Meltdown, agony, and anger

(Be prepared, this is a longer post than usual.)

So sorry it’s been nearly a month since I last made a post or been able to visit your blogs and comment as I would like. Once we hit October it’s a tough time of year for our family. My son Jeff’s death date is coming up on November 5. (And the next day of November 6 is son John’s birthday.) It’s been seven years, but it will always feel as though it happened yesterday. We go through the same thing each June as his July 4 birthday comes around because of the big way we always celebrated as a family.

Added onto that, our family has been in a lot of mental and spiritual anguish the past few months for various reasons (some that I just haven’t talked about). This week has been absolutely awful because of a harrowing situation that could have ended so much worse. Some of this I won’t give all the details (for what will be obvious reasons), but I know that my blogging family will understand and send up prayers for each thing.

P. S. I’ve promised a couple of folks some goodies in the mail (you know who you are). I’ve had some problems getting around to those things, so please hang on until things calm down around here. Thanks for understanding.


Elderly woman gets smacked to the ground

Back in July (maybe it was August), an elderly woman who lives in our apartment building was minding her own business, sitting in a lawn chair and smoking a cigarette outside in the smoking area west of the building. (We do NOT smoke or even go near that area due to our health issues, but there were witnesses.)

A black man walked up to the elderly woman, said, “I hate you because you’re a <expletive> white <expletive> and proceeded to smack her so hard it knocked her over sideways in her lawnchair, causing her head to hit the sidewalk pretty hard. The guy ran off.

Witnesses (who just happened to be walking out of the building at that moment) called 911. Police and ambulance arrived, the woman was checked out and it was over.

She refuses to press charges because she’s too frightened. No description of the guy because she won’t say anything and he was facing away from the witnesses.

What makes this type of thing right to do to people, especially the elderly?!?!

What makes it right to attack, injure, or murder people just because they don’t agree with you or think and believe differently?!?!

I’m sick and tired of the rest of us of being blamed for things we had no part in, or being blamed for other people’s short-comings, or any multitude of other things people want to blame on us just because they can. I’m sick and tired of having to keep my silence on things because I know people won’t like what I have to say, or what I believe, or whatever. How’s about we go back to common sense, respecting each other, and be kind.


Step-mom-in-law Juanita

As you probably remember from a post I did a while back, my step-mom-in-law Juanita (Jerry’s step-mom – I’ll just say mom for this post) is in a nursing facility (local), this being her fifth year there. Mom is 87. She’s a scrappy, smart-as-a-whip, tiny little woman with a big faith in Jesus. She’s my #1 prayer warrior.

All of the nursing and assisted living facilities in Kansas have been on lockdown since the last week of February, almost a half month longer than a lot of others in the U.S.

This means she hasn’t had any in-person visits from any of us in the family since then. No visits from her own husband in 236 days – nearly EIGHT months. 

No hugging.  No touching.   N.  O.  T.  H.  I.  N.  G.  In all that time.

The residents are not allowed to leave their rooms for any reason. The have to eat all meals in their rooms, which means they don’t even have the benefit of socialization with other residents. They get one bath per week. If anyone has physical therapy it’s been reduced to once per week, if even that, and done in their room.

They don’t even allow anyone in the parking lots in order to sit and talk with their family member on cellphone or otherwise. So these poor folks haven’t even gotten to SEE their families either. However, we can drop off small packages of goodies at their main entrance (which is what Jerry and I do every couple weeks for mom), but as soon as a staff person picks it up at the door you have to leave.

They also do not allow doctor appointments, and no doctor comes into the facility. The only way they’re allowed to see a doctor is if it is an absolute emergency, and even then they have to go straight to the emergency room at the hospital. They get their medicines automatically refilled, so they’re not lacking for that. Fortunately, her facility is also where our sister-in-law Carla (Jerry’s brother’s wife) works as the head nurse and an administrator (dual capacity because she’s that good). She’s actually not supposed to touch or hug mom, but I’d be willing to bet she’s snuck in a few hugs because she’s with her every day anyway.

So far, NO ONE at this facility has contracted the virus. Praise the Lord!

