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All right, I get it.

I say as I extract this two by four embedded in my forehead.

Let me back up a minute.

Last week sometime I got this email from my local independent bookstore, the one that people travel from all over the sprawling Phoenix metropolitan area to get to, the one that’s five minutes up the road from me, that one.  It was their weekly promotion of who’s coming to do book signings and other tidbits going on at the store.

I saw this announcement right here:

7PM WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21
Mark Epstein: The Trauma of Everyday Life
Mark Epstein

Psychiatrist Mark Epstein, author of Thoughts Without a Thinker, visits with his new book The Trauma of Everyday Life.

Trauma, Epstein says, does not just happen to a few unlucky people; it is the bedrock of our psychology. Here, he explains how trauma can be transformational and used for the mind’s own development. When we regard trauma with this perspective — understanding that suffering is universal and without logic — our pain connects us to the world on a more fundamental level. The way out of pain is through it. Epstein’s discovery begins in his analysis of the life of Buddha, looking to how the death of his mother informed his path and teachings. Epstein also looks to the traumas, large and small, that he, his patients, and many of the fellow sojourners and teachers he encounters as a psychiatrist and Buddhist share. He argues that trauma, if it doesn’t destroy us, wakes us up to both the mind’s capacity and to the suffering of others.

I was immediately drawn to this event.  I deal with trauma in my practice, I’ve experienced trauma throughout my life, I read books about trauma, I treat Vets with PTSD and I live with my brother who’s life has been and continues to be trauma filled.

I wrote the date down in my appointment book and planned to go.

The next day or so I checked my mailbox and there was an envelope from my Dad.  I wasn’t expecting anything so was surprised and intrigued about what he might be sending me.

When I opened the envelope, there was a newspaper clipping folded up inside.

This:

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An article written by the same author about his book.

Ok, I may be naive in some respects but I know signs when I see them.   Now what I do with them is another story but I do notice these things.

These last couple of days have been rough.  Alfonse has been going through a rough patch.  Thankfully he was placed in a new more intensive program through the mental health service he’s plugged in to.  We didn’t ask for it, his team just placed him on it because of the recent hospitalizations.  What I don’t appreciate, not one bit at all, though is this:  he can’t get in to it for two weeks.  So they deem him acute enough to require much more intensive intervention and monitoring (which will be great) but leave him with zero services, in limbo, directly from the hospital for two weeks.  Talk about a crack the size of the Grand Canyon.

So we’ve been navigating this time together.  The medication for his psychotic symptoms is still working but the depression has started lifting it’s dark head again.  We’ve been managing as best we can and need to just hang on until next Wednesday when the new program kicks in. We’ve both called and asked what may be available in the interim (nothing).  I came home two nights ago to find him on the phone talking to a volunteer on a hotline.  We both laughed later when he told me she was telling him more about HER problems than listening to his.

He’s been doing a lot of laying on the couch talking about how depressed he feels.  I do a lot of calling people and trying to get him moving in to something, anything while worrying.  While neglecting anything about myself.

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I will go with him to the appointment next Wed. and tell the Team exactly what these two weeks, in this vulnerable moment, has been like for us.  Scary, draining, confusing to name just a few adjectives.  How about pointless and irresponsible?

Depression of course isn’t contagious but this has had an impact on me too.  How could it not?  I’m with him nearly 24/7.  I worry.  I try to keep him distracted. But mental illness is a formidable enemy and one that will remind you who is boss when it wants to dominate.  We’re hanging in there.  But honestly, it’s not a picnic right now.  It feels like if it’s not one thing, it’s another.  We get about five minutes of “stability” and back on the roller coaster.  It’s exhausting.

One of my clients came in yesterday venting about how his daughter had relapsed this week.  He and his wife are very involved with NA and he talked to me at length about how they’ve had to learn to put their own oxygen masks on and how those weekly meetings keep them focused and sane.  The timing of this sharing was not lost on me.  I got even more semi depressed acknowledging how, once again, I’ve put my focus on managing John’s life and so little investment in to my own.  It’s an easy trap to fall in to.  My client was a clear mirror to look in to.

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I came home from work with plans to attend this book event but was sincerely exhausted.  I really wanted to put on my jammies, work on my craft project and watch some of my Scandal marathon I’m embroiled in.

