Wednesday, October 28, 2020

 I was a little disturbed yesterday to see a big packet from the VA in the mail yesterday. My first thought was "What did I leave out/fill out wrong/need to add" again. When I opened it the first page said that it was determined that Bill had been a disabled veteran who had died, we were married for the proper length of time, and I was entitled to received the Dependent and Children's Compensation. DUH! I already knew that! The second page however, told me how much my monthly benefit would be and that it was retroactive back to June 1 and what day of the month I would receive my benefit from now on! It also said that a deposit would be made within 15 days of the determination. The date the determination was made was Oct 7, so I went online and looked at my account and a deposit for the last 4 months had been made last week! I was really surprised! Except for being able to bury Bill's ashes, the business of death has been far as I know.

There was something else a little upsetting this week. A friend's father passed away and his funeral is Friday...with burial with full military honors in the same cemetery I want to use! I had emailed the governor a couple of weeks ago, asking when the restriction for committal ceremonies would be lifted. So far, other than an automatic response that said my email would be forwarded to the proper department, I have heard nothing. I have also heard nothing from the cemetery. I was told they would contact me when things changed. I've been a little miffed about this, but not as much now as when I first read the other obituary. There could be different reasons that the other burial can take place. It's immediately following a funeral service and a body is being buried, not ashes. But, it still involves an honor guard, 21 gun salute and taps. So, that's still a mystery. I've made a decision about the burial, though.

Since the virus is ramping up again and our area of Arkansas is now considered a "red zone", with Blytheville being a "red zone city", I have decided to wait until spring to hold the burial. I have until May 16 for it to continue to be free. And if it's after that date, the cost is very low, $300 to open the grave. I don't know, but maybe the year deadline will be waived because of the virus. At any rate, it's not safe for people to travel to this area, especially with young children, and the weather is deteriorating now. So, we'll wait until spring. I feel very comfortable with this decision.

I have recovered with whatever I had. Surprisingly, the granddaughter who had the exact same symptoms as I did, but tested positive for the virus, recovered when I did, with the same antibiotics and steroids I had. So, we're not sure she actually had the virus. But, her quarantine is over and she made it through it. 

Today is grandson Kayden's 16th birthday. He's having a bonfire Friday night with some of his friends and one of them is staying over. I'm taking both of them out for breakfast on Saturday morning.

I still have not gotten the estimate and pictures for the roof repairs even though I have contacted them again. If I don't hear by the end of the week, and it will be 4 weeks by then, I will contact another company. I haven't opened a claim with insurance because I wanted to have the estimate and pictures to send them.

So, that's the latest update from here. Stay safe, stay warm (or cool).

Friday, October 16, 2020

I surprised my mom by going to Illinois last week! My sister was the only one who knew that I was coming. I actually had to go to do her taxes since the deadline was fast approaching. Also surprised my brother and sister-in-law and niece. We had a good visit, but I had to cut the visit a little short because of Hurricane Delta. We were supposed to get heavy rain on Saturday and I really didn't want to drive in that, so came home on Friday. I was ready and my sister was ready to get rid of me! It was a lovely drive home (takes about 6 hours) with light traffic. But, as soon as I crossed the Arkansas state line, about 5 miles from home, it started raining! And it was raining so hard when I got home I had to sit in the car for a bit. Saturday's rain wasn't really heavy but steady from sometime in the night and all day.

Tuesday I woke up with a headache and just chalked it up to changing beds again. I had it all day and it moved from the front of my head to the back of my head just off my left ear. I had it all night and still had it on Wednesday. I took my blood pressure and it was higher than normal, not high enough to warrant a trip to ER, but higher than my cardiologist wants it. So I figured that could be what was causing the back of the head headache. I also had some sinus issues with lots of drainage.

