Sunday, January 11, 2015

Monthly Interview with Denise Brown

It is hard for me to believe my first interview with Denise Brown of was in February 2011. Since that time, I have periodically joined Denise on her Blog Talk Radio program to discuss caring for Robert and other caregiving issues and have been a monthly guest for some time now, discussing working and caregiving.
Connecting with other caregivers. Denise is
seated on the right and I am standing
behind her. This community is invaluable!

I was terrified before that first interview but have since relaxed during our talks.  Denise starts with updates about the activities happening on and then we launch into our chat which is usually sprinkled with smiles, laughter and sometimes tears.  Denise describes her show as friends gathering around the table to chat with a cup of coffee.  Denise has other guests throughout the month and it is delightful to listen to these other caregivers tell their own stories of caregiving.

Denise and I talk about the challenges of working and caregiving and since these interviews are over the phone, I have talked to Denise from the hospital parking lot before visiting Robert in the hospital, a hospital hallway while waiting to talk to doctors or my home office (and occasionally, the backyard). 

And since they take place at 7:00 a.m. (Pacific Time) and are over the phone, I am grateful I can take the calls in my pajamas, sans make-up sometimes!

This month we discussed the challenges of caregiving with my cast as well as the video series I did in November about the impact epilepsy has had on Robert.

I invite you to join us the second Saturday of each month to listen live (there’s a chat room which allows you to participate and ask questions or comment during the show) or listen to the podcast whenever it is convenient.  The shows are fun and Denise asks such great questions that I always learn something new about myself or my situation during the shows. 

Sharing the caregiving experience is helpful to all caregivers and I hope to share this experience with you!

Thank you for listening (and reading). 

The most recent show can be heard here.   

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Foiled by a Fingertip

I know my tiny broken fingertip is nothing compared to OPPs (Other Peoples Problems). 
At least I got to choose a color!

However, as I've said many times before: there is no competition in caregiving. This isn't a contest of who has it worse (or better).

On the other hand, this is a broken fingertip!

I know how ridiculous that sounds and cannot get that thought out of my head.

Yet . . . Hold on . . . Let me take a second to get something out of my system: WAAAAAAAA!

Phew! I feel better now. 

Well, not really.

I don’t mean to feel sorry for myself – I really don’t.  But here I am, five days into a cast (yes, a cast), and nine days after the injury and I am sooooo ANNOYED!

I wasn’t even going to see the doctor but my husband and daughter would have dragged me there themselves so I went to appease them. I refused to go to the ER on Christmas but wore the splint my husband bought at CVS (note to CVS: hey, thanks for being open on Christmas! I appreciate it and hope your employees weren’t too unhappy working on the holiday).

The day after Christmas we were having another round of Christmas with family we didn’t see on Christmas day.  Soooo, no, I was not going to the doctor then either.  But I called! 

I was able to get an appointment and an x-ray on Saturday – a day I had planned to recover from so much Christmas. The x-ray was first, the weigh-in was second (um, thanks, Christmas) and the blood pressure check was third (I obviously needed my day of rest but am at the doctor!!).

Yes, my attitude stunk from the beginning of this ordeal.

The nurse was friendly and uttered, “colorful” when I removed the splint and showed her why I was visiting the doctor. My finger had turned varying degrees of black and blue from the tip to the bottom of the finger.

I put the splint back on.

The doctor didn’t mention my weight or the elevated blood pressure and went straight to reviewing the x-rays. He looked at all the images and said what everyone seeing the doctor wants to hear, “I have no good news here.”

Um, sheesh, how bad could it be?  It’s my fingertip!! 

Apparently, a “displaced fracture” is complicated. The doctor showed me the x-ray and pointed where one piece of my bone was off to the side at an angle, nowhere near the other part of the bone.  Ahh.  That doesn’t look good. 

So, I suppose I have to tell my husband he was right about me coming to the doctor?


He printed out the x-ray for me and said I had to see an Orthopedic specialist. 