But those breadcrumbs kept gnawing at me.  What will I miss if I don’t go?  Just how lazy can I be?  I need to find my own carved out life in the middle of all of this no matter how tired I am.

I decided to go and to tell John I wouldn’t be home for the evening, that he was on his own for awhile.  He was ok with it and seemed better.  He figured out his own dinner plans and was fine.  Evenings are generally better for him.

As I drove to the bookstore I had the distinct thought that I would see or meet someone there who I was supposed to run in to.  To keep my eyes open.  That maybe it wasn’t just about the author or the book but that I was being put in this place in this time for a reason.

So I kept my eyes open.

The parking lot was packed.  I got one of the very last seats available fifteen minutes before the event was to start.  Good for them/him for getting such a good turnout.

The bookstore owner kept coming out and asking if there were any open seats, for people to raise their hands.  People were pouring in.

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I noticed an empty seat in front of me and the woman clearly saving it.  I hoped the person she was saving it for showed up as those seats were at a premium and she fiercely guarded it with her purse.

Just moments before the author came out, I saw the wavy haired woman ahead turn around with a face of relief and recognition as clearly her friend had arrived.  Oddly I exhaled a little deeper right along with her like somehow I was part of that scene.  The waiting game.

As her friend climbed through the packed row to her seat I instantly felt a mix of embarrassment and comfort and my own spark of recognition.

The woman who took that seat right in front of me in that packed house was my Psychologist who I’d been seeing for counseling all last Fall.  The one I’d just kind of stopped going to when my life got crazy attending the Travis Alexander trial and just had no time for anything anymore.

At least that’s my identifiable excuse.

I wanted and didn’t want her to recognize me.  I wondered if she felt abandoned because I cancelled my last scheduled appointment and then just never scheduled again.  I wondered if she had a bad feeling about me for that in any way.  I wondered if it would be awkward if she saw me.

Yet I sat through that entire talk about trauma, the whole reason I went to see her as she specializes in a form of therapy that’s all about trauma that I’d specifically sought out, right behind her realizing “oh that’s who I was supposed to see here”.

Duh.

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At the end of the talk, I folded up my chair and put it to the side as they instructed us and could have just left.  But I saw my dear Psychologist standing there and approached her, deciding this was my moment of Truth.

Know what?  She didn’t recognize me.  My hair is different now and I’ve packed on some pounds or maybe it’s just that my own spark is so dim at the moment, she just couldn’t see me.  I had to tell her who I was.  Now I saw this woman weekly all last Fall and it’s only been a few months but I guess I’m just not myself right now.  I get it.

She told me she’d been wondering about me.  I told her how the breadcrumbs had been laid down for me to get there, how I had a feeling I was going to see or meet someone there, how she sat right in front of me.

How I was calling in the morning to make an appointment.

Duh.

She hugged me and I got tears and I knew it’s time.  Time for me to dig deep in to myself again.  Time for me to take my finger off the pause button of what we started last Fall.

It’s time for me to have my own life.

In that spirit, I woke up this morning also knowing something else.

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I’m going up to Sedona as we’d planned, but by myself, for the next two days.

John had decided yesterday that he didn’t feel like taking a road trip, that it would be too stressful. So I shelved the whole idea.

I’ve been helping him non stop since he got out of the hospital.  Setting him up on his Ipad and the internet (Facebook, Meetup, recipes etc–I have taken that horse straight to many watering holes), taking him out places, making sure he has daily plans, calling people on his behalf most of my mornings, including him in most everything I do, structuring my life, once again, around my house becoming a version of a Psychiatric facility.

I need a break.  He will be fine.  He has people to call and he can call me as I’m just up the road.  I have to remind myself that he lived on his own for 15 years before coming out here.  Through all of his ups and downs.  Hovering over him every single moment of every single day is strangling me now.

He has his plan for today and for tomorrow and will get by.

I have my plan.  I just need to get on the road, by myself, and clear my head.  And read my new book I bought at the bookstore last night.  Ashley Judd’s memoir.

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A beautiful, strong, creative, talented, capable woman who’s not had it easy in life.  And who decided to bravely write about it.  I started it last night.

As Dr. Epstein said last night in his talk “sometimes the best way to start resolving trauma is to find ways to not feel so alone in it” (I’m paraphrasing but that’s what he said essentially).

