Its So Sad

Lets go backwards to go forwards. I have anxiety. On my medical chart it says that I have GAD. I have suffered through some really hard times with my anxiety, and I have made it out on the other side. This journey for others may be very different from mine and that’s totally fine. Because not everyone is me, thank goodness. But, what I must say, regardless of your mental health journey, help should always be available. Unfortunately it is not.

Recently I spoke so someone that was telling me about their mental health journey. She was telling me that she recently got a new doctor and she spoke with the new doctor about her mental health struggles with anxiety. He told her that he doesn’t like to prescribe meds to patients and prefers them to seek therapy. I understand that there is a fine line many doctors are walking with prescribing meds to people in fear of them being labeled “over prescribes” meds to people, but some people need them. Some people may need something to ward off massive panic attacks. So for a doctor to just disregard meds as a possible treatment is not ok. Secondly, when this person went to contact this therapist, the therapist said that she couldn’t get to her until April. April? April? Four months from now. Ummmmm… How is this adequate mental health care? Now, certain insurances only allow certain therapists to be used, but to think that this is one of the only people and they can get to you until April? That’s ridiculous.

There is supposed to be this huge mental health movement. Taking care of your mental health and seeking care for your mental health is you feel that there is something gone wrong. And I think that is great that we are recognizing this and not seeing it as some stigma that we cant discuss. What is the problem is that you can’t actually get the help. We need to make it so that regardless of insurance, people can get access the therapy within 30 days. It should also be that family doctors have more learning and training in med school about mental health and treatments and how they can be advocates for their patients. No one should have to be told “sorry I won’t give you meds and a therapist isn’t available until April”. That isn’t helping anyone.

The bottom line is don’t give up. Keep fighting for the right to adequate care even in this severely capitalist country where the value of a person is not more than the value of a buck. Keep seeking the care you deserve. Because, you are worth it.

Its a Bit Deep and Heavy

This is a double headed blog post. Its heavy and it is deep. Its so sad and concerning, yet it is so important to be said.

To begin, my uncle passed away this weekend. He was not in the best of health. He had a heart issue, was overweight, didn’t eat well. Generally he did not take the best care of himself. But the one thing that hits hard is that he refused a Covid vaccine. He said that Covid was a hoax. It isn’t real. He refused the vaccine, masks, social distancing. Didn’t do all the things that he could have to prevent Covid. He got Covid and now he is dead. Granted, not getting vaccinated was his choice. He had a right to decide what was “best” for himself, but he didn’t think about how his actions of not getting a vaccine would affect others around him, short or long term. The consequences of spreading the virus to others who were vulnerable, those who had preexisting conditions. The emotional hurt, frustration or pain of others. We had to break the news to my grandmother in the nursing home and that was one of the most heart wrenching things I have ever seen. There is a chance that maybe, just maybe, had he gotten the vaccine, wore the masks, and realized that this isn’t some joke, he may have bought himself a little more time and would have died peacefully in his sleep later down the road instead of being hooked up to countless machines in a medically induced coma completely void of the environment around him.

I believe in science. I believe in medicine. I believe that vaccines work. I mean how else would small pox have been eradicated? I believe that the Covid vaccines are the best way to stop severe illness from happening and protecting those more vulnerable. I implore anyone who has not gotten the vaccine, please do not let your ego, pride, or the endless misinformation stop you from getting one.

The second iceberg is this; I was inside the nursing home yesterday, in the wing my grandmother is in. It was 10am and she was supposed to have breakfast at 8, so her food was 2 hours late. She filled out her meal card for breakfast which included toast with jam, bacon and a fruit cup. She got plain toast (no butter) and a small glass of juice and that was it. Her water cup was empty, no one had filled it as of noon when we left. There was only one CNA that I saw in her wing the whole time and one dietary aide. That’s it. One CNA for about 24 residents. How in the world is that legal? And they think these residents are getting quality care? And for the almost $10,000 a month in room and board you think that they could at least give her butter with her toast.

