Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Holidays all!!!!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas as we did!!! Spent it with Murray and her "other" family. I enjoyed myself so much, fun to get to know my crafty friend Gail better, and enjoyed some wonderful food. We made Bruschetta, found fresh basil at Publix, so all good!!! Murray is thinking about becoming pescatarian (sp?) for the new year, basically someone who mainly eats vegetarian, but consumes fish. I'm confused about Vegans now..they can eat oysters, scallops, clams because they don't have a central nervous system....OKKKKK! (sorry Adam & Katie). Me I think I will stick with mainly vegetarian, but keep my chicken and fish. Chicken are annoying anyways. Oh and Turkey, which is what we eat as far as ground goes. I'm not sure what Murray is going to do when she is near a rare steak nearby. :/ That could be interesting...possibly dangerous if there is a ceasar salad served with it. ; ).

Things are doing better, and I am so very thankful for the great friends that we have been blessed with! I have a better outlook, and feel more positive!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, and can't wait to get back to crafting!!!!!!

Lisa : )

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What it's like to be homeless....

OK, not a happy post, but maybe an important one. I think many of us are in the same situation, struggling with our bills, trying to keep up, and possibly one pay check away from losing everything.

It happened to us, Dec. 6th, at 8 am, when our house, particularly my Husband's childhood home which his parents had moved into brand new back in the early 50s. Gone, sold for 36,000 to Freddie Mac, one notice, and a meeting with a mortgage counselor to find out we were not eligible for "tenant status," which would have afforded us the opportunity to stay in our house as renters. The house was left to us after my Husband's Mom passed, it did cause some family strife, but at the time, she offered, and I had to think of my 10 y/0 daughter who had left her entire family in Washington to move with us to GA. We did so to take care of Grammy, as she was dying. The house was to go to another son, but she begged Dale to have the house, we originally said no, but when I saw how my daughter was progressing with the change, difficult at first, and knowing as a nurse that Grammy's time was short, I didn't want to take the chance to have to move, possibly away from my daughter's new found dear friends, and her stability. So I said yes.

She passed in December after we arrived in August. The plan was for me to work nights, my Husband to help with the care by being a stay at home Dad and caregiver. Jobs were scarce here in Augusta, but we had the stability of a home, only not in our name. For some reason unknown to us, the Lawyer who probated her will, would not put the house in my husband's name, stating that according to State law, it had to be left to the entire set of brothers. Only one wanted the house and that was to sell it (hence bad feelings). The understanding was that we would live in the house, pay the mortgage, and if we ever sold it, the profit would be split between the brothers. (My Husband had 5 at the time). We knew his brothers here in GA would not want the house, so if something happened to my Husband, I would be OK, knowing they would fight the brother who wanted the money basically in the first place. Well unfortunately, this brother passed a few years ago, so this became a non issue.

With my Husband and my job, the mortgage was never a problem, I mean 300+ a month, so during this time (which my Husband finally found a job he enjoyed and made decent money in 2005) we would get ready for saving a bit to make repairs, and such. But also during this time my Mother became ill and was diagnosed from ALS. Now I was the caretaker in Missouri for the summer of 05, and when my Mom passed 2 days after I arrived, I could see I needed to stay to care for my Dad. I had been working for a contract company out at an Army Hospital at the local base. When I returned I went back to work with the exception of a brief 2 1/2 months of scopes to both knees due to an infection I had back when I was in my 20s. In January I was offered a full time position, and took it. The year appeared to be a great one, and yes we spent as we made money, a bit foolish, and me dealing with my daughter's decision to stay with her Dad in WA at the end of the summer that year put me into a retail therapy tailspin. Most of the items in my craft room are from that year.

My Head Nurse at the time and I became close, walking around the track at the base after work, and as she was going on to a new position, she talked me into applying for a civilian position. I accepted thinking about the possibilities of retirement, and benefits which although I did take a slight pay cut, I would make out better in the long run. 2006 was a gift filled Christmas for us, we went a bit wild, and purchased things for each other and the kids that we always wanted to and couldn't, which we know, not the true meaning of Christmas, but again, none of our children were here for Christmas, except for my Stepdaughter who came with our Granddaughter who we had not seen much of since her birth 2 years earlier, so we spoiled the heck out of her!

