A Pig for Sale

Only in Indiana.  Or maybe in any other State with farming.  Well that would include all 50 States.  I guess it’s just new to me . . .

The Facebook page for selling stuff in my town had a posting for a pig for sale:  $300 for the live beast.  I actually thought about it for a moment!  The biggest issue would be finding a place to store all of that meat.  Our lil’ freezer just ain’t big enough for my hubby’s ice cream and my bone broth in addition to a virtual bevvy of pork!  Darn.  I’ve been missing BBQ ribs for some time now!

I suppose that someone else with a chest or upright freezer will jump on the offer.  Maybe our neighbor who bought our used freezer will find it in her budget to feast on Porky Pig for the rest of the year?  Or maybe not.  But if she invites us over for some Famous Dave-style ribs I am sure that we would oblige!  We will even bring my Grandma’s famous potato salad.  Yeah I won’t forget the horseradish, pickle relish, and bacon grease (aka “secret ingredients”)!

Porky Pig here.

Porky Pig here.

We live in a time where you can buy and sell just about anything.  With the diversity of our world and our accessibility to most of it via the internet, we can get much of what we want for a price.  Do you want someone to paint your business logo on his hairy belly and sing a song for you?  Just check out the gigs on http://www.fiverr.com and it will be yours for the price of a latte’.  My preference for that one would be “NOPE.”  That is, in the physical realm.  There are other realms for which I would need a song you know.  And tonight my heart realm can’t buy me even a lullaby for peace of mind.  My heart is breaking and there simply is not much I can do about it but pray.

My brother, Mike, whom everyone else calls Michael, continues to live in a wretched inner city nursing home after a serious stroke.  He is four months post-CVA and three months enduring the “3 hots and a cot” provided by a one-star facility.  I flipped when I found out that he had an infectious rash on his hemiplegic hand!  I asked his fiancé and Mike to check for signs of bed bugs and call the State Ombudsman immediately if they found any signs of them.  Mike’s roommate itches too.  Hopefully it will be a case of an allergic reaction to the laundry detergent.  But why would the bumps become infected?  Good golly.  Water (no juice, milk, or coffee) for breakfast, a delayed response for significantly elevated blood pressure, and no follow-up whatsoever on a 6 cm kidney tumor ARE ONLY THE FIRST THREE items in the long list of substandard care complaints.  So sad.

Lisa, Mike’s precious fiancé, is at her wit’s end trying to get Veteran’s Administration or Medicaid benefits processed correctly to change his situation.  She faithfully visits him when she can, brings him home-cooked food, and follows up the paperwork nightmare as Mike’s legal guardian.  Just when I wonder if things moving forward fast enough or why she hasn’t returned my phone calls I find out that she has started a new job to try an better their overall situation.  She is such a trooper.  Thank the Lord for Lisa’s love and care for her Michael.  And our cousin, Lisa, helps out where she can as well.  Cousin Lisa is an optometrist for the nursing home and has more than once been able to positively influence his care by her presence, her visiting, her dipomacy, her support of fiancé Lisa.  They are doing the best they can and that is both a gift and all I can ask from 200 miles away.

This is such a curious situation, you know.  I am an occupational therapist with over 30 years of professional experience including patients with the very same medical condition as my brother.  Yet due to a severe illness I am enduring, I cannot even visit him!  The dirty conditions of his living environment would surely trigger seizure-like attacks for me.  Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, or whatever you want to call this nightmare is keeping me from seeing my brother.  And this is the Lord’s plan for both of us right now.  I don’t understand it.  My heart is hurting.  I would be honored to work more closely with Mike, even provide supplemental therapy or visits.  I cannot do it right now.  Oh sure, I send him something in the mail occasionally or make a phone call to his facility and get placed on hold for a very, very long time before actually getting through to anyone less than 50% of the time.  We are all doing what we can and waiting on the Lord.  It’s just so very frustrating for each of us!