So with that, please make sure if you have a loved one in a nursing home, go see them. Bring them goodies and gadgets. Make sure that they have a warm blanket or something cozy. If not, think of making a donation to a home to give some of the residents a little cheer this holiday. I will continue to yell at the top of my lungs until someone at the state level listens to what I am telling them about the care in the nursing homes, but in the meantime, I might try to spread some holiday cheer for those who need it a little more than me.

Let’s just say that we need to make better choices. Think about others more than ourselves. Bring back kindness. I know it is out there, we just have to make it happen.

Michigan Falling Short in Long Term Care

It is no surprise that the way our society functions is failing million Americans. I just read an article on NPR that is something that I think most Americans can relate to in some way shape or form. But this is not the only issue we are having. Medical care (insurance), child care, education, maternity/paternity leave that is paid, paying for college, or just paying for groceries are some of the everyday issues that American grapple with every day. The American wage is not allowing people to save for their kids, retirement, heck even a vacation. We also don’t have the means to keep some of the elderly in their homes because the cost of in home care is so high, you have to be a millionaire to afford it. One topic that I think is left out over and over again is adult care, specifically care of the elderly or vulnerable in the nursing homes.

I can only speak specifically for Michigan because that is the state in which I reside, not to mention spent many hours reading Michigan laws, rules and regulations about nursing homes. I understand that our country is divided in so many ways right now and we are going through some sort of “wake up”, and for some things that is beneficial to what we need, but what about our elderly?

My grandmother who is immunocompromised asked for 3 weeks for a booster shot. No one would give her an answer as to when she could get one. She finally got one on Veteran’s Day, yet it may have been too late as she was exposed to a CNA that was covid positive on the day prior.

People are pushing their call lights to have assistance, and no one is coming. Why? Because there are not enough CNAs to work. One aide may have up to 20+ people a day to take care of, and this is considered quality care when the room and board bill ALONE surpasses $8,000 a month. Um, I think not. Sounds just like another get rich scheme instead of remembering that these residents that need care are actually PEOPLE and they matter too.

The food that residents get in a nursing home is worse than what prisoners get at MDOC. The food is cold, barely palatable. Once my grandmother was given a head of broccoli for dinner and that was all. One time it was cold scrambled eggs for breakfast. Don’t even get me started on the diet she is supposed to follow because of her medical conditions; after many conversations with the administrator and dietary nothing changes. Still food shes not supposed to have and cold food that cannot be eaten followed by unreasonable excuses one after another or in some situations, ignoring me (the advocate) all together.

You may say that I should go ahead and report these nursing homes. I have reported 4 nursing homes. It took 3 months before any were investigated. Do they know what can happen in three months? Maybe they do, but just don’t care. For example, one nursing home I reported was cited for not following state guidelines. While I was reading my report, I was able to see other reports in which the same nursing home had been cited. One report was a nurse in the nursing home was under investigation for 2 deaths happening under her watch in suspicious circumstances. And guess what? While the investigation was happening they allowed her to continue to work there even though there was a possibility that her actions or lack of could have been causing residents deaths. Another nursing home I reported was cited because they withheld a schizophrenics medications from him for over a month. A month. Why? Because they said it cost too much. If you ever have a moment and want to know what is happening in these facilities look up some state reports.

I have written to my senator, my local ombudsman, my governor. and have reported numerous nursing homes. They get a slap on the wrist. The nursing homes come up with a plausible plan that makes the state happy but never follow through and are not truly held accountable for what goes on inside those walls.

I don’t know why I am writing this. Maybe to vent. Maybe to get people to be aware. Maybe to get someone who has more power and authority to listen and DO something for these people. I’m just tired of it. These people have spent their lives doing great things, working hard paying their taxes, doing community service and going on great adventures. Maybe gardening, rescuing animals, making care bags for the homeless. And this is how its allowed to be repaid? Cold food, ignoring call lights, all for sucking all the money they can from their insurance to only get sub par care? No. Absolutely not. We can do better. We need to do better.

Accountability

This word is so triggering. Accountability. Its a loaded word but it is so incredibly important.