But this total and complete isolation is taking a toll on our folks in nursing facilities. If they aren’t dying of the virus, they ARE dying of broken hearts, alone, without loved ones holding their hands. Yes, this is a fact. There are hundreds of stories out there of this happening. The lockdown has had a devastating and detrimental effect upon them – mentally, physically, and spiritually. I can hear it in mom’s voice every time I talk to her on the phone.

One day in August, she told me about her meltdown in front of Carla and two other staff members. They had been going room to room letting residents know about yet another change to their lockdown procedures.

In the middle of the conversation, mom slammed her fist down on her table and told them to “Shut up!”  You have to know, mom does not say words like this, so that tells me she was beyond extremely upset. She wept as she told them she hadn’t been able to see her people (her word for family) for months on end and couldn’t even hug or touch her own husband. She likened it to living in a dungeon with no hope of ever seeing the outside world again. (In fact, during my phone call with her just yesterday, she said she’d probably have to die to get out of the place.) She and all the other residents would rather die of the virus than loneliness and heartache.

When Carla left mom’s room, she went straight to the other administrators and said they needed to get this figured out pronto. Since August, the facility has submitted three proposals to the corporate offices in Tennessee of ways to have family visit residents. Each time, it’s been flatly denied. The last time, the corporate offices told them to stop submitting proposals because they were “not going to approve anything until the pandemic is completely over and several months go by without it reappearing.”

Yes, everyone realizes it only takes one person bringing the virus into a facility to cause complete havoc and death, but there are proven ways to do this safely. And I for sure don’t need any comments berating me or anyone else in this type of situation. If you aren’t living it personally, you cannot possibly know what we’re going through.

Across the country, hundreds (if not thousands) of residents and their families are preparing to sue against this illegal restraint (for those residents who want them to do so). See this article for just one example of nursing facility residents who are tired of being kept prisoner in their own homes.


Elissa

It’s been a rough several weeks (months, really) on another front, culminating with a harrowing incident a few days ago that could have turned out really bad.

Son John and daughter-in-law Elissa have been having some problems in their marriage for a while now. It’s been on and off, but each time things worsen it seems to be timed to the dates of certain past traumatic events. They both live with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. (As do many people to some degree.)

They’d been talking serious separation since the beginning of the summer. (Believe me, I’ve been on my knees to the Lord a lot this year.) In September, John told me that Elissa had put a bid in on a house; he would stay in their current house and she would be the one to move with the kids. They felt that they each needed to work on themselves away from the other with the intent to eventually get back together. (We do not agree with this way of handling marriage problems and they both know that.) After a few days, though, Elissa re-crunched the numbers and realized she wouldn’t be able to handle all the new bills on her own. (Privately, I was glad for this as it keeps them together.)

One extra thing that has caused added stress to their relationship . . . 

Elissa became involved in the wiccan/witchcraft stuff over a year ago. (John left two previous girls because of it, but he’s married to Elissa.) Yes, I know many people think there is nothing wrong with this, but that’s not how we believe. It’s a doorway for satan to bring evil into a home and cause havoc, and our family and Elissa’s family all regard this as probably the main cause of so many of the problems they are having in their home (sorry, no details here). We’ve realized that when she started this is when everything around them escalated.

Anyway, things took a turn for the worse a few days ago. John called me around 5:40 a.m. on Monday morning. He was talking very quietly because the kids were asleep but said Elissa had left the house sometime after 10:00 p.m. on Sunday evening and hadn’t come back. I said I’d get dressed and be over as quickly as possible. I woke Jerry and he also got dressed and went with me.

It was nearing 6:30 a.m. when we got to their house and Aero had already woken (the kids are used to waking about that time because that’s when Elissa wakes them to get them ready to leave for daycare so she can get to work at the post office by 8:00 a.m.). I asked John what triggered Elissa to leave so late in the evening, and of course they’d been talking separation again. She became sad and said she needed to leave for a while. By the time he called me that morning it’d been eight hours and counting, but he couldn’t do much with two little ones sleeping and didn’t want me to lose too much sleep and was trying to give Elissa some time, but was becoming very worried. He then told me she’d recently threatened to harm herself, but then had said she wouldn’t. John said he’d texted Elissa’s best-friend M about two hours earlier that morning, but hadn’t received a reply yet. And she’d left without her phone charger and the credit card for their shared bank account, but John didn’t see the bank card anywhere for the account that’s in her name only.

