to come in and care for him. He can pay someone to clean, help him with meals, help him bath, get dressed, exercise, etc. He can also get a membership at the Y, hire a nutritionist, see a chiropractor or massage therapist. He can also get adaptive/assistive aids with this money. All this as long as he doesn't go over his budget. This is great news because there is a lot of stuff we have put on hold or gone without altogether because we couldn't afford it. Now Bob can afford these things and his life will get easier. The budget isn't huge, but it's enough. Also, I can get paid as Bob's personal care attendant. There are lots of checks and balances in place so as to not get in hot water with the budget and Bob can't pay me more than he would pay someone else to care for him. But with the money I get from my work study and the money I get from caring for Bob, we should be OK. Whoot! Another thing Bob is looking forward to is a YMCA membership. He wants to hire a personal trainer to work with him on flexibility since strength training is not an option. As his PCA, I can go and work out with him, so it benefits us both. Unfortunately, this program is slow moving so we won't officially be on it until January so right now we are just getting the paperwork done and jumping through the hoops set before us.

After all our meetings and more cleaning, we still had to go get the cats from the vet. I set out in the van to pick them up. On the way I called in a pizza to be ready for pick up on our way home. I got Maisey and Daisy first and buckled their carriers into the van. Then I got the large carrier that held both Zoe and Chloe. Chloe was crying that sad, mournful wail that cats use when they are at their scardiest. On the way to the van I caught a whiff of cat urine and it knocked me over. I'm not sure if she had peed her carrier prior to me picking her up and I just now smelled it or if she peed on the way out to the van. Either way, it reeked and I had to drive home, stop and pick up a pizza, and drive some more before getting them home. Gah!

Once home, I carried Maisey and Daisy's carriers up to our apartment but didn't let them out. Bob came with me to get the kittens (we still call them the kittens even though they'll be 3 in April). The smell of urine was so strong and gag inducing I had to step back. Once we got them into the apartment, we took the carrier to the bathroom hoping to coral them there while we cleaned them and the carrier up. However, the carrier is so big and our bathroom so small that both cats got out. Each one ran to a separate bedroom and hid. So now we had cat pee in the bathroom and both bedrooms. I carried the carrier to the patio and cried. I'd just spent hours cleaning up sawdust from everything we owned and now I'd have to clean cat pee from the rest of our stuff. Grrrr!

While I was on the patio having a meltdown, Bob was able to coral the kittens into the bathroom. I got myself pulled together and grabbed poor Chloe who looked to be the culprit of the peeing incident. She is normally a very fluffy and vain kitty. At this point her feet, tail, and tummy were all wet and she was acting sad/depressed/humiliated. Poor kitty. We ran a bath and bathed her as well as we could. Never having actually bathed any of our cats before, I wasn't sure how it would go but Chloe surprised us. She lay docilly in the water while we soaped and rinsed, soaped and rinsed her. As I soaped her throat and stomach, I could feel her puring away. Once clean, we lay her in a towel and wrapped her tight. She just lay there enjoying the act of us drying her off. Once dry enough, we let her go and she ran off to groom. We repeated the same with Zoe who, though not thrilled, let us bathe her with minimal effort. She did keep trying to get out of the bath but for the most part was compliant enough and never meowed or cried during the ordeal.

Once both cats were clean, we went to work on cleaning the cat pee from everything. I think we got it. Thankfully, it was all surface cleaning and not deep cleaning so that made things a bit easier. Still, I was overwhelmed and would be so thankful for a day that didn't involve cleaning things. Once everything was clean we were finally able to let Daisy and Maisey out of their carriers and FINALLY eat the pizza I'd picked up. The cats were all a little hesitant and freaked out but we knew they would settle down.

The next day, the cats all seemed in better spirits and more settled in. They were unsure of the new floor and there have been a couple of funny incidents when, while running, they couldn't catch their footing resulting in a cartoon like scene of cat feet moving but the cat not going anywhere. They also don't really like the sound Bob's wheels make on the floor but they will get used to it.
I was looking forward to Sunday since I didn't have anything planned other than church. Bob and I have been visiting a church we really like a lot. It's an urban church that meets in a school on the North side of Minneapolis. It's extremely diverse, quite large, and for some reason we feel at home there. Sunday was no different in our experience there. We really enjoyed the service and look forward to seeing if and how we might be called to serve there. Next Sunday we are going to an event called Pizza With the Pastors to meet the pastors and get our questions answered.