Yesterday, Thursday, I still had the headache back full force and my sinuses were draining so much that I was a little nauseous and my throat hurt. But, during the morning, I developed some diarrhea (I know too much information). So, especially since my blood pressure was still up, I called and got in to see my nurse practitioner. In light of my travel, even though I was masked whenever I went anywhere, and do here at home, she wanted to test for COVID-19. She was concerned about the BP being up, but she was more concerned about the diarrhea, especially after I told her how much Imodium I had taken. She said that she had other patients that their only COVID symptom was digestive issues. So, a flu swab and the COVID swab and I was sent home to quarantine until I got the results. I couldn't even pick up my meds. Emily got them on her way home from work. I got a Z-pack and some Prednisone. Luckily I had gone to get groceries so I've got plenty of food. I also had to cancel my chimney sweep. I was told that he could still come as long as we were both masked and stayed 6 feet apart, but I didn't want to expose him unnecessarily.

I feel much better today, headache mostly gone, diarrhea mostly gone and sinuses under control. I know that's due to the meds. But, the test results came back really fast and I am NEGATIVE for both flu and COVID! A granddaughter also was tested yesterday and she has not gotten her results and they were done in the same office and sent to the same lab!

I do go back to the dr. next week for a follow-up and to get my flu shot. They are also checking to see when I got my pneumonia shot the last time to see if I can go ahead and get the Prevnar-13 shot. I think it's been more than a year, but I'm not sure. It's also time for my Medicare Wellness visit so they are also setting up a mammogram. I requested the non-invasive colon test instead of the colonoscopy. I'm a couple of years overdue for that because of Bill being in the hospital and my gastro dr. doesn't do the noninvasive test. I do have to sign a waiver that I know it's not as accurate and if it does show something I will have the colonoscopy. But, nothing was found on the last one so I'd rather do this now. 

Still no word from the VA except for an acknowledgement that they are compiling the information they need. And still no estimate from the roofing company so that I can file a claim with insurance.

So, that's how my weeks have been, good and bad. And there's still no word from the governor about opening the cemeteries for committals. But, since the virus is increasing again, I doubt it will happen any time soon. For the burial to stay free it has to be done within the first year and today is 6 months. I would hope they would waive the 1 year requirement due to the virus so we'll just have to see what happens in the future.

Hope everyone is staying safe and well. 

Saturday, October 3, 2020

After my rant the other day about the VA, the week ended nicely...until today. 

I dropped my car off at the tire shop Friday morning at 7:30 and it was ready at 9:15, but I had to wait until noon to get it so that Emily would be on her lunch break. The roofer came at 10:30, right on time, and the first thing he started marking was the downspouts of the gutter. He said we had a hail storm on April 28 and everything he was marking was hail damage. He also marked several places on the roof and chimney. I didn't know we had had a storm, but I was in Memphis then and wouldn't have tried to look in the dark for any damage. Anyway, Marco is going to email the estimate along with pictures of everything so that I can forward them to the insurance company. He said that even though it is quite a ways out from the storm date, they are still doing storm damaged roofs. So, maybe the insurance company will pay for most of the damage and I won't have to be out as much money!

When I got home from getting the car, and I was probably only gone 10 minutes as the place is really close, there was this cute little door hanger. I did find out who it was from. It made me tear up a little because of the pumpkin that wasn't there, but it's still cute.

 Today my laptop updated in the middle of trying to download the video of Bill's Memorial Service and sent it into an endless loop. I was able to do a system restore, which didn't help a whole lot and now I'm reversing it. I can't get on the internet, not that the hardware isn't working, Microsoft Edge won't work. But the good thing today is that the chimney sweep called this morning and he will be here the 16th. He was supposed to come last week, but it rained on the day he was supposed to come so he's just now getting caught up again.

Now, the following is what I wanted to post the other day. It's just some of the things that I learned during our journey. Maybe they will help someone else.

A lot of people have commented that things that I've posted throughout our journey have been helpful to them, or given them something to think about. 

Things I Learned Through Trial and Error

Take dated notes. Those are invaluable because doctors do forget when they've ordered something. or wondering if something happened and when. There were many times that I would just say "hang on" and look it up, either in my notes or the blog.

Ask questions. Most states have mandated that medical decisions/conversations must be with caregivers included.