I knew that Elissa had made a suicide attempt when she was younger somewhere outside the city limits (I believe her aunts interrupted it and saved her), and I knew she was also badly physically abused by her mother for many years when she was a little girl. (Her mother lives in town but Elissa avoids her at all costs.)

It was not the time to be telling John he should have let me know so we could get her help, that would only have made him feel much worse than he already did at that moment. I told him to call the hospital first, and then go down to make a police report for a missing person who was probably suicidal. We were still discussing that part when Nova woke.

She opened her bedroom door, then saw me and Jerry . . . “Gramma? Grampa? What are you doing here so early?”

Oh, boy.

John told her that her mom had to go in to work early and we (gramma/grampa) were going to stay with her and Aero for a bit, give them breakfast, and get them ready for daycare. She asked me if I was going to take them and I said I couldn’t because I didn’t have child car seats but that John Jay (she’s called John by his first/middle names for a long time but has recently begun calling him daddy) would be back in a little bit to take them in his car, that he just needed to go do something right quick. That appeased her and I made them a quick breakfast to tide them over until they got to daycare (because they do get breakfast there), got them both dressed and ready to go.

The police station lobby is closed down to the public due to the virus, but John found two police vehicles idling in the parking lot and spoke with those officers, who entered the missing person report on their laptops right there for him. When he returned home, we got the kids into his car and I went along to help get them into daycare just in case (Jerry stayed at their house so he could call us if Elissa returned). It was a little after 8:00 a.m. when John talked to the daycare ladies about the situation of not knowing Elissa’s whereabouts and they assured us they would take very good care of the kids (which they do anyway) and to let them know if they could help in any way.

The kids’ daycare is just two blocks away from the apartment building where Jerry and I live in South Hutch, so since we were close, John decided to check the two hotels that are near. Nothing.

While he drove, I dialed the post office and then handed John my phone. He asked the supervisor if Elissa had happened to come in to work, she said no, so he told her what was going on and she said if she even saw a peek of her somewhere she’d call right away, and she would let all the other employees working that day to keep an eye out for her. We wandered a bit looking here and there, but when we got closer to their house I told him to drop me off and that Jerry and I’d go searching in our car, too.

By this time, it was over ten hours. John called Elissa’s dad in Newton (whose name is also John, but we all use his given name of Johnie to distinguish between them), and so her dad was on his way over quickly, and he in turn let his four sisters know. Meanwhile, I let our pastor and his wife know, and numerous other church folks. And I let the rest of our side of the family know and then called mom Juanita to get her to praying. We sent out photos of Elissa and her vehicle and all other pertinent information.

John made his initial posts to facebook and instagram. (I deleted all my social media accounts years ago.) Immediately he had numerous messages of support from hundreds of people who shared his posts over and over. I told him to call his dad and step-brother.

Jerry and I began searching the northeast part of Hutchinson, up and down every main and side street. All the parks. Around all the businesses. Looking in every driveway and alley. All of us doing the same thing in various parts of town.

This was an extremely frustrating process. I called John and we talked for a bit. A person who does not want to be found is not going to let their vehicle be seen, and besides, she might not even be in the city. She could be anywhere. Everyone –us, the rest of the family members, her close friends, her co-workers – had all texted and/or tried calling her. Her best-friend M had messaged John and said her calls were all going to voicemail by that time, which was about 10:30 a.m. John told us to go on home, but I said there was no way I could just sit at home, so we went back to their house – I cleaned their house and Jerry watched a nature show. Johnie showed up after a while to sit and think what to do next. After a bit, John’s dad George and step-brother Chris came over.

Then, about 12:30 p.m. or so (Elissa was now missing for about 14 hours), John received a message from one of Elissa’s facebook friends. She’d just seen John’s facebook post about Elissa and sent him screenshots of a post Elissa made at 10:53 p.m. the night before asking for a place to crash. She texted Elissa to come on over and Elissa replied, “Ok be right there.” The post on facebook was then deleted. But she never showed up. Her friend texted Elissa over and over for two hours, asking if she was still coming, etc., etc. Nothing. No further texts from Elissa.

I cannot tell you how frightening this was to learn. I could literally hear every one of us in that room stop breathing.