I have been arguing and disagreeing with my daughter’s school. I ask questions and they don’t answer. If they do answer, the answer has NOTHING to do with what I asked. When this is brought to their attention, I am told that said person probably didn’t know the answer. Cool, cool. THEN SAY THAT. Do not answer my questions with bullshit answers that I can see straight through. It seems as honesty is linked with accountability. Intertwined.

I am arguing with the nursing home again. Its getting to the point where I need someone to be accountable for what is going on with my grandmother. They say that they will look into it. Somethings they do, some things they don’t. Lately its been a lot of withholding information when she asks questions, dietary not doing what I asked with her meals. Shes becoming sad and depressed. Shes weak and tired. Yet no one seems to want to be accountable. Then I wonder, how the hell do you people sleep at night knowing that is what you are doing to these elderly residents?

Being accountable has so many layers. If you fuck up, acknowledge it. Say you messed up. Fix your shit and move on. You have to really try to be the best version of yourself everyday and take that accountability in to the world. If you see someone being racist, mean, rude, whatever, say something. Make those people be accountable for the wrongs they are doing.

Guys, we have to be better. We can be better. But it starts with being accountable for your own bullshit. I want to get out of this mess so desperately, but I don’t know if we will if some things don’t start changing.

Be a good human. Be accountable.

I’m A Little Bold

I went looking for new glasses yesterday and the eye tech gave me a pair of light pink glasses. I told him that I was not a pink girl. Then he gave me some teal frames and he commented that they were bold. And I agreed; I am a bold kind of girl.

I feel like I am finally making headway with some of these nursing home issues. My grandmother’s health is still all over the place and is now residing in her 5th nursing home. This one is a huge upgrade compared to the last four. The price tag definitely reflects that. But the staff are kind, she is being fed (sort of), and they communicate with us (sometimes) so I think we are winning so far.

I wanted to write this specific blog to help some of you out who may not be familiar with elder care or long tern nursing home care. Nursing homes are to follow state rules and guidelines, so please check with your state laws for more details. (I am in Michigan.)

Document: If you can, email people that are caring for your loved one (LO). I reported a home and the investigator for the state was in contact with me throughout the process. The nursing home claimed that they had no record of my grievances with them. Luckily, I had saved all of my emails sent to them and gave those emails to the investigator. She was able to use my emails as evidence that the home was not in compliance and they were given multiple citations.

Be annoying: Call and email. If you are unsure about something, call for clarification. Get on their social Media accounts. You are the advocate for your loved one. If you have to call 10 times to get an answer, call. They will get the message that you are serious.

Write to your congressional members: If you know that there is something going on in the nursing home that is cause for concern, and it is something that is a common factor in many nursing homes, write to your congressional members. Write to senators. Write to the Attorney General. Write to all of the people that you can to make them aware. I am in contact with one of my senators and his office stays in touch with me. One of the issues that I brought up was the time between a report being filed to the state and then the state investigating the report. Most times it task 90 days for them to start looking into it. That is completely unacceptable. My senator is now working on how to create a time frame that investigators need to follow to check on these reports.

Ask a lot of questions: Ask ask ask ask ask!!!!! Ask all of the questions and find out all that you can. Also, information in nursing homes is to be available to the public at all times. There is a list of citations that the nursing homes are given my the state and those are to be available for people to read. If the nursing home cannot give you this information upon asking, they are in violation and can be given a citation for that as well.

Look for the info not freely given: I found that there is a lot of hidden information. Like contacting your local ombudsman in the need of help Sometimes they can settle issues before it becomes an bigger issue, like with a resident feeling like their needs or wishes are not being met. It was also explained to me that there are people in the state agency that are responsible for judging how severe a complaint is and that determines when the state investigators can look into it. If the complaint is not “severe enough”, it will take longer for them to look into the complaint.

The elderly need better care. For whatever reason your family member needs to be in a care facility, they should always be treated with respect and dignity. They should feel safe and be comfortable. Be fed and watered. All basic needs should be met. But most of these facilities are failing these people.