Ashley, it’s you and me and some red rocks for a couple of days.

Alfonse will be fine.

Now excuse me, I need to make a call and get myself an appointment for next week.

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sneak peek

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I never really feel as good as when I’m immersed in a creative project.

I remember an OT at the Psych Unit describing her role and she said something like “a Psychiatrist will tell you you aren’t doing anything because you’re depressed.  An OT will tell you you’re depressed because you’re not doing anything”.

That always stuck in my mind.  When I’ve been bummed out or going through a break up or just going through a down patch, starting a new creative project seems to pull me right out of it (NOT saying this is a remedy for anyone suffering severe depression, I’m just talking about life’s ups and downs).

It ignites that right brain and you lose time and I find myself constantly thinking about my project, excited about all it’s phases.  I’m always kind of sad when it’s completed.

I’m not telling you what right now but here is a sneak peek in to my current project that I spent a few hours on yesterday.  I still have kind of a long way to go but it will be worth it.  It’s so damn hot in Arizona right now that finding something to do inside is critical.

I painted over 200 of these suckers (some are upside down here) and have about 100 more to go.  Stay tuned. 🙂

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It’s so wonderful waking up on a Saturday with no real plans but a sense of optimism and hope, just bolstered by hearing my brother say first thing “No voices.”.

We are truly living in a miracle right now and soaking up every second of it.

I’ve been wanting to go back to the beginning, when John first moved here just over a year ago, for some time now. But I just wasn’t ready to write about it as these last few weeks have just been a hard patch and I couldn’t find it in me to dive back in to that time.

But today’s the day to tell the tale…another miraculous story that has shined down in our lives and I look to double our inspiration, remembering.

The Fall of 2011 and Spring of 2012 were filled with rough patches for my dear brother. He’d lost a chunk of his services back in Illinois due to stupid cuts so was left kind of dangling or flat out falling in space on the bottom side of a crack. In the past I’d researched services here in AZ and found we were ranked something like 48th in the nation for mental health (great!) so didn’t even consider moving him out here at that stage. He suffered with those changes, isolating, being unmonitored. It breaks my heart now thinking of that bleak time in his life.

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A new behavior erupted after he got angry about his medication and stopped taking it. His access to his Dr. was limited and he felt his Dr. wasn’t listening to him anyway (not atypical I’ve found) so he took the situation in to his own tenuous hands and it was plain and simple, a disaster. The second time he disappeared was in the Fall while I was with my Dad at our Maine vacation cottage. No one had heard from him or seen him in days. My Dad had someone check and his car was gone. This had already happened a few weeks earlier and once John surfaced and came back home, he claimed he just went on a “road trip”.

This time was different though. He was really gone.

Ultimately Missing Person police reports were filed.

Finally, about two weeks later, after that period of sheer hell and fear, John was found wandering down a country road in rural Ohio. He’d abandoned his car and was walking with his backpack, completely consumed with delusions and hallucinations. He was taken to a nearby motel and his car was towed as it had broken down in some way.

He’d met with a woman somehow at the car repair shop who truly grew her wings and flew to his rescue. Something apparently didn’t feel right to her so she went to track him down and found John sitting in front of a Walmart, alone on a bench, hallucinating. The police had taken him to a motel and he’d checked in but become extremely paranoid thinking the room was bugged so walked out on foot and landed at that Walmart. All of this happened before we were notified about anything.

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That angel of a woman, drove my dear brother to the hospital where he was immediately admitted. There was eventually a court ordered hospitalization and he spent about two months in that hospital in southern Ohio. My father of course went to stay there for a few weeks and I’ll never forget his describing John’s physical appearance with a shaking tearful voice. He’d been living out of his car for weeks eating fast food and driving…just driving. He believed our deceased Grandfather had taken possession of the wheel and was driving him all around the Midwest.

Finally John was discharged from that hospital and came back home. It was only a matter of a few months though when he went off the rails again and hit the road. Another Missing Person report and the whole nine yards. I was all the way out in Arizona and checked out and helpless. My Dad was trying to manage this all on his own. It’s just heartbreaking to think my father has had to deal with Missing Person reports on two out of three of his children. We know what can happen at the end of that road. It must have been terrifying for him to make that call.