Johnie had been trying to get through to the detective unit at the police station for a while (he has a contact). Now he tried again and finally got through and told the detective he spoke to about this new development.

In the meantime, unbeknownst to us, the facebook friend went down to the police station to give them her statement about Elissa’s post and show them the screenshots she’d taken of the post, their conversation, and to tell them Elissa never showed up or sent any further texts. This information was forwarded to the sheriff’s office. After they entered all the information into their system and discussed  procedure, they made a call back to Johnie. They told him that they were now actively searching for Elissa because they considered her a danger to herself.

Our phones were constantly blowing up with messages for updates and sending us words of support. We wanted to be “out there” looking, but didn’t know where to look, yet felt like we needed to be doing something rather than sitting at the house.

I called the daycare lady to give her an update and ask how the kids were doing. She said Aero was being Aero (lol, meaning his happy-go-lucky-play-all-the-time self), but that Nova was clingy and asking for her mama. I told her I was sure she’d sensed something different because when she woke mama was gone and gramma/grampa were there. I asked if she wanted us to come get them, or at least Nova, and she no, they were doing just fine and keeping her busy. (She actually took Nova home with her later after daycare and fed her supper and did some fun stuff together at her house until later in the evening. John and I picked up Aero to bring home after daycare at 5:00 p.m. because he’s easy to keep happy at 2½ years old.)

About mid-afternoon, maybe between 2:30/3:00 p.m. or so, John’s phone dinged. He said, “She just messaged me.”

She’d typed a period.

A period???

A period. Nothing else. We tried to think what this could mean.

I told him to tell her he needed to know it was her, to tell him something only he would know.

Nothing for several long agonizing minutes.

Then she typed “tomo45ow.”

Huh?

On a regular keyboard you could make the mistake of hitting the “4” and “5” instead of the “r” twice, we just weren’t sure for a cellphone keyboard, but it was possible.

John told her he didn’t understand, what did she mean. She typed, “Home.”

John asked, “You’re coming home tomorrow?” No answer for several long minutes. Then he asked, “Are you okay?”

He should have waited for her to answer just the first question before asking the next, because it was confusing when she typed, “Yeah.”

The thing on this was, we all know she always uses punctuation and never answers with only one word – there was no punctuation being used on any of these answers. Then she typed some gobbledygook that made no sense.

We discussed the possibility that she had taken or drank something that was causing her to have a fuzzy brain.

John asked her if someone was there with her. No answer for several minutes.

Then she sent a very disturbing photo. It was of her right arm. She had been trying to harm herself. Or someone else was. It looked like her arm was lying on a white towel or sheet.

Johnie got on his phone and started trying to call the detective.

John asked Elissa if she had been dragged there against her will by someone. No answer.

John asked her where she was. After a bit she typed “w.”

Wichita!

We determined she was at a hotel or motel in Wichita.

Suddenly, Elissa typed very clearly, “I’m fine. Leave me alone.”

Right then, Johnie got hold of the detective. They had a short conversation in which Johnie told the detective about the texts and photos from John’s phone, then he stopped and listened to the detective talking.

The detective told Johnie that when Elissa had turned her phone back on and started texting John, they had been able to ping her phone. They knew where she was in Wichita and what hotel. They had detectives and law enforcement already on the way.

Thank God!! What a relief that was to hear!!

Next came what seemed like an interminably lonnnnnnnng wait. We told John not to text anything to Elissa because we didn’t want her accidentally tipped off that her location was known and that people were coming to get her. That could trigger her into doing something drastic.

A little before 5:00 p.m., the detective called Johnie and let us know they got to her and that she was alone. He said the police officers were transporting her to a Wichita hospital. He told us a certain one, but it ended up that’s not where they took her, so that was frustrating for a while until John found out Elissa had her phone with her when she sent a text about 6:30 p.m.

She was in the emergency waiting room of a different hospital. The police had basically dumped her off there – told the receptionist Elissa needed to be seen by a doctor because she had tried to harm herself and left her there completely alone. The doctor who saw her said he didn’t know why she was there and said she could go. We were all pretty upset about this turn of events.

Who dumps off a suicidal person to handle things on their own after they’ve been missing for nearly 20 hours and then nothing is even done to help them?!

