RN Shares HERSTORY about Getting Covid-19 and Lessons Learned

We are on day 271 since the first reported case of Covid-19 in the US. Two hundred seventy-one days, and we are still working to contain this beast. Becky, a Registered Nurse, shares her story about Contracting Covid-19 and Lessons Learned.

Becky is a family friend and has known my daughter-in-law for eighteen years. I met Becky at a playdate about eight years ago. This meeting was not for children; it was a date for our dogs!  

The first thing you notice when meeting Becky is her fantastic curly hair. 

Once you speak with Becky, you find that her “awesomeness” is way more than cute hair. She is a smart, dedicated woman who cares for others. 

Becky is also a mother, wife, and a Registered Nurse. She and her husband Joe, have two young sons. On Becky’s first day back to work at the hospital, she contracted Covid-19. Her description is below, initially printed in the Buffalo News on October 10, 2020. 

 Included in this blog is a check-in to see how the family is faring.

HERSTORY

My name is Becky; I am a Registered Nurse, a former infection control nurse and have been in the profession for ten years. On my first day back to work after a prolonged maternity leave, I contracted Covid-19. I had long conversations with my husband about the well being and safety of myself and my family before deciding that I was ready to return to work during the pandemic.

During my first (and now last) shift back, I was hyper diligent with all infection control protocols. In my role, I was instructing an enthusiastic, ready to learn, group of students at Olean General Hospital. I was excited to be back. On my 50 minute drive home, I thought about all of the steps I took to keep myself, my students, and their patients safe. When I came home to my family, I was masked, said a quick ‘hello,’ and proceeded to scrub up, change, and disinfect appropriately.

 CONTRACTING COVID-19

Three days later, I am hit. Hit hard with Covid symptoms. I am currently on day 9 of running high fevers, sweating, shaking, terrible headaches, and loss of taste and smell. I am isolated in the bedroom of our 1000 square foot single-story home. My husband is working as a teacher from our kitchen table while simultaneously being a full-time dad to our four-year-old and one-year-old sons, all while ensuring I have everything I need. Miraculously, the other members of my family tested negative.

I will be isolated from them for several more days, and we will be quarantined as a family for several more weeks. The only way our baby will sleep is if I nurse him at night. I have to scrub up, change all of my clothes, don clean gloves, and put on an N95 mask to safely feed our baby. My husband and boys go outside to look at each other through the window and blow kisses each day. Regularly, my husband and I are a team, and right now, I cannot help him and our children. Explaining to our four-year-old that he cannot open my bedroom door without causing him fear and anxiety is not an easy task. Needless to say, Covid is real. Aside from recovering from my illness, the effects are numerous.

 LESSONS LEARNED

I know that I am not the only case of Covid-19 contracted on that day. This knowledge should not be kept quiet. My question is if testing is readily available, why aren’t we doing it? I beg hospital facilities to test their staff and patients regularly, asymptomatic or not. A temperature screening at the door is not enough. Covid-19 is a crisis; please treat it like one. As a community, we must be transparent. People need to speak up. We have so much more knowledge about this virus than we did back in March, we must use it.

To my fellow RN’s and healthcare workers out there- if your employer is not regularly testing you because you are asymptomatic and an essential worker, please stand up for your health. Be an excellent nurse to yourself, call the Health Department, and get a test. Lives are on the line. You will NOT be sorry.

It is now several weeks since Becky wrote this article about Contracting Covid-19. I asked Becky how her family was doing and what it was like to reunite with the boys. She replied, “When we were first able to reunite we didn’t quite know what to do with each other, then we all just did a huge group hug and did not want to let go 🙂. Our house is slowly returning to normal. Joe and the boys remain symptom-free.”

Becky urges to add testing for front-line medical workers. Click here  for more stories from health care workers around the globe. Becky’s account has a beautiful ending, so many others do not.

Do you have a story about Contracting Covid-19 and Lessons Learned? Contact me here.

Attending a Party During Covid: Confession from the Outsider

We have not been to many parties or gatherings since March 2020. So, when we received an invitation to a party, my first thought was, “Oh NO! Do we go?” The friends who invited us are not just acquaintances; they are friends who have become family. Mitch has known the husband for 57 years! These are our people! So, we needed to decide will we be attending a party during Covid?

Mitch and I vacillated with our RSVP. 

As Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof laments, “on the other hand…but on the other hand….” 

 Back and forth until we decided we would attend.

SHOULD WE GO

A day before the party, Mitch said to me, “We can’t do it, I am going to call up and be honest about our concerns.” Two-minutes later, Mitch told me he spoke to our friend, and we were going. At a boy, Mitch!

Our friend told Mitch that they obtained two outdoor heaters for us. They also set up their beautiful porch so that we would feel comfortable. Ok, so “on the other hand,” we decided to attend happily.  

It has been a long time since I wore make-up, picked out shoes other than sneakers or Dansko clogs. . I missed dressing up, even if dressing up meant jeans, sweater, scarf, gloves and a hat (why did I bother with my hair!). I was freed from my workout clothes. I was going places!

Mitch and I prepared to get in the car at the same time the rain prepared to fall. Was this our message to stay home? We hesitated for a moment before grabbing two umbrellas and continuing.

Attending a Party During Covid

We arrived and quickly went to the yard. The backyard was twinkling with lights, comfortable seating, and a giant umbrella. Mitch and I took a seat and noticed that everyone else was in the house. No masks. People greeted each other with hugs.

Confession from the Outsider
Attending a Party During Covid
Mitch and I (the Outsiders) with our masks off – We were by ourselves for this photo

Our hosts were gracious, and we had, or I had too much to drink and plenty of food. I only ventured into the house with a mask attached to grab dinner, and yes, another drink!

Only a couple of people ventured to the porch to chit chat; most stayed in the house. It was cold and I didn’t blame them. I felt terrible for our hosts, who had to navigate between their guests inside and “the outsiders.”

We went home, and I needed to process. There is no judgment here, I just do not know if I am overreacting? Are they underreacting? Is it somewhere in the middle? How can we hear the same information and react so differently?

Why are we interpreting the information so differently? I went to my friend Google and asked her for an opinion. Pew Research revealed an interesting look at Partisan divide, click here for more.

Why is our reaction to a virus political? I read an article about Politics wrecking American response, which demonstrated the differing views.

It’s how we interpret the news. More importantly, it is the information that we are seeking, based on our chosen network. One article concluded that if Democrats could find more trust in Trump, and Republicans could find less trust in Trump, we may reach a consensus. 

And still, some believe that the pharmaceuticals are running the show.  

Confession from the Outsider

I am just an average person trying to figure this all out. Wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands. It makes sense, but maybe I am brainwashed into believing this? And there is my point, why is the @#$% virus political? Where can we get the real story? I think I know the truth, and my friends agree that they know the facts. This dilemma is not a judgment; it’s a state of confusion!

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Celebrating Rosh Hashana at a Drive-in Theater

Celebrating Rosh Hashana at a Drive-In Theater. The English year is 2020. The new Jewish Year, 5781, started this week. The year has been weird, horrific and unforgettable, but it has also achieved some positives.

I am Jewish, and turning 63 on Thursday. I like to think upper middle age, but I know it is in fact lower old age. Yet, even after all these years, I still needed to look up the definition of the Jewish calendar. Why is it year 5781? Wikipedia says, in part, the lunisolar calendar is used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances.

Next, I asked my rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein to explain and he replied, “The standard calendar dates to the birth of Jesus. The Jewish one is meant to go back all the way to Adam and Eve, using the dates in Scripture as reference points (seven days of creation, plus 40 days of the flood, and so on). And, unlike our normal calendar, the starting point is September.”

I was glad to say bye-bye to 5780 (2019-2020) and hello to 5781 (2020-2021). I was excited that we got to celebrate a new year earlier than Jan. 1.

A New Beginning

I was hoping for a bright new beginning, a change in something, or perhaps a miracle cure to end the virus. A girl can dream, right?

Day One of 5781 started great. Our temple, Congregation Shir Shalom, hosted the service at the drive-in theater. My daughter Carly and I planned to attend.

How do you dress for a drive-in holy ceremony? We had no idea what to expect. Typically, we dress up for the holidays, but nothing about this year was customary. We decided to wear casual office attire, although neither of us works in an office.

As soon as we arrived at the drive-in, masked temple members greeted us as they directed traffic. Yes, traffic. There were a lot of people attending. As we drove into the lot, we were surprised by all the cars, and more were coming.

Carly and I were guided to our parking spot by another volunteer and quickly took out our lawn chairs and gazed at the crowd. It was hard to recognize people because of the masks and vastness of the parking lot. We said hello to some members and appreciated the normalcy of greeting fellow congregants on Rosh Hashana, even though we were all covered up and at a distance.

Who is That Lady in the Mask?

