Friday, May 03, 2013
Since the homes were moving fast, I began to get creative and started looking at some overpriced homes to determine if I could bid on those. I found a great ranch home down the street from the first home I bid on. It turned out that it had been on the market a while and was in great condition. I bid on the home and with zero competition, I had high hopes they might accept. It was a divorce situation however and the husband and wife had been ordered to liquidate all of their properties (they had four). The wife refused to respond to any and all offers on the house however the husband's attorney had the power of attorney and could sign for the wife. It looked like it would work out. At the last minute, the wife ended up keeping the home since one of her other homes sold, so I was out of luck.
I bid on a third home down the street. I essentially bid on three homes on the same street. I lost out on that home due to a bidding war and I wasn't comfortable increasing my bid. I was getting pretty discouraged at that point mainly since there just weren't any homes available. I had scoured the internet for a home but nothing was happening. I was worried I wouldn't find something before my least expired. While I could have extended my lease, I really didn't want to.
By this time, I was really down. I decided to look at this one townhome in our area because it was right on the walking trail. It had a great location, great landscaping however it needed updating. It was difficult to get Matthew into the home and the only doorway I could get the wheelchair in had a turn that was difficult. The worse feature was the popcorn ceiling. I wanted to put crown molding in the place however when I researched it some more, most of those popcorn ceilings contained asbestos and since asbestos is a leading cause of lung cancer and since Matthew has respiratory issues and weak lungs, I decided to pass on that one.
Finally, I decided to see this townhome. I had seen it a few months prior however I really wanted a home and not a townhome so I passed on it. This time, it just clicked. The open floor plan is perfect for Matthew. There is a bedroom off the front door that has double doors making it easy to get his wheelchair in his room. There is plenty of room in the living area for his wheelchair. The townhome was a flip and everything has been redone so it's like buying a brand new place. This place was only 3 miles from our apartment (we lived on a golf course) and is in a great town. The high school is one of the top high schools in the state and all of the schools (elementary, junior high and high school) are rated 10/10.
Here is a picture of the entrance. Dear Son's (Matthew's) room is off to the right with the double french doors.
My favorite part of the house is the bathroom. It has beautiful travertine tile and a stunning vanity. The pictures don't do it justice. I like to say that our home is functional for Matthew and pretty for me. They also put travertine tile in the laundry room. I think my first words when I saw the house was that, "I'd be over the moon if I got to do laundry in a room with travertine tile." It's just so pretty.
I officially moved last Friday and I turned in the apartement keys on Tuesday. I am looking forward to getting some rest soon. I'll show some pictures once I get things set up. Because it was redone, there weren't any curtain rods, blinds, shelving, etc. I had to put in new blinds plus lots of shelving. I redid the kitchen pantry shelving and replaced the 12 inch shelves with 16 inch shelving. There wasn't any shelving in the linen closet so I had to get that done. Dad installed all of it for me. There is still a lot to be done-towel bars to install, my headboard needs to be attached, Matt's closet needs to be redone and my crystal sconces need to be hung yet. I want to change the paint as well. Overall, I am very happy. I think it's the perfect home for us and I look forward to many years here.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
I've been waiting to share this and it won't be much longer. I am getting ready to close on our new house in the next two weeks. Everything is done and approved so it's just a matter of seeing if all of the parties can close a little sooner. Once that is done, I'll show you our new place.
The best part about the new place is that it is absolutely perfect for Dear Son. It's an open floor plan with a beautiful bedroom with double french doors off of the living area. The double french doors make it very wheelchair accessible for him.
I don't want to reveal too much more but I think you'll be surprised. Originally, I was looking for a 50's ranch with hardwood floors however finding an affordable one was extremely difficult. In addition, there proved to be many challenges. Most of the 50's ranches had smaller doorways and I couldn't get the wheelchair in the rooms, and often times in the house itself. Many of the bathrooms were too small to get his bathroom wheelchair in (Dad has a smaller, portable wheelchair that he can get Dear Son into the bathroom and then he transfer him to the hydraulic bath chair.). Some of the ranches had a step or two and that made it difficult as well.