I would love for my grandmother to be home and have in home care, but she doesn’t qualify. Insurance won’t pay. We would have to pay out of pocket. 24 hour care would cost $648 a day. We have a tiny support system for her. We don’t have a choice but to have her in a facility until she has the ability to care for herself independently.

I just thought I would share what I have learned about all of this. And to tell you that even when it is hard, keep fighting.

Vaccine Where?

My husband is considered an essential worker. He cannot get a covid vaccine unless his employer contacts a vaccine clinic that will allow him to get vaccinated. That phone call was made 11 days ago and we have heard nothing about him getting his appointment for his vaccination.

My doctor called me on Friday for some lab results. She asked me if I wanted a Covid vaccine. I said yes. I am not an essential worker and I have no health issues. (Mind you as of April 5th, Michigan was open to all people 16 and over to get vaccines.). I have an appointment this week. Monday I called the office to see if I could get my husband an appointment and they said no. That unless he has medical issues he cant have one. So I questioned the receptionist and asked her how come I was able to get one. She says I was lucky.

Here is what it coming down to. Michigan opened it up to all people over 16 to get a vaccine if they wanted one. The issue is they are not allowing those people to get them, only in designated clinics. So, one clinic will allow anyone to have a vaccine and the one 2 blocks down the road will not. So explain to my why we bothered opening the vaccines up to all people if it will be weeks or months before they will be allowed to get them because we are still vaccinating those who are more vulnerable? Just keep the vaccine eligibility closed until you can actually vaccinate those people. Because all it does is piss a bunch of people off.

As of this morning it seems as though all but three places in our area locally are vaccinating people over 16 with no medical conditions. The wait lists for these clinics are huge. And last week my county declared a state of emergency for covid cases. So, where are all the vaccines?? I’m going to stay hopeful that we will get a call for him sooner rather than later, and this applies for many of my family members as well. I also hope that others that are looking for vaccines also have good luck at getting their speedily without a hitch. We have got to get this pandemic under control, asap.

Is That How We Treat Our Elderly?

My grandmother is 85. She has her mind. On some days her body is failing her. Sometimes it works. She has been in and out of the hospital and 3 different nursing homes in the last 6 months all related to complications of medical issues that generally come with older age.

It’s been hard though. With the pandemic and the savagery that has torn through nursing homes, it hasn’t been easy to get in to see her. You can only call or peer through a window. It’s not just the same. She is vaccinated and for that I am happy.

The problem that has come up, something that I have never truly realized, is that nursing homes have gone somewhat rogue since they went into lockdown. It seems as though they are not following the rules and laws as they should, making sure that the residents are properly cared for. That they are treated with kindness and respected as individuals. Because families are not able to go in and visit, these nursing homes are getting way with things they shouldn’t.

I have talked with directors of nursing, charge nurses, and administrators to know avail. I have also been completely ignored. It’s been impossible at times to talk with my grandmother. The staff doesn’t communicate about her care. They don’t even read her chart to find out what she needs for medical or diet.

There has also been the awful side of it. Things I would rather not type. If any of you have dealt with nursing homes, you understand the ugly side. Bottom line is I got tired of no one listening. So I started speaking up. I’m tired of being quiet. I have been emailing senators. I have been putting things on social media. It’s disgusting how our elderly are treated.

Our elderly population regardless of their physical or mental condition should be treated with respect, kindness and compassion at the time of need whether in nursing homes, assisted living or in-home care. They have the right to be taken care of properly in a medical aspect, given hot, nutritious meals and allowed proper personal hygiene. Some of the facilities are asking for $5,000 a month and they give a wedge of cabbage for dinner. Or give you cold pancakes for breakfast. Sometimes they say mean, cruel or rude things to the elderly. They don’t give them water. The don’t toilet them in a proper and timely matter. They won’t give you pain management and they wont let you call your family for days on end. Is this really how we treat our elderly?

Most elderly that I know have worked and paid taxes. They have raised a family and paid their dues to the community. They have been law abiding citizen doing their due diligence in voting and stopping for school buses. And this is how we treat them. When they are tired and frail. When they feel hopeless and insecure. When they feel lonely and scared. This is how we treat them.

