Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bliss-filled day 12/7/10

I should write every day so you could see how unpredictable life can be...AND so I could share with you how blessed I am to be able to care for my Mom and Dad. Today is ONE I will freeze...most days Mom comes in and starts the day with me. I try to be in the kitchen or out with the dogs before 7...she comes out of the apartment looking for me. We feed 4 dogs and 10 cats, then start breakfast for the two-leggers(people). We have a great time working together in the kitchen...I love the company and she loves feeling useful. She can do so much with calm, gentle instructions. Praise God, I've had enough children to have a load of patience. She stayed and helped me sort through some books today before they left to do laundry at the local laundry mat. Dad enjoys the outing and they meet new people each week to visit and encourage. I call it their "Dirty Laundry Ministry"

When they returned home, it was lunch time...hoping to avoid a replay of yesterday, I encouraged Daddy to get lunch quickly and get into bed for a rest. He succeeded on both accounts and they slept for 2.5 hours. I am still trying to isolate things that could help Mom and think one could be her need for more rest. When they got up, we were down at the arena practicing the horses for Friday night's parade so they came down to watch the girls ride. She sat in the big van with me and Brett sat with Dad and visited...so good for Daddy to have Brett and vice versa. I am ever so thankful for a husband who is kind and supportive. He loves Mom and Dad like they were his own parents...and they love him dearly.

Soon it was time for dinner and Mom helped me finish it and put in the first pan of pumpkin spice cookies. We enjoyed dinner together and a visit before my family headed off to watch the Volleyball championships. Daddy headed to the apartment and she stayed to help clean the kitchen. She was so precious as she left..."Thank you for letting me help. You are such an amazing woman...so talented!" I told her I learned how to be a strong woman from her! She smiled and said, "I don't know about that"...but I do! God bless you today...be FULLY His for whatever He calls you to.

Christmas pictures and more 12/6/10

These past two weeks Mom has been walking more and more. We have a plan that works most days...we try to take turns and just walk along to be sure she is safe. She has a predictable route...not the safest...and not negotiable for her. One day we took off and I was not dressed completely...she caught me in the middle of exercising so off I headed with my arms crossed across the front. Thinking I could get her mercy and she would go back home with me, I mentioned the missing apparel and my desire to go home and "get dressed"...that day it was NO problem for her as she had packed her rolling suitcase and offered to "loan" me the missing item. I had a HUGE chuckle wondering which of my neighbors' yards I could duck into to change. Instead I refused and off we went...there I was on Main Street in Santa Fe...arms crossed, walking on. Besides being embarrassed, I realized I was frustrated as I like to swing my arms when I walk.

By the time we got back home(1 hour later) I was in a bad mood because she had taken off to cross the highway when it was not safe...as I grabbed her arm, she got very angry...I fussed at her as we walked on. Some days, she lets me walk along and I can talk and show her things...other days I am invading on her escape and she is MAD...those days are hard even though I know it is the illness not Mom. Yesterday was another hard walk...I currently hold the LONG distance award for walking with her and she keeps expanding it...I call it MY Alzheimer's Diet plan!!! It was a COLD day...I hoped that might make it a shorter walk but no she was upset and off we went. After 45 minutes, I called one of the sons to come and pick us up but when she saw who was in the car, she took off. I decided to just keep walking...finally she sat down in front of a friend's closed business...then she was frustrated that no one had come to get us!!! I quickly called Daddy to come. When we arrived back home, she would not leave the car and as soon as we did, she got out and headed off again. Fortunately Daddy talked to her sternly and she came back to their apartment.

It was a hard day as I had planned to take Christmas pictures and have her birthday dinner that night. I began to wonder if any of that would be possible?!? As it turned out, I had her come in and we played BEAUTY SHOP...I fixed her hair and the gals did her make-up...she loved the attention and couldn't believe who she saw in the mirror. We all got ready and were only 10 minutes late to meet all the others at the photo studio. Had a great time doing the pictures...amazing they can fit ALL 11 of us in one picture! Then off to dinner and Christmas Light gazing. She really does not like the dark so she was more than ready to be home. Off to bed and sweet dreams!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Life at Sonshine Acres

We've begun to find our schedule for this time of life. Our best day begins with Mom coming in early(6:30 or 7)to cook with me. We've had more yummy BIG breakfasts in the past two weeks than in years. I love the smells in the house when it gets cooking and really can't understand how the young people can sleep with their noses being assaulted with delicious smells.

Then if we can keep busy with school and housework, it seems to help Mom stay centered. She loves being busy and having something to do. Don't we all long to be useful in some way?