To end today's post, here are some photos of the new floor. Was it all worth it? Now that I'm on the other side of it I can say yes but last week I wasn't so sure.
Looking at living, dining, kitchen from bedroom areaLooking at living room into the bedroom from dining areaLooking at living room from dining roomLooking at living room from front entrySanta MaiseySanta ChloeSanta Zoe

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

So we have new beautiful laminate floors in our apartment. We also have a nice find layer of wood dust on every single linear surface in our apartment. The guys who installed the flooring, cut it all inside our apartment which means we are left to clean up more dust than we had soot after the fire in April. Needless to say, I was a tad overwhelmed this morning as I surveyed the job before me. Still, the floors are beautiful.

We got up early yesterday, finished emptying the living and dining areas of furniture, boxed up the cats, and drove them to the vet's office. It wasn't much fun. Four kitties can make an awful racket when enclosed in a moving vehicle. Poor things. We were going to pick them up today but since we have to clean up the wood dust, we thought it best to leave them another day.

After dropping off the cats at the vet, we went to breakfast. I wanted to go to Key's but there wasn't really one near by so we settled on IHop. It wasn't a bad breakfast. I had a mushroom, swiss, spinach, tomato omelet while Bob had a ham and cheese omelet. We spent some time talking about life, money, the holidays, etc. and had a nice time lingering over coffee. After that, we went to Target to look for a couple of household items. Of course we left with more than our list showed we needed but that's always the way at Target. After Target we went to the wild bird store to exchange some suet. I had purchased some hot pepper suet because I was told the birds like it but the squirrels leave it alone. However, it seemed no one liked it. It just sat in our suet feeder getting old and yucky. I exchanged the red pepper suet for fruit and nut suet and that should make our downy woodpecker friends very happy.

We were told that the flooring guys were coming after 9am and should only take 3 to 4 hours. At this point it was about 11:30 and we still needed to kill a couple of hours. We did the only logical thing and saw a movie. Bob likes action and I like attractive men so we went to see the new James Bond movie. It was FULL of action and not as full of Daniel Craig as I would have liked. Still, it was an OK way to spend a couple of hours.

When we got back to our apartment building, the head maintenance man met us in the garage. He said the floor guys weren't done yet but that we could go upstairs to check it out. So we did. They had ripped out all the old carpet and were laying the under floor. Only one little strip of hallway had been finished with the wood floor. That was disappointing since we didn't have anything else to do to keep us busy and out of the way. Bob suggested he just go hang out at the gas station and I could go to school and work on any projects I had. That seemed logical so that's what we did.

Bob called me at school at nearly 7pm and told me the flooring guys were done and he was in the apartment but that the quarter round still had to be laid and the dust had to be cleaned up. When I got home I marvelled at the new floor. It was beautiful. Dusty, but really amazing. We couldn't begin cleaning up or moving things back in to the main living area until the quarter rounds were put in so we ended up going to bed. It was weird being there without the cats and Bob said it had been really lonely while I was at school. Also weird was how shoddy and dingy the walls now appeared. Huh. The crappy, gross carpet must have diverted my attention from the dirty, spotty walls. Nice.

This morning the maintenance men came and installed the quarter rounds but didn't clean up. I asked about that and they kind of inferred it was up to us to clean up. I said that didn't seem fair since we hadn't been told to put things away or cover anything with plastic sheeting. If we had been told, we would have done that. I said that every surface of everything in our apartment was now covered in dust and it was only just in April when everything had been cleaned after the fire. They said they would tell the office manager but she would have to get back to me.

