Friday, July 20, 2018

Barn Stuff

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire....a bit early for that!  But quite some time back I had posted pictures of the chestnuts as they popped out of their spiny pods in the fall.  Here we are mid summer and the baby pods are growing!  I'm not sure what you call those long, brown things...if the nuts themselves weren't seeds, I'd have called them seeds, too!

If our current draught keeps up, they might not end up getting very big but there sure are a lot of them right now!

The two barn kitties down at Maggie's barn are growing!  They were having so much fun playing the other day.  I'm not sure how they found this comfy spot on a shelf but they seem to like it!

A little video of their antics.

Monday, July 16, 2018


I wish I could find an old picture of these two together.  This is my mom and her cousin, Edna.  Mom is 80 and Edna is 90.  Other than a quick visit at a funeral, the two hadn't spent any time together in many years.  Edna is still so sharp and uses Facebook so we arranged a lunch with her and her daughter and me and mom.

Mom and I got to Milford early and did some shopping first.  We wandered through Clothing Cover and then across the street to a few other shops.  It was a perfect summer day.  I was watching mom closely.  She had always loved shopping.  She drifted through the store with little interest and no focus.  Out on the sidewalk, I kept her close.  Her sure footed gait was gone and she has been tripping on air lately.

We had a wonderful lunch telling old stories.  Mom had lived with Edna and her sister for a few months when she was a toddler and her younger sister was born.  Edna talked about how excited she was to be able to take care of little mom!  Mom kept up her side of the conversation pretty well but after lunch I could tell she was tired from it.

We got in the car to drive her home and I asked her what was Edna's mom's name.  I thought I new but wasn't really sure.  Mom couldn't remember.  She got frustrated and told me that Edna's mom wasn't at lunch with us.  She said she didn't know Edna's mom. Then after another few minutes, she remembered it.  It was a perfect segue to talking to her about Alzheimers.

I asked her if she was glad they had moved back to Michigan from Florida.  She said, "Yes, most of the time".  I asked why not all the time.  She replied, "Well sometimes I get..." and drifted off.  So I pushed the button a little and asked her to explain.  I knew she had had several "nervous breakdowns" as dad called them.  I was hoping she would tell me about them.  I was wrong.

Mom got very agitated and frustrated and started to cry.  She accused me of talking behind her back and plotting against her.  She asked how I would feel if someone told me I was always "flubbing up". I backpedaled quick and apologized and apologize and tried to explain that part of the reason they moved back to Michigan was to be close for Carrie and I to help.  She got more angry. I tried to soothe.

When I got her home I quickly told dad she was REALLY MAD at me and left.  My presence wasn't helping things.  Dad would have to deal with it.  He had known I was going to try talking to her.  I felt horrible. Why had I thought talking to her about this would help? What was I going to fix? Is denial of Alzheimers such a bad thing?

A few days later we hugged it out.  And we are back to not talking about it.

Unwinding the Coil

Undwinding the coil wasn't easy.  The doctor had given me a prescription for Lexapro.  A medication for anxiety.  I hated it.  I tried taking it in the morning.  Then at night.  I increased the dose.  I stopped taking it. I felt better.  That first week consisted of me trying way too hard to relax and visiting Austin in the hospital.

Mom and Dad went with me and Madison the second time.  I purposely sat Mom with her back to most of the room but it was too loud for Dad's poor hearing and too distracting for mom.  She was very nervous and it wasn't a good environment for her. We stopped for Culver's ice cream on the way home.

I brought Austin home on the Monday before July 4th.  After picking up his car and most of his belongings from his girlfriend, I brought him home.  We were going to re-bond and work on helping him better prepare to go back out into the world.  While he spent time with his Dad on Tuesday and Wednesday, I went to work on me.

I spent time with Mata Hari.

I went to Kensington to hike the nature trails.

I walked the Milford Trail.

I walked the mountain bike trails.

 I watched my pony sleep in the cross ties.

I stared into her soul.

I sat on the beach at Kensington eating a sandwich, reading a book, and listening to children play.

I looked at the sunset from between my horses ears.

I started to feel me come back and feel better.

And then I melted

 So as I have repeatedly mentioned, my work life balance was getting more and more out of whack as spring turned into summer.  All the things that I normally do for myself to handle stress such as yoga, hiking and riding weren't happening all that much.  I was eating all three meals at work.  I'm disciplined enough that breakfast and lunch were my normal healthy foods but dinner was often a microwave Hot Pocket or fast food from one of the food court restaurants.

As they told us could no longer work from home at all (I had been doing Tuesday and Friday at home), I was becoming more and more overwhelmed.  Driving to the D five days a week was not what I had signed up to do. I had a huge report due for one of our largest customers that involved working with my VP and he was asking for more and more data that required more and more time.  We were falling behind our timeline to get done. My 12 hour days had moved into the weekends where I had been able to just work 7-8 hours.  I was making mistakes and knew it.