To my surprise, nobody recognized me. My daughter summed it up quickly. “Mom, people are used to seeing you push Jessica’s wheelchair (my older daughter Jessica always attends Temple with us and due to Covid and her vulnerability she was unable to join us this year), your hair is now blonde (yes, it was dark brown last year), and you are wearing a mask.” OK, so I was not recognizable.

We looked to the snack bar building, and high on the roof was our beloved Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein and Cantor Arlene Frank. I felt like it was the last Beatles on the rooftop concert. Our radios were set to station 87.9 to hear our clergy as the beautiful service began.

Watching  Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein and Cantor Arlene Frank felt like watching the last Beatles on the rooftop concert.

We participated. We sang. We prayed. We were Celebrating Rosh Hashana at a Drive-In Theater. We blew our car horns instead of raising our hands.

It struck me about the wonder of human nature and how we can take all the difficulty of this past year and create a meaningful celebration to welcome the new year. I wish you a happy, healthy and sweet year that includes a cure for Covid-19. Amen. 

Today’s Essay is Posted in The Buffalo News – for more blogs published in the Buffalo News please click here.

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What I Discovered After 7-Months of Hypocritical Covid-19 Rules

I am humbled by my Hypocritical Covid-19 Rules. Seven months into this thing gives me time to reflect on the new normal.

I am trying to keep my 6-foot distance from our daughter Jessica who is vulnerable. But Last week, I arrived at her home prepared with my tools. My bag included snipping scissors, comb, and music so that I could cut Jessica’s bangs. Jess is a moving target, I prefer our friend and stylist, Craig Connock, (the Hair Dude ) to cut her hair. Still, strange times call for unorthodox measures, and so now I am Vickie’s Styling Salon. I have one cheerful customer. When I showed Jessica’s sister, Carly, a photo of Jessica’s hair, she was underwhelmed. Her reply was that “The hair looks good, but her bangs are really bad.” I needed to confess that I only cut her bangs; no other hairs were harmed by my scissors.

Covid-19 rules include cutting bangs

WHERE IS THE LYSOL?

I feel like a 1930’s Great Depression survivor when I go to a store. It is hard to pass by hand sanitizer, cleansing wipes, or ( on the rare to the non-existent occasion) Lysol sprays without purchasing several items. I’m scarred by March and April when I was unable to find any of these products. And now I need to overcompensate because I “remember when…”

How Depression Era Changed many behaviors, will Pandemic do the same?

I am aware that my guard is no longer on the highest alert. In May, when I first started food shopping in stores again, I avoided others as if playing a video game. Staring down a food aisle, I waited until it was completely empty of other humans before racing through to get my item. Now, I walk through the aisle without hesitation. I worry that the new norm is becoming familiar and comfortable, and my Covid Rules are fading.

I find that when outside with the intention of social distancing that after a short period, our minds play tricks on us and say, “These are our friends, they are OK.”  It is hard to look at beloved friends and family and say, “Step back!” It goes against our human nature of connecting with others. I always say, “Oh, I’m doing the 6-foot thing.” But sometimes I feel like I am on a 6-foot island where others think that it’s OK not to distance since they are friends.

Hypocritical Covid-19 Rules

AND I am a total hypocrite! My grandkids go to daycare, and I hold them, hug them, and kiss the top of their heads. I go to Wegmans many times a week rather than one big shopping. Amazon returns are at Kohls and I go to Target for supplies but will not step into a store to shop for clothing. I do not let friends in my home but will allow the Cleaning Person to touch all my surfaces and clean the house! I know it makes no sense!

Mitch thinks he’s “Commonsensical” (his word, not mine). His Rule: When indoors, wear a mask and outdoors, not so much. He finds me very annoying, and to be honest, so do I!

Mitch thinks his Covid-19 rules are "Commonsensical"

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What the Exit Interview with our Son and Daughter Revealed

How Did We Do? These Inquiring Parents Wanted to Know.

Many wise companies provide an exit interview when you leave their employment. The human resource staff will ask about your experience at the company. “So, how did we do? What would you change? Where did we come up short, and where did we excel?” So, why not conduct an exit interview when your adult offspring move out of the house (for the first time – not when they come back for random reasons). The intention is not for us to do a better job with our future children , but to get a fair assessment (can this really be fair and honest?) of how we did as Parents.

I needed input from Jessica’s siblings to paint a comprehensive picture of what it was like growing up in our family.

The interview did not occur to me until I started writing my book, Raising Jess: A Story of Hope. Jessica’s story was not just about Jess. Our total family dynamics, flaws, and successes also contributed to our narrative and provides an answer to the question; “So how did we do?”

Our Son Alex Answered the Call

First, I called my son, “Alex, please let me interview you for the book. But before you say yes or no, I need you to be honest! This book won’t work if we pretend it was all fabulous.” Alex considered my request and, with a hint of sarcasm, replied, “When was I ever not honest! Just make sure you write what I say!  “And can I have a bigger chapter than Carly?” I rolled my eyes to this request, “Alex, you are 35 years old, stop competing with your younger sister!” 

Alex gave a beautiful interview using his keen insights and humor. His final quote to our exchange, “I would like to say Jess gave me more patience, but I have no patience.” He told me he was going to be honest!

Our Daughter Carly’s Conversation

Carly’s interview was completed while she was exercising on the elliptical. Our distracted conversation was a terrific strategy, although it was not preplanned.

Talking and exercising removes a lot of the inhibitions, and our conversation was free-flowing and enlightening. She sweated from exercise, and I sweated from the anticipation of what was going to come from our interview. She spoke, and I listened. I wrote her words impartially (as possible), knowing I would process later.

There were some contradictions such as Alex thought we went on many trips, whereas Carly thought our vacations were limited. Glad they didn’t have to provide testimony in court! Carly has clear memories of caring for Jessica during the October storm while Mitch and I were frantically trying to get home from work. Alex, on the other hand, had no memory of the hours watching Jess while Mitch and I were struggling to arrive home.  

They did agree on other aspects of life in the Rubin household. Alex and Carly made it clear that they were never embarrassed about Jessica and were proud to introduce her as their sister. And they also both mentioned that Jessica’s vocal enthusiasm at Temple makes them squirm.

Is this a thing?

Do other parents offer the exit interview to their kids when they move out? In my opinion, it was an extraordinary experience. I think one key to the success of this strategy was to remain neutral while listening. If I were to react, remark, refute, or lay down and cry, the interview obviously would have failed. That is the hardest part of all but the only way to foster honesty.

The results of the interviews are revealed in the book.

The Rubin Progeny Exit Interview was a success because it opened an honest dialog and allowed our adult children to reflect with me about their childhood. The answer to, “So, how did we do?” was that we did OK. We fostered three wonderful, responsible adults who have empathy, compassion, and kindness.

Parents, give it a try, if you dare….

Maybe my next gig will be developing Exit Interviews for Families!

Have you done this with your kids? LMK vickierubinauthor@gmail.com

Camper Envy Continued: The Answer to That Burning Camping Question

I am from Long Island, and camping with or without a camper was never in my vernacular. Yes, I went to camp, but camping is a whole different mindset.

When I was a kid in the mid-seventies, our school would end for the summer break on a Friday, and I was on the camp bus headed to the Catskills by Sunday. Was it me going on vacation or my parents?

Camp Ma-Ho-Gee was located in Monticello, New York, and was rustic by Long Island standards. During my final years at camp, my lodging was a converted motel where my one roommate and I had our own bathroom. This is what camping was for me!

Fast forward, “gulp” 47 years, and I am camping again. This time with our new NorthStar TC650. (Before last month, the previous sentence would never have come out of my mouth). 

http://www.northstarcampers.com/products/pop-up-truck-campers-tc650/

As mentioned in last week’s Blog, our first experience was memorable. One of the biggest questions I received – was about the bathrooms. Or better said, the lack of bathrooms.

Let me remind you that prior to this camping was the converted motel in the Catskills with a private bath.

If there was ONE big reason why I didn’t want to join my husband Mitch on this retirement odyssey, it was the lack of facilities. Pre-Covid, this was not a problem because campsites provide clean restrooms and showers. 

Post-Covid, I am not stepping foot into a public bathroom!

So now what? Mitch had several ideas that were extremely unappealing. And so he continued to research.

Meanwhile, we did solve the shower problem, at least during the warm months. Our camper has a hot-cold spigot on the exterior and a cute blue hose with a spray nozzle. Ok, that sounds promising, but do I disrobe in front of our neighbors with the rock star motorhome? I am learning campsite etiquette, and I am pretty sure that this is not on the list.

Mitch’s goal during his meticulous planning was to get me on board. He spent way too much time trying to find ways for me to feel like I was camping in my living room while sitting in a camper without certain accommodations.

He found a shower tent (see photo); it worked great if one held the tent while the other showered (see the second photo). The water was warm, the shower was private, and it was a delightful experience.

Pre and Post Shower Requirement
PRE and POST Shower Requirement
Camper Shower Stall
SHOWER STALL STANDING
Camper Shower Stall - Don't let this happen!
DON”T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!

recently joined a Facebook group of NorthStar enthusiasts, and one person suggested No Rinse Bathing Wipes Adult Wash ClothsBrilliant! I quickly purchased these for when the weather is cooler.