So if you’ve got an extra 300 bucks to donate to our cause, kindly send it to St. F—— Nursing Center in D—–, room 207.  Leave the pig and get my brother out of there please!  They might not notice Mike missing for awhile since a piece of meat is a piece of meat when you don’t care much for the sweet sense of humor that used to characterize my tall lanky sibling.  Oh geez, I’m getting a little upset here aren’t I?  Well at least the pig will stomach the food a little better without complaining.  Like the Cheerio’s commercial said many decades ago, “he’ll eat anything!  Hey Mikey!”  Yeah but it won’t be Mikey.  One day Mikey will be gone from the place he and his fiancé are calling, “the dump.”  May the Lord pour out His grace on those left behind when he does go.

I just hope that moving day will be soon.  O.k.  I’m done venting.  Gotta get back to praying.  JJ

sad pig

Missin’ Mike and Good News Too

There is good news to report:  my brother will be moving into a better rehabilitation facility soon!  His fiancé is now his legal guardian and has received preliminary acceptance of his admission into the rehab. unit of a skilled nursing facility close to their home in Port Huron, Michigan.  Michael’s Medicaid is now approved which makes this transfer possible.  Lord willing he will be there within a week.

My heart is breaking that I have not been able to see him since our initial visit to him at St. Johns Hospital April 15th.  St. Johns dumped him into an inner city nursing home when a place became available who would accept someone with “Medicaid pending.”  The social workers claimed that they contacted 35 facilities before St. Francis accepted him.  While we are grateful that this search for a place ended up extending his inpatient rehabilitation 10 more days, the place he got transferred to isn’t much more than “3 hots and a cot.”  Oh I guess they give him his medication too and an occasional bed bath.  Not much for a 53 year old man who has just suffered a severe stroke and needs considerably more care.

I am sad that there has been no follow up on his medical needs after the initial physician visit.  (He has a tumor on a kidney that was to be scheduled for biopsy but nothing has happened.)  The staff at St. Francis has lost or been unable to locate most of his clothing.  Michael sits in a “geri chair” for much of the day which is a large vinyl recliner chair:  completely dependent upon others to be moved out of his room, into the dining room, or possibly into the T.V. room.  I understand that the building is very old with stained walls, stench of incontinent residents, and constant sounds of demented residents or staff milling about.  Michael has gotten weaker from inactivity.  His weight continues to be down even with the meals and treats brought to him by his fiancé and our cousin, Lisa.  Lisa is an optometrist on staff with the facility but that has made little difference in meeting Michael’s care needs.  Lisa witnessed a nurse writing her requests in the nursing 24-hour care log.  Nothing happened:  1) he continues to crave cigarettes whereas a nicotine patch would ease his chemical dependency and 2) he never got the wheelchair promised upon admission and supposedly recommended by the physical therapist.  I am convinced that the poor, sack-of-potatoes positioning in the recliner chair has contributed to his worsening left shoulder pain.  Such is life post stroke with left hemiplegia and no rehabilitative care.

In the meantime Sister Bear has secured a television/DVD player, wheelchair, walker, and bedside commode for him.  However with the lack of security for his personal items and transportation issues getting the items to him from their respective locations (wheelchair and commode in Mt. Clemens, walker in Adrian, and T.V. here with me in Indiana) everything is on hold until he moves into a better place.  Lord willing everything will move forward soon as various family members have offered assistance to get these items to him and his fiancé (also named Lisa!).  Lord willing I will be able to visit him at Marwood in Port Huron in about 2 weeks.  Surely my serious respiratory infection will be resolved by then and travel arrangements will come together; the seizure attacks have lessened some as well, gratefully.  I would have never tolerated visiting Mike at St. Francis due to the extremely high potential risk of environmental triggers for seizures.  Even the outdoor patio would have been an impossible place to visit coupled with the resident smokers.  Knowing all of this contributed to my heartbreak of late.  There was nothing I could do but keep in touch with everyone, secure the equipment, pray, and wait.