Nursing homes all over the country, not just in my home of Michigan, need to be more accountable. They need to work harder. States need to have agencies do more surprise check ins. They need to look at how residents are treated and have those conversations. Laws need to change about elder care. The elderly need to be given a list of their rights and ask questions if they don’t understand without fear of disapproval or dismissal from the staff. The list goes on and on. Something needs to be done. Our elder communities deserve better. They deserve more. A. Lot. More.

What Would You Do??

What would you do? There is a woman named Mary. Mary was physically assaulted by another woman named Jane. Mary pressed charges on Jane but Jane got a slap on the hand and cited with a misdemeanor. Mary has found out that Jane is an elementary teacher that is set to teach her child in the next school year. Mary does not want contact with Jane and does not want her child having contact with Jane. The issue was brought up to the school, principals and superintendent. They are refusing to do anything or help with the situation initially saying the assault was made up until a police report was brought forth. They are supporting Jane and saying she has gone through a lot but has made changes in her life. They said the only thing they can do is maybe stick Mary’s child in the office with the sick kids during the time she would be in Jane’s class. Make Mary’s child do computer work for an hour. Otherwise she HAS to be in Jane’s class because there is no where else for Mary’s child to go in a school of +500. So, should Mary fight for her child to attend her home school or find another school to go to? What should Mary do?

Being Thin???

When people notice that you have lost weight, the reaction is with happiness and joy. When you gain weight and people notice, they react with disappointment and disgust. Why are people reacting at all? Well, because what social media and society tells us is acceptable.

Let me tell you a tale.

I have anxiety. I think that I have mentioned it before. If not, well, I have anxiety. Its not the run of the mill anxiety, its the kind where my doctor has gotten involved because I have reached out for help. It can be the all consuming dreadful anxiety. But, over the years and doing research and learning more about who I am and what sets my anxiety off, I have been able to get it under control. To an extent.

When my life becomes very crazy and the anxiety amps up, I tend to just not eat. Some people eat, I am a non eater.

When my daughter went to school last year, I decided to take a part time job for 20 hours a week to give me something to do. Well naturally because I was working, I was snacking less and having lighter meals and lost a bit of weight. Nothing to fret over, just my pants were a bit lose. But people noticed. They would say things like, “You lost weight, good for you.” Well, it wasn’t like I was doing it on purpose. But it made me wonder, were they grossed out by me before? I had some curves but its not like I was grotesque.

After the pandemic hit, work was shut down for two months. I started eating again, and for a while it made me ill. Like every time I ate food to that fullness threshold, I felt sick. My body just wasn’t used to eating food, like real meals. The two months that we spent at home, I did eat more but smaller portions and my weight came back a smidge, but whose didn’t? Not like I was worried about it.

When the lockdown was over, and I went back to work, things escalated. I found myself not eating all day because my anxiety was through the roof. It was nothing but chaos and panic, rushing and running all day. I felt like there was too much pressure on me, on the group as a whole. I was given duties that I felt that were too much responsibility. I started seeing passive aggressive behavior coming at me (and someone with PTSD issues, this is not good) and I started to shut down. There were times that I was headed off to eat something but was stopped because someone told me I had to do something before I could eat. So I just didn’t. My weight was dropping and dropping and dropping. Just putting food in my mouth made me sick. Finally I had had enough. I decided to put my two weeks notice in.

I haven’t worked in almost 4 months. I haven’t gained all of the weight back but at least a good ten pounds. It took me at least two months to get my body to regulate to eating food again. Now that I am home with my daughter doing homeschool, we make time for meals and snacks. We eat when we are hungry. Lunch and breakfast are a priority every day, even if it is something light.

You may be wondering what the hell is the point. My point is that society comes up with these standards about how you are supposed to look and how much you should weigh. But at what expense? Mine was making me spiral down a horrible tunnel of anxiety and panic all for a job that I was just doing to kill time. Granted I liked the way I looked, and I liked the compliments and how clothes looked on me, but was that enough to keep spiraling down a dark path? No, not for me. But for some people it is.

