Another trip around the sun

Yesterday was my birthday, my 72nd birthday, to be exact. How did that happen? I remember Mother saying that even when she was pretty much bedfast, she still felt inside like she was 25. I completely understand! While my body may not always agree and a look in the mirror tells me it’s not true, in my mind I’m as young as ever. Dinner with LeRoy and dessert courtesy of Longhorn Steakhouse.

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For all of my adult life, I have celebrated my birthday with other friends whose birthdays are within a day or two of mine. Lunch on Friday was just that kind of celebration with a friend from long ago. Carolyn Newsom attended the same church camp LeRoy and I did as teenagers and then we met up again in Lewis, KS when she was Carolyn Wright (still is, in fact). We were backyard neighbors and our daughters were best friends. Now Carolyn is a widow and lives with her daughter and husband just a few miles away. Selfies are not our longsuit, but we enjoyed our time together.

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We arrived at the Landing near Sedgwick on Tuesday afternoon and were glad to be back. The trip itself was pretty uneventful but not without its stressors. Before we were a couple of hours away from Las Cruces, Raymond called to say that he wanted out of Casa Arena Blanca NOW! After we talked to him and calmed him down, and after we had a restful evening with friends in Belen, NM, we decided that we didn’t really need to go back. Whatever happens can be handled on the phone. We’ve had moderately good news this week on the Medicare front. At least we finally were able to talk to someone about his case and we have sent all the paperwork they need, for the moment. The woman LeRoy spoke to didn’t think there would be any problems with Raymond qualifying. I guess we will wait and see.

In Sedgwick, we quickly got involved in family life. We picked granddaughter Jadelyn up from volleyball practice one day and got to watch her play volleyball and lead cheers at a junior high football game.

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This week we’re back to ordinary life again and it started with a Sunday afternoon nap. What excitement may come? We’ll see!

 

 

 

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Eventful week!

Where do I begin? On Labor Day, we got to be a part of a potluck dinner here at Sunny Acres RV Park. No matter where we are, good cooks abound when it’s time for a potluck! It was nice to have an evening just to relax and not have a hospital visit to make.

We knew that the Casa Arena Blanca nursing home in Alamagordo was going to pick Raymond up the next day and we planned to be there when they did. Late in the afternoon, their van finally arrived and we went out through the hall doors to the front door. The whole staff was there, applauding, as Dr. Kim handed Raymond his certificate. It brought us to tears.

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This is Casa Arena Blanca’s setting, with a backdrop of mountains. For those who don’t know “arena blanca” means “white sands”, appropriate name for a place in Alamogordo, just miles from the White Sands National Monument.

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Inside, the deep inhale test was a good sign. If you’ve ever been in a “bad” nursing home, you know what I mean. Down the wide hall to his room. No carpet, which was another good sign.

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In Alamogordo, the employment pool is relatively small and while several of the staff we’ve talked to live in Las Cruces or even El Paso, there is a significant group of contract “helpers” who are there for varying periods of time. One of Raymond’s (and our) favorites is a CNA from Louisiana who is just finishing nurse’s training. But just when we were all getting used to the staff, today they moved him to another room. It seems his insurance won’t pay for skilled nursing, so he was moved to a long term care room. He’s on a Medicare Advantage plan and we’ve discovered that even though Medicare would pay for 120 days, I think, the advantage plan is much more limited. The new room is still a semi-private one, but considerably smaller. Instead of a flat screen TV by each bed, there are two older models sitting side by side and only one “box” that allows them to work with cable. We’ll see how that goes. Raymond really likes being able to control his own TV.

One of Raymond’s requests is always for coffee with two sugars. In the little lounge beside the nurse’s station, we found coffee pots for the residents! Now if he will just stay out of bed and in his wheelchair long enough to take himself there, he’s in good shape.

We watched him at work in therapy a couple of times this week and he seems to try hard, even though he reminds them before he starts that he’s 80 years old and they shouldn’t expect him to work hard. The therapy staff takes it in stride and one thing I’ve noticed about quite a few of the staff is that they are willing to listen patiently. That’s a real plus, in my book. When we left today, they all knew that we won’t be back until November.

