Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I don't even know where to begin.

This past year has had more than it's share of rough spots, and I've written about many of them here, but there was I never quite knew how to approach. I started writing the following post last August. I decided to finish it up today. I'm hoping that by posting it, I let go of the emotions involved a little better, since they still creep in from time to time.

From August 11, 2011, (a full month before Scooter's head to toe rash from the antibiotic overload):

Obviously, I've had a lot on my mind this summer with our nephew's wedding we went to the end of May/beginning of June to Hopper's broken leg, emergency surgery, hospitalization, and heart stoppage the end of June/beginning of July to her convalescence at home since then, to Bugster and Bubster's wedding mid-July, and the in-laws' visit and the stress that ensued. Not to mention the mounds of paperwork I need to go through to find birth certificates and social security cards, so we can get guardianship of the girls, (which is another post entirely!). 

So I've pushed a few things to the back of my mind to recall at a later date when I can deal with them with my whole mind in the race.

A couple of things I'd totally forgotten about were the girls' IEP staffings. School staff set the dates and times back in May when we were on vacation, and I'm sure we got some sort of a notice mailed to us, but I have no clue where they might be. Any mention of said meetings was promptly forgotten with the stress that has been our summer.

So I was a bit taken aback when I recently received a reminder call for Hopper's staffing I'd totally forgotten about it. That simple reminder call triggered something I'd shelved in my mind all summer. Something concerning Scooter and how she'd been mistreated at school by both her teacher and a classroom aide. The situation has not been far from my mind since it resurfaced with the call...

We pulled the girls out of school a couple of days early last May, so we could make it to the wedding. With it being the end of the school year, there were several phone calls with different people working with the girls in those last couple of days they were in attendance. There was just a lot going on, but one phone call in particular stood out from the rest.

An employee of the school confided in me that they witnessed Scooter being mistreated. They insisted that what they were telling me was strictly confidential, but that there were other witnesses to the behavior, and they would deny having told me anything, if they were asked. The person didn't want to lose their job, and I can completely understand that. I didn't want them to lose their job, either. So their name, their sex, and their position as an employee will not be mentioned either on the blog or in the meeting we have tomorrow to deal with this situation.

But let me back up a minute....
I've mentioned before that Scooter couldn't sit up until she was 4, and that she only weighed 21 pounds at the time. She was a tiny, very sickly little girl. She was hospitalized repeatedly with asthma and pneumonia that was a direct result of constant vomiting. A few months before her 4th birthday, we found out she was missing her esophageal sphincter, which meant there was no way to hold down anything she took in. Everything came back up.

As a result of the discovery, Scooter was scheduled for surgery. The surgeon had to detach her stomach from the surrounding tissue it was attached to, wrap it around her esophagus, and staple it in place to make a substitute sphincter, so she could eat and actually keep things down. The surgery reduced the opening of her esophagus from the diameter of a quarter to the diameter of a pencil. The most beneficial result of the surgery, is that she is not able to throw up more than a teaspoon or tablespoonful of anything, and she finally started to thrive. 

The major drawback to the surgery is that she can't burp. And everyone has gas. And gas has to come out one way or the other. In Scooter's case it always comes out 'the other'. We give her simethicone tablets every morning and evening to help make the gas less painful and make it easier to pass. If we don't, when she lets loose, let's just say she really lets loose. 

It's something that can't be helped. She has no more control over it, than you or I have over the color of our skin. We've tried the enzymes for gas that you take before you eat, so you'll have no gas, but they don't help. Simethicone is the only thing that helps, and even then there are days it can't keep up with the amount of gas her little body produces. 

And there is really nothing we can do about the smell of said emissions. And yes. It can be gross and take your breath away. Literally. But it also can't be helped. We can always tell she's had a particularly malodorous day, when I get a note home about how horribly gassy she was and isn't there anything we can do about it? Did we perhaps forget her simethicone tablets that morning?

It gets old, no doubt about it.

But you would think that people who work in a classroom with children of different developmental ages would understand that bodily functions are not something that can be helped. 

I found out otherwise with the phone call back in May.

The school district employee, (I'll call them, Pat), told me that they had witnessed both the teacher and one of the aides making a huge production over Scooter's gas issues. Not only would they fan themselves in an exaggerated fashion, but they would exclaim loudly (so the entire class could hear) how horrible Scooter smelled.

