Monday, February 1, 2016

The Challenges of Eldercare and health

     As you get older, sometimes you become part of the "sandwich generation," caring for your children while also worrying your elderly parents. For me, it is the "older" adults who are so darn childish. I have one parent left. She is a handful, and she is this way because my brother, who is on disability, is still financially dependent on her. And she's 95! One of these days, she won't be there. Then, what will Jay do?
    Jay, like other people with family members who are leeches, didn't pay the rent while my mother was in the hospital. She fell out of  bed, her leg got bloodied, but she didn't break a leg or suffer a heart attack. Amazingly, she is on insulin and eight medicines and can barely walk but keeps on going. She "should" be in a nursing home or assisted living. She refuses to leave her home for assisted care, refuses to move to the East coast where her daughters are, and refuses to leave her darling, perfect son.
   He's no darling. He has financially abused the family for years, gambling and spending her money and expecting everyone else to pay their bills. Walking around toothless and hopped up on pain killers, she prefers his care over mine, even though he recently smashed up the car and they have no funds left from the sale of the house.
   What can I do? She COULD go into  ADULT FOSTER CARE. Adult foster care is a "real" thing. It isn't just for kids. If you google "adult foster care" for your state you'd find a number you can call. For me, this will be a long road ahead. She believes he is an angel. My own mother-in-law was in adult foster care because she was turning into an alcoholic and couldn't be left alone after her husband died. There are possibilities out there and I am going to investigate! 

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Challenge with an Autistic Adult

    It's been about 2 months and during that time my life has changed as I have dealt with an autistic adult, my (unidentical twin) sister. You see, she's lived all her life (55+ years) with our parents and never been out there on her own. Now she is here, 2,000 miles from where she lived in Nevada, surrounded by trees she adores ("I have the best apartment," she tells me. "The sun comes in the window and I look out on that tree" near her door). Nevada, much of it, I assume, is desert. They have palm trees in Las Vegas but I don't know how they survive all the dry weather. "The Strip" even has fake grass in its road median it's so dry there.
    She arrived by plane, based on an ultimatum of a rather unfriendly, selfish (and sometimes quite sick, a lot of it his fault) younger brother. He has a weird ailment called "Morgellon's disease" and has these open sores that sometimes make him quite miserable. At one point, he went to the hospital as there was a lot of blood (or oozing poisons, it is hard to say which) coming from wounds on his arms and legs. My mother, who was ready to give away paintings of my father and my brother's car, was ready to "move on" without him, with her and my twin living in an apartment somewhere nearby. But he rallied, and the behavior that has come with this ailment had him threatening to kill my sister with a knife or gun.
    She relayed this to me and I told my husband, who quickly said I should call the police. Later, the next day or so, my mother said the police came and she said it was "just a mis-understanding." She has always supported him and his angry behavior, no matter what, leaving my mentally challenged sister totally unprotected. My husband was angry about this and I said, "so we're going to bring her here?" 
    No long after that, the Nevada family contingent said they'd sold their house and instead of my mother and sister living in an apartment together and the brother nearby, "he" decides "he" will live with my mother in an apartment and the handicapped sister moves cross country, to Virginia. Not that she was against the idea; she was ready to leave the desert years ago. But was I ready?
    Fast forward 2 months, and after the stress of finding a tiny apartment on short notice (and my mother saying my brother doesn't feel well, so my sister can't leave), then me "telling" them the move has been arranged, no matter what, it's been an adjustment, dealing with her.
    She displays many of the classic symptoms of autism spectrum disorder: repetitive behaviors, like spraying her face and head with water because she says she has dry skin; inability to have a real 2 way conversation, as everything is all about her; taking offense at any suggestions to change or modify her behavior; acquiring more and more paper for her fantasy of a "writing business" where she makes money off of the internet (which I myself have had an impossible job of doing); talking loudly, especially to emphasize a point, as though I couldn't hear her to begin with.
    And there is her stubbornness. There are websites that suggest that you can get help with your symptoms, but as the child of someone who bragged she didn't go to the doctor for 30 years, she would be impossible to bring to a doctor for accurate diagnosis. She seems to have this huge inferiority complex, such that my mother says I should praise her and not criticize her. But if she is going to live on her own in her own apartment, is that totally realistic? My husband actually thinks I am "too patient" with her!
    So where do you draw the line? I have considered going to a support group for my situation. This is a challenge and not easy. Some retirement!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


 So I was all set with this idea of my somewhat autistic sister coming to live here. We had gotten her a tiny apartment, not much bigger than a motel room, and she said that was fine. I told her I was calling American Airlines about someone to help her around the airport and then she says my brother is and she can't go.
  My brother has not been well, physically or psychologically, for a very long time. He has a weird ailment, Morgelons, and he breaks out in rash and lashes out at people, threatening my sister. A few weeks ago he threatened to kill her if she didn't come to Virginia and he moved into an apartment with just my mother, as my mother had suddenly sold her home. She said she didn't want to keep asking family members for money for house expenses, but my brother (who relatives say) is abusing pain pills or gambling or worse, with at least some of the money.
    So I call and argue with them over the phone. She can't go, I have a rash, I don't feel good, she has to help Ma. And when was the last time Ma helped her? Oldest sister Roberta came and took care of basically 3 handicapped people for 7 months and basically had a nervous breakdown.
    But when your brother is in denial about his sad situation and wants to hold onto your handicapped sister, what are you going to do? I am disgusted with mother and brother both.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Wedding a glorious time