We are really excited to move to our new home. Of course that means lots of new projects that I'll get to share. I think the best part is that this process couldn't have gone smoother. It was a very competitive market shopping for the home but once I found the right place, things went very well. Our current space is quite small so it will be great to have more space. I can't wait to put up a Christmas tree this year and to decorate for all of the holidays. I can't wait to plant flowers and so much more. I'll probably wait to paint until I am in there however. Originally I planned to paint it all ahead of time however I was able to get out of my lease a month early so I need to speed things up a bit. The photo above is a picture of my former home-I sold it some ten years ago but I always loved it. It lived really well. It will be great to have beautiful home again.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
It's been a long time since I posted, but it's been very busy here. Perhaps the best news is that Dear Son continues to improve. As I mentioned previously, his new blenderized diet has improved his dystonia (movement disorder) immensely. For the first time in 21 years, he is able to move his right arm on his own to help put on his t-shirt. I put the arm hole over his arm and he is able to move it slightly to push it through. He is really trying to do this and he's never had any real use of his arms/hands.
As a little boy, he had intense physical, occupational and speech therapy since he was three years old. Shortly thereafter, we had an evaluation at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago to determine what was wrong with his arms/hands but the intense thereapy never worked. We had additional outside therapy (outside of school) when he was around ten or so to try to get his arms and legs working better however nothing really worked. He always used his mouth to operate things like his Barney (chewed on his hand to make him talk) or used his head to butt into an object to let you know he wanted that object or to make it work.
When he was in high school, his teacher had a water bottle that she rigged up to help him water the plants. She would place her hand under his forearm and when she felt a muscle move, she would squeeze the bottle (her hand on top of his hand) to help him water the plants. That was the most he could really do. He did enjoy putting his hands in the flour for dog biscuits but overall his arms/hands have never really been functional.
When he went to the transition program (it's a day program that they go to from ages 18-22), one of the goals I had was for them to do range of motion exercises for him for his arms and legs to keep them from getting contracted. At that time, he had just come home from the hospital after having the swine flu and he was not able to move his big toe, let alone a foot, a leg or his arms/hands. I still felt it was important to do that to keep him from getting contracted because at that time, I had great difficulty in trying to get him to straighten his leg. I knew that couldn't be comfortable and I worried it was painful for him as well.
Since that time, they have continued to do his exercises however once he started his Now Foods Organic Coconut Oil regime (it's the ONLY brand that works for him) and new blenderized diet made from real food (I took him off of commercial formula via the g tube and feed him a blenderized diet made from scratch and feed it through his feeding tube), his legs began to move (see ball kicking video where he kicked the ball 10 times) and now he is able to move his arms. The journey has been amazing: The first step was that he began to enjoy his arm exercises. Next, they noticed that he had more trouble moving his left arm than his right, because the dystonia was worse on the left side. Now the aide asks him if he's ready to move his left arm and he give her an eye blink for yes, to let her know when he's ready. Often times, it just takes him a few seconds (10-20 seconds) for him to be able to relax that arm to move it. Then he began to move his arm slightly which I had never seen him do before. And then, in the past two weeks, he started trying to lift his arm up for exercises and trying to move his right arm into his t-shirt.
Of the two arms, his right arm works much better/easier than the left. I have him lying on his bed when I get him dressed for school or when I change his diaper. I place the t-shirt over his head and then open up the right arm hole and place it over his hand. As he moves his hand to try to push it through, I pull the t-shirt down over his arm to help, lol. He's only able to move his arm a few inches but that is a lot of progress in a short amount of time. He now looks forward to it. I tell him how proud I am of him and I talked to him about how he should be proud of himself too!
It took months to get this far. Just a few months ago, I noticed his dystonia was getting better and that he could move his arms better and I had a catch phrase that I used to reinforce it....I'd say that, "your arms move like but tah!". Positive reinforcement goes a long way with him. Now it's pretty rewarding to see him be able to move his arm in a more functional way.