Befriend nurses and technicians. They are a wealth of information and will be happy to answer questions. They can also provide a little better care if you show interest and be friendly. This also applies to housekeepers. Your room will get a little better cleaning if you are nice. Since Bill was in contact isolation, gowns and masks, I would place all of the trash cans by the door to the room. That way the housekeepers did not have to gown up just to empty the trash. Did I have to do that, no. Was it appreciated, immensely. Also, try to move things off the floor, including holding your feet up so they floor can be cleaned. Did I do this all of the time, no, but I did it most of the time. This may just get a little extra attention paid to the cleanliness of the room.

Don't be afraid to help if necessary. Glove up if necessary and watch procedures if possible. Sometimes an extra hand is needed and there are no staff members available. But, if it is something that would cause harm to you or the patient, don't do it.

Know medications. Know the home meds as well as any new meds given in the hospital and question if normal meds are changed and why. Ask what new medications are for. There was one time an IV was going to be hung when Bill hadn't had any IV meds and when I questioned the nurse it was discovered that it wasn't for him! She had gotten the patients confused. This does happen, so be aware of what your patient is on.

Be assertive if necessary. You know the patient the best even though some staff members, especially some doctors, won't like the input. Others will welcome it. If you have followed the blog earlier, you will remember me complaining about this many times and saying "but what do I know, I'm just a wife".

Grow a thick skin. The patient may take all of their frustrations and fears out on you. This can come from meds or fear/confusion. It could also stem from dementia. It's OK to call them out on it instead of just letting them get away with it. But, don't take it personally.

I wanted to put these things on a separate page, and I thought that the main page would show it as a separate tab, but it didn't. So, I'll have to do a little more work on that. But, this will work for now. I've got a couple of others in the works that people had asked about, or commented on as being good to know.

It's a beautiful October afternoon after a chilly morning. I broke down and turned the heat on since it was only 61 in the house this morning, but I'll probably turn it off tonight. I like sleeping in a cooler room. All for today. Hope the hints help!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

 I had planned on a short update, but this was not the one I planned.

Today was bill paying day and as usual on the first of the month I checked to see if I had gotten a VA benefit payment. And as usual, there was nothing from them. For some reason I decided to look at my VA account to see if I could find out why it was taking so long. So, I logged in and saw that I had two letters. Now it said that I had been sent these letters, but I had not gotten them, nor had I gotten an email that I had the letters.

The first letter just said that I was eligible for veteran preference when applying for a job. I'm not planning on applying for any, but good to know. The 2nd one said that I was not eligible for benefits because Bill was not a 100% disabled veteran! What! Wait a minute, yes he was, from March 2008! So, after I centered myself and paid the bills, I called the VA. 

I got a very nice woman who said that it showed where I had gotten the accrued benefit that was due Bill and that I had gotten the burial allowance, but it didn't show that any claim for benefits was filed, or at least, in the system! I told her that I had filed them in June and I wouldn't have gotten the Presidential Citation if I hadn't filed anything because that paperwork was included in the packet of forms. She told me that I could refile because she could tell from looking at his record that he was indeed 100% disabled, and she emailed me some new forms.

Now, these forms are very confusing to begin with and I didn't relish having to pull all of the records again. BUT, as I was venting to my sister, I thought to see if I had scanned them into my computer and sure enough there was a VA file. I decided to fill out the new forms and mark them "Second Submission" and also send in the original forms marked "Original". I also wrote a letter with it detailing everything. Don't worry, Mom, I didn't say what I really wanted to say, I was nice!

I saw that the email had come from the Benefit Processing Office in Wisconsin, which could explain the fiasco. The forms say on them to send them to the nearest Regional VA center. That is in Little Rock, and when Bill was applying for his benefits, he had to file them 4 times, certified mail each time. They would tell him they hadn't received them and to send them to so and so's attention. I remember him telling them that the signature on the return card was that very person! So, I figured it was just the incompetence of that office. I called the VA back and I was told to either mail it to the office in Wisconsin, or fax it to the number on the letter. So, tomorrow morning, my daughter is going to fax 20 pages, not including a cover page, for me!