But there was a more significant issue, as many of you can guess, and more of you have asked. What about the potty. I will try to describe this as delicately as possible to preserve my girlish reputation.

Think Human Litter Box…. Do not think too hard, especially if you are reading this with breakfast. (THIS IS ONLY For TINKLES! (pee)). Our friend Jeff said he solved this problem with horse pellets and cedar wood chips. We could not find horse pellets at the local Arkansas Walmart, so we settled for Ferret Pellets. (no words…. And I am a writer) Mitch pulled out the trusty bucket that we used to escape Florida in March, and we created our litter box. 

The Trusty Bucket VS The Two Bathroom Rock Star RV

I will admit it did the trick. We were able to have privacy in the camper. The pellets and wood-shaving always smelled like the outdoors, and daily clean-up was easy.

As for the rest of the story, TMI, Mitch bought a special portable thingy that worked well and was private, and that is all I am saying on this matter.

Yes, this Long Island girl who dreamed of living in a city all those years ago is roughing it more than I ever thought. And loving every (ok, mostly every) moment of the adventure!

Camper Envy and Size Matters

I was in the camping world less than ten hours and already had camper envy!

Mitch and I decided that we were going to do it!  Pick up our pop-up camper in Arkansas, a short 1000-mile drive from our home.  We broke this up evenly between two days by driving 16-hours on day 1 and three hours on day 2.  Well, maybe not that even. 

The only public place we stopped along the route was to get gas. Oh, and we did stay in one hotel.

I registered for the hotel using my phone and received a digital key – we did not see another person.

Once we entered the hotel, Mitch stopped at the elevator for a lift until he saw my reaction. My uproar was much larger than his infraction, so he joined me on the stairs, without comment. I received his standard “your ridiculous” eye roll and sigh.

Once in the room, I “re-sterilized” every surface and deemed the place OK for one-night lodging.   My friend Tami told me about disposable sheets and  I purchased a set from  Amazon to add to my Anti- Coronavirus arsenal of tools.

The sheet set was folded so lovely and clean in its small envelope. I envisioned two pillowcases and a king-size flat sheet.  What I got was a twin size piece of paper.  Yes, I bought a big piece of paper, I guess I should have read the reviews.

Anyway, I mummified myself in the paper, while Mitch nonchalantly used the hotel pillows, sheets, and blanket (yuck!)

Twin Size Disposable Sheet
Disposable Sheet
Our new vacation home

The next day we drove to the dealership and saw our new vacation home for the first time!  It was beautiful, it was perfect. Everything appeared to be in pristine shape, but what do I know – this was my first time in a camper. 

Side view of camper prior to putting it on our truck

We were thrilled with the grained wood flooring, our cute double burner gas stove with glass top which doubled as workspace, stainless steel sink, fabulous refrigerator, AIR CONDITIONER!, seating area, kitchen swivel table, and queen size bed on what I like to refer to as our second floor. The second-floor bedroom is a spot over our truck cab (new word for me, it means where the driver and passenger seats are located).

If you are thinking we are missing an important room, you are correct.  More on the bathroom accommodations in the next blog.

It only took about 7- hours of learning and waiting and relearning and waiting again for the camper to be installed onto our Ford F150 truck. 

Typically, newbie owners such as we spend one night at the dealership to become accustomed to everything and ask questions in the morning.  Not so for my husband.

He confidently said we can drive to our first campsite.  I agreed to this because I did not want to stay in Arkansas for more than 24 hours since it is a Cuomo NYS no-no state.

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-five-states-removed-covid-19-travel-advisory-requiring-14-day)

We drove about 1-hour and realized we were exhausted and needed to stop.  I saw a cute sign that said RV campsite was less than one mile away, so we took a chance that they would have an opening.

We drove our shiny new camper into the campgrounds and was quickly registered and given a parking spot.

Camper Envy!

I got out of the truck and gasped at my next-door neighbor.  It was an RV mansion!  I could see the large screen TV gleaming from the window.  The multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, and couches.  YIKES! 

SO MUCH ROOM!

The owners and their dog sat in their lawn chairs, nice and comfy, and watched us try to set up our camper for the first time. So, where is the electricity?  How do you raise the pop-up? Are we ever going to eat and DRINK! He watched Mitch, and I go from our truck to the camper, repeatedly getting supplies.  We had no system. We must have been more entertaining than his big screen because they watched us with amusement for a while.

Yes, I am embarrassed to admit that my first outing filled me with camper envy.  Not sure if that is a real term, but it described my initial feeling. Mostly because of the bathrooms and shower. Ok, and the big screen TV.

Size Does Matter

After a few days of experience, I realized that size does matter, and our small but comfy camper is perfect for us.  The flexibility we have is precisely what we wanted, and we can easily travel without worrying about a trailer or driving a rock star bus. But on the other hand TV’s and Bathrooms do have an appeal!

I did finally get to eat!

Next in the series: Day to Day Living in a camper

What My Mother Knew That Took Me 20 Years to Find Out

My Mom was a big fan of my writing and said, “you should write a book.”

But I was too busy to write a book. I had a full-time job, three kids, and three dogs at home. Jessica, as documented in many blogs, needed help with every daily life skill.

The years passed, and in 2016 I retired as the manager of Early Childhood Direction Center, part of Kaleida Health. My two younger children got married, and Jessica had already moved into her own home within two miles of our home.

See Daughter’s Departure Will Bring Big Changes

I started writing. Every day for three years, I wrote. The result was a book called Raising Jess: A Story of Hope.

Unfortunately, as I was writing my book, my Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I wanted Mom to know that I finally agreed to write that book she carped about! After all the years, I finally did what she asked! And I loved every minute of it. Regretfully, it was too late to talk in-depth with Mom about the chapters and process. 

Mom’s speech became extremely limited, yet her awareness of what was going on around her remained strong. We understood that Mom knew what was happening to her, heartbreaking reality of her Alzheimer’s.  

One chapter in the book detailed an interview with Jessica’s grandparents. I went to Florida and spoke to my Mom, asking her delicate questions. 

Mom never had much of a filter, and Alzheimer’s only accentuated that trait.

I feel blessed that I was able to interview Mom for the book. She spoke slowly, with few words but honestly about her experience as a Grandmother to Jessica. Mom got her point across very clearly.

As the writing process proceeded from one year to the next, we knew that our time with Mom was closing. So, my dad and I decided that he would read each completed chapter of the book to Mom. As each section was finished, I emailed it to my dad. The chapters were still raw, but I wanted Mom to know that I was working on this dream before it was too late.

At that point, I didn’t know if the book would be accepted by a publisher or if I was writing for family history.

When the book was complete and accepted by the publisher, Dad put Mom on the phone. Talking on the phone with Mom was a part of my daily life before her illness. We spoke once or twice every day. Our phone time slowed and eventually stopped a couple of years ago. Mom’s speech and memory limited her ability to enjoy talking on the phone, it became extremely frustrating for her. So, getting on the phone at this time was a rarity. Mom spoke slowly and clearly and told me she loved the book! I wish I would have taped her review!  

The book: Raising Jess: A Story of Hope will be released in 2021 and dedicated to my Mom.

Dad, Jessica and Mom (Jessica’s Grandparents)

Should We Do It? 6 Reasons to Try a Camper

Mitch and I unknowingly were trendsetters before COVID-19.  

In January, we purchased, after much research, a new pop-up camper for his truck. Mitch researched the whole country and found our gem in Arkansas. Those who know me well know that I would not own a truck, nor would I purchase a pop-up camper. Turns out that I love driving his wheels and PRE-COVID, I was somewhat looking forward to the camper.  

POST-COVID- or MID- COVID, I am more than looking forward and prefer to use the camper and avoid hotels.

CAMPING IS BECOMING A TREND!

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2020/06/11/rv-motor-home-coronavirus-camping-restrictions-lift/5337296002

Our “intention” was to pick up the camper in Arkansas in April. Our other goal was to finally take our 40-year in the planning stages, cross country trip.  

It is now August, and our camper is hanging out in an Arkansas lot, waiting for its new home. We should pick it up, but Arkansas is on Cuomo’s exceptionally long list of quarantined states. We could quarantine in the camper on the way home

Mitch is a fantastic salesman. And since he retired, I am his customer.

He is selling me a trip to Arkansas while they are still on the NYS no-no list.

4 Reasons to go on this trip:

  1. We will not see anybody but the salesman in Arkansas who will tell us how to use the camper. Mitch has convinced me that since he is even older than us that he’s probably limiting his exposure…maybe???
  2. We will have vacuum-packed food. I am vegetarian, and my food is already questionable – I am not sure vacuum packing will increase the appeal or the look! It’s already fake meat and sealing it with heavy suction just sounds YUCK!
  3. We will pull out the apocalyptic toilet used during our escape from Florida – see blog… 2020 Vision of CHANGE as Told by Self-described Germaphobe 
  4. We will have the best masks – supposedly there is no way to get the Virus with our Super Seal EVON masks – But you know S@#$! happens when you are 100% sure of something.
  5. Mitch bought me a new washing machine
  6. This will be an adventure! At least that’s what Mitch keeps telling (selling) me.
MY NEW WASHING MACHINE

I get it, how long can we keep the camper there? Will there be a good time within the next year or two? Maybe not.

