Sunday, July 31, 2016

Life Still Sucks, But There Are Blessings

Sorry to have been away so long. I have wanted to come back and update, but I've just been too down and negative to be on here. I hate being negative; no one likes to read that! But, I do have some positive things to say, so I guess I'll just lay it all out there.

First off, a big THANK YOU to Betsy C. She left a very nice comment on my last post the other day, asking about how Sis is doing; this encouraged me to come back to the blog. I appreciate it!

So, Sis is doing MUCH better these days. By March she had lost 100 lbs!! She looks like a totally different person. She got on the right combo of water pills and heart medications and is almost back to normal. In May, her ejection fraction was up to 44% (from 19%). She has enough stamina to walk around the grocery store, do light housework, some cooking, etc., but still tires easily. I am not waiting on her hand and foot anymore, but I think she would still prefer that I do! She still has some days where she just doesn't want to get out of bed, but she does; sometimes it's not until Noon, but she does it. Most days she has her hair done up and her make up on, which helps her to feel better as well. Here is a recent picture of her from June:

You would never know this was the same woman lying in a hospital bed in January, as round as round can be from all the fluids she was retaining. She has been having great fun going through her closet and finding brand new clothes that were always too small for her that now fit her perfectly!

Financially, we are still really struggling. My unemployment ran out in March; there are no extensions. Since Sis's health improved, I was not able to apply to be her caregiver. I applied for jobs like crazy; no luck. I am not able to work for WalMart or in fast food because I cannot stand on my feet for more than 15-20 minutes at a time, otherwise I'd be all over that. I finally found a job in May working for a transportation company as a driver. We transport railroad crews from one city to another, sometimes picking them up on the side of the railroad tracks, sometimes from the local depot. I love the job because I love to drive, and the guys (and occasional gals) in the crews are super nice. The only drawback is the pay and the schedule. I make about what I made on unemployment, but instead of getting paid every week, it's every other week. I think that it actually averages out to be less than minimum wage. Right now I have about $40 in my checking account, and that has to last until the 12th! The schedule is 5am to 5pm, five days a week, which is fine. The problem is that I am "on call"; which means even though I go on the board as available at 5am, I may sit around all day waiting to be called for a run. It might come at 10am, or 4:55pm, or I might not get called at all. If I do go on a run, I hang around in Centralia all day because that is where the company vehicles are parked. I live 35 minutes away, so I can't afford the time or the gas to go back home just in case they call me to do another run. This weekend we were told that there was a huge back up of trains sitting in Spokane, so it was a call for all hands on deck - no days off - so that we could be ready for them this weekend. Well, I got one run yesterday - which was not for one of the bottled up trains - and as of this writing (at 12:30pm on my scheduled day off), nothing. Sigh. It can make it very difficult to do anything. But, I'm starting to adjust to it. And it's money on the bank.

We have not been able to get disability for Sis for a variety of reasons, which I won't go into. I heard about a possibility of getting more money for Les's social security, so we have applied for that. The smart thing to do would be to sell the house and move into something a little smaller, but I just don't see that happening. Mom has been helping me out, sending me money to make sure the car insurance is paid and my cell phone stays on. I use a pay-as-you-go plan that is only $35 a month, so that helps. I do need to get a smartphone for work, but I just can't afford one. I'm trying to find a used one that is not the newest and fanciest, but haven't found one yet. It has to be an android phone to use the apps I need for work.

Otherwise, we are just kind of in a holding pattern. Sis and Les sit in the living room all day, watching You Tube videos; sometimes Les goes out and works in the garden. Here's a few pics:

The garden is a bit straggly this year; one day Les decided he didn't feel like hoeing out the weeds, so he went out with the RoundUp instead. Unfortunately, it was a bit breezy out, and well ... let's just say it's a lesson learned: don't spray weed killer in the garden on a windy day. The second picture is of our one ginormous rhubarb bush. The stocks are huge and thick, but only about 2" worth is red. It should be ripe for harvesting next year. We planted some wild butterfly bushes in our front yard which are now starting to bloom. I got these great shots the other day just as Sis and I were leaving for town:

I have managed to make a few cards that I'm gong to give my mom for a gift, if I ever get down there to see her.  This is one of the cards I made that I sent to her as a thank you for a check she sent:

It's not a very good picture, but I think you get the idea. I absolutely adore this teacup die! I used it on three patterned papers and the white, then inlaid the patterned papers into it. Mom loved it! I need to make some more and learn how to take better pictures of them. I'd like to try and sell them on Etsy and perhaps in some of the local shops in town.

I guess that's the highlights of things that have been happening. I feel a little better; there seems to be a small pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel and things don't seem quite so bleak. I still get down in the dumps frequently; I just don't know when I will ever get to move out into my own place, if ever. Mom is planning on moving in here by the end of the year, and to be honest, while it will be a good thing to have her here, I fear it will be the straw that breaks this camel's back. Mom and I do not get along when we live together, and Les does everything he can think of to push all of Mom's buttons. I don't know why. I cannot stand the tension in the house when all of that is going on. I crave my own space, my own things around me, my own privacy. Sis has become very attached to me and hates it when I am not constantly in her presence. She wants me to sit with her in the living room when I'm not at work, but all we do is watch video after video of stuff I am not even slightly interested in, and we can't have a conversation because then Les cannot hear the TV. I love her more than life itself, but she has become clingy and suffocating lately. I don't have anything that is just ... mine. She has taken over my Pinterest account and the You Tube account; any craft I try to do she has to be involved and then takes over; these are petty things, I know, but it just irks me. I'll get over it. Eventually. In the meantime I torture myself by looking at homes for rent and for sale online.