Unfortunately, the aide didn't stop there. She would apparently get the industrial aerosol disinfectant/cleaner or air freshener (it depended on what they had on hand at the moment) and spray toward the floor all around Scooter's chair. And although she had the spray aimed at the ground, there was a large hole in the back of Scooter's chair, so it would fall on her back and on her legs. Once she was done doing that, she would spray a huge cloud above Scooter's head. The droplets of aerosol spray would drift down and cover Scooter from above, landing on her back and chest. 

There have been several times over the last 2 years that Scooter has come home from school with a rash that covered both her back and her chest, and I never even thought it might have stemmed from abusive actions by those we were entrusting her with in school. I just assumed it was hormonal or a heat rash. I never once imagined what had caused it! She would scratch it in her sleep and wake up with little spots of blood on her night shirt where she scratched it so hard she bled. I would have to give her antihistamines to calm it enough she could sleep at night. 

We saw what it did to her skin. I shudder at the thought of what it did to her lungs. She's had severe asthma since she was tiny. She's been hospitalized roughly 3 dozen times at this point, with most all of them involving asthma or pneumonia for part of the stay.

Scooter had this teacher for 1.5 of the last 2 years, but she's had the aide for the 2 full years she's been at this school. So for the last 2 years, these sick witches have bullied, ridiculed and abused our little girl over something that she can't physically help, over something nobody has any control.

I can't tell you how relieved we are to know that the teacher left in the middle of the school year last year and won't be back. She's not fit to be a teacher, if she allows this sort of stuff to happen in her classroom, (let alone participate in it!), and doesn't stand up for the most innocent and defenseless among us! 


That's as far as I got in my post. I had to step away from it, because anytime it came to mind, I'd end up having to take meds for my anxiety, so here's the update:

We took the matter before the superintendent of special education as well as the principal of the school. The school employee who told us about all that had transpired refused to come forward. They were afraid of some sort of reprisal from the school district, in spite of the fact they no longer worked for them. Unfortunately, we didn't get very far with the school district as a result.

The employee said that several other employees had witnessed this behavior over those 2 years. Unfortunately, none of them stepped forward against the aide that was still working there when the situation was investigated by the school district. However, someone did come forward with information that Scooter had been sprayed by Febreeze by the teacher on at least one occasion! Dumb b*tches.

It is so infuriating to picture. They are nothing but big bullies picking on a defenseless child. Scooter can't speak, so she couldn't tell us about it. Even if she was using her speaking device to try to let us know, she would not have been able to find the words to use. There's no pre-programmed button mixed in with the buttons she pushes to let someone know she wants a salad or a slice of pizza for lunch that says, "My teacher is picking on me!" or "I had gas at school today, and my teacher and the aide ridiculed me for having gas." or "I HATE when my teacher sprays me with Febreeze! I can't BREATHE when she does it!" "HELP ME!"

I think of how utterly alone and defenseless she must have felt. It's no wonder she would tell us she was tired and did't want to go to school or would pull the covers up and roll over to pretend she was still asleep when we came in to get her ready for school. 

And it's not like she could just get up quickly and get away from the spray. She moves like a turtle in molasses most days. With her spine having been fused, she is severely limited in her mobility. She can walk, but even with the lift  on her shoe, she has a limp. She was a captive but unwilling participant. 

While we don't believe the aide had any disciplinary action taken against her as a result of the investigation, (they told us they could not substantiate our claims), we insisted she not be allowed to ever work with Scooter again. She is now working in the other special needs classroom. And while it is not ideal that she is still working with children who have no defense against this sort of abuse, she has at least been put on notice. I have no doubt that every single person who works with her now is keeping her on her toes.

For now things are going well, but I still think the system is broken. I'll go into that more in a different post, but suffice it to say that Hubster and I would like to see things change.

I just don't know, if I'm the right dog for the fight.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


That's the number of posts I've published on my blog so far. In many ways I wish that I'd have been able to keep up with daily posting. I'd be close to 1000 posts right now, if I had, and that would have been sort of cool. That being said, I want this to be a place for me to unwind and decompress, and pressuring myself to keep up with daily posts is not conducive to decompression. 

So 500 it is.

At the same time that I want this to be a place to decompress, I don't want it to just be about kvetching about my life. My mama taught me that if I can't say anything nice, I shouldn't say anything at all. I think there can be a happy medium, though, so I'll probably be back here complaining from time to time.

