Monday, December 29, 2008


from my post in

Not been well and unable to post for awhile but I do have great news.

I filed for the VA pension in May 2008.

Most vets do not know that there is a pension available if you have been in a war (any war) for 90 days. You did not have to be in a batttle either. Just in service during that time.

So I filed in May and December 18th I did receive the good news and my husband can have a pension which will help me a great deal. It's not a fortune to be sure but it is a great help in the days that we are facing now.

The introduction to a new social service person at the VA then also helped me with more , my husband can now go to a day care for 5 days a week. I just could not afford that but I surely need the rest. We will try it in the next couple of weeks and see how he likes it and how it will work out for us all.

I am hoping and praying that this will be the best for him and for me. At the Day care they have Pet days, music days, craqfts etc...things he could still be interested in. Here at home he sits and falls asleep , no longer interested in reading nor TV , the most he is interested in is drying the dishes. So I am hoping that

the day care will be to his liking.

Getting help is sometimes difficult if you are dealing with people who do not know their jobs. That was our case when I asked for help previously. I am in 7th heaven now.

A real good 2009 beginning.

Retirement day with excitement

I don’t know how to make an entrance but I sure know how to exit.
Yesterday, Dec 28th, last day at work.
I am retiring....again.
I was mixed with emotions , love the job, no energy, need to care for
the man at home.

Went down the hall to get my paperwork and my throat decided to
close. I mean “closed” for further operations.
I turned around in panic saw my manager and motioned that
I was chocking. Not chocking on food, mind you, just no air, period,no air.
Mgr tried the heimlich but no results, a client started to bang on my back, no results.
I thought I could feel my head burn and figured I was beat red and
someone said : She is turning blue. Get the medics.
I had the presence of mind to think that here I was in the middle of
the store and I was going to die on my retirement day.
No fair, I thought, but I was not even alarmed at that.

Then a very slight peep came out from the throat and I started in
earnest to try and cough and cough. I knew that if I could cough then
some air was coming in and I would be fine.
In a flash I remembered having this about 8 years ago and
the medics came with oxigen and took me to the hospital.
Same feeling.
This time the medics did not come that fast and I was able to do
some breathing and very slowly could talk again.
I have no idea who was all there but a small group had gathered
around me and a chair had been put under me.
I felt I would faint but I never did.
When the help came ,I explained to them what had happened and
was told that one of their own had this. It is a spasm in the throat
and shuts out all the air.
I refused the hospital trip as I know that is a good $500 I did not
Daughter was on the way to get me and was rather non-chalant
when every one in the store was agitated. Her reply was:
she is OK now and I did not see her blue!

I had not finished my work. The deposits were not done.
I felt horrible but mgr told me to just relax and go home.
That is not my style. I should leave on my last day with
work undone?
I went to lunch came back and finished what I had started.

They knew at work that I had been dependable for 3 1/2 years I was not going to change it now. But it sure worked up a lot
of applause. I just know how to make an exit.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A merry Christmas to all:

My best Christmas ever.

Often people ask about your best Christmas memory and this is mine.
Could not ever be duplicated no matter how many Christmases I will live to see.

Christmas Eve 1944
Gent, Belgium

I am 12, mother is 34. She is recovering from a major surgery and a husband who has left her for another woman just a few months ago.

We are finally liberated , we in the north welcomed the allies in September.
In the Southern part, in the gorgeous mountains, hills and forest another battle is in full swing. It becomes to be known as the Battle of the Bulge.
Our gorgeous Ardennes are being mutilated. Worse hundreds of lives if not thousands on all sides of this horrific war are falling in the fresh wet snow.

Mom and I are not aware of this battle, we hear very little of what is going on outside our newly freed Provinces.
We are alone in our very cold house, windows broken covered with lumber,
water rats moved in what used to be our bedrooms.
The roof is shattered in many places from the bombing and air raids.
The wood/coal stove only produces so much heat as we huddle around it
covered in blankets.

Mother is lonely; she is sad, alone for this Christmas for the first time since
her marriages of 16 years. She is still feeling ill. War had not made her
skinny, she is a full fleshed Flemish woman like you see in Rubens renditions.
She lived on potatoes and onion gravy; we are yet to see some meat coming
in our tables but for the grace of the few Americans who are helping us.

So this brave lady who was together with her little family in grave danger all
through the war is now struggling with a new reality. She had been the radio
communicator with the Brits in her bedroom. She was fluent in the language,
thanks to a good education and was my father’s right hand in the underground fight
of what we called “the white brigade”.
She had welcomed the soldiers who parachuted in the night and gave them
clothing and food for the next stop. She had sent her only child to school when
she was wondering if a new air raid would come today, eliminating the factory
and the village. She never knew what the day would bring.