For a fingertip.

I am really getting annoyed.

Three days later I was seeing the orthopedist.  He debated (himself) for a minute, consulted with the orthopedic surgeon and then told me I needed a cast.

WHAT?!  Did I mention this is my fingertip?  Not my arm, not my hand, not even my whole finger.


He sent me to the cast room where the cast tech gave the doctor grief about him repeating himself and I ended up telling him to be nicer to the doctor! 

The doctor said to put the cast over three fingers and to extend it past the fingertip so as to immobilize the fingers.  Sheesh! How am I supposed to do anything with the fingers casted? Then he instructed the tech to go midway up my arm! Woah! Doctor – what the heck! Maybe you forgot but I just broke my FINGERTIP.

The doctor explained he has never seen a break like this in his twenty years of practice.  He said the tendon usually tears before the bone breaks.  Yay. I have unusually stretchy tendons.  Then he said the tendon needs to be immobilized so the fingertip can heal.  Otherwise, I will have to have surgery and have a pin put in the finger which means a risk for infection . . . .


At the rate he’s going, I will walk out with a body cast as a friend suggested. It already feels like it!

I seriously considered taking my chances and seeing if it would heal with a splint but relented and decided I would listen to the expert.

It doesn’t make me any less annoyed.  It’s amazing how much a person uses both hands.  I have the use of my pointer finger and thumb on my dominant hand.  Opening jars are a pain if not impossible; turning on my car using my left hand is interesting; writing is frustrating!  I have mastered my signature which says more about my bad handwriting than anything else. 

Typing is actually not too difficult – I’m just a little slower than usual. I think that is what frustrates me the most.

Everything is slower!


For two seconds I had the Pollyanna thought that this was a sign for me to slow down and smell the roses.  Are you kidding me?  I have things to do!

Most everything has to be adjusted.  I am naturally right-handed so now I have to put my left hand to use.  This actually will be a good brain exercise but I refuse to be happy about it.

Still annoyed.

The most difficult task so far is putting on Robert’s briefs.  I am struggling getting them tight enough but, with patience (from both of us), I am getting there.

It is just slower.

Which drives me NUTS.

I am sure I will get over being annoyed soon enough. After all, I have to wear this thing for sixteen more days (but who’s counting?).  I can do anything for a short period of time but must I do it slower?  Apparently.

I know people have much worse things to deal with but, for the moment, I am allowing myself to whine and be annoyed. 

Yes.  About a fingertip.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Calendars are Here! The Calendars are Here!

After pairing the artwork of Pegi Foulkrod and the Words of Comfort by Denise M. Brown in a 2015 calendar and pushing the “purchase” button, I started to panic.

The picture doesn't clearly show the words but
they show up on the calendar. August words:
"Believe in yourself - others will follow."
I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I forgot to have it printed in color.

I had a nightmare that the text of the Words of Comfort didn’t show up properly under the art.

I worried I would own 50 beautiful wall calendars intended to be a fundraiser for and no one would buy them.

And that was just the first day!

Okay, now that we all know how neurotic I am . . .

The calendars have come in and they are lovelier than I could have hoped.  Each month is an 8 ½ by 11 page which showcases the tender art of Pegi with excerpts from Denise’s Words of Comfort books. 

As I flip through each month, I am amazed at how well Pegi’s art works with Denise’s Words of Comfort.  They are made to be together. 

It is magical. 

Better yet, in the words of Robert, it is “excellent.” 

Denise's words:
"You have so much to dream about. Dream."
The calendars are a way to raise money for  Each calendar is $15 and half of that amount ($7.50) will go directly to  So far, we have sold a third of them.  I hope to have them all sold by year end so I can send Denise a Happy New Year gift of $375 from her supporters!

I guarantee you will not regret purchasing this 2015 calendar!

Thank you for your support! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Note to Self: Get it Together!

For the past few days I have been trying to write this post in such a way as to not come across as an ungrateful, spoiled brat. 

