The surgery is over

The surgery was done today – two screws were put in Nick’s ankle. I think it was more than he anticipated. He expected to be at my mom’s house this afternoon helping me pack her apartment. Not. The doctor told him he had to severely limit his activity for four days – do nothing but lay around with his leg elevated.
The doctor attached him to a machine that has a soft shell boot. The boot attached to a machine that keeps the boot at 47 degrees. This is designed to limit swelling to the highest degree possible. Tomorrow I press a button on this machine and it will not only keep the area cool but will give mild compression. It’s really pretty neat. It is designed to minimize pain and quicken the healing process.
Nick needs to go back to the doctor in ten days to get his stiches out and check his progress. I have to say – up to this point – he is being a pretty good patient. I think the drugs help to keep the stubborness down, although the doctors and nurses really impressed upon him the importance of stay off of that leg.
So tomorrow, after I make sure he is set for the day – it is off to my mom’s. The Longmont flea market is stopping by to see her stuff and see if it is something they are interested in. Hope they want a lot.
Mom is pretty lucid although the medication change for her bladder infection does give her halucinations, but not too bad. I’m going to stop by to see her after I do my stint at her apartment tomorrow. She seems to be holding her own, although it feels like she is slipping a bit. Nothing that I can directly put my finger on – but it seems she is losing some strength. Time will let me know.

Our very own “Cheyenne Days”

For those of you that are not familiar with Cheyenne Days, it is a big 10 day festival in Cheyenne, Wyoming – the biggest thing going on all year. We drove there today, right in the midst of Cheyenne Days. Before you start feeling sorry for me, it really was not a big deal – there was not that much going on during the time we were there, but the main street in downtown Cheyenne was all decked out in red, white and blue bunting and the city looked very patriotic.
We met Trooper Page in the rotunda of the capital building. That was not for sight seeing purposes, but becuase today his duty was to staff the state trooper desk in the rotunda. Trooper Page is a very decent man. He was very empathetic to our plight. I thanked him again for releasing our car over the weekend so that we would not have to pay the $60/day storage fee until we could get up there this week.
Everyone has been telling me that all that is happening right now is happening for a purpose and some good will come of all of this. Well, I saw some of the good today. The Trooper told us that technically there were four violations that Nick could be cited for – leaving the scene of an accident, damage to state property, failure to stop at a stop sign (and one more that is escaping me now).
He told me that he had a conversation with his boss, and they decide to just issue warnings on 3 of the 4 issues. The only thing that he had to, by law, was to write a ticket for failure to stop at a stop sign. So he wrote the ticket and the whole Wyoming escapade will only cost us $50.00. That particular ticket is also not the kind of ticket that goes against your driving record, so Nick will not have any infractions against his license as well.
Trooper Page thanked us for travelling all that way to do the paper work, and we thanked him for his empathy and for saving us a lot of money and aggravation. I guess it pays to be honest and sincere. Even the tow truck company that towed Nick’s car back to Erie gave us a break on the price. Usually a longer distance tow of this nature is charge per mile. The owner of the towing business gave us a flat rate and saved us over $100.  All in all, the people in Wyoming were very gracious and empathetic and Nick and I got home today, grateful to have that chapter closed and grateful for the care and concern that people showed us.
While we were in Wyoming, Trooper Page told us a story of the funniest accident he ever investigated. He was quick to say that no accident is a laughing matter, but that in all of his years of accident investigation (and that his major role with the Wyoming State Police), this one was the most bizarre.
He said he was radioed about an accident involving a vehicle that overturned and he was so close when he got to the vehicle the wheels were still spinning in the air. He immediately radioed for an ambulance, and as he approached the vehicle he heard laughing. When he got up closer to the vehicle and looked into the window he saw feet and more laughter. He tapped on the window and asked if everyone was ok.
An older gentleman answered and said they were ok and there was laughter again. The Trooper asked them if they were drunk and they said no. They got the old man and woman out of the car, and sure enough they were not drunk. When the Trooper asked them what was so funny, the older man said that once the vehicle stopped and he got himself out of his seat belt that his wife was still strapped in. When he loosened her belt, she fell head first to the roof/floor and proceeded to give him a piece of her mind. Then she saw how ridiculous that was and started to laugh, then they both started to laugh and soon they could not stop.
The Trooper was surprised no one was hurt, and he said that that was the most jovial accident scene that he ever attended.
So, morale of the this story and Nick’s story – wear those seat belts – they really do save lives. Also, the people in Wyoming a great people – I am very thankful to them for their emapthy and support. Some good did come out of this situation.