I think the best part is that it just goes to show that you are never to old to meet your goals. I never would have thought that he'd have any arm/hand movement and certainly would not have thought that he'd be able to do this after twenty some years. I realize that he's not going to be able to dress himself or operate a remote control or feed himself or anything like that. But for him to be able to help to put on his t-shirt, for him to be able to let me know if his arm hurts and to let me know when he's ready, those are victories for sure. I'll take a small victory any day.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
We had a nice Christmas. We went over to Dear Son's paternal Grandma's for Christmas. She had the entire immediate family there including all of the grandkids and great grandkids. Grandma is 91 now, and reminds us of that every day.
She ordered some pies from Baker's Square and then forgot which location she ordered them from so they had to call to verify the location prior to picking them up, lol.
She's had it at her house for so many years although she has it catered now instead of cooking everything. There are other family members that bring the turkey and a ton of desserts. Dear Son's Aunt is an amazing baker and makes a ton of different cookies and other Christmas treats that are not only delicious but beautiful.
The great grandkids where there too. One of the them got a new hat and she was glad to model it for me and put her hands up so I could take the picture. She is a real cutie. She ran up and threw her arms around her Great Grandma the minute she came into the house. She got a huge pink dollhouse for Christmas that had an elevator. When I asked her what her favorite gift was, she said "a Barbie". I hope Santa didn't hear that after bringing that huge dollhouse.
Dear Son got a new winter hat from his Dad. I just loved how his face lit up when his Dad was opening up the present for him. I quickly grabbed my phone to take some pictures. Dear Son has never been able to open any presents since his hands don't work and he can't grab anything. When he was a baby, I used to wrap everything then unwrap it all to open it. I got smarter as the years went on and switched to gift bags to save myself some time. Dear Son got some new pants, new pj/lounging pants, new hat, shirts, carousel and money. I didn't decorate our apartment for Christmas this year. I had stored our Christmas decorations at Dad's and he forgot to bring them over and then it got too late. I decided that since we'll be moving in a few months that I'd skip the decorations this year. One thing that was really cute though, was that Dear Son was awake nearly the whole night pror to Christmas Day in anticipation of Santa. He was so excited to open presents.
In other news, December 20th marked the one year anniversary of Dear Son's real food blenderized diet. As you may recall, Dear Son eats via a feeding tube and last year I got rid of the formula and switched him over to a real food blenderized diet. He's doing great on this new diet. We went to the doctor two weeks ago and he lost more weight.
- Dear Son has now lost 18.6 pounds since I changed his diet. That's great for someone who is essentially an invalid and doesn't move much.
- His cognitive skills are much better. Both his brain and his body work so much better now. He is now able to communicate with eye blinks in response to yes/no questions. On the Friday before vacation, he has a blast at school because the kids in his class came up to talk to him and ask him questions. He responded with eye blinks and then that kid told another one and soon they all came up to talk to him and ask him questions. Dear Son was positively glowing when his nursing aide told me all of this after school. In twenty one years, Dear Son has never been able to do this so it's really wonderful.
- His body works better. His dystonia (movement disorder that makes it hard to move since your body is contracted and doesn't relax) is much improved. I can lift up his arm and he no longer has any resistance. I tease him and say his arms, "move like buttah" and he smiles every time.
- His acne improved significantly. He went from bad acne to mild and nearly clear skin.
- He's never sick now even though kids/teachers at school get sick. Some of them got the colds/flu but not Dear Son. How cool is that? He used to be the first one sick and now that he's on a real food diet plus the Now Foods Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, he's been pneumonia free for over two years now and has not had any hospitalizations for pneumonia.
- He looks healthy!
I am also giving myself some credit. This is a huge committment on my part. I make nearly all of his foods. In the past year, all of the bread has been homemade, all of his protein sources are organic, he gets eleven servings of fruits/vegetables a day (some organic, some regular), omega 3's and probiotics. This means that when I get tired, I can't go through a drive through or put a frozen pizza in the oven for him. I've made everything from scratch for him for one year. There were only three times in the past year that I have him formula instead of making him real food. All of his meals take two hours to administer since he gets four cups of blended food/water per meal and he gets one cup of blended food every thirty minutes. I wouldn't trade these results for the world though. It's also really easy to put together since I use an exchange type system. It is a ton of cooking though.
