Tuesday, October 6, 2020

A Special Visit

During my five years in Douglas, I really tried hard to get parents to understand how important it is for them to be involved in education.  I have written many times about the wonderful program "The Family Leadership Institute."  For whatever reasons, there were some people who were threatened by this.

I got to know so many wonderful parents and have continued a relationship with them since I left five years ago. 

This past weekend one of the parents, Melissa (Silva) Barraza  and her two wonderful daughters, spent the night with us.  We had a wonderful dinner and then came back to swim.  I think they all enjoyed it.  Melissa got to meet Dave and he really enjoyed hearing her stories about my time in Douglas.  Both of her girls are amazing.  On Sunday, Melissa picked up her fiance, Rob, and we got to meet him and had a late lunch.

 I so value these friendships and so value my time in Douglas.  Melissa said that some of the things we did continue because people were empowered.  I hope that is true.

Best part, I got some fresh red chili powder, tortillas, and a Mexican mask.  Love you, Melissa, and love our connection and continued relationship. 


Monday, September 28, 2020

My Heart is Touched!


Today my heart was so touched by the first picture.  I had brought Dave's high school football picture back from Butte to put on the wall in our Irish pub, Shenanigan's.   He had it on the wall in the basement of our Butte home.  

Patrick put it up last night and it looked great.  Unfortunately, the glass was cracked so he said he wanted to take it to get the glass fixed which he did.  I told him to go ahead and get a frame, but Dave had told him that his dad had made the frame so he was trying to preserve it.  The first picture if the two of them working on the frame.  The second picture is the one I love of Dave when he was in high school playing football, which is his first love (well, I could be wrong as there is golf).

Dave told me today that when he was married, his ex wife wouldn't let him put up this picture in their house. I don't want to go into anything about ex crap, but it made me sad.  I just didn't realize how much it meant to him that I want to put this picture in our house.  I love it because it is who Dave is.  

The fact that Patrick gets things like this makes me so happy and I love the relationship that he and Dave have.  IT WARMS MY HEART!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Post 5--COVID19

This will be a short one.  Dave and I have been really good about wearing our masks.  However, Montana's wonderful governor issued an order for masks everywhere.  I was so glad this happened.  We have been both been good, but I usually have to remind/ask Dave where his mask is.  We keep ones in the cars and we have ones that can be thrown away.  

Today for probably the 15th time, I had to ask him as we were leaving, where is your mask.  He has to go back into the house and find it. I had to "lecture" him about leaving ones on the table in the kitchen and in the cars.  And he is 68.  Can you imagine what it would be like to have to deal with this with a kinder kiddo?  I was an elementary principal for too many years to even begin to go there with this.  This says it all!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Post 4--COVID19

I continue to struggle with the fact that we can't make a decision about the start of school and bringing our kids, teachers and staff back into buildings with the rage of COVID.  I don't understand why we can't make a decision, even if it is the wrong one. Limbo is not the way to be. I know what my decision will be and it will be that we don't do any harm to anyone.  

This is real.  A little bit ago, I read about a very popular Chandler teacher and coach who just passed away from complications.  From everything I have read, he was beloved.  My concern is that we will be reading or hearing about these deaths on a daily basis if we don't make a decision. 

One of the most amazing teachers I worked with during my time at Gilbert El contracted COVID along with her husband.  They live in Gilbert and Washington.  She has been keeping us informed on Bill's progress. He is considered a "miracle" by the medical professionals.  I have daily read or texted her and talked to her a few times.   She has been okay in terms of how awful this disease is.  But hearing her worries and her journey has been heartbreaking to say the least.  

Bill beat the odds and was released yesterday.  However, they don't know the long term prognosis of what he will deal with.  She was so excited to get to pick him up yesterday.  She sent this email to us this morning and I asked her if I could share it.  She said I could.  THIS IS REAL!!!

There is no other way to say it other than yesterday was traumatic.

First of all, Bill called early to say he was being discharged.  I called the discharge social worker and set up a noon meeting to go over Bill's discharge papers, review his medications (there are 13 of them), and to meet with the doctor.

Terri wanted to drive me to Issaquah, which turned out to be a bigger blessing than I imagined.  

When we arrived in Issaquah, we were met by a team of women who were screening visitors for fever and questioning people about coughs, loss of smell, etc.   Since I was the wife of a patient being discharged, I was allowed up to the floor to see Bill.  Terri could not even enter the hospital.  She had to wait outside in the sun (and it was 85 degrees in Issaquah).   Luckily, she had a book to read.