By this time, Elissa’s texts were sounding more coherent and more like her normal self. She and John texted back and forth for a long while (she didn’t want to talk, which was fine with John because he preferred documenting texts in case proof was needed for anything). John learned that she had spent all those hours driving around Wichita (which is not a smart thing for a woman alone to be doing at night in that city) until about 10:00 a.m. in the morning when she got the room at the hotel. She turned off her phone then (which coincides with the 10:30 a.m. when her best-friend M said all the calls had begun going to voicemail) and went to sleep for a few hours.

John told us she was going to take a taxi back to the hotel and spend the night. When I asked him if he trusted her on that and to not run again, he said, yes . . . because by that time she was exhausted, acting more like herself, and just needed a little time before she came back and faced everyone. She promised John that she’d leave Wichita at 11:00 a.m. the next morning (check-out time at the hotel) and be back in town by noon. I don’t think any of us slept that night.

John is a salaried employee and is the sole employee in the little building that’s a company on the property of a bigger business that builds school and other types of smaller busses. In other words, he’s the middle guy for certain bus parts and other things that he takes care of for the bigger company. We were glad when they made him salary because that meant if there were any emergencies, he’d be able to leave work, or take  a day or so off work, to handle things.

Thank goodness for that this week! He has the best boss ever (the corporation is headquartered in Colorado). They’ve been so understanding through all of this. As soon as John knew Elissa was on her way, he finished up his work and headed home. He was not going to be happy until he could lay eyes on her and be sure she was okay. It was really hard for me to be patient, but I knew he’d let me know things after she was home and they’d had a chance to talk for a while.

He won’t give me much on details, but John found out just how close we came to losing Elissa. He did say she’d gone to a well-known farm supply store and bought a knife that is basically the same as the one Jerry uses when we go fishing (very sharp and narrow). John searched her car and found it, looked for any other things but that was all.

John set up all sorts of appointments to start getting help for Elissa; she signed all the papers necessary so that John can make all her appointments and have access to her health information. She had intakes the very next day for therapy and meds, four different appointments in two days right off the bat. Elissa is going to be seeing the same therapist who John was seeing for his EMDR treatments and therapy (for his PTSD and anxieties from witnessing his brother’s death at work in 2013). And John told me I’d be happy to know this next thing  – they have an appointment in another week (two weeks? can’t remember excatly how long he said) to begin marriage therapy and plans to return to EMDR therapy (he had no insurance to continue back then, but Elissa has excellent insurance through her work). Praise the Lord!! John isn’t letting her out of his sight, and once she gets home from her postal carrier work, she cannot go back out in the evening to do Door Dash (which she’s been doing for a few months now) or anything else (unless she’s with John for something they’re doing together).

They went grocery shopping yesterday afternoon (they hadn’t gone in over two weeks). Apparently it was not a good shopping trip (for whatever reason, John didn’t elaborate). They got home, something triggered Elissa, she began throwing things at him. He texted me to please come, so I got there asap. I cleaned their fridge and put groceries away. He gave her anxiety med and pretty soon she crashed. He went to get Aero from daycare (Nova was already at her dad’s in Newton for the weekend). I took Aero outdoors to play for a while so John could have a few moments to himself. We made a quick supper for Aero, he ate, I played a while more with him, then came home.

Today, Jerry and I are going over to their house after Aero wakes from his nap in just a while. John needs to put the new grill on Elissa’s car, then he wants to take her out to maybe go play putt-putt golf and eat while we watch Aero and do some laundry.

It’s going to take some time, but our whole family is committed to making sure Elissa gets the help she needs . . . and John, and their marriage, and the kids.


Lastly . . .

If there happens to be another long while before I post again, just know I’ll get back here soon’s I have time. I’m also handling other things.

Now I’m going to go count all the gray hairs I seem to have accumulated this past week.

There isn’t a mask big enough to protect us from everything going on in the world today . . . we need to put on the whole armor of God. [Ephesians 6:11]

0 thoughts on “Meltdown, agony, and anger

  • Dear Diana – I have just read your post and I feel so much for you all as you go through these dreadful times. I pray our Lord will give you strength to face these trials, to bring you through them as only He can. Hugz xxxx

  • We covet and appreciate your prayers more than anything else! Yep, hard to understand how things just keep happening… but we keep picking ourselves up and plugging along! Blessings to you, Diana!