I felt completely lost on how to handle this unmanageable situation. I can’t say I did anything noble or helpful or anything during that time other than support my Dad. As I said, I was in most ways, checked out. I’m not proud about it, just honest.

The summer before all of this I had traveled to Dallas to attend a Dance Workshop weekend there. I made several new friends during that wonderful soul filled weekend and one of them casually said to me “Do you know my friend Asha? She lives in Phoenix. You two should know each other”. So I came home and friended her friend Asha on Facebook and started, ok, basically Facebook stalking her to see who she was.

One of the things I found was she loved her job working with the chronically mentally ill in some program in Phoenix. I remember bookmarking that thinking “we may need that program some day”. As I said, that was all before John started having these disappearing episodes.

Finally during this third incident of lost, John was found holed up in a motel in Indiana. He spent his 50th birthday in that motel by himself. I talked to him on the phone and clearly he was totally psychotic and paranoid. But he was willing to stay there at least until my father got there to retrieve him.

My Dad drove him back to Illinois and to his apartment and left to go do something. Shortly thereafter someone in John’s apartment complex called the police as John was out in the parking lot being loud and disruptive.

It’s my understanding that during that altercation with the police, my beloved brother was yelling at them to just shoot him (tears). Mentally ill people like my brother, at six foot one and 350 pounds, can, will and do get shot by police in events like this. Thank God instead he was taken straight to the hospital. Ironically the very hospital, the very Psychiatric Unit that our father managed most of his career as a Psychologist. I can only imagine how that felt for him to ride up that elevator again to that fifth floor to now see his very ill son.

Something in me snapped that day after hearing how that whole crisis had erupted.

I wrote Asha privately and asked her to tell me about her program. “It’s called Momentum” she said “and it really helps people.” She couldn’t say enough good things about that program so I set about researching. Asha was an invaluable support to me during that time and do you know, to this day we’ve never met in person. She’s moved to another State now. Another angel.

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What I found truly shocked me. This was a program run out of a local hospital called “partial hospitalization”. The participants go five days a week, have sessions all day, lunch is provided and get this: so is transportation. The last thing I wanted at that point was for Alfonse to have access to a car.

And, get this, all of it covered by his Medicare. Every penny.

I called my father and just said “we have to get John out here for this program”. It was a no brainer. He absolutely agreed.

But the question was how. John had refused to fly on airplanes for a couple of years at that point. How to get him on a plane to get out here was the first dilemna.

Somewhere along this window of time I went up to Sedona for a weekend. I remember thinking hard about this crisis, desperately seeking a resolution, knowing bringing John out here was going to break through my wall of denial about my need for involvement here and my life was getting ready to drastically change. A million things running through my head on that drive up there by myself.

Every time I pass along this one patch of highway, just off the 17 on the way to Cottonwood I remember that day I pulled off the road in tears and started talking, out loud, to my mother.

I begged her to help me. I begged her to intervene and help guide me. I literally blurted these words out loud to her through my deep sobs gripping the steering wheel on the side of that road, “I will do this but you need to help me. I will finish the job you started with your baby boy but I need your help. I need you to come down and move through me. Guide me, please guide me on what to do”.

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I didn’t feel any kind of shift immediately beyond the release you feel after a good hard cry but I guarantee you, something changed that day. In me and around us. The skies parted and a way was shown.

I came home after that weekend and crisis hit my own life! I was struck down hard with food poisoning!

I had to cancel my work days for at least two days while I was miserable in bed.

But it carved out time. Time for me to do the research, make a plan.

In the meantime, John was discharged from the hospital fairly quickly and placed in a halfway house that he hated. In fact, he hated it so much, he walked out of it in the middle of the night one night. There was nothing any of us could do to keep him there.

I was in the middle of making appointments and getting him set up in the Momentum program and trying to figure out ways to get him out here to Arizona. My Dad offered to drive him out which sounded like a horrible plan–the two of them driving across the country with John’s mental health very unstable. My father not too great on the long distance driving at age 80. No thanks.

But getting John on a plane…how could that happen?

And now he was home and had access to his keys and could bolt again any minute. It was all very touch and go.

My father began discussing with him coming to Arizona and, as expected, he said he wouldn’t get on a plane. We were kind of stuck but knew without a doubt we had to get him out here and I had it all set with Momentum. They were just waiting for him to arrive.