So I wonder what it has been like for Mike to be so debilitated, alone except for some weekly visits, in a dumpy and dirty living environment?  I understand that he had his Bibles brought to him and pictures taped to the wall next to his bed.  His fiancé Lisa says that he was trying to do his exercises on his own as best as he could.  Without being able to get up and bear weight on his left arm or leg, however, the benefits of exercise would be limited.  The risk for complications has been elevated with some realized as ongoing pain and weakening instead of continued progress.  He was too debilitated to return home from St. Johns Hospital without 24-hour physical assistance and considerable accessibility modifications.  Hopefully he will be more mobile and independent when it’s time to leave Marwood and go home.  In the meantime he has had a lot of time to think about many things.  I hope he reached out to the Lord, the person of Jesus Christ, in his time of need.  I hope he will find some purpose, some meaning for this desolate oasis of time.

Most communication between us has been cut off since Mike arrived at St. Francis due to the sorry state of their phone system.  (No surprise that the place is rated one out of five stars.)  After getting through to talk to him on his first day there, the facility phone was always busy when I called.  Twice I happened to call when his fiancé Lisa was visiting so I could hear his voice for a few moments.  The last time there were so many loud voices and screaming in the background that the words were tough to hear.  I can picture the scene in that place very easily.  I worked in all types of care centers from the inner city to private pay life care communities as an occupational therapist.  Many times I completed those wheelchair screening assessments and crawled around dirty, stuffed storage rooms and sheds until I could find a wheelchair with matching parts for a new resident.  Oh well.  When you don’t have insurance you get what you get.  I guess that Mike was actually fortunate to not be dumped in a homeless shelter.  At least there were security fences around the building and a guard at the front door.  The boarded up homes across the street were intimidating to fiancé and cousin Lisa yet they visited anyways.  I sure wish I could have gone to see him too.  I miss my brother.

I look forward to seeing Mike and holding him for a long time when I do.  There is much sadness for all that he has lost.  There is also much anticipation for all that the Lord has in store for him and his fiancé Lisa too.  I believe that the Lord has His hand on him in that Mike’s life was spared.  Just under half of all persons who experience a cerebral vascular accident don’t survive.  Mike’s cognitive abilities and ability to communicate have been spared.  His ability to swallow foods from a regular diet was quickly restored.  In my clinical experience these rarely happen in a person with severe left hemiplegia.  We are all hopeful that his ability to function will improve over time as well.  The rule of thumb is that the most rapid recovery occurs within the first 3-6 months post stroke.  He is six weeks out from his onset date of April 13th and continues to feel new sensations in his affected arm and leg.  And now his next phase of rehabilitation is about to begin bringing new hope for more return of function.  This time I’ll bet at least a quarter that Mike will be very motivated for physical, occupational, and speech therapy!  That will be very good to see indeed.

Until then, please join me in praying for Mike and his fiancé Lisa.  Lisa has a teenage son, Alex, who loves Mike and hasn’t seen him since April.  There’s a golden retriever named Garfield who misses him too.  The new place is closer to their home so I hope all of them will get together sometime soon; even dogs are allowed to visit at Marwood!  Oh I am grateful for such blessings.  Yes, there is good news this day with the promise of even more to come.  Thank you Jesus for your enduring grace and mercy.  Go before us, strengthen our faith, bring healing to our dear Michael for your glory Lord.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Michael George Lech

Michael George Lech

 

The Sister Bear Speaks

While my brother’s fiancé is there at the hospital with him in the thick of things, his next of kin is a bit upset.  I am too upset to make any rational decisions.  The feelings run deep with me.  It’s all I could do to be polite on the phone today to the social worker from the rehabilitation unit where Mike is hospitalized.  At least Steve and I have the weekend to sort things out . . .

Very likely Mike will get booted out of the hospital next week and sent to be housed in a nursing home without additional rehabilitation services.  His insurance is “Medicaid Pending” and his requiring of 24-hour physical care post discharge, a situation that cannot be met at home for valid reasons, is pushing the hospital to discharge him from their care.  I don’t get it.  In my 30+ year career in rehabilitation as an occupational therapist, the discharge criteria virtually always hinged on a lack of progress, not the particulars of discharge planning.  It’s a new day:  a new reality.  If you can’t do what the government-driven healthcare system wants you to do then I guess they can wash their hands of you.

