Readers are their own reward

Wonderful Team Membership award

The Wonderful Team Membership award

If no one seems to understand
Start your own revolution, cut out the middleman
—  Billy Bragg, Great Leap Forward

I admit I didn’t have much confidence anyone would read this blog when I started it. But I decided to regale WordPress with tales of Grandma’s shenanigans and my best efforts to care for her anyway and see what happened.

The results have blown me away.

When I got the email a few weeks ago that my post was chosen for Freshly Pressed, I felt like I’d won the Pulitzer. When I saw the little digital trophy for 100 followers in my notifications yesterday, it felt like a standing O. And when my fellow bloggers nominate me for an award — however symbolic — I’m genuinely honored.

So thank you, Ardenrr, for the Wonderful Team Membership award. Musings of a Dancing Wino keeps me in suspense, your sense of humor makes me laugh, and your writing talent humbles me.

Here are my own nominees for the award. Most of these aren’t blogs I’ve been following long-term but rather those on which I found interesting posts related to topics I’ve touched on that may interest my readers. (It feels awesome to say “my readers!”)

Gardencatsandmore — She has cats. She loves gardening. What’s not to love?

For the Rest of Her Life — A blog about the challenges and joys of caring for an elderly mother. — In Good liberal gone bad I lamented Grandma turning her back on her labor union roots. The post I linked to here cites some interesting statistics about why seniors may be turning against the GOP.

Life with Jess offers a useful checklist for people considering whether they or someone they know could benefit from palliative care.

Our Long Goodbye is the record of one woman coping with her mom’s struggle with Alzheimer’s.

The Intolerable Gap — Interesting commentary on several timely subjects; I admit I’m including it because I don’t remember the generation gap and therefore I’m no boomer. 🙂

with love Jo gives a Macklemore concert rave reviews. Now I’m even more excited about seeing him in October.  If you’re a Macklemore fan too, Grandma rapping to Thrift Shop might make you smile.

bechristbeautiful posted a beautiful religion-based defense of Macklemore’s song Same Love, which forced me to remember not all Christians are fundamentalists.

Caregiver Connections looks as if it could be a valuable resource for caregivers. The post I linked to is uncannily relevant to some of my recent posts.

Chat@Care-giving offers excellent advice about — among other things — avoiding guilt trips.

Senior Homecare by Angels explores why gardening can be good therapy for seniors.

Chocolate Vent writes about something I didn’t even know existed — Silver Alerts.

Life of a Clare Bear posted a hilarious video starring old people with a sense of humor, something  I wish Grandma still had.

Ofcoursevegan introduced me to another topic I was completely unaware of: elderly vegans.

Any bloggers who choose to accept this completely symbolic award can:

  • Grab the logo and put it in a post
  • Link to your nominator, a.k.a. me
  • Nominate 14 blogs of your own

Three cheers for versatility!

The Versatile Blogger“English? Why are you majoring in that?” my stepfather asked me 20-something years ago.

“Because I’m going to be a blogger! Duh.” Now don’t write to me to point out blogs didn’t exist 20-something years ago because this is my imaginary response and the space-time continuum doesn’t apply.

I love blogging. I adore my readers. And I’m honored the hilarious blogger of Is Everyone an Idiot But Me? likes my blog well enough to nominate me for the Versatile Blogger Award.

In the spirit of the award, here are my nominees — blogs I enjoy reading and hope you will too. Please note: If you think bloggers recognizing each other is silly or pointless or beneath you, kindly do the needful and ignore my nomination.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog


Musings of a Dancing Wino — I know you were already nominated. You’re just that good. 🙂

The Dimwit Diary

Waiting for the Karma Truck

J T Weaver

The Irrefutable Opinion

Ramblings From an Apathetic Adult Baby

Ray Ferrer — Emotion on Canvas

The Top 10 of Anything and Everything

Ben’s Bitter Blog

The Accidental Coochie Mama

Marbles on Trains

And here are seven random things about me in no particular order of importance:

klimtMy favorite artist is Gustav Klimt. I traveled to Vienna, Austria to see his work. I’ll never forget it.

butterfly mosaicI love butterflies. I love Chicago  This is a butterfly in Chicago.

degree cat I have a master’s degree in journalism*. According to a website I won’t publicize by naming, it’s one of the world’s most useless degrees.

machu_pichuSeeing Machu Pichu in person is on my bucket list.


My favorite city in the world is Glasgow, Scotland. It’s home to incredibly nice people, Charles Renne Mackintosh’s architecture and amazing Indian food.


I love irises. They smell like SweeTarts.


I’m left-handed, which means I’m more likely to die in an industrial accident. If I mention my new job is operating a bulldozer and I suddenly stop blogging, assume the worst.