Well, hopefully I won't leave you along for so long again. Hopefully I'll have more positive stuff as the months go by. Wish me luck!


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Sorry, But Life Just Sucks

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but it's the simple truth: life sucks so hard right now.

Sis's health problems are way worse than we imagined. There will be no huge bounce-back from this. Her heart's ejection fraction is 19%; normal is 50 or higher. Much below 5% and you are on the transplant list. The ejection fraction is the measure of how well the heart squeezes and pushes the blood out of the heart. She is so swollen from fluid retention that her legs feel like they are made from cement! However, she has lost over 30lbs of fluid (of the approximately 60lbs she has gained), and it has helped immensely with her breathing issues. Home health nurses and physical therapists make house calls twice a week. I am going to check into the possibility that I could be recognized by the state to be her official care giver; I'm already doing all the work, perhaps I can actually get paid for it and have an actual job.

Financially, life really sucks. I am trying to support all three of us, plus the animals, on $228 a week in unemployment benefits. We've lost our internet (thank goodness for free internet use at the library!) which means no Netflix (we already were doing without cable or satellite); are really close to having our electricity cut off - and our well has an electric pump, so no power, no water; no cell phones; and not a whole lot of food. I'm trying to help Sis apply for disability since the doctor declared her 100% disabled, but it's slow going. The utility company has been very generous with their patience, and we did find a place that will pay $50 of our $400 bill, but I don't know where the other $350 will come from. I'm trying really hard to just live one day at a time, but I'm starting to have panic attacks at night, and when I dream, it's of me explaining our situation to the internet company over, and over, and over...

Otherwise, not a lot else is going on. I'm constantly waiting hand and foot on Sis so I have not been able to get any crafting done. I am able to read at night before bed, so that's nice. I'm going to spend some of my weekly budget on a component cable so we can hook the DVD player up to the nice big HDTV we bought this summer; at least we can watch movies that way.

Thanks for listening to me whine. I have a bunch of pictures to share, but I'm not able to get them on here using the library's computer. Hopefully I can find a way to do that soon.

Take care, and I'll yak at ya later. TTFN.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016? Already??

Well, heck fire. Sorry I've been away so long; not by choice, I can assure you. Here are some bullet points and a bunch of pictures.

  • The mill went on strike in August; I was not allowed to cross the picket line. Was out of work for two weeks while people spit at each other, called each other names, etc. Mill went back to work, but decided they didn't really need the position I held. Now out of work for real. Two weeks later, no work, no benefits.
  • Got a job interview; woke up the morning of with strep throat and the entire left side of my head and neck swollen. Didn't get the job.
  • Mom is still recovering with her back issues. Dogs are now back home with her; she is getting better and no longer requires 24/7 care. I now go down 2-3 days per week to do her shopping, help her take a shower, etc. 
  • Sis's health has taken a sharp nose dive right into the ground. She was diagnosed with heart failure a year ago, but no one offered any treatment or anything. She has had zero medical benefits for the last 6 years, could not afford it once Les had to quit working when he got cancer. I had to start going to work with her so that she could just make it through the day (she was a home health care aide for a private party). She is now on 6 weeks unpaid medical leave, which makes it even more impossible to afford health insurance. I found a policy for her that, with the Obamacare tax thingy, she can afford. She is now seeing a cardiologist who was APPALLED (thank you!) that she has not received any treatment for her condition. She goes in on the 5th for an echocardiogram to see what kind of heart failure she has, then she can be treated for it. She is pretty much 90% bedridden at this point, she can only walk about 10-15 feet at a time before she passes out from lack of oxygen; Les is the worst nursemaid of all time. If I am down at mom's, he never checks on her to see if she needs to eat, or have something to drink, or anything. He thinks she is being lazy because she sleeps so much. I want to hit him in the head with a cast iron skillet.
  • I have a job interview on the 6th with the library in Chehalis. I am so excited! It's only part-time, but it has all the benefits that a full-time job offers. Which means MEDICAL! And VISION! My glasses are 20 years old and I just cannot see anymore. Wish me luck!
  • Back in August the chicken farm across the road from our home burned to the ground. The firefighters were incredible; with flames reaching heights of up to 150 feet in the air, they managed to keep a 15,000 lb propane tank from exploding, losing a firetruck in the process. They also saved all the homes nearby (including ours). They used helicopters to pull water from our pond in the back, and they used it to keep pumping water on the fire for three full days. 
    Pumper truck at the pond

    Fire burns behind mobile home directly across the road
    Most of the pictures I took of the fire itself didn't turn out very well, but you get the idea. The farm had 12 total chicken houses; 8 of them were full with approximately 2,200 chickens in each. They all burned to the ground, no survivors. The fire burned for days. Everyone was extremely lucky. Well, except for the poor chickens. 
  • Mom officially retired from the company where she worked due to her back issues. They threw her a little party, and even the mailman came! She was very touched and it meant so much to her.

  • Here are a few random pictures:

    Our garden turned out quite well this year!

    Lots of lovely onions in the garden

    Prescott Beach turnoff, Hwy 30 south of Rainier, Oregon

    Do you see the stork? Prescott Beach turnoff
Trojan, former nuclear power plant, now a lovely park
South of Rainier, Oregon
Another lovely tree at Trojan
So, that's been my life for the last few months in a nutshell. No time for crafts or anything fun, just an occasional picture or two on the way to or from Mom's. I will have others to post later. I hope to become more regular again as my life (hopefully) begins to even out.

Until next time, TTFN.