Jump ahead to Feb 07'. I have shared before I believe about my battle with my injury, my months of no compensation from the Federal Department of labor, and then the final blow, my Husband's diagnosis of colo-rectal cancer. His Oncologist assured him that he would be able to work through most of the treatment, possibly some time off during the 2 weeks of chemo (he had a continuous pump). We didn't realize the radiation burns in "that" area would be so severe, and cause such pain, and continued time missed from work. Those weeks were very difficult, and the loss of his job the day after his Family medical leave ended, was devastating. Luckily he was able to get unemployment, and I finally received back compensation, and decided to take my rehabilitation into my own hands, my military LTC MD at the Occupational Health office agreed, but demanded that I do it at the hospital, which according to everyone, was not to happen, as I had already gone out into the community to a Ortho surgeon. I have posted, that yes, I was getting better, until October of that year when I experienced what I thought was a "flare up."

I have posted about the loss of my compensation, my inability to work, the dependency on medications that render me quite a bit useless, and inability to do most normal things around the house. I have posted about how I lost my job, due to being charged with being "AWOL," and my Husband's continued search for a job. At times when it seemed it couldn't get any worse, his unemployment was reinstated, he got a job this past June (which I have probably posted lost due to not being cancer free for 5 years, and this cancer is one of those that "usually" comes back, according to the again Federal Nurse who read his MD notes). He has a clean bill of health to work, but that c word can definitely go against you. I understand he doesn't have to disclose this, but Federal and State jobs really believe they are exempt from this.

SO if you are still awake after all of this, it finally happened. Chase robo signed us, and the house was sold the first Tuesday this past August to Freddie Mac. Chase was happy, they were able to get 4 back payments from us, and although we had "re-modified," the loan, the letter was sent to us right before our June payment was due. We now know this was crap, and my Husband was given a court date. We could not appeal, as we did not officially own the house. We had wanted to refinance with another company, because the interest rate was so high, and about only 25.00 a month went to the principal of the loan. Our credit is not great, so we wanted to wait until we were well established in our jobs, so that it wouldn't be a problem. Well you know the story. I suppose if we would have more savings, we would have been able to hang on a bit longer, but we sold what we could (most of the Christmas gifts to each other from 2006), and cashed in our retirements, which wasn't much. Stupid, yes, for not looking into the future. Being in our late 30's and early 40's, we didn't thing about the catastrophe that could and did occur. Still thinking like 20 y/o's I guess. I mean we had started our retirement funds, which we knew was the important thing to do, but oh how much more we could have done. I was payed past due compensation another few times, and at one point, could have transfered the house to our name, but the kids were there for the summer, I was feeling great, working 8 hours a day, and Dale was doing well too. We decided to have a few trips, fly my oldest son down, things like that.

So, Sunday Dec 5th, with most of our keepsakes that we could not lose in storage, we left our house that we had lived in for the last 8 years. I turned over the sign that said "welcome" to "goodbye," and turned the welcome mat over as well. We left two candy canes by the front porch, which we know will be thrown away. Dale's unemployment compensation ran out the week of Thanksgiving, and we had to sell his beloved Bronco II and a few appliances so that we could survive. That money went quick with the moving truck and storage, besides eating in an empty house. (The Judge informed us that we would be evicted on Thanksgiving day). Of course this didn't happen, so we stayed until we were finally notified by the Marshal's office on Dec 1st that we had til the 6th to leave. We have 20.00 left and the 6 nights in this Motel has been paid for by a local charity. I have no clue what we will do on Saturday. This is also coincidently the coldest temps we have seen in quite a few years. I am thankful for the time we have had, but now what? We have called everyone we can think of for assistance, found none. I have Spanky with us, and I don't know what will happen if I can't keep him with us. I am also so very thankful to a "crafty" friend and her family, as they took in my daughter Murray, so she could finish out her first semester at University without any stress, although I know she is so worried about us. I am trying my best to convince her to worry about what is going on with her, and that's it, but she is such a loving, empathetic old soul, I believe it's impossible. I believe the plan is for her to find a dorm, or move back in with us when Dale finds a job, and we can find a place to live. He has jobs to search for today, I have appeals to get out, and apply for help with Social Security. It's hard to get things done, as I feel it's so fruitless, when the Doctor from the hospital stated in his notes that I was not to work while taking Lortabs, and I'm on much more now, I still lost the first appeal.