In the mean time, it was becoming more apparent that my Mom was in the early stages of Alzheimers.  I was trying to find time to do some quick research to learn more, talk to my sister and Dad, and figure out what we should be doing for her.  While I knew the basics about AD, I really didn't know the details.  Someone at work recommended I read "Still Alice".  I listened to it driving back and forth to work.  I cried.  I learned.  Wow.

The Friday before that big client report was due, I met with my VP in the afternoon and we went over some of the report and I walked out with a new to-do list but not before I told him I could work all day on Saturday but I could NOT work on Sunday.  I repeated that several times.  I needed a break and I knew it.  I was so exhausted.  I left work that night at 7 pm.  On a Friday.

The next morning I was in my home office (aka the end of the kitchen) working by 6 am.  I had a couple texts and emails from my VP and worked with very few breaks until 8 that night.  Neither of the kids were home so the house was quiet.  I was still making stupid mistakes and knew it but was too exhausted to care.  The software I was using is incredibly quirky so the mistakes would be impossible to duplicate and weren't so big as to sway the data in any meaningful way.  I knew this.  The perfectionist in me hated it.  The tired me didn't care.

Sometime late Saturday night I got a phone call from Austin that went to voicemail. He was at the hospital and they would be transferring him to a psych ward for suicide watch as soon as they could find him a bed at one.  This was what I woke up to.

I suppose my saving grace was that this wasn't the first time.  Back in late February, the same thing had happened.  He spent a week at Havenwyk Hospital where they had diagnosed him as bi-polar and an alcoholic.  I strongly disagreed with both.  ADHD, yes.  Anxiety, yes.  Depression, maybe.  Borderline mentally impaired, yes.  It probably sounds bad to say that the first time he went didn't upset me very much.  I was very sure that it was my overly dramatic son seeking attention from his overly dramatic new girlfriend who supposedly has such bad anxiety she is unable to drive or work. I had already learned she uses the hospital ER for pretty much everything and LIKES the attention she gets there.

This time felt different. I could actually hear pain in his voice in that message.  He was trying to tell me he was going to be okay and needed to go.  But I could hear pain.  A mother breaks a little when she hears that kind of pain in her child.  I suddenly got quite fragile.

In spite of saying I wasn't going to work on Sunday, I needed some distraction until I knew where Austin would be admitted. I started cranking out data while emailing my VP and director to let them know my son was being admitted to a psych ward.  I wrote that while I didn't expect to need time off work, I honestly didn't know for sure.  I was being the good worker bee and letting them know up front what was happening.  We were four days out from that presentation of the report for one of our biggest clients.

A couple hours later I got a call from Austin saying he had been transferred to the psych unit at Pontiac General.  I wouldn't be able to see him until the next evening.  He sounded calmer but I also knew he was probably heavily medicated at that point.  I logged off the work computer and left for the barn to see my horse.  I hadn't been there in a week. She is MY therapy and the barn is a place where I go for solace and work.  The physical kind.  My brain was already on overload but using my body in the tasks of grooming and riding always feel good followed up by the barn cleaning that never ends.  You can't leave without sweeping the floors!

Just before I left for the barn, I got a text from the VP expressing his concern for my son and an offer to do anything he could to help.  I drove off thinking, "Well that was nice of him".  Exactly ONE hour later, just after I put my saddle on Mata Hari, I get another text from him.  This one says, "I'm reviewing some of the numbers on the deck (report) and there are some issues with the j-code analysis".  Keeping in mind that I had repeatedly told him I couldn't work on Sunday and had just told him my son was on suicide watch in a psych hospital, I just melted when I read that.  

Someone said I hit my wall.  I could physically feel myself drain from the top of my head right out through my hands and feet.  I slid down my own body to the floor of the barn.  I didn't cry.  I didn't get mad.  I think I muttered, "What the hell" as I was draining and then I shut down.  I'm not sure how long I sat on the floor.  Nobody was there.  At some point a bee buzzing around my head brought me back around and I looked up at Mata Hari who was standing quite close in the cross ties with her nose just above my shoulder.  She knew.

I pulled myself up after another couple minutes spent reviewing what had just happened to me.  I felt so weak.  Like I had just had surgery weak but without any pain points.  My brain felt rather foggy but also quite clear.  The whole sensory package was just plain weird.  Nothing like this had ever happened to me before.  I put my forehead to Mata Hari's and we just breathed.  This isn't unusual.  I do this often.  It calms us both before I ride.  I did it way longer than usual and had my hands around her head for support.  My legs felt like jello and I certainly couldn't ride like that.  I slowly pulled myself away and began the process of untacking my horse.  My very light dressage saddle felt like it weighed 100 pounds.... By the time I had put everything away and taken my horse back out to her pasture, I had started twitching.  Neurons were firing at random and muscles were jumping on their own.  Another crazy weird sensation when I still felt so incredibly drained and weak.  The scientific side of my brain was finding this all quite interesting while the exhausted side was just trying to get me home.