That first Christmas eve when all around us was changed and yet nothing
had changed at all. We were still seeing planes come and go over our heads and
we still saw the air battles, we did not know for sure how far the Germans were and would
they return? In our hearts however we felt that all was going to be fine.
We had hope for the first time in what seemed eternity.
With this in mind Mother decided we should spent Christmas Eve at her sister’s house in town. That was 9 km away (almost 6 miles).
The excitement got a hold of both of us and with enormous energy and good cheer we left the old stove to warm up the rats and started our journey along the
cold waters of the Canal of Terneuzen.

We had walked this foot path for years, I think we knew where there would be a dip in the dirt and mud under the fresh snow, we knew where a large stone would stick out and how to avoid falling in that narrow strip next to the canal.
Next to it was the bicycle path but that worse in need of filling the larger holes.
Even in the dark night we knew our way.
I can still see the cold fog over the water, piercing cold in our bones.
My shoes too tight. I was always growing too fast and my feet were the
first to show the signs.

We started to sing , she could sing , I could barely keep a tune.
But we sang with our vocal chords in full orchestra mode and in the silence
we go from “the Yankees are coming” to “Belle nuit de Noel” and “Petit Papa Noel “.

Along the canal there was only industry, we lived in a lonely little house about 100 yards from an electrical plant. Most plants at this point where not working, almost all had been bombed. The silence along the water was eerie, as the little bit of snow would fall intermittently. Now and then an army truck would drive by on the road and soldiers would yell “Merry Christmas”, some had other messages too.
First time we both heard F word, mother honestly had never heard that one at the
convent where she had studied. She was very puzzled, what did it all mean?
Very few Belgians had cars at that point, perhaps a few doctors.
Only army was on the road, day in and day out.
We were used to that but these camouflaged tanks were a much loved sight.

By the time we reached the blown up bridge of Meulestede we crossed the canal on a makeshift bridge and started to walk between the streets lined with houses.
Here and there one could see lights and the cozy interior of people celebrating.
Mother stopped and told me to look and listen with my heart at the sights and sounds.
“You know Jeannot, she whispered, this is what is called “freedom”.
You see we are finally allowed on the street at night, we are finally allowed to have lights coming out from the houses, that means this is our first Christmas
in many years of total freedom. “
“Freedom means we can now just walk to Tante while watching the stars and
singing, we can peak in the windows and see people with bright lights shining on their faces. Jeannot, never forget this moment”.

I did n’t, I can still see it, I can still smell it, I can feel it in my heart.

Mother was disappointed that we could not get to a midnight mass on our way
but all the churches were still closed. Perhaps no one had wanted to come out
or perhaps the new army had told them to cool it for awhile, I do not know but we passed several churches and no service.

I started to slow down and she found a way of making me go a little faster.
Where she saw light in the houses she rang the doorbell and started to run away.
I had no choice but to run after her and hide around the next corner.
That way we got to my Tante in a jiffy.

I can see the gate at my Tantes house and lights turning on for the
night visitors. No phone to tell them we were coming but the welcome
was heartwarming.

My cousins came out of bed to hug us and I could crawl in bed next to them
tell them about my adventure of the night. No rats here, no damage to their house, they were blessed. I was in heaven close to giggling bodies and it is Christmas.

I do not remember one present given that Christmas, I doubt that we had any
at all but I am still feeling the joy of that night.
The songs come back to me. Belle Nuit.....Petit enfant Jesus.....
Au clair de la lune mon ami Pierot. ................................

Merry Christmas Mom, Tante, wherever you are.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

SOap box, always a soap box to stand on

In my previous blog I mentioned going to the Biltmore to see the gingerbread houses.
It was not to be, I got into a bit of a problem with food poisoning.
I am thinking since the going out is limited these days for a lot of people that perhaps the food is not as fresh as we would like.

So now I am back on my soap box.

It occurred to me this week (once again) how hard it is to comprehend mental illness.
How little actual help is around when you do not have the money for a psychiatrist by the hour or a counselor for that matter.
Clinics are over run with clients and paper work.
How many people have insurance which covers this.
I do hope that Pres. Obama will be able to bring some changes into that health picture.

If we had cancer or a heart surgery you would see everyone at your door trying to help.
Seeing how you are doing. How you are progressing.
This does not happen with mental health.
In many instances you are ALONE. Alone with your pain, alone with your depression, alone with perhaps some meds prescribed by a general doctor who knows nothing about mental health except tp give out the Effexor, Lexapro, Ritulin and the likes .
My son , for instances, can't get help at the moment.
He has is on disability, thanks for that, we had to get a lawyer for him to qualify.
If he had not a home to be in where would he have landed?
Possibly on the street where a lot of these afflicted are today.