So, I am considering going on this adventure in September and perhaps you should consider a renting or buying a camper too.

6 Reasons to use a camper:

  1. You will not be in large spaces with other people- But I will be in a very small space with a large person. Hmmm…
  2. You will know who prepped your food. This does not mean it will be tasty or clean but I will know who made it.
  3. You get to use your sheets and bedding. Damn! I like having someone else doing the laundry.
  4. You can visit so many safe areas to hike, walk, mountain bike, take photos, sit, nap, drink, kayak, read and explore.
  5. You will not have to think about what clothes, purses, or shoes to bring – who cares, right? I used to care about my purses….
  6. And if you are like me, you will be trying something new.

OH! And I’m sure this will generate loads of writing material!!!

3 Greatest Moments of Day 160: Jess Chimes in with her Scales

It has been 160 days since normalcy. 160 days since untethered visitation with Jess. 160 days since Mitch and I have received kisses on our cheeks and risk-free hugs. 160 days since Jess has been in our home.

On Wednesday, Mitch and I arrived at Jessica’s house. It was our standard outside, 6-feet apart meeting. We were unable to visit for two weeks due to a suspected Covid exposure of two staff. Jessica’s home was on lockdown for 14-days. Fortunately, the Covid results were negative.

Our first greatest moment was when we saw Jess scream with delight. 

She cannot contain herself. Which, in turn, brings joy to anyone in listening range. (well, perhaps the neighbors aren’t big fans…)

Our second most significant moment was the back and forth singing that Mitch and Jess engaged in throughout the visit. Mitch hums a tune, and Jess repeats the same melody. They are conversing in the language of Jess.

Jessica is 38 years old. When she was in high school, she joined the chorus. This is unusual because Jessica is nonverbal. The teachers at her school witnessed Jessica’s love of music and knew that Jess would enjoy participating, to the best of her ability, in the chorus.

One day that school year, Jess came home singing the scales. She starts low and goes up the musical ladder and then makes her way back down. We spoke to her teacher and found out that when Jess was in the chorus, she learned to practice her scales with the class.

Our third greatest moment on day 160 was when Jess and I sang the scales. Jess has pitch memory, she can hear notes, the solfège syllables DO RE MI, and accurately sing those notes back.

JESS SINGING HER SCALES – DO RE MI

Distancing is the Opposite of Inclusion

We worry if Jess is losing skills while she is distancing at home. She no longer attends a day program and no longer has direct, face-to-face therapy. This is the opposite of inclusion, which we fought so hard for from the time she was young. Yet, this segregation is keeping Jess and her housemates safe. In this instance, we choose separation. Covid-19 has forced us to insist that Jess narrow her circle of contacts to the minimum.

Yet, when we see Jess, she is still her same cheerful self. She even gives us the greatest moments to sing about. She is weathering the storm thanks to all her staff at her People Incorporated group home.

Hopefully, we will all come out of the pandemic, still able to sing a happy tune.

 

People Inc. link below:

https://www.people-inc.org/

Complex Covid Conversations

I have been thinking a lot about the different ways people adhere to the guidelines for Coronavirus. The best analogy I came up with is how I and other people adhere to Jewish laws.

Take Kosher, for example; some folks are Kosher no matter where they are while others are kosher in their house only. Others are kosher in their home and out of their house except when they eat Chinese food (then all dietary laws are forgotten). Some folks, like me, are not Kosher at all.

Some people go to Temple every Friday and Saturday, others go occasionally, and still, others only attend during the High Holidays (holiest days of the year).  

So, when I started looking at how people around me are following CDC guidelines, I found a similar scenario.

Some people do not leave the house while others are shopping every day.

Some people are wearing N95 masks, surgical masks, and cute homemade masks while others are wearing their cloth mask just below their nose or chin. Still, others refuse to wear a mask, no matter what the circumstances.

I know people who still sanitize their groceries and others whose groceries go from store to table to mouth. Same with mail – many are quarantining their mail for several days while in other homes, the letter goes from the mailbox to the kitchen counter without a handwash after contact.

There are folks who will grab take-out food curbside only, those who will venture inside to grab their food, and now there are some who will dine inside. And then you have the bar patrons who are standing side by side, no masks and enjoying libations.

Complex Conversations

And then there are the complicated conversations. We have a so-called pod of family people we see freely. That means we trust that each of these people is adhering to the guidelines, ok MY guidelines.

However, so many questions have come up. For example, some are going back to work. Some ( no names mentioned) are going to preschool, and some are venturing into a restaurant. Others are going to doctors. Some are going “shopping” like in a real store to buy clothes and non-essentials.

Do we ban them from the pod? Make them wait, two-weeks? What about everyone else in their house? And the big questions: if we can still see somebody in our pod who has gone rogue, then why not open it up to others and their pods? We have a minimum of one of these conversations every single day. It all hurts my brain.

So, I keep going back to what my Dad says, “ you have to live your life; just do the best you can.” My rules make no sense to anyone but me. I need follow my rules to feel safe. This is just a feeling, not a data-driven decision. I try to guide my feelings of safety by data-driven scientists and doctors. At least what I can gather from what they are saying.

3 W’s

Whatever your laws within your home, I hope that we can all follow the three essential W-rules.

Wash your hands, Wear a mask, and Watch your distance. I have added WTF! I still can’t wrap my head around all of this!

How to stand your ground on social distancing, without alienating family and friends disagree- Click below:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/family-friends-disagree-social-distancing-coronavirus/2020/06/06/ec4b034a-a769-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html

Noa’s Extraordinary Birth Story, as Told by Nana

Noa’s planned delivery date was my birthday, October 1st. The birth of our first granddaughter and third grandchild. Our excitement and fear grew with each day. My daughter Carly and her husband, Steve, invited me to attend the birth. Noa’s birth was not an ordinary delivery. We knew the potential complications.

(Please see last week blog for details –https://vickierubin.com/2020/07/18/bradys-extraordinary-birth-story-as-told-by-nana/ )

It was Thursday, September 26th at 6:00 AM, I was sitting on the couch drinking coffee and talking on the phone to Carly. We planned to drive to Ohio on Saturday and wait until Noa’s scheduled day of birth. Carly spoke about her concerns regarding delivery before Saturday. “Who would watch Brady? Would Mitch and I get there in time?”

She was stressed out about the logistics and confided that she thought she would deliver sooner than October. I told Carly that we would drive to Ohio that day and eliminate at least one level of apprehension about the upcoming birth. 

Several hours later, while my husband Mitch and I were still at home, we received the call that Carly’s water broke while at work. Carly, a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), worked approximately 35 minutes from her home. She would need to drive herself to the house, pick up Steve, and then drive another 30 minutes to the hospital. All while her amniotic fluid was flowing freely. She grabbed a pair of scrubs from work and started her journey home.

We feared another life-threatening event and prayed that this delivery would be different. Carly’s obstetrician was the physician who saved her life with her previous delivery. He was confident from the get-go that Carly would be able to have a safe delivery. He referred to himself as the “Captain” of her team and instilled much confidence in his skill. 

Which Way to GO?

Prior to delivery Carly, Steve, and the Dr. discussed alternatives for safe delivery. There were two options with three possible outcomes. Stay with me here: The first option was VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), and the second option was another Cesarean. VBAC was safer if all went well because no surgery was involved. C-Section (Cesarean) was riskier. However, a failed VBAC, that ended with a C-section was the most perilous. After much consideration, a decision to move ahead with VBAC was planned because the doctor was confident that this would be successful. There was still a slight possibility that an unplanned C-section could be needed if things went wrong during delivery.

This time, Carly would be administered the blood clotting medicine DDAVP* before delivery, regardless of her von Willebrand blood levels.

Getting to the Hospital

Carly and Steve arrived at the hospital on time and assured us that there were plenty of hours left until delivery.  

Mitch and I entered the hospital three-hours later. We saw a typical pre-delivery scene. The birthing room was clean, large, and private. Mom labored in bed while anxious Dad provided comforting encouragement. We settled in to wait, help, and assist Carly and Steve.

The three of us watched Carly as if she were going to erupt at any moment. It was a “Déjà Vu” moment in one sense. “Here, we are again.” The same hospital, the same hospital smells, and the wary memories of the last treacherous delivery, three years ago. 

Complications and Medications

The road to Noa was not linear. Carly suffered two miscarriages before Noa’s birth. The painful journey for Carly and Steve was paved with sorrow, love, and determination to complete their family of four.

