We bought this house 19 years ago. I know this time for certain because I was literally nine months, hugely pregnant with Lelly when we moved in. Thomas was not quite 5 years old and Alyssa not yet 3 years old. It was a very busy, busy time. When we purchased this house we did so at the price the buyer wanted and “as is” condition. Meaning there were no negotiations. The house needed a roof, windows, new furnace, siding, new front stairs and a whole host of updating and cosmetic work inside, including a new kitchen and main bathroom.

It was so worth it though. I love my ‘hood, I have the best neighbors ever and after our major interior renovation 2 years ago I love the inside. It wasn’t easy having all that work done. Tommy did a lot himself and that saved us a large amount of money but some jobs such as the roof being torn off with new shingles; or vinyl siding, we had to pay someone else to do those jobs.

Tommy and I have decided to tackle one of our last frontiers. The closets that run along the front wall of the basement. There are 3 nice size closets with shelves. Great storage. Well it’s been great storage for a crap load of papers and “stuff” for the past 19 years. I found tax returns from the year we were married!

I remember when I first started paying bills when we were first married. I didn’t know what to keep or what to throw away. So I kept everything. Don’t ask. There’s also the “Thomas files.” I have a shit ton of evaluations on him since he was 2 and a half years old. He’ll be 23 years old this July. These evals and IEP’s are old news and no longer necessary. We have all the information we need about Thomas. I barely read about my Thomas as I was shredding those documents that were oh so important back in the day. Neuro-psych evaluations, IQ testing, accommodations for his IEP…there’s a lot. And I shred it all with joy. It means we made it. We came out the other side. Through all the heartache of not knowing what was wrong, what was going on in my son’s head that made him learn, act and just be the way he was. We are way past those years and for that I am so grateful. So it is with great joy that I shred! With breaks here and there to give the shredding machine a break to keep from overheating.

Talking to Thomas

I talked to my son on the phone. Thomas is speech impaired but verbal, very verbal. Sometimes he’s a little difficult to understand but if you listen to him it’s not that hard. You mostly have to pay attention. For instance he mentioned that he ate dinner and I asked him what he had for dinner. Pasta, he answered and then said, “what about you?” He was asking what we had for dinner today.

I miss him. We had a nice routine before being quarantined; every Sunday I would pick him up after church, get him a haircut if needed, or go shopping for a little while and then go back to my house. We usually stopped off to get Thomas a bottle of soda before heading to my house. Thomas would stay for dinner and hang out afterwards for me to give him his 7 pm meds. After he had his meds he was ready to go back to his house and “relax.”

He’s an interesting person my Thomas. He has an amazing memory; my goodness he remembers everything, no kidding. And he’s thoughtful. Thomas was telling me how he spoke to staff at his day program and I said you must miss your program, Thomas answered, “I miss you a lot!”

It’s difficult to explain the quarantine to him. While on the phone Thomas said, “Remember when you said you’d never pick me up anymore?” I was like ooooh…Punched in the gut that he thought that. I explained that it is the “government” that says we can’t pick him up, that we will pick him up when this sickness is over. I also spoke to the house manager who said that some of the residents’ families have taken them home for the duration of the quarantine. That is not an option for us since I currently have no idea when or where I’ll be working from day to day. I don’t think Thomas would want to come here for an extended period of time as he no longer considers my house his house. He fully declares “his house” as his home. The first time he said that to me I was very taken aback and a little hurt in a way. But then I realized it is a good thing because it meant that he had adjusted to living at the group home and truly settled in. Soon we’ll have dinner again.

Root Canal on Top of Root Canal

Easter Sunday, around early afternoon I began having minor pain in my bottom right tooth. I couldn’t tell which of the 2 bottom back teeth that was really hurting. I didn’t think much of it until later Sunday evening when I had to take a couple of Ibuprofen so I could get to sleep. Nevertheless I was woke up by the pain at 1:30am. I knew it was serious.