I started cleaning. The job overwhelmed me. I looked at everything we owned and wondered how and when I would ever be done cleaning it. I had wash everything...the cupboards, the appliances, the containers and jars, the dishes that were left out, the sugar bowl, salt and pepper shakers, the cats food/water bowls, the photographs, paintings, and artwork that hung on our walls. I had to create a laundry pile for anything linen that could be washed. Our sofas had to be vacuumed over and over to remove the fine dust that had settled on them. I looked at the overwhelming task before me and did what any woman with a pioneer spirit would do. I cried. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I washed the counters. Snot spilled onto the freshly washed microwave. My shoulders shook with sobs as I wiped down the aquarium and fish food. I knew I was crying out of frustration and that it would be over and I'd be fine. Bob did not see it that way.

When Bob came in the apartment, he saw me crying and immediately went back out to talk to the maintenance guys. He came back and told me to stop what I was doing, go to the bedroom, pick up a book and relax. I had a hard time doing it but eventually the futility of the job I was doing overcame me and I did as he asked. He said he would work hard while I was at school and work study today to get someone or lots of someones to come and clean our apartment. He promised that it would be at least 75-80 % clean by the time I got home tonight. I am skeptical, but he was adamant, so I left him and our dusty apartment and went to school.

I have no idea how things are going at our home. I only hope Bob is true to his word and able to get the help he promised. Otherwise I just may have to pack up and move. It seems moving would be an easier task at this point than completely cleaning fine wood dust from all our possessions. We'll see. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bob's Care and New Floors

I thought I should blog about how things are going with Bob's care now that we are working with MA and Medicare.

A home health nurse just left after assessing Bob. The nurse was a very kind and gentle young man who, it turns out, does not live far from us. He said Bob is doing very well and since I help him with activities of daily living, we will not need to have a home health aid come in to bathe or make meals for Bob. That's good news. We will be seeing a nurse weekly for a month or so and after that, who knows.

Later this afternoon a woman is coming to either assess Bob for physical or occupational therapy, I can't remember which. Either way, we hope we can figure out a better way for Bob to use a telephone, computer, and other necessities for living. So, we'll see.

On Friday afternoon I am meeting with a gentleman who is going to go over the state grant program with me and next Friday morning Bob is going to be assessed for a new wheelchair. This seems to be the time for many, many assessments. Once they are all done we will receive recommendations and then we can make a plan of care, access, and ability.

In other good news, we met our apartment complex's new managers. I mentioned to the woman that our carpet is trashed due to Bob's wheelchair and asked her if it could be replaced with laminate flooring. (This wasn't out of nowhere, the apartment down the hall from us had been upgraded with new laminate flooring.) She kind of looked at me as if to size me up and said she would look into it and get back to me. She must have looked up our rental history because the next day she told Bob that not only will they replace the flooring, they will do it before the holidays AND if we sign a new 1-year lease in December, our rent will not go up. This works for us. We just signed a 1-year lease in June so this is like getting 6 months rent without the usual annual increase. We've lived here for 6 years and have never been late with rent. I think that impressed her. I cannot wait for the new floor! It will be so much easier to keep clean.

School is going well but with the semester winding down, the profs are loading on the homework. And since it's the end of the semester, the assignments are much more involved and stressful. At least for me they are. I have one assignment where I have to take 24 pictures of a pen. Well, the pen has to be identifiable in the shots anyway. I decided to do a photo essay on "A Day in the Life of a Pen". So far I've photographed a pen in bed, in a bubble bath, making breakfast, playing with the cats, blogging, and watching TV. I will get some outdoor shots and school shots later today. I also have another assignment to shoot 35-40 shots of something of my choosing but it must be superior in composition, lighting, focus, etc. I think I may use the photoshoot of the kittens for that particular assignment. Thankfully, there is only about 3 more weeks of class before winter break. Whew!

I asked my advisor if it's normal to feel overwhelmed and under prepared after the first semester of the professional photography program. He said it is and was I also wondering if I could even hack it as a pro photographer. I said I HAD been struggling with thoughts along the line of, "Will I ever really be able to make a living at this?" and "Who would pay ME to take pictures?" and "What the hell was I thinking?" He laughed and said that was very normal but to take gets better and promotes growth. He said he looks for growth and developement (ha!) in people in the program and that as long as there is growth and the applying of knowledge, he doesn't worry about his students. That kind of made me feel better. At least until I look at other people's work, compare it to mine, and come out lacking. Gah!