Finally my Dad came up with a plan to do an Intervention of sorts. He had assembled some Social Worker friends who John knows and likes to have a little “dessert get together” at their home. They planned to sit down with John and basically tell him he was coming to Arizona for this program that I’d found and he was going to have to fly out for it (we had already discussed getting him adequate medication to basically knock him out for the flight for everyone’s safety).

The “Intervention” part of the Intervention was that if he refused and wanted to just go on as he was in his apartment, my father was going to make severe financial restrictions. It was really the only card we had to play.

You hate to have to threaten someone like that but we really were down to the wire, afraid he’d take off again for a fourth time and were out of options.

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So I was stuck at home nursing my food poisoning and this deal was going down that night.

I remember that being the day I’d run out of the Gatorade and Saltines my friend Amy had dropped off so I ran out to the store, my one outing in two days, to get more.

I’ll never forget returning to my car and in that QT parking lot looking at my phone and seeing an incoming call from an unknown number in Illinois. I answered it and it was John. He said “Oh I just found this cell phone in my apartment and wanted to see if it still worked!”. Apparently my father had purchased him some kind of “use as you go” cell phone which he stumbled across and somewhere in the recesses of his brain, had my number memorized.

Part of the shocking nature of this call was that John maybe called me, at that point in his life, about once a year. He rarely made phone contact and rarely actually answered his phone, one of many problems we were dealing with in managing him.

I knew the Intervention was going down in just within an hour so sat and listened to him. He was quite manic and rambling about having walked out of the halfway house the night before, how they were mean to him, the cell phone, any number of topics.

Maybe it’s because I wasn’t feeling well, maybe my mother moved in to my body at that moment, I don’t know but suddenly I just blurted this out to my dear, very sick brother.

“John, you need to stop talking now and listen to me. Can you do that?”

“Yes I can do that Kathy”

“John, there is no one on the face of this Earth besides Dad who loves you more than me so you need to listen to me right now. I found a program for you out here in Arizona that is going to help you get well. You need to come out for this program. You need to trust me on this. You are starting it next week and we need to get you on a plane to fly out here within a week to enter it. You can stay with me or at Dad’s condo. But I need you to come out here and go to this program, ok?”.

What I heard back across all those miles, across all those delusions, cutting through the voices in his head will ring in my own memory the rest of my life.

“Ok my dear sister, I will come”.

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It was just that simple.

Me sitting in that QT parking lot with a bag of Gatorade next to me in my running car, tears streaming down my face in the middle of a miracle.

What’s kind of funny about miracles like that is you think bugles will go off, a choir of angels singing or at least violins will be playing or some kind of fanfare. But really it happens very quietly and very ordinarily like “of course you would say that”.

I just quietly responded “Great, I’m going to go get you a plane ticket right now” and he said “ok Kathy, I will come. I will come for you. I have loved you my whole life my dear sister, I will come to Arizona for you”.

I didn’t get all excited or jump for joy or show over the top emotion because something inside me said to just treat this like it was expected. Just an ordinary decision like paper or plastic.

While we were finishing up this call, John’s landline rang. It was of course my Dad calling him from the parking lot, ready to pick him up for the “Intervention”.

John hung up with me and said he was going to grab his stuff and go to dinner with Dad. I hurriedly called my father and let him know John had agreed to come, no Intervention needed. It was done.

There was stunned silence of the phone as my father processed this whole thing. He had geared himself up for the worse for two days and now, it was over before it began. I could hear the tears in his eyes as he spoke “it’s a miracle Kathy, just a miracle”.

He said John was much better that evening during that dinner/dessert party.

As soon as I got home I went about researching plane tickets. We needed something for both of them, we needed something direct from Indianapolis and we needed it almost immediately. The nonstop part was my concern as I didn’t want him to have to navigate plane changes or other airports or anything. The simpler the better.

But I’d made that flight so many times myself over the years, I didn’t think there even were nonstop flights between Indianapolis and Phoenix.

You can only imagine the shock on my pale, recovering face when I pulled up some Expedia site or something and saw two one way tickets, direct Indianapolis to Phoenix one week out , FIRST CLASS for $300 each.

I immediately called my Dad and said “I need your credit card. I’m booking this right now”.

From that moment on, the entire conversation about John’s trip to AZ became about him flying First Class for the first time in his life.