Monday morning I called my dentist, he wasn’t in until Tuesday and only for emergencies; this was an emergency. So 10 am yesterday morning I went in. They took an X-ray and it showed an infection under a tooth that previously had a root canal. I think the technical term is that the root canal “failed”. Of course the rally cry of the dentist is “Save the tooth!” Meanwhile all I wanted was to be out of pain and I didn’t care how that happened.

So I talked to over with my dentist and he found me a root canal specialist that I approved of and would take me that afternoon. I hadn’t been to this practice before so I was apprehensive and to be honest I was upset. It doesn’t seem fair that a tooth I already had discomfort in *and* had already endured a root canal to, should “fail” and have to be root canal-ed again.

I arrived for the appointment, the specialist’s office was only about 10 minutes from my house. I was told to Purell my hands, had my temperature taken and answered questions about my health and the health of those I live with. All was well. Then, after this guy took his own X-ray and confirmed it was indeed an infection under a previous root canal he proceeded to jab the back of my mouth and gum line multiple times with that long needle of novacaine they all seem to have. I asked if I could have sweet air (nitrous) and the guy said he doesn’t use it… I really wanted to leave, the last procedures I had done on my teeth were not without nitrous. But…the pain was too great and I wanted to get this over with.

It wasn’t a pleasant experience nor was it horrendous. However I’ve would have been much happier with the nitrous. I’m still sore and in pain. He prescribed an antibiotic and high dose ibuprofen, which works but wears off too fast. I pissed though. I mean I take care of my teeth and I still got this stupid infection and had to go through this pain and re-root canal a tooth. Not cool.

Hanging Out With My Kids

Since we’ve all been quarantined and we all live here I’ve spent more time than I thought possible with 3 of my 4 children. Lelly was not planning to continue to dorm at FIT past this spring semester. Well, she and every other student who was living in a dorm was sent home early due to COVID 19. It’s ok that she was sent home before she finished the semester. Dorming wasn’t the be all and end all experience for my daughter. I’m glad she’s home.

I’m glad they’re all home to be honest. We’re not together every waking hour and they’re all old enough that they need time away from me as well. And that’s ok. I hear Lelly working out in her room since all they gyms are closed. Samantha goes down the basement to work out. Alyssa…I can’t always tell what she’s doing since her room is 2 flights up in the attic. She does a lot of school work and working from home for her job/internship.

Yesterday, Easter Sunday was nice. We had church in the living room, Alyssa ran Facebook on our television and we were able to see and hear the singers praise God with song and then listen to Pastor John’s message. His point aside from Easter being a huge celebration for Christians was that Jesus is our lifeline for everything. That we must tether our lifeline to the rise one Jesus Christ. It was really nice to have church at home. I miss church, I miss my church family and the fellowship. We email and text but it’s of course not the same. I miss driving in my car and worshipping with song to God. Before work every morning I would arrive early to ensure a good parking space and praise Him with worship music. I miss that. I miss my morning time spent that way. When I was assigned to the enrichment centers I would arrive early mainly because I gave myself extra time because I wasn’t familiar with the area where I was being sent. I would use that time to worship with music.

Anyway, as much as I dislike being quarantined and dislike all the disruption to our lives that COVID 19 has caused. I have been enjoying the time spent with my girls. I am forever grateful that they aren’t all young children during this time. I enjoy my girls at the ages they’re at which is young adult and young teen. I’ve been fortunate that the teen years haven’t been horrid. Only time will tell with Samantha. Right now we have a nice relationship, she talks to me so it’s good.

Days Like These

One of my son’s housemates at his group home, an man named Sal; most likely in his 60’s has passed away. He was hospitalized for the corona virus around the third week in March. I was told he was discharged home because he was doing well while in the hospital. I spoke to Thomas when Sal was home and Thomas told me they were able to spend time together wearing masks and sitting outside when the weather was nice. I thought that was really nice. Thomas also told me that Sal was in his room “a lot” and that he wore a mask while in the house. Early this week I called Thomas and the group home manager told me that Sal was back in the hospital, that he was having some respiratory issues but was not on a ventilator. This afternoon I found out that Sal had passed away.