It is what it is, and I am who I am.

So I figured something out the other day. One of the amino acids I'm taking to help with the neuropathy sort of counteracts my thyroid medicine. I don't know why I didn't see that when I researched the amino acid. I don't know, if the information just wasn't there, or if I overlooked it at the time, or what. What I do know is that I've been absolutely dragging the last few months. I've had no energy, and that's a major symptom of hypothyroidism. 

I've been taking the amino acid for over a year now, and I hadn't noticed a difference in the effectiveness of my thyroid medicine until somewhat recently. I don't know, if it's because it took awhile for the effectiveness to be altered, or what. Unfortunately, my neuropathy has been out of control lately, so giving up the amino acid isn't an option, and in fact I'm needing to double up on it and take it twice a day. It's the only thing I can take that makes any difference in the pain level. I'd love it, if the prescription nerve meds worked for me, but they don't. If I take them, I sleep for days, and that just isn't an option. So I've made an appointment with my doctor to discuss it all in the next couple of weeks. 

In the meantime, I'm hoping we'll all be feeling well enough soon, (This hit and miss stuff that always happens once school starts for the year is so frustrating!), so we can finally officially celebrate the 4 birthdays that have happened since the end of June. 

We're also hoping to get a bunch of yardwork done and get rid of a bunch of elm trees in the backyard that have once again grown into a jungle back there. We'll take down our apple tree when we're back there, too. A windstorm took about half the tree a couple of years ago, and another wind took half of what was left back there a couple of weeks ago, so it has to go before it falls on the house. And then there's the scraggly little peach tree in the corner of the yard that has been slowly dying over the last few years but is tall enough it's in the middle of the power lines. 

Once we're done getting the trees down, we're hoping to toss some grass seed down and cover it with straw to help it stay alive over the winter. If it survives, we'll just rake up the straw in the Spring and have an actual lawn instead of the dirt pile we have back there now. We'll also be chipping the trees with a professional chipper and we're hoping the wood chips put down between the fences will prevent future saplings from taking root. We so need to get the trees out of there, so we can lower our fire risk. After all the wildfires we've had in Colorado this year, we don't need to add to the problem.

And to end this on a good note...I spoke with the attorney today, since we still haven't gotten our paperwork in the mail showing that we are officially the girls' guardians. He said that he mailed them yesterday or the day before, and we should be getting them any day now. 

We can hope.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Getting there...

I'm doing my best to get out of the rut and into a groove and having some success...

Went to the dentist first thing this morning to see, if I needed another root canal. A few weeks ago I went in and had one of my molars prepped for a crown, and it hasn't stopped hurting since then. The dentist tapped my tooth with a fair amount of force, and it didn't hurt, so no root canal is necessary. That was a nice surprise.

When I was done, I had to return some headphones of the girls that had broken. This is the 2nd pair in the last month that we've had to return, but they lasted quite awhile. One pair lasted 8 months - the other 9. The really good thing is that the store no longer carries them, so we'll get a store credit for them, and we can still buy the headphones online for less than half what we paid for them in the store. Plus we'll get to go shopping and spend the store credit. It's a win/win.

When I was done returning the headphones, I ran to the hardware store. I needed to ask a few questions about small fluorescent light that we bought to go above the kitchen sink. We'd had one for a little over a year, but the ballast couldn't be replaced. If we'd known that when we bought the thing, we never would have bought it. Who buys what basically is a disposable light??

Got the information I needed, picked up 4 packages of light bulbs for 50 cents a pack, since each was short a bulb or two, grabbed a fluorescent bulb that is in the sunshine spectrum, (hoping it helps with my seasonal depression over the winter months), and came home to wire a cord onto the replacement light Hubster picked up this weekend. It was supposed to be hardwired, but there's no wiring in the area we wanted it installed, so I just reused the cord from the disposable light. Wiring it with the cord took no time at all, but I got distracted by the garden once I was done...

Picked over 3 gallons of tomatoes today. There are still a few that have pockmarks from hail damage, and they'll spoil quickly, so I need to do what I can to process them tomorrow. I'll be blanching and freezing most of them, but I'll make some sort of sauce with the really ripe ones. I will just let it simmer on the back burner for most of the day and make some sort of pasta dish with some of it and toss the rest in a freezer bag to use later.