  • OMGOSH—I don't even know what to say. I have been away from blogging for a bit but I am so sorry for all the troubles that have been piled on your family. I will never, this side of the great divide, know why some people and families are so beset by evil things.
    Praying for ALL of you-my heart is breaking for "mom" in the nursing home. So sad.
    God bless you- Diana

  • Amen and AMEN! Thank you so much for your words and prayers, Gloriade, they mean so very much to us! Yep, such a hard year for everyone. But God is still on His throne and here with us! Blessings to you!

  • Oh my Diana! Your poor family has had quite a time of it! This virus and all the negativity we are engulfed in has certainly placed an even greater strain on already difficult situations. Father, I pray for Diana and her family that you would cover them with your mantel of protection and that you would show them grace and mercy. May they sense your presence as they work together to bring their family back to wholeness in you. Please bring into their live the those who are best qualified to help them through as they heal. Send comfort and and peaceful hearts in Jesus name.

  • We appreciate all your thoughts and prayers! I'm just glad we're in the same town and can support our family whenever things happen. Yep, I have a feeling it's going to be a tough winter, but hopefully we can all hang in there togehter and support each other! Blessings to you all!

  • I'm happy to send you the info in email to do this! And you know what, others have been looking up facility addresses online and doing this for a while now. I'll send our to you. THANK YOU, Martha — you are a sweet sweet blogging friend for offering to do this! Hugs and blessings!

  • I came back over because I have thought about trying to do something for the people in assisted living and nursing homes for months. With my own issues just haven't done it. When I read about your Step-mom-in-law Juanita it got me thinking again. I would love to send her a little happy mail if you are willing to share her address. I've thought about putting something out on my art Instagram too, a great group of people who just love to share – maybe just the facility since they are all in the same sad situation if you don't want to give out personal info. Let me know if I can help! Email me at mm.seasidesimplicy@gmail.com

    I sure wish there was more I could do for you during this difficult time. Big hugs!

  • Oh my I am so glad you are able to be there for your son as he helps Elissa through this rough patch. It has to be very stressful for you all.
    Nursing homes up here are allowing visits outside but now the weather has turned cold. I feel so sorry for all the elderly in the home they are all so alone.
    These covid times are hard for so many people.
    Sending prayers your way for comfort during there trying times. 🙁

  • This means soooooo very much to all of us, Betsy! It's so sad that once strong and intelligent people now struggle daily in nursing facilities. We pray for your friend as well and all the others out there. Praying a hedge of protection around all of us and everyone going through such tough times. THANK YOU to you and Dennis for your devoted prayers! Hugs and blessings!

  • Diana, This is all just too much to bear all at the same time! I am so sorry about everything you are having to go through. I sure hope it will all work out ok. Sending thoughts and prayers for you and your family.

  • Oh Diana. How hard for you and ALL of your family. Dennis and I will definitely have you all in our prayers.
    John and Elissa definitely have Satan working to destroy their family so we will just ask God's angels to fight for them and their children. There is no way those demons will win with God's warriors protecting them.
    I feel so for your Mom. This isn't the first I've heard this. Oe godd, good friend of ours is in a facility. She was one of the brightest people I've ever known with a top-notch memory and a fantastic seamstress who sewed for T.V. show's and movies.
    Now, because she hasn't left her room since March 3, she doesn't even know her own kids. Doesn't remember ever sewing anything. I call her and she has no clue who I am. This is devastating to people all over the world.
    And finally, that poor woman in your building. I don't know what is wrong with people. I'm as sick and tired of it all as you are.
    Prayers, prayers, prayers.
    I promise to pray for you all my friend.
    Blessings and a HUGE hug,
    Betsy

  • I am so sorry for this incredibly hard situation!!!! Lord have mercy!!! Take all the time you need before you return and don't feel bad at all about this. Lord be with you. will be praying for you Jerry and family! ps: that is TERRIBLE about the nursing home also. 🙁 Lord have mercy!

  • Oh Diana, my heart goes out to you and the other members of this sad situation. I cannnot imagine the stress and the heartache you're going through. There are no words I can say that will help except that I'm praying for you. Be strong. Have faith.

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