Ankle surgery on hold…

After meeting with the primary care physician (PCP) today, the ankle surgery is on hold. Yesterday they did some blood work on Nick and his potassium levels are two high and his electrolytes are not in balance. So, the doctor is changing his medication slightly and we will do more blood work on Friday and see the the PCP again on Monday. Then we will move from there.
Nick’s chest x-ray was ok, and his blood oxygen level was excellent (99). He was a little anemic (sp?) but his anemia was stable from the last time his blood was tested a few weeks ago and so the doctor felt that with continued good nutrition that that should not be a problem to build up.
So, we will wait in see if the change in medication wil assist Nick in getting things back in balance.

Next stop – ankle surgery

I guess I should feel good about the fact that we were able to see both an orthopedic doctor and our primary care physician both in the same day. I was very impressed with the orthopedic doctor who was on call Friday – he told the doctor in urgent care that he would try to schedule an appointment with a colleague since he was going to be on vacation this week. The doctor at urgent care gave me a list of doctors and said that if Dr. McCarty (the doctor on call) did not call me, then I should start calling on Monday to see if I could get an appointment with someone.
So, I figured I would have to do that since I really did not expect Dr. McCarty to try to arrange that for us with his impending vacation and all. And yet, bright and early this morning, Dr. McCarty calls and says he’s arranged an appointment with a colleague and that all I would have to do is call him. And it sounded like he was calling me from wherever he was on vacation. I was impressed and very grateful to him.
We saw the orthopedic doctor early in the morning and it was fortunate that we did. He had a bunch of tests that he wanted our primary care physician to run and we already had an appointment with him for this afternoon. So the scheduling worked out perfectly.
Dr. Repine, the orthopedic doctor, looked at the x-rays and recommended that Nick get two screws in his ankle – so the surgery is scheduled for late in the day on Thursday. It is being done at the hospital but Nick does not have to stay overnight.
Our primary care physician wants to give Nick a physical tomorrow and today he did a chest x-ray and drew blood. Then it will be off to Cheyenne, Wyoming to finalize the paperwork on the accident. My aunt leaves early Wednesday morning and I have to drive her to the airport. And then I hope to go into work for a few hours both on Wednesday and Thursday.
Then the next major thing will be to start the moving out process for my mother’s apartment. I am going to call a couple of friends and ask for some help. When I think about doing that, I just really get overwhelmed – but I think some good planning and with the help of my friends, I can pull it off by the end of August. I’m not sure how much Nick will be able to do, but I know he wants to help. We’ll see what happens after Thursday. Bottom line, the doctor says he has to be off of that leg for 6 weeks.
So, we got a lot done today, and that is always comforting to me. A lot was accomplished and the drama was kept down to a minimum. Having been a theatre major in college, I’m surprised at how much I am trying to eliminate the drama in my life – I think there is a little difference between the two, though.
More tomorrow – I will be glad to get this trek back to Wyoming over with.

A much quieter night

 Well, it is Sunday night and I am sitting in my overstuffed chair in my family room. The movie "Something’s Gotta Give" with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson is playing in the background. Nick is sleeping, Mia is laying at my feet and the cats are in the bedroom. All’s quiet, and I grateful for that.
The last few days have been very stressful, but I made it through. It seems I always do.
When I was in Urgent Care with Nick on Friday and they came back to say he had a broken ankle, I lost it. The staff there was great – they were very concerned about me and they reminded me that I have to take care of myself. Part of that is finding some help to help me deal with the mental and emotional strain I am under.
This week I am going to research a therapist for me. I think that that will be helpful. I had someone tell me yesterday that because I am so independent, that I put pressure on myself to do everything and to solve everything. She told me she thinks I may have forgotten how to ask for help. I think she was right.
I have always prided myself on being able to handle anything – but this situation has really tested me on a variety of different levels. I’ve never been good at failure – and I don’t think failure is even the right word. Maybe that’s the problem. A person doesn’t fail because they need help or they become overwhelmed. I guess contrary to popular belief, I am not superhuman after all. And you know what, I don’t want to be – that’s way too hard for me.
Today I went to see a mindless movie – My Super Ex-Girlfriend. I knew it would be fluff, but it also stars and actor that I like – a guy by the name of Luke Wilson. Luke had a great part in the movie "The Family Stone." (BTW, if you haven’t seen The Family Stone – see it. It stars Diane Keaton – there she is again – Sarah Jessica Parker and others including Luke Wilson) He played the rebel child – Diane Keaton, his mom, greets him at the door as he is coming home for the Christmas holiday and immediately tells him there will be no pot smoking in the house and that this year for Christmas, clothing is not optional as they have a guest in the house. So that sets the stage for the prodigal son returning home to have Christmas with the rest of his siblings. Anyway, not get too far off of the track, but The Family Stone is a great story about family relationships and family hardship.
So, I saw this movie today, and I was surprised – it was pretty corny but it was funnier and more clever than I thought it would be. I am not recommending anyone to go and see it – but it was perfect for getting out and getting your mind off of things. Now, if you really want fun and a great movie – see Pirates of the Carribean. It’s great – and although I am not a Johnny Depp fan – he is phenomenal in the movie.
The point of this movie tangent is that I did take some time today to do some stuff for myself and it felt good. There is something about being out in the world doing "normal" things and experiencing other people doing "normal" things that is very therapeutic. I remember when I flew down to see my dad right after he had his injury (that caused him to be quadreplegic), I remember going to a restaurant with my mom that evening and being grateful just to sit there and watch and listen to people having normal conversations and doing normal things because the stress of seeing my dad injured in that way was a little more than I could take.
I certainly hope when things level off that I don’t forget to enjoy and appreciate the every day things I do – they signify that life is moving along in a way that is not traumatic and that is something to truly be thankful for.
So, it appears that I am rambling, but that is what is going through my mind this evening as I am enjoying and really appreciating the solitude. I am thankful for this time – very thankful. And as Scarlett O’Hara so prophetically opined, tomorrow is another day!