After taking the girls' temperatures to see, if they'll be going to school and the day program tomorrow, (they won't be - they are both feverish), calling them in sick, and getting them to bed I started working on installing the light above the kitchen sink. It took quite a bit of work to get it installed, because the only stud I could mount it to was centered above the sink, and the screw holes were on either end of the light. I took a scrap of 1x6 that was out in the garage and attached it to the stud centered above the sink and into wall anchors on either end. Then I just screwed the light fixture onto the 1x6. It worked well, but it was a literal pain in the neck due to the odd angle I had to crane my neck in order to see what I was doing.

By the time I was done, my head was throbbing. It's obvious that the girls have shared, and I've got whatever is giving them the fevers. The good thing is that I will sleep like a dream tonight. Hubster helped me put plywood between our mattress and box springs, and it has made all the difference in the world! It's the first I've awakened in a really long time without my back hurting me all day long. 

So yeah. Now I'm ready to go to bed and see, if I can't get rid of the rest of this headache.

Monday, September 3, 2012

On the tip of my tongue.

I get so frustrated when I am trying to remember something, and I am so close I can almost taste it, but it never completely breaks through the surface. In many ways, it felt that way with the guardianship thing. It felt like it was just out of the grasp of our fingers and we couldn't quite catch it. It still feels like it's a bit out of reach, since we haven't gotten the official paperwork in the mail yet, but at least we know it's coming, and the resolution will be complete when it finally shows up.

Triggered by a sound, which triggered a smell, I had to go on a web search for a toy from my childhood. Anyone remember Incredible Edibles? I'm talking about the electric toy that heated small plates filled with edible goo to solidify, or maybe I should say, "rubberize" them, so older brothers could terrorize their younger sisters with them. I can't count the number of gooey spiders and snakes that were put in either one of our beds or our hair or  chased us around the yard at night. I'm betting the inventor of Gummy Worms had an Incredible Edible machine when he was little, and I'm betting he chased his little sisters, too!

Seeing the picture of the plates brought back an almost physical reaction for me. There's nothing that smells quite like the gel that was used when it's baking, and for a split second, that smell was so strong that I was back in the home I grew up in, sitting around the machine with my brothers and sister waiting for the goodies to be done, so we could eat them. I could smell the dampness of the basement, feel the coolness of the concrete against my knees, and feel the anticipation as though I were 8 years old again. 

What wonderful memories!

It's funny how a sound or a smell can transport a person back in time. For years, there was a single phrase that transported me back, but it was like I was stuck in a time machine, for I could remember but one line in the song. I wanted to have the full experience of the memory, but no matter what I did to remember the rest of the song, I couldn't. 

Thankfully, my brother came through for me when we were back home for Mom's heart surgery. We were at the park with the kids, and I was standing around with one of my sisters, one of my brothers, and one of my sister-in-laws. I told them that I needed help! That there was a song that played on the radio when we were little that I wanted to hear again, but all I could remember was the phrase, "And find me a pretty girl!"

Instantly, my brother started singing the song! He remembered the words and the artist, but I've got to call him up and ask him who sang it, because I've already forgotten. I'm hoping it will lead to me actually finding an old vinyl record with the song on it. I really, really want to actually hear the song again, instead of just hearing the memory of it in my mind!) 

Do any of you remember this song???

I'm gonna get on a riverboat,
And go down the river,
And find me a pretty girl!

And if that pretty girl
Falls in love me,
I'm gonna marry her!

And if that pretty girl
proves to be untrue... 

I'm gonna get on a riverboat,
and go down the river, 
and find me another girl!

I've searched everything I have access to search, and not only can I not find the song anywhere, I can't even find the lyrics. It's frustrating, because in spite of being instantly transported to my childhood when my brother sang the three verses of the song that he remembered, I still feel like the rest of the memory is on the tip of my tongue. 

I want to be transported back in time to the black and white checkered floor in the kitchen with the sunlight dancing on the kitchen cupboards and stove top again. I want to feel like I did when I listened to it with my family when I was little. When I knew that Grammy and Grandad were just across the street, and that Daddy would come home every night, and that Mom would always be there when we got home after school. 

Just for awhile, I want to be transported back in time when the biggest worry I had was whether I was going to wear barrettes or ribbons in my hair that day, and whether I'd be able to stay awake and watch 'Connie Jarson' with Mom and Daddy. 

It's so close I can just about touch it...