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I researched that flight/plane/service to every inch of it’s life, calling him daily saying “here’s the menu they serve!” “here’s how wide those leather seats are!”. “This will be the first of many 50th birthday celebrations you have…first class all the way!”. It’s almost like the Program, the stress of traveling, everything dissolved in to that First Class seat.

And it worked!

As my father later told me, John was excited on that plane start to finish, exclaiming to the flight attendants how this was his first time in First Class, how it was his 50th Birthday, how wonderful everything was. He also ordered a couple rum and Cokes and if there was ever a time for that intervention, this was it.

I’m sure my father also enjoyed a few complimentary cocktails himself. Understandably.

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It went as smooth as silk.

I picked them up at the airport and John was a bit wound up but he was still excited and telling me every detail of that First Class flight. What they served for dinner, how comfortable the seats were, everything.

To this day I don’t know if that route even existed before or after. It’s like that plane dropped out of the sky with those tickets just for my brother.

Two days later we were sitting in an Intake for the Momentum Program and two days after that John attended his first day.

He lived with me that entire summer, last year. I watched him just get better and better. I watched his medications go down and down as he went up and up.

We had a great summer together until he declared he was ready to live on his own again, back in Dad’s condo. He also had decided he’d not be moving back to Illinois. He wanted to stay now in Arizona.

We boarded a plane together last September and flew back to Maine and all of our friends and family were astonished at the miracle of his recovery. He was like a new person.

At the end of that Maine trip, my father experienced his own medical crisis with his bladder shutting down almost entirely.

Once again I gathered my resources together and did the research and miraculously got him an appointment at the Mayo Clinic out here without a referral. I just called up and asked for an appointment and got it which apparently is unheard of.

The true miracle though was the fact that last Fall my Dad flew out and had surgery at the Mayo Clinic and lived with John who, believe it or not, took care of my Dad from start to finish. Brilliantly I’ll add. Drove him where he needed to get, shopped, cooked, cleaned. He was my father’s primary caretaker he was doing so well.

John was finally discharged from the Momentum Program late last Fall as one of their star participants. I went to his “graduation” and heard him give a speech.

I was like a proud mother.

I have never been in my life particularly close to my brother up until this last year and a half. And now we live like we’ve been this close our entire life.

I was impatient, competitive, short and a whole lot of other unattractive adjectives toward him a lot of my life. That’s just a fact.

But that day on the side of that two lane highway in Northern Arizona I believe I was infused with something permanent.

A mother’s love.

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It overtook my mind and has never wavered inside me. I’m not trying to be any way with John, I just am that way.

His fiercest advocate, his biggest cheerleader, his over hovering helicopter, his softest touch. I am all those things and I know it has very very little to do with me. Other than the fact I begged for it.

It’s something I was given from above in a time of desperate need. I asked to be used in this way and my mother is moving through me giving me the right words, the right path, the right attitude, the right heart.

I got my brother back and my mother back all in the same sobbing breaths.

We thought we were going to do an Intervention that day but instead received one I’m pretty sure they call Divine.

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Of course we’ve had some bumps in this road over the last year but I’ve never given up hope or expectation that John will rise.

And rise he does. Every time.

My dear brother, my precious angel of a man is the biggest inspiration anyone could ever see in their life if they would just look.

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If he can overcome all he has and be alive, truly alive with his innocent fighting spirit, what could any of us accomplish?

Seriously? What could I ever face that would be harder than what’s he’s faced the majority of his adult life and kept going?

Thank you Alfonse for trusting me, for being open to me, for sharing your life with me, for flying straight in to my heart.

I love you forever. First Class all the way from here on out.

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relaxation day

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Yesterday I got up and told Alfonse “today we’re turning the house in to a spa and the whole day is about relaxation”.  He really had a grueling time in the hospital with all of it’s strict rules (he could only shave on Saturdays for one) so I declared these next few days “days of rest” for both of us.  I think generally in our culture none of us get enough of that.

I consider this transition as important as the hospital stay was for Alfonse in terms of recuperation.  I just think his whole body and mind needs down time and quietude.  I think mine does too.

I’ve said, and heard the words “if I had the day off I’d stay in my jammies all day and watch movies” but when it comes to days off, most of us run around like chickens with our heads cut off doing errands and busYness.