Hard to do when I have been exactly that.

As everyone knows, I love to decorate for Christmas. (If you don’t know that then either we haven’t met or you’re not paying attention.)  I don’t just love to decorate; I aspire to be the talk of the neighborhood.  I compete with neighbors to have the most lights, the most blow up decorations, the brightest house in the court. 

I don’t know what it is like getting through December without having to flip the breaker switch when I want to use my hair dryer.  I have been known to put one too many strings together outside – enough to blow the whole display. 

Does that deter me???  Ha! Of course not.

Here it is December 15 and I only have a few decorations outside! I could blame the weather (and believe me, I will) but it isn’t just that.  I have been busy at work and busy taking care of Robert and his increasing needs. I have had help from the kids in the past but they are out of the house and living their lives! How dare they!

Plus, it has been raining like crazy!  Good for the California drought; bad for my Christmas lights.

The inside decorations even got a late start.  I have been telling myself that it’s okay.  My deadline is December 24, after all. 

We have a large outdoor shed with our Christmas decorations. The shed is the size of a bedroom – a bedroom! Full of Christmas decorations! Which is awesome although quite daunting when my to-do list is ridiculously overloaded and those aforementioned kids are no longer around to haul boxes inside in assembly line fashion.

I had the brilliant idea of letting myself off the hook.  I’ll take it slow, I said.  I will just do what I can as time allows. 

Then the calendar turned to December 2nd and I was back to “OH MY GOD! I HAVE TO DECORATE THE HOUSE!”

I hauled the boxes in, separating inside and outside décor.  Having the rain helped me prioritize: inside first.  Richard and I took Robert to the local hardware store to buy not one but two Christmas trees. I love having two trees – I had two growing up and think it just stuck in my brain that was just the right amount to have. (Of course, this isn’t the seventies so our tree is not the classy artificial white one with red ornaments.)

Richard and I usually get a very large tree for the front room and a smaller one for the family room where Robert spends most of his time. I mean, we have to leave room for Robert.  I get it - I'm not crazy, you know.

This year, I had every intention of getting one huge tree and one smaller tree but realized we needed to get two smaller trees. Richard’s back was already killing him when we were picking out the trees and I could barely stand them up to find the best one. Robert found the one for his room in two seconds flat – his were easy to stand up and turn around.

“That’s a good one," he said after the second spin.  Sold!

Richard and struggled with the ten foot trees and I finally looked at him and said we should get a smaller tree.  Let’s get a six foot tree.  That way, we can get both of them in the house without causing enough pain to warrant a three day recovery period. It would be easy to set up and decorate. Sold!

Both trees actually fit on top of Richard’s SUV and neither fell off! (Not that that’s ever happened to us.)

We got them in the house and set up and took our time decorating them. Just because we could. (And, you know, because the kids weren’t around. Kids – growing up and living their life; the nerve!)

But during this week, I found myself calling the living room tree my “Charlie Brown” tree.  Yes, I was calling my six foot full tree a Charlie Brown tree.

Even I knew how ridiculous I sounded so didn’t dare say this out loud. Goodness! How ungrateful could I be? I have two six foot trees in my house!

Spoiled. Rotten.

As we put on the decorations, both trees came to life.  Robert sat in his wheelchair and put ornaments on the tree.  I found a holiday music station on the television and we listened to classic holiday music. 

Robert, much to my surprise, even sang along to a song or two!

We drank hot chocolate and busily unwrapped the decorations and slowly but steadily emptied the boxes. 

The trees are done, the indoor décor boxes have been put in the shed and my house is starting to look like Christmas.  The outside still needs work but that will come along.  I still have time! If we don’t win the unofficial (aka, existing only in my head) neighborhood decorating contest, that will be okay. 

I think.  Unless my Spoiled Rotten self returns. 

Oh, I better get back out there – rain or no rain.

There are some traditions I just can’t give up!