The car came home yesterday

Well, the car came home yesterday – and if you look in the photo albums area of this site you can see what happened.
I was shocked to see the car, but grateful that Nick walked away from that accident with only a broken ankle and a couple of cracked ribs. I am so glad no one else was involved.
We will notify the insurance company on Monday. I think they will total the car – Nick doesn’t think so, but we’ll see who guesses right on this one.
Meanwhile, it is an interesting topic of conversation for the neighbors, sitting in our driveway with the carnage in full view of all. Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t care what people think – it is a car – a machine that can be replaced. It just looks so horrifying and I know people will be concerned that everyone is ok.
I am going to take some time for myself today – maybe go to a movie and then go to dinner with my aunt. Next week its doctor visits (orthopedic and primary care physician for Nick) and back to Wyoming to finish up the police paperwork on the accident. My aunt leaves Wednesday morning, so I will need to pick up the slack with my mom’s care. Then I will have to start the process of closing down her apartment by the end of August. Did I mention, by the way, that I have a full time job?
Please let me know if I am starting to start to whiny – I really think I do take responsibility for my life and for what I have responsbility over – it is just that these days it seems like I have responsibility over the world – and it gets a little overwhelming.
Thank God for friends who offer words of encouragment and support, animals for giving you unconditional love, and for my mom who taught me how to be so independent (sometimes to the point of detriment).