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The latest eventful part of this week is that we have a signed and accepted contract on property in Yuma. You wouldn’t believe how hard that has been! The first property we made an offer on was under contract but the realtor hadn’t deactivated the MLS listing. The next one, after being on the market for more than 500 days, suddenly had 5 offers! They accepted one, so we didn’t follow through with that. Yesterday, though, our realtor called to say that their contract had fallen through and we could make an offer if we wanted. The rest is history! We are set to close on Sept. 29th and we will own a site with two RV hookups in the back and a garage/casita with extra parking for visitors’ cars up front. Welcome to our Yuma Landing!

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Change of Scenery

That title is very descriptive of us right now. Earlier this past week, we took a quick road trip to Yuma, a mission to help friends unload a moving truck.

The temperature in Yuma when we arrived was 117 or 118 degrees, depending on when you looked at the thermometer. Dry heat or not, that’s HOT! LeRoy and our friend Wilbur Bradbury got up at 2:00 in the morning Wednesday and by daybreak, they had the truck and trailer empty. Wilbur and Laura are now headed back to Kelso, WA to pick up their purple Prevost bus conversion and travel to visit friends and family, maybe even us! Eventually they will build a house on their lot in Yuma.

By the time we got back to Las Cruces on Thursday, the 84 degree evening temperature felt wonderful! Raymond was still in the rehab hospital here due to an elevated white count and IV antibiotics. There is, however, an end in sight. He has been accepted and will transfer Tuesday to a permanent home in Alamogordo as it stands now.

Which leads me to the next change of scenery. We will be moving Liberty to Alamogordo on Tuesday the way things stand now. Once we get Raymond settled in there and we are satisfied with the move, we’ll be free to hit the road again, this time headed for Kansas.

Between Yuma and the mountains to the east is an area known as the Foothills. There are many, MANY RV lots there where people come for the winter and stay on their own or someone else’s lot with hookups. Some are empty, some landscaped and some have a shed or two. Still others have a small building called a casita, which may or may not have living quarters inside. On August 7, our last two rental houses in Wichita were sold. We purchased them when we sold the farm in Oklahoma on a 1031 exchange. That just means that we exchanged one income-producing property for another, so the tax on the sale was deferred. Now, we need to roll that money along into another income-producing property. And that leads me to the next change of scenery. Since we have to pick out three possible properties to purchase and turn in that list, we went looking in Yuma. Tucson doesn’t have anything similar that we know of. More on that at a later date when we actually know something, but it currently appears that we will be wintering in Yuma instead of Tucson.

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Waiting

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who sent Raymond birthday cards to help him celebrate his 80th birthday! He read every one.

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He also enjoyed the cupcakes we brought him. I asked when was the last time he had a birthday cake and he said probably about 25 years. When we each had one, we took them to the nurses’ lounge to share.

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His projected date for leaving the rehab hospital had been August 25 or 26, but his case worker has not been able to find a skilled nursing facility that will take him, for multiple reasons. First, several just have no beds available. Second, one that we really liked couldn’t take him because he requires a lift or a two person transfer to get him from bed to chair and back and the state limits the number of people each facility can have that require that. Also, he has a bedsore and his incisions have not completely healed, and they won’t take someone with open wounds! The case worker says in five years, she has never had this trouble placing someone. I know she is just as concerned as we are, since Raymond’s insurance said they will not pay past the 26th. Now he is on IV antibiotics because his white count is high. We see that as providential, though, because had he already been transferred, they probably wouldn’t have been drawing blood regularly.

There has been progress on one front, at least. When we arrived to see him yesterday, his bandages and wraps had been removed and he just has small ones that cover the incisions and a couple other problem areas, so he feels much freer to move. ¬†Please keep praying! We know it’s in God’s hands and he loves Raymond far more than we do.

Once Raymond is transferred to his next “home”, he should be staying there. It may be as far away as Albuquerque, but he shouldn’t have to move again. We have all agreed that once that happens, we will probably be on the road again.

 

 

 

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Pleasant postscript

This week we got a message from our co-hosts at Golden Bell. The new “office” is finished! The only thing it needs, Max says, is a heater for those chilly early mornings.