My son has severe panic disorder which turned into agoraphobia.
He has been locked into the house for 3 years now.
Does one think for one moment that this is a pleasant experience?
He can walk about 1 block with his dogs and quickly returns.
The safety is in these walls but nowhere else.
He has a car, he pays the insurance , the taxes etc....on the vehicle and he can't use it.
The hope is always there for one day just to drive away.

Problem with the people around him and know him is that he is considered by many to be lazy. I have to admit on bad days I am thinking that too. Until I examine the whole picture.
He is 35, a widower who lost his wife 6 months ago. He is in mourning for a great partner.
He is afraid to go out of the house, he is very lonely, he is in a depression, his father does not know him anymore and calls him "that man".
Would anyone want to be in his shoes?

There are days that he hardly speaks and other days that he is a fountain of information.
He is extremely bright , has been tested twice border genius. He also has ADHD like his father has.

It is easy to look at the physical being. A young,tall, nice looking healthy (?) man.
Why is he not doing this and that, why ? People ask this of him but they do not see
the agony of anxiety which is debilitating.
They can't see the pain he is in , no bandage is in view, no tubes coming out of his nose, no hair falling out from chemo. Just invisible pain which takes away every day from a young life not being able to live to the fullest.
Would you think that is being lazy?

I have to rethink that every once in awhile , in the meantime I search for a healer who does is able to help and not a quack as we have seen one already.
We have to find someone who comes to the home and listens to him.
Most physicians I called and he called do not want to have home visits, they want to meet either at a restaurant or library. Hello? Are you listening? He has agoraphobia, if he could make it to the library he would not need you!!!!

In the meantime he is a great help just by being in my home while my husband deteriorates with Alzheimer. He is here 24/7 and gives me time to go out and play with his sisters.
He gives me the time to have a lunch outside.
I am grateful for him being here BUT i truly hope he can be healed very soon, even if he would have to leave here and go back to school or work , I would jump through hoops.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Posted this on www.trusera, the site for all varieties of illnesses , breast cancer, autism, lyme disease, Alzheimer, dementia, arthritis and so on. Check out the site it is well worth it if you need answers from people with the experience.

Well, I had a good week all things considered.

I was fairly calm and composed so I did not argue with husband about the unable to see people I had to chase out of the house, the bed arrangements which he does not like because I am a stranger,the food he gives to the dogs and should n't......etc...etc...

I was a good girl and stayed calmer than usual. I had more support this week and was out more so I contribute that composure to my "time out".

Saturday daughter Rhonda got me to the big city of Asheville and we checked out shops and new restaurants. I managed to laugh quite a bit. Tuesday I had daughter Sabrina to take me shopping for groceries and goodies while we had a nice dinner with sushi. That girl can make anyone smile, she has a gift.

I am taking, stealing actually, all her energy and fill upl ike I am a big SUV and just put her rainbows in every little corner of my being. So I was truly in a very good mood on Wednesday and called her to tell her that she should come over every other day so I can "recharge". She did not see it that way, most of all her husband and her son did not see it that way.

OH well, c'est la vie.

In any case, I am so lucky that I do have people who will come around and make me smile if not giggle out loud. Sometimes even a belly laugh. Give me the laugh lines any time, they are nicer than the worry lines in my forehead.

If all goes well I may even be able to see the ginger bread houses at the Biltmore, a yearly contest of gigantic proportions with cooks from all over the USA competing.

How much fun will that be?

Who makes it possible for me to have that time out? My son who now lives with me and puts up with a lot from his father who calls him " that man". My son is hurting because he adores his father and he is getting truly a very bad treatment from him right now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

From my entry in
the site which deals with health questions.

Thanksgiving a new tradition this year as I mentioned before I had given up on doing the cooking and gave away my dining room table. Fate had other ideas as son moved home and has agorophobia so back to the drawing board and family coming together in my house.

We managed very well, the Limoges dishes sat in the cupboard untouched and happy that this year they would not be knicked. Some of the kids even did not use glasses and drank from the cans. We all picked a seat in the kitchen or a tray and a lawn chair and it looked more like a summer picnic than my usual fancy decorated table. For some reason it did not bother me at all. All I wanted in the house was some laughter and friendly noises.

I was delighted with the whole set up and the girls did the clean up. By 9 pm you could not tell that we had a small crowd of 9 all with full bellies. My menu had been requested as their old Belgian favorite "carbonade Flamande and Fries" , I call them Belgian fries.We did invent them you know.

When I do this mixture I use up 15 lbs of Fries , fry them twice. So daughter surprised me and came in with 16 lbs all peeled and ready cut. The rest was a piece of cake.

The same scenario will have to be for Christmas eve but I think I can do an encore and we will have the same fun. I can't possibly go away and leave my son alone in the house , as long as he is not able to go out , we will be with him.

Old dad was confused, of course, he is confused when no one shows up and he tells me to get rid of the people, so there was nothing new on that night but real people.