Chief Toenail Clipper

Sometimes people ask me what I do with all my free time. After all, I don’t work (for pay at least) and I’ve got my family trained to keep the house neat as a pin (apparently this is in a parallel universe).

Generally, I find that I wear many hats. Most days housekeeping is top on my list. I am the only person in my family who can sort clothes for the washer and no one else knows that you have to lift the lid when you clean the toilet… But those are stories for another day. Today I am … Chief Toenail Clipper.

Now I know that unless you have small children or care for someone who can’t quite reach their feet you only have to manage your own personal hygiene. But having a special needs son puts me in charge of him…and what about those pets?

Matthew hates to have his nails trimmed. First, he sticks his foot up still socked. Then I get his socks off and as soon as I touch his toes he starts complaining like he’s being stabbed. “Ow! Ow!” I bet the neighbors can hear him. Thank goodness there are only five toes. When I tell him to give me the other foot he fakes it and sticks the already trimmed toes back at me. “Ha, ha, ha,” he thinks I won’t notice.

So, son is set. “Whew, torture finished for another day.” Now it’s time for the dog. I never noticed her toenails before we got wood floors. Now every time she walks through the house we hear her clicking. Sadie thinks she is on guard all night so she goes from room to room checking on everyone. Click, click, click. Click, click, click. Every hour…

She is worse than Matthew and starts quivering when I even get the clippers out. I’m always scared of cutting to the quick and really hurting her so I picked up one of those “As Seen on TV” trimmers. It is a very cool tool with a little grinder. I’m sure you’ve seen it–the dogs are actually smiling as they get their pedicure. The “As Seen on TV” trimmer works well but it’s battery powered and I always run out of batteries. I was complaining about this to my mom who told me that one of the boys uses his little dremel tool (a little high speed spinning tool with a neat variety of attachments including a sander). I knew Bob had one so the other day I tried it out. Bzzz, it worked great and then vroop– I caught her tail hair and wound it tight in a giant wad. As you can imagine, Sadie didn’t get too close to me for a few days. I’m back to using the battery powered tool but she still doesn’t smile like on the commercials.

Last on my list for today are the cats. They are wise to my ways and it’s tricky just catching them. Years ago we got tired of them scratching the furniture when we would leave town (cat claws and leather do not mix). So we decided to have them declawed. Yes, I know it’s inhumane and hard on the kitties but compared to the cost of a new couch??? I made the appointment and we borrowed my folk’s dog carrier. Then came the fun of rounding up the cats. Back then Bob still thought cats would act like dogs and come when called but of course, ours saw the carriers and went into hiding. We tracked down the smaller of the two cats but when we tried to put her in the carrier she turned spread eagle with a three foot wing span and there was no way she could be stuffed into the hole. Fortunately, the dog carrier was big enough for a hound so we managed to get her inside. The poor larger cat was then stuffed in the smaller carrier with barely enough room to turn around. But for good cause…right? Bob planned to drop them off on his way to work so I was very surprised when an hour later he showed back up–and even more surprised that he had cats in tow. The vet’s office had neglected to ask their weight. Spunky, the fiesty one, weighed in at 12 lbs and they wouldn’t declaw a cat over 10 lbs because it was too hard on the cat. Salem was a whopping 20 lbs! There was no way he would ever thin down enough. So the cats, like everyone else get their nails trimmed by me. We have to be sneaky and have everything in place. And we have to work fast…cat’s might have a lot of patience when watching birds but not when being held.

Finally, the job is done. There is a tremendous benefit to this job… No One will come near me the rest of the day.

More Government Dealings

It was the first of August when I last updated you on my dealings with the government agencies. Ramblin Rose August 3 To be truthful I was so mad at the system that I pushed it all aside and decided to wait for a better day.

Luckily, time dims the memory and the first of September I contacted Matthew’s case worker again. Since he had offered that I could provide habilitation* services I decided to take him up on the offer.

Why do I torture myself like this? I know you are asking and there is only one reason. If I die tomorrow someone will need to be here and care for Matthew. Bob can’t drop everything and stop working. I know without hesitation that my parents would step in and do what is needed and yet, it would not be without a major change in lifestyle for all. So I continue to pursue getting these services for Matthew hoping that I can save someone else the grief.

So, following my phone call, the case worker comes for a visit to put the services into action. I am smart this time and set up the appointment when Bob can attend. It’s a good thing because he reins me in from complaining too much. The young case worker is pleasant enough. He apologizes that they denied coverage for the attendant care and I explain again that I’d like to get going with the habilitation services. “Let me make some phone calls and we’ll get this started,” he says with a grand gesture. (Bob tells me later that this guy reminds him of a used car salesman.)

Within two days I do receive a phone call from a gal who says, “There seems to be some question…yes, of course, you are ready for habilitation. Everything is in order.”

Well, I am pretty humbled and acknowledged that the case manager did his job. Until I send in a time sheet. Of course, another agency takes care of this part and sure enough I get a phone call. “We don’t have any authorization for these hours and we need a pay rate before we can process the time sheet.” I should have known.

A few phone calls and several days later I discover that there is one more agent who needs to make an assessment. After questioning the need for this “again” she looks at our file to find it’s been over a year since starting. This person is very gracious and apologetic. She manages to calm my frustration and we spend more than an hour going over Matthew’s needs once again. She finishes up and assures me that as soon as the central office receives this information they will be able to pay me to provide Habilitation for Matthew…oh wait, I am not certified for Habilitation; I am only certified for Attendant Care. I’ll need to take a class for the Habilitation… it’s deja vu all over again.

*FYI: People with special needs can qualify for services that are covered by each state. Services, number of hours allocated, and rate of pay depend on needs of the individual. Habilitation is working with the person to “learn” a particular skill. For example: Me brushing Matthew’s teeth would qualify under Attendant Care. Teaching Matthew how to brush and offering assistance and guidance would be Habilitation. Fixing lunch is also Attendant Care while hand over hand use to spread peanut butter on a slice of bread is Habilitation. Also included in Matthew’s services is Respite which is providing someone to make sure the individual is safe while allowing the caregiver a break.