Today she ran errands with me...tire shop and store. Then we all had lunch out together. When we got home, we fixed hot tea and rocked in the swing with the breeze blowing. We visited about Oklahoma and our favorite memories of Fall time there. I'm always thankful for the Tallow Trees here...otherwise we'd have no chance to see leaves change colors! It was a precious time for us to share.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Daddy home

We've had one week with Daddy gone to NC for his family reunion. It's been a precious time for Mom and me. Most of the time, she thought I was a dear friend who had come to take care of her. Some times she was completely normal and we could visit about some very abstract things together. She told me how her family decided to take care of each other and how they knew when it was time to let some place else do the 24/7 care and just visit as much as possible.

One day she asked me how to decide which man to keep...she described two different men who she was entertaining...one younger man who loved her dearly and would do anything to take care of her, soft spoken and gentle...the other man was older and she'd known him awhile...he too was good to take care of her but also a bit bossy...although she knew she could always trust him to be a "straight shooter"...I asked for names but she couldn't tell me...the more she described them, the more it seemed she'd divided Daddy into his "nice" guy self and his "caretaker" bossy self. It made me wonder who she would think had arrived at the airport...I prayed myself to sleep asking God to help her recognize and accept Daddy today. They were precious when they saw each other at the airport...both got really teary and hugged forever. I was so thankful that she was able to give him a sweet, loving reception.

The hard part is since we are back home, she is very confused and wants me with her. I am missing her as much as she is missing me! We were like two school girl best friends...visiting, laughing, talking in the dark and singing ourselves to sleep...thanking God for such a wonderful memory!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

July 3, 2010 Life seems grand

Needing to take time to blog...the better things go, the less I find myself needing to write but I thought an update would be good. We went to see our new Doc again...I'll call him Dr. L. We took Mom in because her blood sugars are inching up a bit now that we are off two meds. Neither of them were for blood sugar but both caused that med to act up. Dr. L was very calm(as usual) and told us what was happening and when we needed to call him. He also offered to make a house call and told us he knew where our address was...is that TOO cool!!!

We had a very successful week. Got both Mom and Dad changed to a new health plan on Tuesday so we can use Dr. L at no cost...yeah! It was touch and go because they were in the "lock-in" period and unless they met certain criteria, we could not change until November. Just all the paper work and calls could wear you out...not to mention the actual care! ha

Today I had some work to do at the church so I convinced Mom to tag along with me. We made two store stops on the way to get supplies. Then on to the church...she helped me assemble 20 copies of the Fruit of the Spirit book for church tomorrow. She enjoyed the "work" and getting to be included. Then on to the health food store for some supplies. The grocery store next door had chicken leg quarters for 19 cents a pound! So we had to go there and shop too...she had fun picking out corn on the cob and watermelons. We had loads of time for visiting and singing. We bought some new children's worship music and had to listen to four CD's. Had a great time singing along with her sweet voice.

I've just read a book that should be on everyone's MUST READ LIST...Measure of the Heart by Mary Ellen Geist. It's a touching, realistic tribute to her father who suffers with Alzheimer's. She had a very successful career in radio broadcasting when she came home to help her mother care for her father. Even if you are not dealing with dementia or ALZ in your life, it's a great read about loving and serving. Let me know if you'd like to borrow my copy...I'd love for it to get good use.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK: Mom called Daddy "Thurman" several times!!! Be blessed...God is GOOD!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day 2010

When you know that there are days Mom does not know who Dad is, this card is so precious...

She went to the store with me to get some veggies for grilling. I asked her if she would like to get Daddy a Father's Day card to remind him of what a GREAT dad he was to her children...she said yes but she didn't have any money...I assured her I'd pay and she could repay me later. Needless to say there were not many left so I think it was a "GOD THING" that this one was there for us...we read all of them...some funny, some inappropriate and then this one---


What Being Parents Has Taught Us

Cereal for dinner is not the end of the world.

Yes, there was a time when we couldn't wait for them to talk.

When they sleep, you sleep.

The magic of folding teeny-tiny laundry wears off REAL fast.

Some days beds ARE for jumping on.


There's no such thing as PERFECT PARENTS,
just perfect partners-
and that's what we are.

Happy Father's Day

Then she wrote-
Love you and wish you the best everyday!

We had a wonderful day...worship, meal out at Brett's fav place, shopping for all of us Gals(which gave Daddy a break), grilling out, dinner together under the big trees in the back yard, volleyball with the cheering team(Me Maw and Pa), visiting until dusk. Precious memory!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hallelujah!!! God found us a Doctor

On Tuesday(the 15th) we went to meet a new Dr. for Mom. She and I both took some Rescue Remedy to calm our nerves. She was afraid that we were going to leave her somewhere. We assured her there was NO WAY that could/would happen. I was afraid that I would meet a Dr. like most...boy were we both WRONG!!!