People may have weight fluctuations for positive or negative reasons. Like me, its negative, its my anxiety. I don’t want the compliments of how my body looks because I have a mental health issue that is shutting me off of food. Its not a good compliment because of the reason behind it. SO, just don’t comment on anyone’s weight for any reason, ever. Weather they have lost a bunch or gained a bunch, just don’t say anything because you may be bringing up demons that that person could be in the trenches fighting. Instead, tell them how you like their eye shadow or ask them about a new book they have read. There is more to a person than their size and weight.

The Garden Diaries

How many of you had a garden this year?  First year?  Twentieth year?  I have a small raised bed garden and it puts out a lot of amazing produce.  It is my 3rd year, and I feel confident with my growing abilities.  So much so that my husband thinks that we should expand it for next year.  (Not sure how I feel about that.)

So there have been things that I have done the last couple years that have helped me learn what I am doing with all the produce I grow as well as where I want it to take me in the future.

I love the tomatoes I grow.  I have experimented with tomatoes, and I have learned that Sweet 100s and Purple Cherokees grow amazingly, and I get an abundance of them.  But that is a problem.  I can’t eat them fast enough or give them away fast enough.  So, I think the best thing to do for the next growing season is to grow the types that are best for canning.  I have never canned but have watched videos and read article on how to can.  I think the best way to preserve my awesome tomatoes is canning them mainly into pasta sauce.  Maybe soup.  I may not get a lot, but I can also compensate with getting extra from the farmers market if I need to.  I am thinking next year I am going to go with a Roma tomato or something similar and then the sweet 100s I will make into pizza sauce because its delicious.

I need to calm down on the zucchini.  This year I planted 4 plants and I have 13 bags of frozen zucchini in the freezer.  Now I am not crying about it because I see lots of muffins in the winter, but it is a bit overwhelming.  In 2021, I think I will just do 2 plants and that should be plenty.

This year was the first year that I planted lettuce.  I also planted some collards.  Man oh man, it was amazing!!!!  I loved it.  I loved being able go out and get lettuce for salads or BLTs.  I had Buttercrunch lettuce and another, but the name evades me.  My collards were excellent too.  Since I had never grown lettuce before, I didn’t plant a lot but 2021 will be the year of the lettuce.  I want more of it in my life because it was so great.

I did not plant squash this year and I regret it.  My first year I planted 2 buttnernut squash plants and it gave me 7 large squash.  It got me through half of the winter.  Last year everyone’s gardens sucked because of the rain and we all ended up with blight covered plants, thus I yielded 2 squash.  This year, I didn’t even plant any but got one by accident because it was labeled a cucumber but obviously was not.  Oye!  So, this upcoming year I plan on doing a butternut and spaghetti squash and we will call it good.

Radishes.  I can grow them but they are puny.  (Hold on to this thought.)

Cucumbers…cucumbers are erratic.  Sometimes they produce like wild and others not so much.  I do know that I like the small pickle cucumbers more than the standard cucumbers.  I usually plant 2 or three and this next year will be about the same.

On a side, I have also had an issues with critters this year that I have never had an issue with before.  For the most part my garden is fenced in so most critters can’t get in.  I suspect some of them with their little “hands” somehow make it in as I have found some half eaten tomatoes outside.

There are a few plants in the hot seat.  Eggplant is on the list.  Spinach.  Radishes. Potatoes. Onions and Garlic.  I say these because my husband has come up with a thought about expanding the garden and making another bed for some of these plants so we can grow more of our own food.  Now I have never grown any of these(except radishes and they seem to be tiny) so I am not sure how well it would work out for me, but I would be willing to give it a go.  No harm in trying.  Also, we have been getting our meat from a nearby farm and I am hoping that they could also supply me with some manure that I can turn into the soil before the freeze and in the spring.  I feel like some of my plants are struggling with success because the soil needs some tending to.  Which is all par for the course.

So there is the garden rundown of 2020. Hoping the garden of 2021 is epic and provides just as well, if not better, than this year.