We met up with Dr. Yasinski in the morning and John really liked him (thank God).  So he’s now coming on the team to help support all of us, especially John.  I feel so fortunate to be have been referred to him.  I trust him on so many levels with knowing how to support Alfonse and all of us really.  That means so much.

We ran out to try a new Mexican restaurant for lunch that’s just up the road that everyone’s been raving about (YUM).

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Agua de Mango and sopes

Then ran four errands (ok one was Yogurtland for later :D) and came home and went on the R E L A X.  We’re getting in to some new shows on Netflix (Scandal and House of Cards) and basically just enjoyed a day of simple pleasures.  For me just sitting in a room quietly watching TV with my brother is a version of Heaven. 

He just keeps expressing how good he feels, how amazed he is by the lack of symptoms, how happy he is to be out of the hospital, how grateful he is for my support.  My dear sweet brother is BACK.  It truly is a miracle.

Imagine my surprise when I heard on the news this morning that today is “The Day of the Bratwurst” and yesterday was “National Relaxation Day”.  Seriously!  They said that!  ha!

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As we were out running around to pharmacies and other errands we kept remarking about how we hit every green light, how we ran in to no lines, just how smoothly the day was going.  We were in the Zone!

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I’ve never appreciated just relaxing at home so much as I do right now.  And just conversing about “what do you want to eat for dinner?” or “what do you think about that show?”.

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Made a shrimp stir fry for dinner–love having him to cook for-he loves everything I make

Catching up on little tasks put off while he was in the hospital.

Including getting Alfonse finally hooked up with his Ipad that he got for his birthday last April.

He went straight to researching recipes and asking what I might like for dinner.  🙂

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pardon the bedhead, he’d just woken up

You never appreciate your good health until you’ve lost it temporarily.

You never appreciate the small stuff until you’ve had way too much big stuff to sweat for too long.

Netflix, home cooked meals, the Sirius spa station, air conditioning and jammies is where it’s at for us for the next few (HOT) summer days.  I think I’m just extending it to National Relaxation WEEK.

Much ado about nothing and I couldn’t be happier.

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Yesterday I was sitting at home, as usual, (in my pajamas) posting on and watching the Andrea Sneiderman trial online.  I was just hanging out waiting to go pick up Alfonse at the hospital (yay) and suddenly heard a dainty knock on my door.

When I’m home alone I almost never answer my door unless I’m expecting someone or something so I ignored it.  But then the doorbell rang.  I peeked through my peephole and the only thing I could see was a flower.  How funny, I thought as I’d just sent flowers to some friends who were getting hitched that day (Rob and Sean who Alfonse referred to in the video).  I thought “ooooh, someone sending us flowers!” so opened the door.

Imagine my surprise to see the Vet who’d come for the Buddy visit just less than two weeks ago standing there holding a rose and slight tears in her eyes.  She’d come over personally to deliver Buddy’s ashes.  That wasn’t even part of the package but she went the extra mile to pick up his ashes and deliver them to my doorstep.  How thoughtful was that?  And I guess she went straight back to the moment we were all in last time she was at my house because her eyes were rimming with tears when she handed me the rose and small plastic, sealed box with Buddy’s ashes.  And gave me a hug.

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It’s the little things in life sometimes.  I’ll never forget the thoughtfulness of this Vet and this amazing personalized service–from the kindness extended to me that day, the gently placing Buddy’s body in the soft basket with the blanket just covering his body, to asking me if I wanted to pet and kiss him one last time to yesterday showing up unexpectedly delivering his ashes.

I’m finding more and more of this “small town life” inside this huge bustling city I live in.  In fact I’ve been offering that kind of personalized care in my practice for over twenty years so I guess people like me are magnetizing toward me too.

On that note, the new Psychiatrist I’ve found for Alfonse (and all of the family) comes today for the first visit.  Fingers crossed it’s a good connection as this Dr. can really help us all now and down the line.

Right now I’m feeling very very fortunate and lucky to be surrounded by all the love I feel around us, including from all you readers out there.

Alfonse just came down saying “I slept like a rock!”.  Simple pleasures, that’s where it’s at these days.

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A message from Alfonse!

 

Thank you all the love and prayers.  He’s made an amazing recovery.  Rest and recuperation on the docket for the next few days. ❤