    It seems like longer ago than that, but despite not having lost weight in time for oldest son Zeb's wedding, I managed to fit in my outfit and had a good time dancing at the reception two weeks ago. Ah yes, weddings are a joyful time for families to get together and enjoy each other's company for a brief time. We danced up a storm to the "mostly" fast songs at the reception, which was held in the same hall as the wedding ceremony itself.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Some Final Thoughts on Core Teaching, Adjunct Issues -- LIke Money

     It looks as though there are no Core 201 sections available for me this coming semester. Teaching Core was always a challenge. Imagine teaching the third in a series of classes students found redundant and not relevant. Of course it's not relevant to THEM -- what good is deductive and inductive reasoning and logical analysis when you are a post-adolescent know it all no one can tell anything to? This is not to say that they don't listen intently to professors in their major, but with elective and required classes outside of the major, did they really care?
    With my classes, it certainly didn't seem that way. Being an older (grossly) underpaid adjunct, I think some of these students felt they couldn't relate to me, as though I were from another planet because I was a few decades ahead of them, with kids their own age, for Pete's sake. But we "live" in the same society. My concerns about nature, technology, the future, the class theme, will be their concern too and very soon. We can't "wait" to deal with global warming, the depletion of fossil fuels like oil and coal, the overdependence on computers, smart phones and other technologies, which have kids staying inside and becoming overweight in the process. We need to think about this NOW!
     Some students showed an interest in logical reasoning and the class theme. Most did not, and showed it in their unfavorable class evaluations. Adjuncts, who teach, get to be evaluated by students, who don't teach and never WILL teach, in almost all instances. How effective  and appropriate are these evaluations? How does a student know if the teacher "comes to class prepared" if  this is the first time they are encountering this particular material from this particular teacher? And if you go over major assignments in and out of class three and four times, there will "still" be students who ask, "Now 'what' am I supposed to do?" And these same students, who half zone out or try to look at their cell phones in class, will put on the evaluation form that the standards weren't clear -- well, of course not, if you're not really listening at all in the first place!
     A few may have seen me as an old fogey. Well,  post cancer treatments, I have to admit my thyroid is NOT working all that well and I am not that energetic, making me appear somewhat unenthusiastic to them. But I "am" passionate about the environment! It appears many of them were not, though a handful DID enjoy the nature walks on  campus.
    Being an adjunct can take a lot of hours, and I did have them do "critical thinking logs," but I came up with a pretty good schedule--- but  I didn't do 4 and 5 sections like my younger peers. I just didn't have the energy for it (though I could have used the money).
    Our outgoing president is making (with bonuses like annuities) a half million a year; I made $13 thousand teaching five sections a year, not a living wage if I had to make it without my husband's recent retirement pay. And I was teaching them how to think logically, how to care about the future--- doesn't that count for something?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Racial Identity, Education, Time to Figure Things Out

     I don't usually talk about racial issues (how many read this anyway), but this Rachel Dolezal controversy is interesting. It seems, at "Yes" magazine, one of their writers interviewed a few black associates of Dolezal and they wonder what all the fuss is about. That is kind of like those who worry you can't call a Native American an "Indian" anymore. Well, when you talk to them, a lot of them call themselves Indian, so what is all the fuss?
     It appears that Dolezal got into trouble by saying "I'm black," instead of "I identify with the struggles of the black community." She certainly doesn't have to worry about being pulled over by a traffic cop and getting shot at if she decides to flee. We still have too much "stranger danger" when it comes to black men, and maybe, especially in big cities with big black populations, schools and police departments should be talking about dispelling the myth that all black men are a menace.
     So maybe she didn't frame her concerns about the black community the correct way. It makes sense to say you "identify with" the black community, but not to say "I am" the black community. If she said she was black to gain leadership into the NAACP, then that was deceptive and not appropriate. But even so, how many white people go out of their way to claim they are black or would like to "black" in America? Being black in America, especially if you are a young man, can be dangerous.
    Maybe schools should have a dialogue with their students on the issue of racial identity. Maybe they should all go outside, commune with nature and gain a different perspective on things. We need a calmer society, one not jumping to conclusions in such a hurry all the time. We need time to figure things out.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Phobias -- We All Seem to Have Them

     Have you ever been afraid of the dark? Or seen a spider nearby and said "yikes" and not known what to do?
      The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a "phobia" as               an extremely strong dislike or fear of someone or something. 
I  am one of those with a fear of extreme heights-- in an airplane I feel somewhat protected, but I wouldn't want to be at the top of the Empire State Building in New York City, which has 103 floors and is 1,454 feet from the street to the tip of its lightning rod.
     Some of us are afraid of the dark, being in a dark closet, or have a fear of snakes and spiders. Researchers now say that when it comes to the snakes and spiders, this is considered instinctive, our way of surviving in the jungle or being around something that suddenly moves around us. But snakes are shy and do not seek out human contact. Spiders are interested in insects for a snack, not people, and most snakes and spiders are NOT poisonous, but control populations of other living things, like rats or flies. 
     Sometimes hypnosis can help people be less afraid of their particular phobia. Pets can also have fears, such as when there is thunder and lightning. If it is an extreme phobia that affects the animal's behavior all the time, then you may need to take the pet to the vet for some helpful suggestions.