But it was also a brand-new experience. The baby was not breech, and Carly received the proper medication for her bleeding disorder. We were confident that her skilled doctor was up to the task. His confidence created a sense of calm.

Meanwhile, Carly’s labor progressed slowly, she was stuck at three-centimeters for hours. The goal was ten-centimeters dilation before delivery. Her pain was increasing and frequent, yet she was not progressing. The doctor ordered Pitocin to help move things along. The epidural was still on hold.

Administering the blood clotting medication, DDAVP, had to be done one hour before the epidural. The DDAVP could not be dispensed too early before delivery because it could become less effective. The nurses said it would still be a few more hours before things started progressing.

However, within moments of administering the Pitocin, Carly’s labor and pain increased exponentially. The team decided to administer the blood clotting medicine, yet Carly still had to wait 1-hour for the epidural. We  all feared that she missed her window between administering the drug and waiting for the effects. The nurse insisted that Carly was only five to seven centimeters dilated and not to worry.

The epidural was finally delivered. Time was moving along, and the late afternoon shifts would soon transition to the evening staff. We were worried that Carly’s doctor’s associate would deliver rather than our Captain. 

One Last Check

Before Carly’s doctor left the hospital, he decided to check Carly’s progress one last time.

The nurse asked us to leave the room so they could start the procedures. Her dilation was three centimeters a short period before this check. Carly’s pain was powerful and frequent and we all thought that if this is five or six centimeters, how will ten centimeters feel?

Mitch and I went to the waiting room to wait for the nurse to tell us that Carly was now seven centimeters or some other “not-ten” number. Not much time had elapsed since Carly received all her medications, and we knew we had a long night ahead of us.

The nurse finally came into the waiting room, looked at me, and said: “Let’s go have a baby, Nana!” Carly went from three centimeters to ten centimeters in record time! Noa, Carly, and Steve were ready!

The Birth

How does one describe watching the birth of your baby girl delivering her baby girl? We knew this was not an ordinary delivery. Our concerns about Carly bleeding excessively and needing an emergency C-section loomed large while we anxiously coached Carly to push.

Helping someone give birth is a combination of cheerleader and coach. With each wave of pain, Steve and I loudly chanted so that Carly could focus on the end of the contraction. 

The doctor beckoned Steve and me to peek “down there.” I witnessed my granddaughter’s head inching down the canal; A moment permanently etched in my mind and heart. The top of Noa’s head almost emerging and then slowly going back to her amniotic home. Her transition from her dark cozy cave to the noisy, bright delivery room. Noa’s incredible path to life. 

I also noticed the massive puddles of blood. It looked like a massacre and was disturbing. I wanted to question the copious amount of blood but needed to ask in a way that would not alarm Carly and Steve.

The doctor assured me that this was normal bleeding and that Carly’s clotting medicine was working well. I “had’ to believe him because we all trusted his expertise. 

Within moments Carly needed to push again. 

The doctor, nurses Steve and I cheered Carly on “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 – PUSH, BREATHE, YOU ARE DOING GREAT, ALMOST THERE, ANY MOMENT NOW!” Steve held Carly’s left shoulder; I was on the right.

Miracle of Life

And after thirty minutes of pushing, there she was! Beautiful Noa was screaming, “like a baby!” Covered in blood and ready to start a new life. Steve cut the umbilical cord and began the post-natal connection of Noa to her parents. Steve, Carly, and I were in tears as we realized that Noa was finally here.  

Witnessing the miracle of new life, the delivery of your granddaughter and your daughter and son-in-law experiencing the birth of their child is a breathtaking experience. 

Little did we know 3 ½ years ago that Carly would be delivering her second child. Little did we know that pregnancy and birth would go smoothly. We witnessed the bravery and courage it took Carly and Steve to bring beautiful Noa into this world. As Paul Harvey, famed radio show host used to say, “and now you know the rest of the story.”

Brady meeting Noa for the first time
Noa, Mommy and Her Coaches!
Papa and Noa
We finally celebrated my birthday all together!

Brady’s Extraordinary Birth Story, as Told by Nana

Noa’s planned delivery date was my birthday, October 1st. The birth of our first granddaughter and third grandchild. Our excitement and fear were growing with each day. My daughter Carly and her husband, Steve, invited me to attend the birth. Noa’s birth was not an ordinary delivery. We knew the potential complications.

Our daughter gave birth to our first grandson, Brady, in January 2016. I planned to attend this delivery too, but at the last minute, they found out that Brady was in a breech position. C-Section was the only option.

Carly has a blood clotting disorder called von Willebrand Disease (vW)*. vW is a genetic bleeding disorder caused by missing or not enough von Willebrand factor in the blood. What it means is that her blood does not adequately clot. A small cut can become an emergency. Fortunately, there are medications to assist in clotting. So, if a tiny cut can cause immense bleeding, imagine a C-Section!

A little-known fact is that vW numbers often stabilize during pregnancy. Carly’s vW numbers were good. The hematologist chose not to prescribe the crucial medication DDAVP*.

After the C-Section, Mitch and I joined Carly, Steve, and newborn Brady in the post-op room. It was an immense joy to meet our first grandson. Our pride and love for Carly, Steve, and Brady were palpable.

Mommy and baby were doing well for the first half-hour post-op. But then Carly’s stats began to turn downward. The medical staff was unable to keep her blood pressure up, and Carly’s heart rate was exceedingly high. Carly was so pale, and my mother’s intuition knew something was desperately wrong.

Mitch, Steve, and I frantically watched this scene unfold. I pleaded with the staff to do more; that Carly was in trouble. The medical team continued to give Carly fluids, she would rally for a bit, and then her numbers would tank again.

Finally (hours!), a specialist arrived and immediately went into action. He told us that Carly needed to go back into surgery. Astonishingly, the hospital did not have the vW medication on site. Time was of the essence. The doctors called on local police to quickly escort a medical team member to retrieve the life-saving drug at a nearby hospital. Every minute counted, and there was no time for delays.

Throughout the entire emergency and before the second surgery, Carly was alert, aware, and calm.  She obviously does not take after me!

As they wheeled Carly back to surgery, she took off her wedding ring and handed it to me. This moment was when I realized that we did not know what the outcome would be.

Carly’s moment would happen minutes later when she witnessed the surgery team’s frenzy preparing to operate. It hit her that she was in a real crisis, and there were no guarantees.

DDAVP clotting medicine was administered to Carly before the doctors re-cut and retraced their steps to discover the bleeding source. This surgery would be Carly’s second c-section within three hours.

The wait was endless. I held newborn Brady and fed him formula, knowing that this should have been Carly’s time to breastfeed her son. Mitch and Steve needed to go walk our three dogs who were waiting at home. Steve appeared to be in shock, and we convinced him to do this errand with Mitch so that he could regroup.

I recall my friend Ruth calling to see how it was going. As I sat in Carly’s empty hospital room, holding my first grandchild, I was unable to talk. I told Ruth that I thought I was also in shock and quickly got off the phone.

Hours, at least it felt like hours, passed, and Carly was back in recovery. I would love to report that all was well after surgery. Carly’s blood pressure and heart rate continued to spike and plummet. Bells would ring from her monitors as nurses rushed in to attend to Carly’s needs.

Carly, the voice of reason, told Steve and me that someone needed to remain with her all evening to advocate. Steve was the first to sleep in her ICU room as Carly’s stats refused to stabilize. I was grateful that he volunteered to go; first, I was still unable to breathe, let alone sleep while watching her active monitors.

I slept fitfully in the step-down room, which was also saved for Carly and Brady. At 3 AM, Steve and I switched, but by then, Carly’s numbers began to settle.

The next morning, the nurse brought Brady into the ICU, and Carly breastfed her newborn son. She was so weak and fatigued yet dedicated to giving Brady everything he needed to start in life.

Carly and Brady in Intensive Care Unit

That day my husband Mitch and I were in the hall of the ICU, and the head Doctor of Emergency approached us. He warned that Carly should not attempt to give birth again. He continued that if she were his daughter, he would make sure this was her only birth. We later mentioned this to Steve and let him decide when Carly should hear this news.

Carly slowly healed and was able to return home within the week. She was weak and fatigued but determined to start “mommyhood”.

I stayed at their house for three weeks, and by the time I left, Carly was able to drive, walk outside and care for her son.

Little did we know that 3 ½ years later, Carly would be delivering her second child, and once again, I was invited to attend. Her planned delivery date was my birthday, October 1st. The birth of our first granddaughter and third grandchild. Conclusion of this story next week.

Steve, Carly and Brady
Brady at 9 months with Nana Vickie
Papa Mitch, Nana Vickie and Brady in hospital room.

P.S. The hospital changed protocols after Carly’s delivery to have DDAVP available in the hospital at all times.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

DDAVP– desmopressin –https://reference.medscape.com/drug/ddavp-stimate-noctiva-desmopressin-342819

von Willebrand’s Diseasehttps://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/vwd/facts.html

BYE BYE BIRDIES

We have a family of dysfunctional birds by our front door.