*This cat doesn’t really have a degree. But if he did I’m sure it would be in something practical like accounting.

Image credits: luq / 123RF Stock Photo | rook76 / 123RF Stock Photo | gortan123 / 123RF Stock Photo | princesszelda / 123RF Stock Photo | Nostal6ie / 123RF Stock Photo | hannamariah / 123RF Stock Photo

One key to longevity: advocacy


Checklists and how-to guides can answer a lot of caregivers’ questions. But when standard operating procedure is unacceptable … when pain is unscheduled … when insurance representatives give you the runaround … advocacy can be key.

If you’ve ever watched someone slowly, painstakingly load an old person into a vehicle or guide them into a building, it probably looked like hard work.

It’s true — caregiving takes strength, planning and the patience of a saint. But when it comes to helping the elderly, they’re only half the battle.

Today a reader told me her 88-year-old mother just moved in with her family. I wish I could share a magic formula to her mother’s longevity, but the best advice I can offer is this: Caregiving success requires advocacy, and you never know what form it will take:

Know which questions to ask
When Grandma moved on to rehab after back-to-back hospital stays, the center immediately switched her to another antibiotic, one the hospital’s doctors previously used to treat her life-threatening case of C diff. It didn’t work the second time either, and she got worse instead of better. When I asked why they’d made the switch, they told me the second drug was cheaper. I insisted someone contact the previous doctor for context, and by the next day she was back on the original medication. I’m not exaggerating when I say the switch may have saved her life.

Go higher on the food chain
During another rehab stay I visited Grandma and found her moaning in pain. The nurses’ aides ignored her calls for help, and who could blame them? Overworked and underpaid, their entire shift could comprise running from one emergency to another if they let it. For 20 minutes I comforted her while we waited for an aide to come.

Eventually I realized nobody was coming until their scheduled rounds. So I looked beyond the aides. When I finally found the shift nurse and explained the situation, she assured me someone would be there soon. I politely but firmly asked if they could come now. Irritated, she grabbed the closest person and told them to go take a look. It turned out Grandma’s catheter was blocked, which meant her bladder was painfully distended. The aide said it was good he came when he did. I agreed.

Don’t take no for an answer
I’ve alluded to my efforts to get details on Grandma’s long-term care policy. Two months into the process, I still don’t know exactly what coverage she has. The New York Times recently reported on the obstacles to cashing in on these policies, but they failed to mention the human factor. Policies don’t send outdated paperwork or transfer you to the wrong department or tell you they understand your frustration when they clearly don’t — people do. It’s very hard to make that ninth call when the last eight have netted little gain. But the alternative is to quit asking questions, and that’s akin to giving up.

I’m not a completely altruistic advocate. Of course I want Grandma to have the best care possible. But guilt and fear drive me too. When Grandma is gone and I look back on this time, I want to tell myself I did everything I could for her and used her resources wisely. If I can, I’ll consider this chapter of my life and hers a success.

This post was featured on Freshly Pressed on 7/24/13.

Image credit: jules_kitano / 123RF Stock Photo

… and we all shine on …


I’m excited to have my blog noticed by a  fellow blogger whose writing I enjoy.

Since my blog is dedicated to a single topic, I’m really excited to switch gears today and write about something else. Thank you, ArdenRR, for your hilarious blog This Typing Makes Me Look Busy and for nominating me for a Shine On award. I understand this award is like a coupon; it has no cash value. Anyone who’s spent their entire career writing for other people, organizations and corporations knows you can’t put a dollar figure on self expression.

With that in mind, here are seven random things about me:

wedding girls_smMy three beautiful daughters are the collective light of my life.

cat_collage_smI adore my four rescue cats despite the fact I’m very allergic them.

rockclimbing_smI am an *extreme rock climber.

kiltWhen I took bagpipe lessons, my Grandma told me to ask one of the pipers what a Scotsman wears under his kilt. He answered “give me your hand, and don’t be afraid.”

escalatorLeft-handed people are more fearful than the general population. Personally I’m terrified of being sucked into escalators by my shoestrings, which is why I always jump over the first and last step. Or just take the stairs.

drinksThis year will be my 8th annual trip to the Austin City Limits Festival. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of bands, but mostly The National. I will also be spending quality time at Z Tejas’ bar.

imagineMy post title is from Instant Karma, a John Lennon song.

And here are 15 additional bloggers who inspire me to keep writing:

I’ve had a miscellaneous topic blog for four years; I started this extremely focused blog about seven weeks ago because I believe caregivers seriously need to lighten up. Thanks for everyone’s comments and support so far. Viva la blog!

*extremely bad 🙂

Image credit: stillfx / 123RF Stock Photo and elifranssens / 123RF Stock Photo