OMG! I just saw one of our complex's maintenance men and he said our floors are going to be put in tomorrow! Yikes! I am NOT ready for that yet. So I need to sign off and find out for sure. New floors tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank God for Assistance

So winter arrived this weekend.

I went out of town this weekend. Every year 7-12 of my girlfriends and I go to on a long weekend together. We always go the weekend of the deer hunting opener even though none of our husbands hunt. This year was lovely even though the weather was not. It alternated between snow/sleet/rain and was freezing cold. The overnight low was 19 degrees and our high was in the 30's. Thankfully the cabin we stay in features 2 lovely fireplaces. A good time was had by all.

I love our social worker and by the grace of God, it appears she loves us too. Because Bob qualified for lot of stuff and I qualified for nothing, she is going above and beyond in her quest to help us. In the coming days Bob is going to be on the receiving end of the following; a lift reclining chair, a new power wheelchair, Meals on Wheels on Thursday and Friday, housecleaning help, and food assistance. I am beyond grateful for all this help but I do wish the wheels of assistance moved with a little more zoom. With no actual money coming in yet I am a little on the anxious side right now.

I began my work study at school last week. It is apparent that I won't be getting quite the number of hours we first thought, but still, it's something. So far I like it but am surprised how much 10-15 hours of extra work change my outlook of my week. Not in a negative way but I am finding that I have to reorganize how and when I do things again just because of the extra work. I thought I'd be able to just fit it in but am surprised to find that I need to re-prioritize and organize.

Tomorrow I am going to my friend Lisa's house. She has 2 litters of 4-week old kittens I need to photograph. These 2 litters total 12 little wild kittens and I cannot wait! Pictures to come.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Don't Forget to Set Your Clocks Back

So, we received word from the county that Bob has been approved for state aid benefits but I have not. Apparently I make too much money. Which is weird since I haven't made any money since I quit my job. Well, that's not entirely true. I did make $100 taking pictures at a theater opening but the actual job was nearly 2 months ago and I just got paid for it so it doesn't really count.

Anyway, the good news is that Bob is now covered medically speaking and is getting food assistance as well, so that's good. We also qualified for a program where he will get money to pay a personal care attendant to help him with the functions of daily living. Under the program, he can pay me, so there's that. However, I guess this program takes a while to get into gear so for now we are scraping by. Still, life hasn't been bad at all and we are doing OK.

It's been over 2 months since I quite my job and I am still OK with my decision. The temp jobs I signed up for have not panned out, nor have the jobs I've interviewed for on my own and I guess that's OK since they weren't at the top of my career list. However, I was offered work study in my program at school and am just waiting for the paperwork to go through. Could be a couple of weeks still. It won't pay a lot but it's better than nothing. It's also a great opportunity to get to know the photography department, equipment, and professors. I think it's a good move that will help me with contacts in the long run. Oh, and I had an interview at a local camera store. Not sure if that will end up being something that will work with my schedule but I will deal with that when the time comes.

So yesterday was Halloween. We didn't do much. We handed out candy but we only had about a dozen kids stop by. Now we have a huge bucket of candy. I gave out some more today to kids we know but didn't see last night. Still, we have a lot of candy left over.

I went out shooting today (with camera, not guns) and had a pretty good time. I managed to complete at least 3 assignments and will have Bob help me with a couple of others. Next weekend I am going out of town with friends and I will have my pick of models to help me out with newer assignments. Anyway, today everyone had the same idea. I was out at Minnehaha Falls Park and saw at least 4 other photographers out there shooting families and couples. And at one time a woman came up to me while I was setting up a shot and asked me if I was someone else. I had to say no and wish her luck on finding her photographer. I don't know if she ever found her. I'm going to miss days like today. It was beautiful, warm, and sunny and possibly our last truly nice day before the snow flies.

Well, I've already set our clocks back because last year we forgot and were early for everything on Sunday. Plus, I woke up at 5 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I am already yawning and working at keeping my eyes open. According to my clock, it's 9:30. Looks like I'll be getting to bed early tonight.