There is a bright spot in all this. What went wrong last October, why was there pain traveling down my legs, mainly my left side. A neurologist going off of my 2007 MRI's said there was nothing he could do, but I needed to work on my core muscles (which had been my main focus during my period of rehab in 08'), and he basically called me fat in front of another patient when he went into a room to show me the exact muscles. OK, not going to see him again..LOL. My pain management Doctor was basically at a loss and had only been prescribing pain meds. I asked for another MRI, and it showed that the annular tears were healing, I still had a bulge in L5-S1, but no nerves impeded, BUT it did show mild arthritis in a few facet joints in L4-L5. There is synovial fluid in there, and got me thinking, I had mild arthritis in my knees noted on X-ray when they completely ballooned up. I asked my Doc if we could focus injections into the facet joints. The first set was done about a month ago, and immediately...NO pain traveling down my legs!!!!! I was beyond thrilled, despite what was going on at the time. My last injection was last Monday with lidocaine, and an extra one due to a muscle spasm that would not relax in a muscle running along the left side of my spine. I admit there is a bit of pain with this one, but I think it's because of the extra fluid in there, I have to wait for it to be absorbed and healing is slow with me, even if my diabetes is in good control. I don't know where we will be, but I go in next Tuesday for the final step, which involves a type of radio frequency zapped into the joints.
IF this takes, I could have basic relief from the pain going down my extremities for about 9-12 months. I am also going to ask him to "shrink" the bulging disc if possible, and then REHAB!!!!

I don't know what I will do then, I realize patient care is no longer an option for me, that the Dr. and Occupational therapist who helped get my compensation stopped were completely wrong, there is no way I can lift 21 lbs safely or care for patients. I believe I may have to try to get back in school to obtain my BSN. What I would really like to do is Case Management or even review charts. That had been one of my duties, besides teaching in-service's, was reviewing the patient charting for the day, to make sure everything that had to be charted was there, and correctly done, as well as investigation of "events" that may have occurred. I enjoyed this time while I worked that Spring and Summer of 08', even if I was "pushed" into being "assistant Head Nurse," when mine was away. All those meetings and being the only civilian present was daunting.

I know some will say can you find a shelter, and that is a possibility, but the only shelter for women here in the area (that I have found so far) is for women who are victims of domestic abuse, which I would have to say, doesn't being abused by the system count? Well 1. I would have to be separated from my Husband, he does all my driving, and caring for me after my injections. 2. I have my cat with me, which some may say, "OH PLEASE," but he is my heart, and my "4th kid." My daughter even stated she didn't think Spanky would survive without me. :( 3. I'm not sure what the policy on medications would be in a shelter, and I have quite a bit. I would not be comfortable allowing the medications out of my hands and sight, not only because of my dependency, but the possibility of someone who may have issues with addiction (and no, I DO NOT think all homeless people are addicted to drugs, but without them, I am not able to move very much, and one would cause me to possibly be hospitalized if I had a sudden withdrawal from the medication). Oh yes, these medications, my Doctor bills and if needed because I can't drive (one of the reason's I listed as my inability to work), transportation, all paid by the department of labor. Go figure.

Well, this was quite the book, wasn't it. I didn't write this for your sympathy or pity, but to say, it is so true, you can be one paycheck away from being homeless. We were and now we are. It's terrifying, heart breaking, and difficult on our marriage, which has already been difficult with "other" issues due to Dale's left over radiation and surgery effects, and my injury. BUT I know we will get through this, I know it won't be easy, I miss my yard, my sweet neighbors, I wanted to say goodbye (there were a few neighbors left over from the years that Dale's parents were alive, they "started" the neighborhood together, basically military families made up the entire block.), but couldn't as we drove away that Sunday afternoon. It was so painful, and I didn't want to cry. I hope someway, somehow to get Christmas cards (I have a ton of stamps, thank goodness!) to my old neighbors and apologize. I can't go back to the house right now, it's entirely to painful.

I will say, my friend who is taking care of my daughter told me that her son who is an excellent hair stylist, offered me and my daughter a free style, cut, color, whatever we want for Christmas. He is such a fun person, and my friend's other son, who actually introduced us, (He and Murray have been friends for years), well he is my son from another mother. Well anyways, I will be the best styled homeless person in this city. : ) (I really hope I didn't offend anyone with that comment, it's how I deal, laugh or I will cry).

To my blog & internet friends, I wish you a very Happy Holiday season, and I sincerely hope for good Health and Happiness in for you all in 11'. God Bless!!!!