The original forms were dated June 5, and most people probably wouldn't have let it go this long, but I know how slow the government can be. It took nearly 3 months to get the final payment for his military retirement, so I hadn't been too concerned until I saw that letter. 

I'm taking my car in tomorrow for new tires and an oil change. I know I put 30,000 miles on them driving back and forth to Memphis and they had checked them with an oil change. They said there was still good tread, but a couple of them had been plugged, so I figured it was time to do it, before winter came. Emily is going to meet me before she goes to work and bring me home. I hope it will be ready when she goes to lunch to come and get me to pick it up. 

I also have a roofer coming tomorrow. My room tear-off project still has not been completed. It was decided that the roof needed to be done before the siding went back on. So, he's coming tomorrow to see if I just need to repair that area or replace it completely. I will be glad to get it done. I was going to see if he would build a covering over the open area, but I think now I'm just going to get an awning to put up.

I did get the replacement presidential citation since the post office bent the other one. It is very nice.

I also received this EOB from Medicare recently. Luckily Tricare will pick this up.

The cats have both been under the weather and had to get shots last week. One of the carriers broke when I was getting ready to take them to the vet, so had to do it one at a time. They aren't itching like they were, but Mouse has been sneezing most of the week and Cat started sneezing this evening.

That's about it. I've been doing fine for the most part, keeping busy when I want to and sitting and knitting or reading when I don't want to do anything. Our weather has gotten cooler now and it has been a little nippy in the mornings. It was 47 this morning and only in the low 70s for the high. Feels a lot better than the 90s!

I'll do my other post later since this one has gotten so long. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

My Sweet Love,

I've been dreading this day. Today we would have been married 30 years. You tried so very hard to make it, but it just wasn't going to happen.

Most days I think I'm doing OK, but today is hard. I miss your touch, your smile, your kiss. I miss your voice. I wish I had a recording of your voice, but so far I can't think of anything that might have it except a few little videos.

I remember this day so vividly. I did housework all day and then relaxed with a glass of wine in a bubble bath. You did yard work. I can clearly see the packed little office at the church, with Joe and Geneva Parsons and "the other Beth". And I remember going home and fixing meatloaf for all of us, including Clyde.

I remember the phone call from your mother congratulating us. It was the first time I was referred to as Mrs. Haven.

I look at my rings and remember the anniversary trip to Gatlinburg, getting lost and eating at Ma Barker's Family Restaurant where we thought we were going to be on the menu! I remember our dinner cruise on the Mississippi and our trip to Biloxi. But I don't think anything could top the train to Houston and then getting stuck in a hurricane!

We always had so much fun together. I guess that's what happens when you start a relationship as friends first, before becoming lovers. I found the poem you wrote me, you know, the one I was supposed to destroy. It's faded almost too much to read, but the words are engraved on my heart. We went back to the same house in Hardy for a week-end get away.

I remember falling asleep in your arms every night. But, when did that stop? It seems like we just stopped doing it. I always felt so safe when I was in your arms, it always just felt like that was where I was supposed to be. 

I know you're watching over me and making sure I'm OK. There's been a couple of times I've looked up, expecting to see you in your seat watching TV. It's so quiet now in the house without the sound of your oxygen concentrator running all the time. That's when I know that you're gone. 

I'm going to try to get through the day without too many tears. So far I've managed, but I can tell they are just waiting to fall. I'll still be OK, but I hope this day goes fast. So, I'm going to try to stay as busy as I can to make it move along.

I love you so very much,


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Wow! It's been a month since I've posted anything here! And it's just a few days past 3 months since Bill's been gone. I hadn't really planned on posting anything, but this week has been an interesting one for me, about me, and I decided to share it.