One benefit of his blenderized diet was at an office visit. We went to his wheelchair check up recently after getting some new parts. The wheelchair vendor, who's fitted all Dear Son's wheelchairs since he was three, couldn't figure out what was different. When I mentioned his acne was improved, he exclaimed, "That's what different! I thought Dear Son had just come back from vacation because he looked so good!" He went on and said he was amazed at the change.
Overall, it's been a great year. But the best is when I see his happy face. You can tell that he not only looks healthy now but he feels great. Here is another picture of Dear Son with his new hat that he got for Christmas, posing with his Dad. I like this picture since you can see how good Dear Son looks and because you can see how much his Dad loves him.
I'd also like to thank all of my readers for your continued support and comments. It's so nice to have people interested in Dear Son. Wishing you all some rest and happy holidays.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
After Dear Son's recent surgery, I made a list of things that made it successful this time. One thing I noticed was that while I had a great pre-op plan, I really didn't have a post-op plan. I was so worried about getting through the surgery that I totally forgot about it. I realized this last week when he was starting to cough and had some breathing issues. I was able to turn things around by increasing the Now Foods Organic Virgin Coconut Oil and increasing his nebulizer (breathing) treatments. I realized then that I needed to have a better post op plan and that I needed to document it for future surgeries.
Prior to his surgery, I focused on keeping him well and making sure he was as healhy as could be before the surgery. Typically, his diet can range from 30-75% organic per week and prior to the surgery, I made certain to increase that to 75% or more. I made sure all of his fruit was organic so that he'd have as many antioxidants and as few toxins as possible. While normally, he gets 1 tbsp of Now Foods Organic Virgin Coconut Oil to prevent pneumonia, I gave him 2 tbsp/day. I gave him a breathing treatment the morning of the surgery, the first treatment he had since May of this year since he really didn't need them anymore.
For post-op, I realize that I needed to do a few things:
- Increases Miralax to twice a day for the first 10 days after surgery. Since Dear Son couldn't be repositioned much in bed due to his incision, he wasn't moving around as much making it more difficult to have a bowel movement. In addition, the anesthesia made him more constipated so he needs additional help. He was constipated for 9 days after the surgery and is now back to normal.
- For the coconut oil, I'll increase it to twice a day for the first week, then cut back to once a day for the second week but give him 2 tbsp. For the third week, he can go back to 1 tbsp/day. This way, it will keep him from getting any pneumonia, when he can't be moved as much. The additional coconut oil will also help him overcome the constipation from the surgery.
- I think he benefits from nebulizer treatments for a while after surgery. I'll do 2 treatments/day week one and then go down to 1 treatment a day for the next week or so and then off the treatments.
- I'll use the Scopolamine patch to dry up secretions, if they get too intense. On Friday, I noticed he was choking on his secretions and coughing a lot. I put the patch on for one day and it dried up secretions enough that he could rest comfortably. Less secretions means that he has less chance of aspiration.
- Chest pt-I was doing some chest pt after the surgery so I would just make certain to do it a few times a day, every day to keep his lungs clear.
Since Dear Son is medically fragile and since he needs this Vagus Nerve Stimulator to control seizures, I know that I need to have a great pre and post surgical plan in place for any future surgeries. I feel confident now that I have a good plan in place for the future.
Dear Son is doing much better than he was a week ago. His bowels are moving daily, he looks good and I continue to give him one nebulizer treatment a day. He smiles when he sees me get it out so I know it helps him.I suspect I can stop that in another week or so.
My goal is to keep him the best he can be. It's been wonderful this year to see him improve so much with this blenderized diet. He is so much better cognitively and it's working great on every level. It's also been a lot of fun seeing him enjoy life so much and for the first time in umpteen years, it seems like things were easier for him to be him. As a mother, all you ever really want for your kids is to see them happy. For a kid like Dear Son, keeping him well and keeping him healthy requires constant diligence since even minor slip ups can have a huge impact on him.
Tomorrow he goes back to school so it should be an exciting day. He is really looking forward to it and I feel confident that he is ready.
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