Our home has a 20-25-foot covered entry, which includes a window over the front door. One day I looked up and noticed a sophisticated nest attached to the wall. I say “sophisticated” because it is not on a ledge, not on a limb, not on an eve. The cemented nest appears to be suspended on the wall.


At first, I  was impressed with the architect’s ingenuity and thought it won’t be long until the babies move out and start their own bird life.

As the weeks went by, the droppings by our entryway exponentially  increased.

What kind of babies leave this amount of a mess! I decided to watch who was coming and going from this elevated home.


I discovered that these so called “babies” appear to be too old to live with their parents. What went wrong? Was the mother too clingy? Is nesting real estate too hard to find these days? Why won’t these unmotivated progenies move out?

I knew it was time to clean the front porch. I used a solvent and special wired brush designed for this purpose. Fortunately,  we have a good supply of masks and gloves. Yes, bird flu or some other nasty bird disease crossed my mind, so I wanted to proactive.


We currently have a black plastic bag in our entryway held down with four large rocks from the garden. It’s easier to throw away the bag covered in droppings than bring out the solvent and special wire brushes.


I am glad nobody is currently visiting our home except Amazon. The DIY bird depository is not a good look.


Please let me know if you have any suggestions for mom and dad bird on how to get their kids out of the home! We may need to stage an intervention for them or possibly me!

Do It Yourself Bird Removal Tips

https://www.doityourself.com/stry/bird-nest-removal-tips-and-mistakes-to-avoid

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When Your Bosses are Very, Very Young

I resigned from my day job. I only gave one day notice. My adult bosses were very understanding. My four-year-old boss was OK with it and we are still waiting to hear what my 9-month old manager has to say.

I resigned from my day job. I only gave one day notice. My adult bosses were very understanding. My four-year-old boss was OK with it and we are still waiting to hear what my 9-month old manager has to say.


As mentioned in a previous blog, our daughter, son-in-law and family moved from Ohio to our home on April 1st The relocation was eagerly anticipated and planned way before the virus had any say in the matter. The original plan (and you know what happens when you make plans!) was that the kids would live with us for several months while they looked for a new home. Our grandchildren would go to a local day care four days a week. I would babysit two days a week, my grandson on Tuesday and my granddaughter on Wednesday. A perfect and blessed arrangement, right?


But then the virus also moved into the US and everything changed.


Since April 1st my husband, Mitch, and I have been babysitting for both kids from 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM. This opportunity is a once in a lifetime moment to bond with our grandchildren. And bond we do! Our love for these two beautiful children is boundless.


Two weeks ago, our eldest grandchild started preschool. This was a hard decision for me; everyone else seemed to be onboard. I had to change my mindset from worrying about seeing close friends even while wearing a mask to feeling comfortable with my grandson going to daycare and coming back in the house! My germaphobe side envisions virus everywhere. My rational side knows the day care is following protocols to keep everyone safe. He was attending three days a week and home two days a week.


So why did I resign? It started or perhaps ended when Mitch fractured his foot. He was unable to weight bear, uses crutches and had to retire from babysitting. I was already stressed out and now he was unable to help with the baby or our grandson.


I saw myself change. I went from a mildly, ok moderately stressed out, individual to a woman who couldn’t relax. I even yelled at my sweet son-in-law. Who was I?

I finally went to our daughter and son-in-law and said that I did not like who I was becoming, a stressed-out nut. Unfortunately, they agreed!


The baby was originally scheduled to start day care mid-July 16, and we were able to move it up to mid-June. Our grandson added two more days to his schedule. Our kids had no problem with their children going to daycare, they were waiting for me to agree.

This was my first weekend knowing that I was “free to be me” the following week. Yes, I am sad and somewhat guilty. I know this was the original plan. It was never intended that we would be full-time childcare. But I am disappointed that I had to resign. I know this is a temporary resignation. I have babysat my local grandson once a week for four years and I plan (there is that word again!) to babysit both grandsons Tuesdays and my granddaughter on Wednesdays this Fall.


I look forward to starting my day job again in the Fall. I am humbled by this experience and the realization that at age 62, full-time childcare during a pandemic got the best of me.  

Buffalo News Link below:

https://buffalonews.com/opinion/when-your-bosses-are-very-very-young/article_2502ef36-b71e-11ea-887f-3bdf5ef265f2.html

No Longer 50 Shades of Grey

One of my first blogs “A Bad Hair Day has a New Definition” was about NOT coloring my hair during the Pandemic. Now that three months have passed, I thought I would give an update.

I cried “Uncle”! I gave up! Vanity overcame Virus! I went to the salon.

We are in New York State and there are a lot of rules to follow to open a salon. In fact, some say salons have more procedures than doctor offices!

I go to Morcelle Salon and trusted that they were going to be safe. But still, I was nervous especially when I had to answer a list of questions prior to my visit.

On the day of my appointment, I drove into the parking lot and called the main office. My colorist covered in mask, gown and carrying a thermometer met me at the car. At first, I didn’t recognize her.

She used a contactless thermometer to take my temperature, which registered at 100 degrees! What! I have fever? She calmed me down and explained that sitting in a 90-degree car presumably raised my temperature.

After a few moments, when I was out of the sun, we took it again and to our relief my temperature was normal. I passed the test and was allowed into the building.

The salon looked different from the last time I visited. The empty space alongside chairs was now lined with plastic walls between each station. The front desk where people used to congregate, and chat was now surrounded by plexi-glass barriers. A limited number of masked clients were getting their hair washed, cut and colored. It’s hard to recognize anyone when they are getting their hair colored.

Nobody wants to be noticed when they are getting their hair colored. It’s not a good look. Your hair is lathered with gobs of dye. Some of us are hosting aluminum foil from random spots on our head. Hair is pulled back and plastered to your crown. And then there is me wearing what looks like a shower cap over the gobs of color. Add a mask to this assembly and you have an extraordinary looking group. No photos, PLEASE!

Chelsea, who colored my hair, was very calm and confident. She understood my anxiety and we both agreed that I would sit in my car while the color was processing. This time I turned on the air conditioner.

Forty-five slow minutes passed, and Chelsea once again met me at my car to escort me back to the salon. She washed all the products from my hair and set me free. I was able to pay quickly via the plexi-covered receptionist and flee.

Am I glad I went? Yes, I trusted that the salon was safe and clean. I guess vanity does play a major role in my day-to-day life, a humbling realization. Hey, maybe next I’ll consider a manicure!

Before Hair Dye – I tried DIY and ended up covering my hair with a hat and face with mask and glasses – Incognito style!
After Color

Click on link for Morcelle Salon

https://www.morcellesalon.com/

An Unbelievable Coincidence

His nickname was Mr. Handsome, and although I loved him, I also knew he wasn’t that handsome. But he was beautiful to me from his skinny legs to his unique crimped tail. His given name was Cicero. And he was our first Italian greyhound.

The breed is also referred to as “I.G.” or “Iggy,” and I didn’t want to adopt him! Cicero was 15 pounds, quite large for the breed. At the time we already had a huge dog and three kids living at home. Jessica lived at home needed 24/7 care due to her disabilities.

My son Alex worked at a kennel at the turn of the century .  He often spoke about an Iggy who was re-homed and living in a cage because the first owners were unable to care for him.

Italian Greyhounds are not easy dogs to care for – they think housebreaking is for those “other” breeds, and their size and thin legs are often the cause of unintentional injuries. So, when Alex suggested bringing home Cicero to join our fur family, I said “No!” Alex won this one (not an uncommon occurrence) and Cicero came home for a visit.

I didn’t know that love at first sight happened between humans and dogs, but from the moment Cicero pranced into our home he was  mine. Alex had dreams of taking Cicero to college, but within one year, I said Alex was free to go to college, but Cicero was staying right here.

Dogs can truly make a difference in your life. Cicero became my fur-buddy; we ran, walked and played. He was always in my lap with his head on my shoulder. Cicero is the reason that we have had Italian greyhounds ever since.

When Cicero was 14, he started slowing down and we knew the end was near. One day, Cicero was unable to stand and my husband and I took him to the vet to help him travel over the rainbow bridge – a common phrase when a pet passes, referring to “The Rainbow Bridge Poem – The Beautiful Journey of a Pet after Death.”

https://www.rainbowsbridge.com/poem.htm

Five years ago, our current Iggy, Daniel, and I went to a craft fair and we met a man in his 20’s who asked if he could pet Daniel. We started talking and he told me that when he was a child, they had an Italian greyhound for a short period, and he adored the dog.

We continued to chat and he revealed his dog’s name was Cicero, and although they loved the dog his family was unable to care for him. I stared at him wondering if this could really be such a coincidence. I said that I had a dog named Cicero that had lived with another family for the first year of life. Could it be?

I showed him a photo and he agreed that my dog looked like Cicero and then we both mentioned the crimped tail. Yes, it was Cicero’s first owner. I told him that Cicero went on to have a beautiful life and was truly loved by his human family.
Was it a coincidence or did Cicero’s have a paw in our chance meeting?