Before getting into that, our brother-in-law Don was laid to rest on August 8th. Their son-in-law made a video and sent me the YouTube link. It was a very nice, very small service. I did find out some information from the veteran's cemetery. While burials have never stopped, the committal services have been on hold. I could take Bill's ashes to the cemetery and drop them off for burial, but since we held off on the military rites, I don't want to do that. The governor is the one with the power to start holding them again. Graveside services can be held at public cemeteries, with no more than 50 people, so I don't understand why they haven't opened the veteran ones. Maybe it's time for an email to his office, or to the state senator from our district. He's very big on military issues so maybe he can do something. This doesn't mean that I want to get rid of Bill, I'm perfectly content to have his ashes on the mantle. But, I think the family is needing the closure that the service would bring.

The rash I had develop went partially away and then came back, but not as bad. So, another round of Prednisone and now it is almost gone. But, I finished the prednisone on Wednesday so we'll see what happens in the next few days.

I had two doctor appointments this week. I had been somewhat dreading them since it would be the first time talking about Bill's passing to medical people, but they both went well. The first was the cardiologist and once she knew that he had passed away, she was not concerned about the weight gain (9 pounds!). We also blamed some of that on the Prednisone since all I've wanted to do is constantly eat! But, my blood pressure was totally normal. She still wants to see me in 6 months, but she's thinking that we can start lowering the dosages of the medications. She said I sounded good and she could feel good pulses, so overall she was pleased. 

The second one was the eye doctor and he made it easy to talk about Bill. He had seen the obituary in the paper so he actually brought it up, and then was done after a few words. I do need new glasses, but I haven't had new ones for 3 years. I have a small cataract that is not causing any problems so we're just going to watch that. He was concerned that my eyes don't want to focus on some days and could find no reason for that. It doesn't seem to matter if I've used a lot of electronics or not, some days I just wake up and it's like I don't have my glasses on at all. Then I will get a sharp pain in my head and my eyes will be fine. He does want to run a couple of tests later and I still will see him in 6 months. But, all in all it was also a good appointment, except for the $750 bill!

And now on to what I discovered about myself. I'm still kind of puzzled about part of it, but maybe I'll get it figured out. Everyone here knows that I like to drive, that those daily drives to and from Memphis were my "God" times and I could watch the sunrise or sunset. I didn't like the ones in pouring rain or fog, but for the most part they were enjoyable. The day I drove to Jonesboro to go to Hobby Lobby, I did not enjoy that at all. I felt somewhat disoriented the entire way there and back, I went straight to the store, got what I needed and came straight home. The same thing happened when I went to Dyersburg to Joann's. Felt disoriented, straight to the store, straight home. I even went out on a Sunday morning, just for a drive, got on the highway, knew almost immediately that it was not going to be relaxing and was back home within an hour. But, Wednesday when I headed to Memphis to the cardiologist, I felt totally at peace driving and thoroughly enjoyed the drive. It was cooler and cloudy and traffic was basically light. I decided on the way home that instead of stopping to eat, I would just go through a drive-through and get something easily managed in the car and then took the back way home to avoid a construction area. And enjoyed every mile of it!
That still has me somewhat puzzled, but I'm thinking on it. Maybe the other trips were too soon. I don't know.

I have realized that I feel more relaxed here at home and don't feel like I need to be doing things like cleaning out closets and such. I did straighten out the pantry and I'm going to repurpose it somewhat, but it's nothing that has to be done immediately. I've gotten so if I feel like doing something I do it, but if I don't, I don't.

A friend asked me the other night how I was doing and I thought about it before I answered her. It was in a message, so an immediate response wasn't actually necessary. But, I've come to the conclusion that part of the difference is that I'm not on "high alert" anymore. I'm not waiting for the next crisis to come, or keeping up with every little daily detail. Others have said that they were sure that I miss Bill and I do. But, remember, I also had that 6 months to get used to the idea of him not being here. The time I miss him most is during the day. I was almost always up before him in the mornings by a couple of hours, so my quiet mornings seem like they used to be. And, when I came home from the hospital in the evenings, it was just me and the cats, so that doesn't bother me. But, during the day, when he should be up and watching TV is when I miss him the most, especially if I have the TV on. If it's off it isn't as apparent to me. So, daytime is the worst, but it's not bad either.