Was I a fortune teller? Thursday and Friday hit an all time low for me…

In reading the title of my last entry, it occurs to me that I must have know all along something was coming. Yesterday I hit an all time low – I mean it was pretty bad.
I mentioned earlier that Nick came home on Monday. I hesitate to discuss his health issues specifically as they are very personal, but I can share that they are serious and his rehabilitation will take some time.
But let me start the story with Wednesday night. I came home from work around 6pm – and Nick’s car was not in the garage. Not room for alarm, as I thought he would be home soon. I made myself some diiner as Nick and I had discussed earlier that we should fend for ourselves for the evening.
At 8:40pm I got a call from Nick – he was lost – he was in WYOMING and he wanted directions on how to get back. He said he was off of I80, but I had no idea where I80 was. I asked him if the people at the place he was at could give him directions to I25. He said that they could, and so I gave him directions on how to get home from I25 South.
At 1am in the morning when he was not home, I did a search on the internet to locate the number from which he had called. The number was listed to Rawlins, Wyoming. Just for a point of reference, the Wyoming state line is not all that far from here, about an hour and fifteen minutes. But Rawlins, Wyoming was 340 miles from Erie and estimated on mapquest to be a 3 hr. and 40 minute drive from Erie.
By 5 am (being up all night and pacing) when he had not arrived home, I called the Erie police, the Wyoming state troopers and the Colorado state troopers. I gave them the information about Nick and his car, and they told me they would do a BOLO on him (be on the look out).
At 6am I got a call from Nick. He as at a Wendy’s off of exit 7 on I25. When I asked him where exit 7 was, he asked the staff and they told him Cheyenne – he was still in Wyoming. I told him to sit tight and I would drive up there and get him back home.
When I got up there he looked awful – very drawn and very tired and I think very scared and he did not have his car. When I asked him where his car was, he said that it was in a ditch. When I asked him how that happened, he said that he was turning off the road to get some gas and since it was dark and the road was unfamiliar, he went off the road into the ditch. I look around the area at the exit, but could not see his car. When I suggested that we locate his car, he did not want to – all he wanted was to go home and go to bed.
So, I took him home. The Erie police had called me right after Nick called me to tell me that the Wyoming state troopers had found him and asked that once I picked him up to call them back and confirm that I had him so that they could close the case file. When I called back, I mentioned the missing car and they said they would note that and that I should let the Wyoming state police know as well. When I called the Wyoming state police they said that the officer that found him made no mention of the car – that when the found Nick he was "crawling" along the side of the highway.
When I questioned Nick about that, he said yes,  he was crawling as he hurt is ankle and it was sore and it hurt to walk. I asked the Wyoming state troopers to be on the look out for his car and they said they would. Later that day, some of my friends drove me back to Wyoming to see if we could locate the car, but we could not. That night, Trooper Page called and said they located the car, but that he was going to impound it because there were some questions that needed to be answered. He talked to Nick and then to me. Apparently the rut in the ravine by Nick’s car was 127 feet long, but it appeared that the breaks had not been applied. When we asked Nick why he did not apply the breaks he said he did not remember and he did not know.
So, I made arrangements to bring Nick to meet with Trooper Page on Friday at 3pm. Needless to say, Nick slept most of the day on Thursday and after my friends and I returned from our fruitless journey of trying to find the car, Nick and I went out to get a sandwich.
That night, Nick said his ankle was really hurting him and he asked me to take him to urgent care the next day. He complained of pain in his ankle and his side. We went to urgent care and they did x-rays and sure enough, he had a broken ankle and two cracked ribs. We were there for so long that I had to cancel the meeting with Trooper Page as we never would have gotten to Wyoming on time.
When I found out the news about Nick’s ankle, I lost it.  I am really beginning to wonder when this will all settle down and how much more I can take. Now I have two completely dependent people relying on me, plus I need to start the moving out process for my mom’s apartment, I need to get Nick to an orthopedic specialist next week as well as his primary care physician, work a full time job and deal with getting his car back from Wyoming. And this is just Nick – when my aunt leaves on Thursday, I will have to resume the responsbility for my mother as well.
One bright spot in all of this – Trooper Page called last night and said he was releasing our car so that we would not have to pay the daily storage fee until we could get up to Wyoming to finalize the paperwork. Getting Nick’s car back to Erie will cost us $440 in towing fees
So, after I got the news about Nick’s ankle, of course I had to research how to assit him with being mobile. Being that he is still weak, crutches would not do. So I found this device called a "rollabout" – it is designed so that you can put your knee on it and slide around (like a scooter) with your good leg. I had to go and pick that up and he is using it and it has been good for him.
The place that had the rollabout was in Longmont (where my mom is) and I remembered that she got a rolling walker with a seat right before she went into the hospital. She had never used it. So I called my aunt on the way to Longmont and told her that I would stop by the nursing home, get my mom’s keys and go pick up that walker so that Nick could use it as well. She said ok.
A few minutes later she calls me and says, "Oh honey, I am so sorry, but I forgot the keys in your mother’s apartment when we left to come here, today and I do not have them."  Well, for me, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She told me that I could try to building maintenance man and see if he could let me in. I hung up and began to cry histerically. Couldn’t I just have some time where I did not have to solve everyone’s problems?
My job demands that I problem solve literally the whole time. Now I am consumed with my mother, Nick and then I have to solve my aunt’s problems as well?  Please let up on my a little, will you?
I was so angry I could not see straight. I cried, and cried and cried for about 10 minutes and then I got to my mom’s place, reached the maintenance man and he let me in, and I got the walker and the keys.
Then I went to the nursing home and dropped the keys off to my aunt. For two days my mom did not know what was going on, but I felt I should tell her. I told my mom and my aunt that I was angry, not at them but at what was happening. Then I get the answer that I get from so many people – "Oh dear, we’re so sorry, we wish there was something we could do". But the truth is, there is nothing anyone can do – I am in the midst of this incredible mess and I have to play the hand that was dealt to me.
What I have learned is that it is so helpful to get my feelings out – not to couch them but to tell it like it is. Hence this blog – which is not mincing any words regarding the situation and how I felt about it at the time.
Last night, things calmed down and I got to bed early and slept for 10 hours and so I am feeling a litttle better this morning. It frightens me that somehow I knew I was experiencing the calm before the storm – and when the storm came, I was certainly not prepared for its intensity.
Today I am going to do things around the house – the car is being towed back here today and I have paperwork (two household to be in charge of) and day-to-day stuff that needs attention. You can see I am still a little angry and bitter, but I think once I get my butt in gear, I will at least have a sense of accomplishment getting some things done.
Thank God the people at work have been so supportive. I cannot say enough how much FMLA is such a gift, especially to those of us in the sancwhich generation who are or will be facing these incredibly difficult situations.
And thanks to all of your for listening to my ramblings. It helps.