Nice work, Max and Paula!

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Whirlwind

It feels as though we’ve been spinning for a while now and are finally coming to a stop. When I wrote last, we had Raymond settled in Sierra Healthcare facility in Truth or Consequences. From the beginning, we had real concerns about the rehab part of that facility and we expressed those concerns to the administration. Some things were remedied, some were not. One of our biggest concerns was that Raymond’s room did not have a working call system. He would push his nurse call button and get no response. Sure enough, the buttons in his room did not work, so they gave him a bell to ring until they could get them fixed. If the nursing personnel were not right outside his room, no one could hear it. In the week that he spent there, “therapy”, which was supposed to be three hours a day may have happened for a total of an hour. We were becoming more and more unhappy with his care, when it was all taken out of our hands anyway. We had told the staff that the hospital said his staples should come out by August 5, but when they started to do that, they decided it didn’t look right, so sent him to the emergency room at the hospital there. Later that afternoon, he was transferred back to Mountain View Hospital in Las Cruces, where his surgery had been done. After several days there and another surgical procedure, he came to the conclusion that he doesn’t want to go back to Truth or Consequences at all! Medical care is a long ambulance ride away each time.

So we went back up to his apartment and cleaned out all of his personal belongings and gave notice that he will be vacating by August 31. It’s amazing how much has to be done to accomplish that! Our checklist is still not finished, but as of late afternoon on Friday, Raymond is a patient at Advanced Care Hospital of Southern New Mexico. This was his limo!

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Today when we went to see him, this is how we found him.

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He’s learning to adjust to the schedule of the hospital and it hasn’t been easy for him, as the look on his face shows. This was his respiratory therapist explaining a few things. Tomorrow his therapy starts in earnest.

Seven years ago just a little later than this in August, we left on this adventure we call retired living. We envisioned seeing all sorts of interesting and exciting things, things that I could make into a fascinating blog. Not once did we envision this aspect of freedom, the freedom to take care of Raymond and all his business affairs, but I believe God put us in this lifestyle to give us the time and ability to serve in just this way. Colossians 3:23 says to work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Sometimes that means hosting an RV park and sometimes it means taking care of a frail gentleman who is helpless without you.

Stay tuned. I believe God isn’t through with us yet!

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Change of scenery

We went from 9220′ altitude and 70 degree days to less than half that altitude and 95-100 degrees highs in just a few days last weekend. We had a very handy RV parking place with 30 amp service in the hospital parking lot at Las Cruces except that we kept coming back to the bus to find that the air conditioner was off. One day I was sitting inside when the electricity went off altogether, so we soon figured out that the electric service itself was at fault. Our plug-in occasionally got down to 100 volts, while the other two varied upwards to 146, totally unacceptable! So we found an RV park about 15 minutes away and settled in for the long haul.

Raymond was recuperating pretty well from his surgery, but his mental confusion remained about the same. Toward the end of the week, they started talking about transferring him to rehab. The hospital staff was assuming he would do rehab there but we found out that the nursing facility in T or C now does the same type of rehab. He had been in that facility a year ago in the spring, and since he would be closer to people he knows who might visit him after we leave, we decided to relocate him there. That finally happened yesterday afternoon and we left the RV park in Las Cruces to move to T or C. And then the fun began!

In the hospital, Raymond was in a single bed room. Here, he shares a room and he has the bed away from the window and the A/C. His confusion makes it more complicated. ¬†We’ve talked to the admissions director and tomorrow or Tuesday we will be part of a care plan meeting. When Mother was in the nursing home, I remember her advice when Florence Marie and I went to just such a meeting for her: BE NICE! I may have to remind myself of that.

In the midst of our travels, we stopped for fuel and to get pictures of some of the attractions in Hatch.

We should be here for a few weeks, whatever it takes to get Raymond settled. At this point, we can’t do much toward cleaning out the apartment because, while we don’t believe it can or should happen, the goal of the rehab folks is to return him to his home. We’ll see how all that pans out. In the meantime, our plans for the rest of the summer are in limbo. Prayers would be appreciated for all of us!

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