I went up to the floor and peeked into Bill's room.  He was sitting on the bed with his back to me.  A nurse was combing his hair.   I had to put on a gown, gloves, and I already had a mask on.  I quietly walked into the room and wrapped my arms around Bill.   He started to sob.  He sobbed and sobbed.   I cried.   We just held on to each other.   Later I asked him if he thought I was a nurse.  He told me no, that he recognized my scent (he said smell) and my touch.   After we regained our composure, we visited and waited.   We waited, and we waited.   The doctor had seven patients to discharge and I suspect we were the last because we sat on that bed for exactly 3 hours.   The discharge social worker never came in.  The pharmacist handed me papers through a crack in the door and then called me on my phone to go over the medications.  The doctor never came to see us.  Only Nurse Taylor checked in from time to time.  She said she had told Dr. Vu we had a ferry to catch and a long drive home, but Taylor said after a while the doctor was going to do what she was going to do and nothing she could say would make her hurry up.   

Finally, we were discharged and made our way downstairs and out the door where Terri was patiently waiting.  We decided to take the Edmonds Ferry home as the I-5 was packed with traffic.  We missed the ferry by about 20 minutes and had to wait another hour for the next ferry.   By this time Bill was exhausted and hot.  He wanted to sit in the backseat so he could lie down if he needed to rest.  But he was so uncomfortable and miserable, we all just grit our teeth and persevered until we arrived in our neighborhood.  During our ferry wait, Dr. Vu called to tell me Bill's second COVID test was positive.  So now, Terri and I are once again in a two-week quarantine.   She had moved out most of her things, so while we were heading home, Mike had to move everything back into our house.

We are going to see if we can appeal the test and get Bill retested.  He has no symptoms, no cough, no fever, etc.   If he can't be retested soon, then all of the doctor appointments we have to make will be jeopardized and I don't know if the home health nurse will come to the house.   I will find out about all of this today.  I am going to be assertive because Bill had one negative test and one positive test in two days and it has been about 40 days since he first had symptoms of COVID.

Our Cape George friends and neighbors were waiting for us to drive by.  There were flags, air horns, signs, balloons, and cheers.  However, Bill was so exhausted and we were so exhausted we barely could take it all in.  The trip caused Bill's feet to swell and his skin to look modelly.   He fell into bed.

Walking into the house was not difficult.  Jay had lent us his walker, the kind with four wheels, a seat, and hand brakes.   But we soon realized Bill is too weak to use it.  He couldn't maneuver it well at all, he couldn't squeeze the brakes well, and we, including Bill, were afraid he would fall.  We were told that if he fell, he would have to immediately go to the ER.  So falling is not on our agenda.  Especially since he's COVID positive. If he fell, he would have to go back to the isolated COVID  ER room he had been in before he was admitted to the hospital in PT.  So since having a walker was vital, Mike called some people in Cape George to ask if they knew of anyone with a walker we could use.  He discovered the Cape George office had walkers and such in the basement, so he called the secretary of our Cape George Club at around 9:00.  She promptly met him at the office and handed him a walker.  By 9:20 PM Mike had put the walker on our front porch and Bill had a walker like the one he had used at the hospital.   Eventually, Jay's walker will be great for Bill, because we'll need it for doctors' appointments and such.   

Bill is frail.  He has lost a lot of hair, especially on the back of his head from being on his back for so long.  We had a rough night.  He was up about every 2 hours needing to use the bathroom.   I didn't sleep well because I was listening to his breathing and to give him medication.

On the upside, Bill felt better this morning.  He no longer has swollen feet and his color is better.  He took his morning meds and he has another round of medication to take in a few minutes.  Then I'm going to give him a shower.  He hasn't had a shower for 33 days.  He only had sponge baths.   He is going to shave.  He has eczema on his cheeks we want to clear up before he grows back his beard.   Then he is going to eat breakfast.   At least that's the plan.   

I've included some photos.  One is of me wearing a PPE hack.  I have to be careful tending a patient with C-Diff.   I'll include photos of the parade in another email.

Thanks for the support.



Monday, July 20, 2020

Post 3--COVID19

I know that the economy and money are extremely important to get our country back.  I understand that many people are suffering because of missing work and having a hard time getting unemployment benefits.  I get all of this.   Fortunately, Dave and I aren't having to deal with this because we are retired and have our benefits as a result of working hard for many years.

Funding for our schools if we go back has to be increased to provide for all that is needed to keep everything clean and up to CDC standards.  I believe that will mean that there will be more staff needed to keep classrooms clean and sanitized.  When I was a principal, our custodians were stretched thin.  I can't imagine that it has gotten any better.

But one particular issue that I absolutely believe has to be looked at is the cost for one case of a person going to the hospital with COVID19.  My friend's husband is going home today after 32 days in the hospital and I believe that 21 of those days were on a ventilator.  Many people need PT, OT and speech therapy after recovering. I can't imagine what the cost of just one person will be.