Back to 2020 and our Iggy Daniel. Daniel’s superpower is his temperament, he is a  certified SPCA Serving Erie County Paws for Love Dog.

He and I to bring smiles to patients in hospitals. I think Cicero opened my door to explore new experiences with pups, including meaningful volunteer opportunities.

Dogs truly impact your life and, if you are paying attention, can send you on an interesting new path.

Alex and Cicero (2002)
Daniel our Italian Greyhound and Therapy Dog
Maggie (Lab) Mia (Italian Greyhound) Cicero (Italian Greyhound – Grey and White)

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Feeling the Hi! with Jessica Today! ❤️

We just had our second visit since February! Sharing the Hi!

Jessica greeted me with a huge HI!

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Why We and Other Families of Children with Disabilities Zoom from Across the World

For many years we did not know our daughter Jessica’s correct diagnosis. We did know that the DNA Jess was missing played a significant role in her development. In 2002, when Jessica was 20 years old, we received results that Jess has a rare chromosome deletion (missing piece). We struggled to find another family in the world whose child had the same deletion.

Fast forward nine years, it’s 2011 and I entered a search on Facebook using Jessica’s diagnosis 1Q43-44. Within moments, I found a global treasure. A group of families who have children with exactly or  a similar chromosome deletion. It was like meeting new family members.

On this day, families from all over the globe have set their watch so they can meet via Zoom. This will be the first time that I hear their voices and see their faces in real-time.

Time zones for participants on one of our calls.

We are a mixed-aged group from 15 countries, depending on the day of the Zoom. Our beautiful children are as unique as they are similar.

We are meeting to talk about our struggles and share our success. Jessica is the oldest offspring in the group. My husband and I have survived many of the concerns and trials facing the younger group members. I am gaining and providing support to other parents. More important, we are meeting each other’s children and seeing each other’s faces.

I look at the babies and toddlers and see incredible similarities to Jess. I fall in love with their children because they remind me so much of our daughter. I know the struggles that the parents are facing. I want to provide hope and not alarm others with younger children. I am realistic because Jessica has significant delays and disabilities. When Jess was a baby, we also thought that Jess may one-day walk and talk.

This diagnosis does not always dictate the milestones our children will achieve. Many of the children in the group are already walking and talking. There are so many factors that determine milestones that are way beyond my comprehension. But what I do understand is the importance of our group and seeing each other for the first time.

There are so many restrictions and negativity due to Covid-19; but, zooming with our small but mighty group has felt the opposite. Our meetings are filled with smiles, laughter, information, hope and compassion. Would we have considered doing this if not for the whole world experiencing the pandemic? Who knows? But thanks to two savvy grandparents who expertly facilitate and organize our meetings, we reunite each month.

I am delighted to report that on day 137 since the first reported case of Covid-19 that one positive side effect of social distancing is finally meeting Jessica’s 1Q4- cousins and their families.

For more information on 1Q43-44 – or other unique chromosome deletions, visit www.rarechromo.org

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The Many Faces of our Beautiful Children – Jessica is bottom left with Pumpkin Glasses
More Beautiful Faces – Jessica is gardening with blue gloves

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Why Mitch’s New Hearing Aids Cured My Mumbling!

I am not sure why Mitch resisted hearing aids.  Those closest to him have  encouraged Mitch to consider purchasing this much needed support.

A typical conversation between Mitch and me would go something like this:  “Mitch, did you hear what is going on in Erie County today?”  Followed by, “Mitch, did you hear me?”  Mitch’s frequent reply was  “You mumble.” This statement is  his go-to  excuse for, as my 4-year old grandson says, “not listening to my words!”

Our TV is blaring  yet it is still not loud enough, so we have sound bars to enhance the BOOMING SOUND.  When the TV sound enhancements do not work it has been the fault of the TV that even a sound bar couldn’t fix.

Mitch learned years ago that his hearing was lacking at a decibel which matched the pitch of my voice. This is not a joke; his hearing test revealed a high pitch hearing loss.  Problem solved, I just needed to change the tone of my voice  since Mitch thought he could hear everything else.

Clearly, I had to find a new tactic because nagging was failing. My new approach consisted of saying , “perhaps you need a hearing aid” every single time Mitch commented that he did not hear me. (Yes, I know this sounds like nagging!) Each time he couldn’t hear the TV or the beeping of the opened refrigerator door or other daily sounds I “gently” reminded him that it may be time for a hearing aid.

My relentless “encouragement” was not only for us but more important  for Mitch.  I remember when I received glasses for the first time and was able to see the world clearly.  I didn’t know what I was missing until I looked through the new glass lens.  One can get used  to gradual limitations of sight and hearing without realizing the loss.

So, one day while watching TV and simultaneously  scrolling through my phone, I came upon a hearing aid ad that promoted a virtual appointment. Mitch was intrigued! Hmmm, did we need a pandemic virtual appointment  to finally convince him? Perhaps…

Mitch called the company and spoke endlessly to the patient representative. It was a great conversation and when they got off Mitch agreed to consider the purchase. Several weeks passed and I lost hope until one day Mitch said, “I am doing it!”

It has been several weeks with the new hearing aids and Mitch said I no longer mumble.  The TV sound appears to be fixed; oh, and our baby granddaughter is suddenly crying really loud! There are noises everywhere!  Hallelujah! my mumbling problem is cured!

1982 Before I Mumbled
Mitch with Grandchildren

Opening the Doors To Another Phase…..

I recently saw a TikTok video (see below)  that cracked me up.  It started 8 weeks ago and showed a woman sterilizing all her groceries as she wore a mask, gloves, and goggles (a bit reminiscent of me).  The video moved to 2 weeks ago where she was lightly dusting the tops of each grocery item.  The 30 second clip ended in the present with the woman casually blowing “virus” off her grocery items without any PPE.

I was at the 8-week stage for many weeks and I have not yet succumbed to casually blowing virus off my groceries or mail.  But all this may change soon.

Our grandson who temporally lives with us (along with his mommy, daddy and baby sister) is returning to preschool this week.  Why continue to clean groceries when my grandson will be actively playing with peers and then coming back to the house? 

I had to let go of many of my rules, some of my fears and replace it with a lot of hope that we are doing the right thing.  Time will tell.  Nobody knows.  As my wise Dad said to me, “Several months ago we thought we would be in the house for a month or two until this blew over. This is not going away and there is no right or wrong answers, but we must start living again.  We can’t hide in our homes for years.”

So, we are venturing out.  My groceries are getting much less attention since we were told that surfaces do not pose the risk that we originally thought.  My hair will get colored because that grey thing I wrote about in March wasn’t working for me. My husband cut his ZZTOP Corona beard, after months of me complaining,  he woke up at PHASE 1 and said, “I told you I would cut it when we were off stay-at-home protocol.”  My daughter will go back to the office in two weeks and my grandson will start preschool.

I just read an article about worrying and how those who worry think that they are controlling what will happen if they continue to worry.  I have subscribed to this philosophy for most of my life.  Alas, it’s not true and worrying is even worse for your health than some of the things one worries about.

So, we are tiptoeing back into civilization. We are different, conceivably better, more grey, more hairy and hopefully smarter. As we all start to open our doors and venture out, please bring and wear your mask.  It does make a difference.

I would love to hear your comments  on some of the changes you have recently made.

Kelly Lynn on Tik Tok (vm.tiktok.com)
Mitch Before the Trim
Vickie, Mitch (with trimmed beard) and Brady

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Finally Seeing Our Daughter Jessica After 54 Days Apart

Today was our first-time seeing Jessica after 54 days–I was not sure how this was going to play out. Jess enjoys facetiming with us, but I was concerned that she would not understand why we were unable to touch her even though we were visibly in front of her. My husband, Mitch, insisted that we needed to visually look at Jess and he wanted Jess to know that we are here, not just on her iPad or iPhone.

I desperately wanted to see Jess but was concerned that it may frustrate her more than comfort. Would Jess understand that we were unable to give a hug or hold her hand? Were we doing more harm than good? It was a risk we needed to take because there is no telling when we will be able to embrace Jessica without fear of unknowingly spreading Covid-19. Jess is vulnerable as are her housemates.

We drove up her driveway and saw Jess and her companions waiting on the porch. Three dedicated staff members were also waiting to say hello for the first time since February 26th.

Mitch and I got out of the car and walked on the grass while Jess remained on her porch. We were a solid 20 feet away, but we were there in person. Visually seeing each other face to face! 

Jessica’s reaction was one we were hoping for; she clapped her hands and screamed with glee. Jess did not try to move her chair, nor did she seem frustrated by the proximity. She was thrilled to see us, which gave all of us a lift during this dark time.

Mitch and I hummed a few tunes and Jess replied with the second verse: our special communication. We brought our therapy dog Daniel who also sang a few tunes and made the ladies and staff smile and laugh.