I've also discovered something that is really strange to me. We almost always ate in front of the TV in the living room. Sometimes I would decided that Bill needed to move and sit in a better position, so we would eat in the dining room. Now, we don't have a "formal" dining room, but that is where the table is. There is a small breakfast table in the kitchen that was Bill's mothers and I asked her if I could have it when she was gone. It's white wicker, just for 2 and since my kitchen is green and white, it fits perfectly. We never used it because it was usually piled high with junk, but it's all cleaned off now. I decided that I was going to start eating in the kitchen, just mainly to start a new routine. And what I've discovered is that when I do that, I feel very lonely! I don't feel that way eating in front of the TV, maybe because I still did that when Bill was in the hospital. But, I thought that eating in the kitchen, something we didn't do, wouldn't bother me, but it does. As soon as I put my plate on the table and sit down, the thought goes through my head of another solitary dinner...alone. So, I still do it, but I'm eating back in front of the TV more. I asked Shirley, Bill's sister, if it bothered her to eat at the table where she and Don always ate and she said an immediate yes, so she is now eating in front of the TV! She said it doesn't bother her to sit in Don's chair, but she can't eat at the table. Again, the rules of widowhood are there are no rules!

Emily and I went out to dinner last night. The girls were with their fellas and Bryan was working security at the football game. The first place we were going was packed so we didn't think we would be able to get in. I suggested another place and she said that place was having a COVID breakout, so we went to one of the steak houses. We each had the flat iron steak and it was fantastic! But, we had a nice little girls night out. She went home to watch a movie and I came home to watch a terrible ballgame. When the score was 8-0 in the 3rd inning, I changed the channel.

This morning it was gray and foggy. The fog has mostly burned off now but it's still cloudy. We still haven't had any appreciable rain. The other side of town got lots of rain, we got more than we had been getting, but still only about enough to wet the road. We are supposed to get rain from the double hurricanes if the predictions are right, but now of course the farmers need to be in the fields. They have started picking corn this week and it won't be long before it's time to start defoliating the cotton. I'm not looking forward to that. A crop duster went down yesterday in a nearby field. The pilot was killed and it was a little scary for me until they released his name. A friend's son is a crop dusting pilot, so I'm sure they were uneasy too.

You are now caught up with my goings on. I haven't had much success with my plan for this blog, but at the same time I've kind of been scared to actually push the button. So, maybe on this gray day, I'll work on that. All for now, have a good week ahead, especially for all the kids going back to school. I know it's scary for them and their parents.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

It's with a heavy heart that I write this tonight. I received a call this afternoon from Bill's sister that her husband passed away this afternoon. He had been holding his own with COVID , but went into cardiac arrest this afternoon. They were able to bring him back once, but not a second time.

Shirley is holding it together. I feel so bad for her having to deal with another loss so soon after losing her brother. And I would really like to be packing a suitcase and heading to Florida to be with her, but I know that it isn't safe for me to do that. She understands that, but we need the sister time together.

Her daughter lives nearby, but all of Don's sons live in New England. Most of them have small children, with 1 just born in March. So, they aren't able to come now either. Don's sister lives in Tennessee and, because of age and the virus, also isn't able to travel. But, my heart is with her.

We did decide that Don is at the organ, Bill has his trumpet, and Shirley and Don's daughter Kim has her violin and Bill's mother is getting quite a concert tonight. We were both going to have a glass of wine and toast Don, and I know I did it.

So, this is short, the news is not good, but that's all I have right now. I've been doing well. I still can't schedule Bill's burial, so he's hanging out on the mantle! The girls, McKenna and Kiyann, have decided that we don't have to take his urn out to eat on Monday morning for their birthday breakfast. We were going to have a picnic at the cemetery, but since we can't do that, we're going to do what we normally did. Kayden is going to come this time. He has missed his last 2 breakfasts because Bill was in the hospital. Brianna hasn't had one in a couple of years either and she'll be working Monday.

Keep us in your prayers, especially Shirley. She's really kind of lost right now...and I know the feeling.