Perhaps he will go to a nursing home or perhaps by some miracle the Veterans Administration (VA) will accept him on such short notice.  If the decision is the former, he will be fed 3 meals per day, kept clean and dry, and left to sit slumped in an overstretched wheelchair or geri chair in front of an out-of-tune entertainer from the long term care circuit with a pair of maracas shoved into his functional hand.  The wailing of the demented residents will woo him to sleep at night as he tosses on his waterproof mattress to get comfortable around the bedsores that no one will find until it is too late for healing.  Thickened Pepsi to drink?  Not a chance.  At least until his fiancé cleans up her make-up from crying long enough to ignore the swale of urine stench long enough to bring it to him.  God bless her faithfulness visiting every day through this incredibly stressful ordeal!

Or perhaps it won’t be that bad.  Maybe he will get into a VA rehabilitation facility with little red tape and get stronger.  Regardless, the hope of at least a few weeks of physical, occupational, and speech therapy has vanished for the time-being.  And Michael has no idea yet, what is about to happen to him next week.  I left a message for his saint of a fiancé and she has not gotten back to me yet.  Maybe she is in as big of SHOCK as I am.  Maybe she is exhausted and horrified from touring nursing homes closer to where they lived in the “thumb” area of Michigan.  I don’t blame her for taking a little time for herself to sort things out.  My heart goes out to Lisa.  She has been through so much these past two weeks as her life has changed forever.

As for me, 200 miles to the south and struggling with four hours of seizure attacks multiple times per day, I am overwhelmed with the stress of it all.  Just seeing the missing flooring in our bathroom from yet another mold remediation project is enough to stub my toe even when the light is on.  Somehow I completed a few errands outside the home this afternoon and made a simple dinner.  I talked to a few family members who offered mixed consolation while I was stepping on the elliptical for 20 minutes, phone in hand.  Geez!  I haven’t used that thing in a few weeks!  I must be stressed out.  Thank goodness the nightly seizure attack episodes haven’t fully ramped up yet tonight:  I needed to talk to you, Gentle Reader!  I started to type and there you were.  Thanks so much for being here.  I can barely speak I am so very upset.

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Life goes on despite the drama of the moment.  If Steve and I don’t impulsively drive 3 hours north to go to the hospital tomorrow and I’m stable enough, we will attend the 50th wedding anniversary open house of some friends.  It will be good to enjoy some Christian fellowship.  Then maybe my beloved Steve will start to work on the bathroom floor tile project and I’ll put together the jewelry orders that have been sitting at my work table this past week.  Lord willing I’ll continue with the Spring clean-up of our gardens and Steve will mow the grass for the first time this year.  Looks like the narcissus will be blooming within a day or two with their yellow-throated happy faces reaching up to soak up the sun.  The sunshine will feel good on my broken frame as well and I will enjoy the freshness of the air this time of year.  There’s no better hue of green than that of the tender leaves emerging from their Winter slumber:  truly lime, truly sublime too.  Some call it “horticulture therapy.”  Gee, maybe I should go right now poke my finger in the dirt of the violets waiting to fill the self-watering planters I thought I might plant tomorrow . . . I need a fix of something and a shot of tequila is out of the question these days . . .

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Please pray for us.  This sister bear is hurting more for her brother than anything right now.  My beloved Steve has been so loving despite the challenges of my illness, demands of his work, and his other responsibilities.  Lisa has got to be struggling as well, balancing work, the care of her teenage son (Alex), and assuming increasing responsibility for Michael’s affairs.  She and Michael have known each other almost 7 years.  Her 13 year old son has a great relationship with Michael too.  Oh Lord, hold us all closely this night.  Help us.  Show us Your love, mercy, and grace.  Guide us with wisdom.  If it is Your will, heal my brother from the effects of this devastating stroke.  Comfort him as he realizes all that has happened to him and show him hope, be real for him on his bed of sickness.  He has reached out to you in his time of need.  I am grateful for this and grateful that you are here with us.  And thank you for the encouragement we find in Your Word:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  (2 Corinthians 4)

In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Michael George Lech

Michael George Lech