Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Bologna!

Today is the one-year anniversary of “Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna.” It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing here for 365 days—157 posts. When I started, I had never blogged, and had no idea what I was getting myself into. It’s been a fun ride, and I’ve learned so much. In the process, I’ve met so many of my wonderful readers. You’ve all made the journey so much more interesting and I thank you for that.

My smooshed sandwich life has gone though several transitions over the past year. When I started, my step dad was in a nursing home. We moved him to a board and care home. He fell into the donut hole of Medicare Part D. and then in April he passed away and the focus shifted to my mom, who had been a bit player until then. Now she’s having health concerns, as well as dealing with the grief of losing her companion of 33 years. I continue to drive over about once a month and am managing more of her health care needs now. My son was married and is establishing his own home and career. We’ve grappled with appropriate parenting of an adult son and daughter-in-law. And now, I’ve started school.

Yep, as if I didn’t have enough to do, I’ve started seminary. Why? Because I can! It’s been a dream for over 20 years, and finally all of the excuses have vanished. I had my first class this weekend, and I’m thrilled. I’m working on a Masters in Theology. I say “working on” because I may never finish it. If I do, I’ll be too old to do much with it. But I’ll have fun in the process, and as they say, the next five years will go by anyway. And it’s bound to keep me young.

So, thank you for a great year. I’m looking forward to the next one. Do let me know what you like and don’t like about this blog. What do you want more of—or less of? How can I serve you in your Gen Sandwich endeavors? What are you dealing with? Where are your victories?

So Happy Birthday Bologna!


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Generational Musings

I was talking with friends earlier this week. Three of the five of us are Gen Sandwichers dealing with medical issues with our parents. In fact, I’m in the least crisis of the three. The time we’re spending doing eldercare is time away from our homes and jobs, and we’re all feeling smooshed.

We were asking if we’re really that different from previous generations, or if we just talk (complain) about it more and analyze it more. There are probably more of us than in the past, since the Boomers are such a huge generation, so it may just seem like a bigger concern. But are the issues really that different?

I remember when I was eight or nine, my mom would go once a month to visit her mother in a nursing home four hours from us. That was a hardship for the whole family, but was actually a respite for her. In addition to visiting Grandma, she would get to spend time with her brother who was single. We had no money, but he would treat her to dinner on the town with his friends. I know she felt bad that she couldn’t visit her mom more often, but given our circumstances, I’m sure she was lucky to go as much as she did.

Now it’s my turn. I drive four hours about once a month, and am grateful to have the time and finances to do it. But I do feel helpless much of the time. The need is so much greater than I can meet. I do three things and leave four undone. But I’m grateful that she’s still reasonably healthy and able to live independently. I know that won’t always be the case.

When we were visiting our son last week, we were talking about our planned trip up to my mom's and I asked if he’d take good care of me when I’m old. He replied, “I hope so.” I hope so too. We may need to move closer to him. We’re too far apart for a quick three-day trip. But of course, we won’t need to think about that for years. Hopefully years and years....


Monday, September 24, 2007

Marathon of Doctors Appointments

Well, I’m at Mom’s again. We’ve taken to trying to combine several doctors’ appointments in one or two days so that when I come, we can make the most of my time here. We have two tomorrow, including a surgical consult. Then I need to figure out when I can come over to take care of her for a few days.

Even with combining the appointments, something always falls through the cracks. One of her doctors didn’t like something in the lab work he had ordered, so referred her to a hematologist. The guy is also an oncologist. Problem is, the referring doc didn’t tell her he was making the referral or why. So she got a call from this “cancer doctor’s” office to schedule an appointment last week. She had no idea why, but immediately started worrying. (And my mom has her PhD in worry!) After a weekend of near panic, she went to her primary, who explained that there was a minor abnormality in her blood work and not to worry. Of course, by then her blood pressure was into the danger zone.

My sister accompanied her to the hematologist, but didn’t get a diagnosis. So I still have no idea what’s really going on. Tomorrow I’ll need to stop by his office and see if they will tell me what’s going on. She has another appointment with him next week, which again I won’t be able to attend.

Meanwhile, another doc had ordered an MRI. She got the report and read into it all kinds of problems that weren’t there. Big words that look like something else. It’s almost as if she wants there to be something wrong.

I’m feeling smooshed again. There’s no way in can attend all of these appointments or keep up with what’s going on. I have to pick and choose, and I know that I’m going to miss something important. I think about what it would be like to move her to my area, but I don’t see that working, at least in the short run. And there’s no way I can spend more time here. At least I think there isn’t. Not only am I away from home and business, but also the gas alone costs almost $100 every trip. I hate feeling so out of control!

OK, enough belly aching for today. I’m so grateful that I’m able to come, that my husband is willing and able to come with me, and that she’s still in reasonably good health.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Keep Your Day Job?

ABC News has an interesting article on “Keep a Job While Caring for Older Relative.” They recommend this as a solution to issues of money, boredom, and keeping your resume current.

Carol Bradley Bursack has blogged on this and suggests it’s a bit Utopian. I tend to agree with her. I don’t even do full time care and can barely keep up with my self-employment. What do you think?

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Are Your Parents' Affairs in Order?

Attorney Lee R. Phillips has written an article called "Baby Boomers: Will They Be Able to Afford Their Parents?" In it, he discusses the tax consequences of poor estate planning and then lists six steps Gen Sandwichers can take to make sure that their parents’ affairs have been managed properly. These include:

1. Review current wills and/or living trusts
2. Look into living trusts.
3. Dodge family disputes.
4. Split trusts to save taxes.
5. Protect life insurance.
6. Solve the incompetency problem.

Read the full article here.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I’m feeing stressed these days. Smooshed, I guess. I’m in a busy season at work, in the middle of a remodel, planning a visit to see the kidults, starting grad school (yep!), and it seems that Mom has more needs than usual. Seems like she’s having more doctor appointments, and I can’t make them all anymore. She needs to have foot surgery, and I need to schedule at least a Thursday/Friday to be with her until my brother can come and take the weekend shift. I look at my calendar and there is no margin. No time to make the drive and go. I’m trying to not stress out over this, but truly, folks, tonight I’m feeling smooshed.

It’s hard for me to tell on the phone how she’s doing. She’s busier than she has been able to be in a long time. That’s good. But there is a deep sadness, a loneliness, that won’t be gone for a long time. And on the phone, I can’t tell what’s normal grief and what’s something to be concerned about. And of course, she won’t tell me the truth.

So, I think I’ll go read a book. The house is too torn up to do much else.

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