Sunday, January 12, 2014

Good-bye 2013, Can You Please Take the Beginning of 2014 With You?

I had meant to write a year-in-review and a looking forward-to-the-new-year post as December slid into January, but Life had other plans for me. Now as I attempt them I'm not sure how to do it without it turning into a whiny pity party. But there's no other way to put it--2013 was a really crappy year for me. I was tested on every front, and, by the end of the year, all I could do was exhaustedly long for a better year to come. But just because a puny human sees a break in time, a point for change aligned with the changing of a month and a calendar year, doesn't mean the universe will go along with it. Clearly. This year--all 12 days of it--has been mostly as bad as the worst of 2013.

in 2013 Mom's surgeries and recovery were emotionally, mentally and physically draining. Dave started a new job which necessitated him staying in Austin for months at a time leaving me to move the rest of the household to Montana for the summer, deal with major home maintenance projects there, provide home healthcare for Mom and take her to her twice-weekly physical therapy and wound care appointments in a neighboring town, take care of Jessie, and manage as much of the maintenance as I could on the family lake property--turning on water, cutting the grass, preparing for use, cleaning out the spring. I also spent most of the year finishing my second book--the writing project from hell. While I was in Montana the hotshop at the studio was hit by lightning, and, as I looked forward to a fall of continuing to care for my mother and beginning to homeschool Jessie, it became apparent that I was not going to be able to keep everything going. Something was going to have be let go, and I chose to close my kiln glass resource center and the hotshop, and to take a hiatus from teaching.

However, even after summer was over, we were back from Montana, Dave was back from Austin, and the studio was closed, the fall was tough and it plodded into an even bleaker winter. The first semester of homeschooling was full of fits and starts as Dave and I worked its scheduling into our work days and the rest of life. It neither went as well nor as poorly as it could have. I am optimistic that it will be better this semester (because I have to be--there is no good alternative). Teaching Jessie how to manage her own time, assignments, responsibilities, and to self-motivate continues to be the biggest task.

Last year ended with freezing cold in the northern parts of the country that disastrously affected my mother's house in Montana. Right before we went on vacation I got word that one of the pipes froze, broke, thawed, and flooded the entire house. The kitchen floor and lower cabinets are ruined. The subfloor upstairs is ruined. Part of the ceiling in the basement came down. The entire basement (our bedroom and Jessie's bedrooms and the rec room with the new sectional couch and flatscreen tv) were flooded and the carpet was ruined. The restoration company is still working through all the damage, and I will have to go out the beginning of February when the first stage of clean-up and restoration (walls and ceiling) is done to take care of the personal effect damage and replacing the carpet and kitchen floor.

The new year started with the flu--not a cold, but the actual tested-positive flu--for me, Dave and my mom while we were trying to enjoy a Christmas vacation with Dave's family in the Florida Keys. Then Mom's hip (replaced on 10/18 for the third time in 2013) became infected, and by January 2 she was back in the hospital. She's since had two surgeries to clean it out as best as can be done without removing the entire prosthesis (not really an option after the three previous surgeries and the current state of the attachment to the bone), and came home Friday after eight days in the hospital.

Dave was out of town last week so I was back and forth between the hospital and home. I had lots of meetings with the infectious disease specialist, the home healthcare providers (who will be coming out weekly to do physical therapy with her and change the dressing on her PICC line), her surgeon, and the wound care people, and I also had Jessie's homeschooling to manage. J and I hung out at the hospital and she worked on her reading, writing, and the website and Facebook page for Finley Point Soap (her company). It went as well as could be expected--it would definitely have been easier if I had been just shuffling her off to school every morning for someone else to deal with all day and getting her back in the evening--but that's not the road we've chosen. And there's another post in the making.

In addition, I had a business to run. Said business came in in last place. to everything else and I am grateful to Dee and Todd for stepping in and picking things up for me. Dee ran Todd, glass for Todd, and Todd's work back and forth between his house and the studio so orders could ship, and she also organized and unloaded the Bullseye glass delivery on Friday (after two previous disastrous delivery attempts earlier in the week). She also cut glass for customers who came down from North Carolina to shop. Next week I am supposed to be going to Philadelphia to do the Buyer's Market of American Craft show--my only wholesale show of the year and the source of the majority of my annual revenue--but in light of the hands-on care I am giving my mom now that she is back home, I had to cancel. I am hopeful the Rosen Group will allow me to apply the majority of my booth fee to next year's show, but I don't know anything yet.

I received the color lasers from the printer on Friday and I have to finish editing them by tomorrow morning, but the changed that can be made at this point are so minuscule as to be nonexistent anyway. The new Siyeh Studio website is in progress and I expect to have it up next week with the first half of my work. I have needed this website for years but it always got pushed behind something else that had to be done for the studio--mostly for the kiln glass resource center--and never got done. It's good to have the time to work on it now, and, because I can't be at the show next week, it has moved to the top of the priority stack. I had Liam in to do photography of half of the work before I left for Christmas, and I hope to have him in for another day next week to finish. This will be a good test for how much business I can generate without doing a show.

And now we move into the immediate future. I won't beat around the bush: It's looking tough. For the next several weeks at least, I am--in addition to a wife, mother and business owner--a home nurse. I give medications, do daily IV and dressing changes, take vitals (temperature at least), as well as feed and clean up after my mother. The last medicines before bed are given at 11:00 pm, there is another set at 3:00 am, and then we start up again at 7:00 am. I've done it for a day and I'm already exhausted. This experience alone is worth an entire post, and maybe I'll do it in a day or two. For now, I'm tired, and I need to let my mind go for awhile. I need to hold onto the optimism that things really are getting better, because I don't know how much longer I can go on like this if they don't.


Bill said...


You are welcome at any time to call us to decompress.


Brenda Griffith said...

Thank you. I really appreciate you and Bridget, and if there were any way her presence could lessen our chaos, I would beg and plead (though I know it wouldn't be necessary to do either) for her to come out. Family is good to have--thanks for being ours. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

Damn. I wish there was something more I could do than just say, "damn. take care."

If there's something I can do that's not going to create more work for you--proof pages, websites, etc., let me know.

Also, unless Georgia is completely backward, they probably have an agency/support system for eldercare givers. The one we used out here with my dad helped with patient advocacy, respite care, finding supplies and facilities, etc. If you haven't already tried it, maybe give it a shot?

Vanessa J said...

you and your mom have been constantly on my mind these past few days. if there is any way we can help from afar, we are here!

Bill said...

One problem with homeschooling: No snow days...

Bill said...

Any news on the book?