Its a very sad time for the guys in Thomas’ house. There’s 8 of them maximum. They all know one another and for the most part get along. Sometimes it’s a sibling/love/annoy relationship. The group home is a 2 family house with 4 bedrooms upstairs and 4 bedrooms downstairs. Thomas lives upstairs with Sal and two other male residents. Sal was the oldest. Thomas and the other two men are in their mid to late 20’s. When I spoke to Thomas today he said he was sad. Thomas knows there is a virus out there and that it can make people sick. Thomas tells me he’s “not sick” and I know the group home staff have been monitoring Thomas’ temperature twice a day, since Sal became ill. Thomas also knows we aren’t able to pick him up and bring him here for dinner these days.

I miss him. I miss my guy, my Thomas. I miss being around him, going shopping with him (my son loves to shop; I have no idea where he gets it from…) I miss getting him a hair cut. And I feel bad that he has suffered a loss. The house manager said that Thomas was asking about Sal very often and wanted to know when he was coming home.

If you could, please keep Thomas and his housemates and the staff in your prayers. The staff still have to show up and care for the residents. Even through this pandemic.

And I’m Mandated…

The government of our state has enacted a state of emergency law (or whatever) that allows the government to mobilize nurses employed by the city to hospitals to wherever they see a need within a city nursing home or hospital. My co worker who lives 15 minutes from me was mandated last week to a nursing home in East Harlem. I received my notice yesterday. As of right now I don’t know where I will be working next. This past week I was working at an enrichment center way up in East Harlem. I did so without complaint. To be perfectly honest I don’t want to work in a nursing home or a hospital. If I did I would be employed at one right now.

Being a nurse is not a one size fits all profession. You can’t just interchange people this way. Yes we’ve all received the same basics in nursing school but unless you practice in a particular area you aren’t always proficient in all skills and knowledge. I’m not against being a help to my city, not at all. I have skills that are in demand and I’m more than willing to put those skills to good use. However I am apprehensive about being placed in a work situation I am not familiar with.

Also, I’m made uncomfortable by the emergency announcement requesting nurses that was blasted over iPhones yesterday. The city of New York has already mandated hundreds of Department of education and department of health school nurses to work in city hospitals and nursing homes. Why aren’t our numbers counted as those that responded to the call? I’ve heard no mention.

Every city employed civil servant I know is doing their part during this terrible, frightening time in our lives. I thank God for every one of them, from the teachers, paras, OT/PT staff, my fellow nurses, police, fire department and every other hard working professional the city write a paycheck for.

My Work Family

It’s been over 2 weeks since we said a very odd goodbye to each other. There were no hugs or “have a good break!” well wishes. I miss my Hungerford people, my co workers, the teachers, the paras, the students; everyone that makes up my work family. The people I spend every minute of every hour with from 7:40am to sometimes 5:30pm (depending if there’s after school program), Monday through Friday. You get used to the routine, what students you’re providing care for and the type of care they each require.

It’s funny at first I missed the staff. The fun exchanges we would have with each other. The way I would depend on certain staff; mainly paras to give me updates on particular medically fragile students. The “one to one” paras I work with are the best. They know their student inside and out and they know when to call me or to bypass the phone and bring the student right in to the nursing office for me to evaluate and decide on the next course of action. I see those paras a lot.

There’s also the teachers I see everyday like clockwork in the classrooms and the occupational and physical therapists I often pass in the halls. The OT/PT staff have a smallish therapy room and are sometimes are in the hallway working with their students. Usually if the student is on a bicycle/board with wheels; some sort of equipment that more space is needed than the room can provide. I enjoy chatting as we pass each other.

I miss my school in general. I’ve been working at regional enrichment centers in Brooklyn and way uptown in Manhattan. We are there for children of essential workers who have no other childcare options. I’ve met other nurses who work in regional schools (work with typical students) and other nurses like me who work with special needs students (District 75). All have been very nice and accommodating thank God. But I am a guest in their house. I miss my “house,” my school, my students.

I can’t wait for this storm to pass and we can all go back to our regularly scheduled programs/lives. And I get to go back to “normal” work and not worry about where I’ll be working from one day to the next. I know we all want “normal” again.