Like many people, I do some good thinking when I'm driving.  The twenty minute drive home kicked my brain into it's normal "fix this" gear.  I knew what had just happened to me was not good.  I'm smart enough to listen to my body and it had just screamed at me. I showered and ate something trying to shake off the weakness and twitching.  And then I logged on to my patient portal for my PCP and asked for an appointment ASAP.  It was Sunday late afternoon so I knew I wouldn't hear back until the morning.  Then I texted Deanna.  Deanna is technically Madison's therapist but Austin has seen her and Scott and I both went to see her for help in how to tell the kids we were getting divorced.  She knows enough of our family story that I felt seeing her for this would save me some time in explaining background.  She replied and scheduled me for 9 am Tuesday.  And finally, I emailed my VP and Director telling them that I would be taking Monday off for PTO.  

Monday I hunkered down all day and didn't do much of anything other than answer Austin's calls from Pontiac General Hospital's Psych Unit and then go visit him later that evening for my 30 minutes before Scott and MaryAnn showed up.  We had a good conversation and I started formulating my plan that he needed to move back home from his girlfriend's mom's house...

Tuesday I was at Deanna's office in Ann Arbor bright and early.  As I related the events of the past few days, she immediately said I needed a vacation from work.  I wasn't doing any of the the things that normally help me to handle stress because I simply hadn't had TIME to do any of them.  I left Deanna's office and drove to my doctor's office. I wasn't able to see my PCP but rather one of her partners which was fine, I had seen him before for my hips.  After a brief discussion, he also agreed I needed some time off work.  Three weeks.  At least.  Whew.  The weight on my shoulders got lighter and my blood pressure ticked down a notch. Now I only had to juggle Mom and Austin for a few weeks.  Work would and could go on without me for a few weeks.  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Horse Show!

We couldn't wrap up June without a horse show! In a very last minute decision, Madison decided to go with Maggie with the hunter jumper show at Woodbine since she was taking one of her students who has been riding Mata Hari for lessons.  They both ended up doing great with little Elle and Mata Hari taking the championship for walk trot and Madison and Vince getting reserve champion for the 2'6" Jumper classes.

Elle and Mata Hari

Adding in Maggie

Madison helping Elle before her first class which was at 7 am!

Madison and Vince at the end of the second day.

Elle sneaking Mata Hari treats.  She loves her!

Elle heading into the arena for their first class.

We brought the stall sign!

I think Mata Hari saw me...look at that eye!

Madison before her class loving on Vince.

Adding in Maggie.

Elle bought Mata Hari some very fancy treats with the gift certificate she won!

Getting her first ribbon.

Madison and Vince warming up in the back arena.

June Trail Ride

Looking back on what I posted for June I'm completely amazed that I actually did any of this stuff while working at least 60 hours every week...and yet we did manage to squeeze in one more fun morning when Madison and I loaded up the horses and trailered over to Brighton Recreation for some trail riding.  She had gone there a couple weeks earlier with Maggie but I had never been.

It was a beautiful morning but the bugs were bad so opted for thin, long sleeve shirts.  Vince wore his bonnet since he has extra sensitive ears!

Mata Hari wearing her trailering "hat".  This protects her head when she is getting on and off the trailer.

Me and the Princess Pony at the end of our ride.

And this was somewhere in the middle.  The trails were beautiful with lots of sand for trotting and some good hills that we cantered up.  The horses definitely got a good workout and we left feeling very energized by all the fresh air!

June Randoms

I'm fairly certain I bought these pictures in May and they sat around waiting to be hung until late June.  This was in my dining room has been "naked" and I knew I wanted something "different" on it but just hadn't found it.  When I saw these pics, I knew they were perfect.  I absolutely adore the expression on the llama!

Now to replace that ugly light fixture...hate it.  It's also not centered over the table but instead is dead center of the room where it would be totally impossible to have a table.

Madison did a modeling job for a friend out at the barn we ended up  using horses and kittens!

The barn owner caught this picture of all three horses (Mata Hari is on the left) taking a sunbath at the same time.

Just a beautiful day when I managed to get time to take a walk on the Milford Trail - and before the draught turned everything brown.

What happens when you work too much?  LOL! Actually, I had a Groupon credit and found a deal for 15 bottles of wine.  Most of them have been really good - though I've only had 4!

Maggie's daughter looking like she's strangling a kitten but she's not. She's very gentle with them.

Madison is too.

And not to leave Henrik out, he enjoys the view from the balcony of Madison's apartment/condo in Ann Arbor.