I would never base any decision I make about this horrible virus on the financial piece,  but I think it is important that we look into the medical costs and what it could do to our insurance costs in the future.  I don't have the answers to this question, but that alone is a scary thing.  I imagine that the costs are astronomical for just one patient.  Think about multiplying that by an unknown number of employees who come down with this awful virus and have to be hospitalized.   

I remember many years ago when we wrote a grant and hired the first social worker in our district.  I had a conversation with her about some of her job duties.  The main reason I wanted a social worker was to help meet children's social and emotional needs so that they could succeed academically.  However, I told her that one thing I would like her to work on was attendance.  Not only should a child be at school for academic and social needs, their presence helped with funding.  I wanted to be able to keep this position after the grant ran out and when you can "bring in money" that can help with decision making about keeping a position.  I am proud to say that as of this school year, every school will have a social worker!!  So 30 plus years later, maybe that part helped keep these very important positions!

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Post 2--COVID 19

I am going to start out by saying that I hate to wear a mask!!  It is not fun and fogs my glasses. I have had to figure out the right ones that I can keep on.  However,  I will wear one and continue to wear one because it is the right thing to do.  My health is good and I hope to keep it that way.

I just don't get how wearing a mask has become political.  It is beyond anything I can comprehend.  I don't understand why anyone thinks that is taking away freedom.  We have to wear clothes.  I can't imagine going out with no clothes on--that would not be a pretty sight!  Restaurants have signs that say, no shoes, no shirts, no service and have for years.  Why hasn't there been massive protests over this with people with no shoes and no shirts on?????  To my knowledge, that hasn't happened.

The SCIENTISTS are saying that if people will just comply with this, it could really make a difference in controlling this horrible virus.  Isn't it better to be inconvenienced for awhile than to be dead or living with serious conditions because of being sick with COVID?  

If we want our economy to be brought back, this seems like a very simple solution.   

Montana's Governor, Steve Bullock, mandated mask wearing last week throughout the state.  For the most part, I see people complying.  I haven't seen any demonstrations here in Butte, but that doesn't mean there haven't been.

Although Montana's cases have spiked,  it is a numerical spike because of the low numbers because the Governor had the foresight to close things down early on and then stick to a phased reopening.   I have been impressed with the way that the social distancing and cleaning has taken place and that we are able to actual do some things that we couldn't do if we lived in Arizona.

I am just saddened that we have come to this point in our society.  All of the ugliness and hate seems to be spreading as fast as the virus is.  

I want things to get back to normal.   I want our kids and teachers to get back to school.  I want sports to return as I miss watching games on television and in person.   I want to be able to travel.  But if we all don't come together,  I am deathly afraid that this is not going away anytime soon.  



Saturday, July 18, 2020

Post 1--COVID19

Today Kerri and I went to the Butte Farmer's Market.  There was an old white lady standing on the corner with a poster board sign saying "COVID is a lie."  It was the first time in my life I actually hoped that someone standing on a corner with a sign might be right.  However, it was just a hope as we are in the midst of the worst of times with this awful virus.

It is beyond anything I can wrap my brain around that this horrible disease has become political.  I have spent the last two weeks listening to teachers crying because they are afraid.  I have read comments on Facebook about this being a hoax and that face masks infringe on our rights (we do have to wear clothes).  I hate wearing a face mask, but I know that is what needs to be done right now.

I have had asthma for the better part of my 71 years on this earth.  I have spent time in the hospital through the years because my breathing was becoming a problem.  There was a period of time that I had a "thing" where I had to measure my lung capacity and if it wasn't at a certain level, I had to do something about it.  I have had a breathing machine that I needed to use to be able to breathe.  When I was a kid in Douglas, I remember when the smelter smoke would settle on the town and I could hardly breathe.  And at that time, we didn't have inhalers. I have LIVED not being able to breathe.

When I found Dr. Agren (and now Dr. Farrel) in about 2008, I got a new lease on life with the treatment from the Scandinvian countries that has basically "cured" my asthma and I have been able to lose weight, exercise, and lead a full life.

This has been a very difficult few weeks for me.  I have had to listen to teachers crying because we haven't made a decision about opening schools.  I have had words with people I care about which is so absolutely disturbing to me.  I have contemplated resigning from the board because I can't be a part of making a life or death decision. I am so distraught that this has become political and we have to find a way to make this decision in a strategic way. I understand this at a certain level, but how is preventing death a strategic decision?

I dealt with too many deaths as an educator.  I will always remember having to go to a classroom and tell children that their teacher had cancer or had died or that a student was killed over the weekend. It happened too many times. 

I have to figure out how to not be so passionate and how to not take this personally.  That is my problem and that is why writing is important to me.  

This is just post #1.  I know that I don't have many people who read what I write, but that is okay.  I can still write and maybe someday someone will go back and read what I wrote about.   

I have always believed that hope is the single most important part of life, but right now that seems to be a hard concept because there is way too much division on something that we should be looking at science and not emotions.