Jessica’s group home is administered by People Incorporated (https://www.people-inc.org/). The organization has risen to the task during the Pandemic. More importantly, or as importantly, the manager of Jessica’s house, Kelly, has ensured that Jessica and her housemates are as safe as possible. The devoted staff have overwhelmed us with their commitment, love, and dedication to keep our daughters as protected as possible. Mitch and I know that Jess is just one exposure away from devastation and we are forever grateful for the care she is receiving and continue to pray, wish, and hope that this continues.

We have all lost a lot of control of our day-to-day “normal” lives during the Pandemic. Slowly we are trying to regain our footing and although things may be different that does not mean we will be worse off. I hope the lessons learned from this scary and unprecedented experience will lead us to a better tomorrow. I look forward to holding Jessica’s hands, receiving huge hugs and I will even tolerate Jess playfully pulling my messy, out of control hair!

Thank you, Kelly, Tony, Areyania, Michelle, Christian, Caira and Amara – you are making a difference every single day as an essential frontline worker to our daughter and her housemates.

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Seeing Jess for the first time – Video will not rotate for better quality visit https://www.facebook.com/RaisingJessStory/

My First Mother’s Day Without a Mom

My Mom passed away on February 6, 2020 before we “knew” about the impending Pandemic. We were able to say Good-bye to Mom in a traditional way, surrounded by friends and family in comparison to how people are mourning during social distancing. This is my first Mother’s Day without a Mom.

Mom was honest, generous, funny kind and athletic. I’d like to think she passed down to me some of those qualities (plus a list of quirks too long to get into in this blog). She also passed down a cherished ring.

When I was young, the rose gold ring was worn on my ring finger; now, as an adult it fits beautifully on my pinky. The century old piece was handed down from my Grandma Frances to my Mother and then to me. My grandmother also handed down Alzheimer’s to my Mom and I hope that is not the legacy of the ring.

The ring has an odd history of loss and recovery. The first time was in the 1960’s, I was a small child living in Long Island and the ring was my first “real jewelry.” Unfortunately, the ring went missing for close to two years. We searched high and low only to come up empty. Two years later , it was mysteriously found by my Mom on another random search of the basement closet.

I kept the ring close to my finger until 1973. We were skiing in Vermont and as I entered the lodge, I removed my glove only to discover that my rose gold band was missing. Mom immediately sprang into action to find the ring. Searching the ski chalet high and low, Mom eventually found the glistening gem jammed into a metal grate in front of the entrance door, it had been clomped on by multitudes of heavy ski boots yet had no damage.

The ring and I were solid for the next 8 years.  We went to college, met my husband Mitch, got married and moved to Buffalo NY – by then the gem was a solid fixture on my pinky; no longer fitting the traditional ring finger.

Mystery arrived again in 1981. I was 24 and my husband and I were playing a sport each Friday night called Broomball; a winter team sport that resembles ice hockey and played on an ice rink. We arrived home one Friday night to discover that once again my ring was missing! The following week, we were back on the ice rink when one of the men on the broomball team asked the group if anyone lost a ring because he found one in his gym bag! Really?  I wasn’t near his bag which he had left on the floor near the bench.

It is now 2020 and I still wear the ring every day. In May  2019 , our family was visiting Mom and she was trying to tell me something. Mom kept saying “she”, “she” but was frustrated that she could not complete the sentence. Mom had so much to say but struggled to put her thoughts into spoken word. I searched for a piece of paper but only found a napkin and a pencil and asked mom to write down what she wanted to say. Mom very clearly wrote, “I LOVE VICKIE” in capitals and my name spelled right!  I will cherish this act of love.  I will also cherish the ring and the memories it carries.

Full article published in Buffalo News https://buffalonews.com/2020/02/25/diamond-ring-provides-treasured-memories/

Rose Gold Ring
My Parents, Brother and I in the 1960’s and in 2018
Mom was a clean freak!!!!
Mom’s 80th Birthday Celebration 2015

I ‘m Not Really a Control Freak BUT Can I Show You How to Do That My Way?

As the meme says, as long as everyone does it my way, I’m totally flexible…

Mitch brought in a sub the other day  and I said, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT SUB? YOU ARE HOLDING IT NEXT TO YOUR PHONE WHICH IS GOING NEXT TO YOUR FACE AND NOW YOU JUST PUT THE DIRTY PHONE IN YOUR POCKET!”  My way is arguably more complicated and includes plating it outside, cleansing containers and washing hands multiple times, you get the picture…

I have a mail station in our garage and my daughter (she and her family are living with us – more about that later) saw mail in one cardboard box and put new mail in another cardboard box because for the life of her she cannot figure out my mail quarantine system; which by the way was created without science or fact.

Our daughter and her family planned to live with us for a short period when they moved from Ohio to Buffalo. And then COVID-19 struck, and everything was put on pause, including buying homes. And if we are going with this story, daycare has also been put on pause, which means Mitch and I are Nana and Papa Daycare five days a week. Carly and Steve are fortunate enough to still have their jobs.  We realize our time with the grandchildren is a blessing and we appreciate the unique opportunity, but we are the age of grandparents and this is hard work.  My dad says, “that’s why having kids is for the young.” And we get it!

Our food shopping needs have increased because there are four adults, one fabulous 4-year-old eater and an infant in our home.  I was working with Instacart for quite some time but the amount of food we needed, and the daily additions were overwhelming to us and Instacart.  I went online to get Instacart Help and was listed as number 2,221 on their wait list to chat with a customer care agent. Are their bots also too busy to waste my time until a person can chat? I gave up and we decided to let Instacart bring whatever it would bring, which turned out to be somewhat accurate.

Once the food arrives, I go into frenzy mode of sterilizing, wiping, quarantining (as I have mentioned in a previous blog) and it was driving everyone nuts.  Now, our family has a new system.  My millennium daughter goes to the market on  Sunday while I am away from the house (driving or sitting in a car), she brings the new food and supplies into the kitchen and cleans it all before putting it  away.  I pretend that it is done completely in my obsessive way and so does she and all is good. That problem is solved at least for this week.

Another random thought: Are dogs and cats really getting Covid-19? We currently have three dogs in our house, and I hope I don’t have to start getting masks and supplies for them! Or sterilizing their paws, EEK! And is that what they mean by New York Paws?

This Was PhotoShopped – My Dogs Would Never Agree to Wearing a Mask!

To my readers, Covid-19 is devastating to our nation and world.  I try to instill a bit of humor to take the edge off and I hope it brings a smile to you. Wishing you all continued health, safety and sanity.

FACE-TIMING with JESSICA a Magical Moment

Coronavirus has changed all our lives in so many ways. One of the saddest changes is the absence of seeing and hugging family. But through sadness, in our situation, we found some illumination and a bright light that brought a smile to my husband Mitch and myself.

Our eldest daughter, Jessica ( age 38), is non-verbal. Although Jess is unable to speak using words, Jess can hum many  familiar tunes. She has a range from Jingle Bells, once hummed  quite loudly at Temple,  to the Shema (pronounced shuhmah, and is one of the core Jewish prayers) plus many other tunes that lift one’s spirits.

We have not physically seen Jess since February 25th. How do we explain to Jess that we are unable to visit her, to give her a hug and too  many kisses?  That we cannot hold her hand or look at videos and photos on my phone together. We cannot share a chocolate decadent cake or go outside for a walk. That her siblings, nephew and niece or her friends Sheryl and Ellen can’t visit.

Jessica lives in a group home two miles from our house, but she may as well be 200 miles away since families are not allowed to enter her home and she is not permitted to exit.  We are thankful to her house manager, Kelly, and staff who are strictly keeping these rules. Most of the women in Jessica’s house are vulnerable and every day we wake up thinking, “ is this the day that someone will be exposed?”

So, we Facetime.  Jessica’s superpower is connecting with those she loves, and it is no surprise that Jess is able to embrace and engage in Facetiming.  She is not sad that we are not there in person, her smile and joy emanate through the phone at seeing our faces and hearing our voices.

Last week, Mitch and I were Facetiming with Jessica and decided we would try to have a conversation with music. Mitch was the videographer with his phone while I started humming the Shema to Jessica.  (see Facebook page RaisingJessStory for the actual video https://www.facebook.com/RaisingJessStory/).

Jess looked at me, rubbed her nose, and immediately sang the Shema back to me! We were talking, we were singing, we were communicating and we were speaking the language of love and music.

We have sung with Jess in the past, but she usually takes a several minutes to sing the song back to us but this time the pause in between my singing and her reply was conversational; immediate.

Coronavirus has changed all our lives but in the depths of sadness about not seeing those closest to us came a magical moment. I think we all need to focus on the magic moments while we are social distancing in  our homes. 

We will get through this apart in proximity but together in unity.

(This article was printed in the Jewish Journal of Western New York, May 2020 – https://buffalojewishfederation.org/jewish-journal/)

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Face Time with Jessica – a Magical Moment
Jess and Family with Addition of New Niece, Noa
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