We met a Dr. who EXCEPT for working in an office is like an old-fashioned country Doctor. We took all her paperwork and the research that I've been doing. He looked over Mom's meds and was concerned about the assortment of b/p meds and the combination of so many meds. He advised us to eliminate one immediately and wants to look at more of Mom's blood work levels to see if another one can be eliminated soon. His office is less than 10 minutes from the house. He gave us his personal cell phone number in case we need to ask him anything...how odd is that?!?

He sat and visited with the three of us...no hurry to rush in and out. When Mom got tearful, he told her how fine that was and got up to get her kleenex. He is a Christian who encouraged us to worship, give back and take care of our spiritual lives...do things that make us happy and keep our minds active for our mental lives and offered to help us figure out the physical parts for Mom's best care. What an answer to our prayers! Mom just kept saying "He's a real Doctor. He listened to me and gave suggestions. I really like him." Dad was very impressed also and wants to forget trying another Dr. He feels like this one is a "keeper".

My heart has been so burdened to help them find someone who can give them excellent care...this all came about without my help...we got the referral in a round about way...just like God to take us out of the picture and work a miracle for us! I had to change my blog to a cheerful orange as that is how my heart feels today...God is GOOD! We are blessed! Thanks for your prayers and love!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Last BACPAC concert

Busy weekend with the gals' dance concert. Mom and Dad came and really enjoyed seeing their gals shine. Mom looked so pretty in one of her new outfits. I am usually picking her clothes out for her now so she's all matched. I picked one of her new skirts and shirts with optional jacket for Sunday. She came in two times Saturday night to ask me if she was to wear that skirt with all the colors for church. After church on Sunday she tried to return the outfit to me..."thanks for loaning this to me!" I reminded her it was some of her new clothes and she could keep them in her closet. We had alot of sitting outside in the shade and visiting time. This morning they got to start back to their senior swim at the college in Texas City. I was not about until they returned at 11. Both were in a happy mood and had enjoyed the class. There is a new lady teacher who they both like and think is very good with the students. After the hard times last week, so far the last few days have been refreshing. Dad ordered a new memory supplement that she is taking...hope it helps. We had an outing today to a good friend's home for swimming and visiting...I really need to do that occasionally to help me keep homelife in perspective. God is good!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Losing My Mind...the book

Finishing some reading...today brought "Losing My Mind" by Thomas deBaggio. He was a writer then owned a plant nursery when it was discovered that he had Alz. He decided to write a book as he went further into the illness. His observations are enlightening and raw...painfully so...reading it makes me hope we are not headed there. I used to always want to know what I was facing..."if I know, I can deal with anything". This new journey makes me want to "hide my head in the sand" sometimes. I've always prided myself in dealing with reality and NOT being in denial...guess it's time to lose more of my pride demon.

We did get appointments with the new Dr. but she can't see Mom until the middle of July. That will be right before Dad leaves for the family reunion. Pray with me that he will feel good about going and letting me care for her. He so enjoys seeing his family and catching up. It would give him time to relax and really rest...they spoil him while he's there! He's still undecided about leaving and we don't talk about it much as it makes Mom anxious. She really depends on him.

Last night I made a chart of the many different psychological problems that can be caused by Mom's different meds...it made me mad that she has been put on so many different things that have awful side effects and in the 18 or so months, the Physician's assistant has not noticed the change. Prayerful that the new Dr. will be able to make adjustments for her benefit.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Me Maw Makeover...Look for the positive

I realize that as life gets busy...or I get discouraged, I don't make time to blog. We had a few rough days and then almost a week of DELIGHTFUL days...followed by some days that seemed awful. Now we are on some more good days. My gals are almost finished with their ballet...the concert is this Saturday so after that, life will slow down considerably. Hopeful that I can stop feeling pulled in so many different directions. I did read through 7 books in a bit over a week. I did not see Mom so much in Alz as I did in Depression/anxiety. I did find that several of her medications have the side effect of depression, anxiety and short term memory loss. I was able yesterday to get a new Primary Care Physician on their managed care plan. Pray with me that the new Doctor will be a good match for us and willing to help get Mom off some of these meds.

I'm learning to freeze the great memories of time with Mom and Dad. I did this when my children were young...I have snapshots in my mind of wonderful times we enjoyed. Now I intentionally get my mind camera out and shoot away when we are laughing and joking together. The times Mom can't remember Dad or any of us, I choose to let go and just love her. It was interesting to read that some of the statin drugs cause amnesia...

Yesterday(not planned or in my schedule) we headed off for a "Me Maw Make-over." Daddy is tired of seeing her in baggy clothes and asked if I could take her shopping for some new things. We first stopped for a haircut for Mom with her fav hairdresser Christi...she's a wonderful Christian lady who is a delight to see. She really shaped up Mom's hair...cute! Then on for clothes...She would look at clothes and say "I don't think that will fit me." Then she'd try it on and VOILA! It fit...she has lost 3 dress sizes since last year. Daddy was precious when he saw her... "I'm not letting you out of my sight now!" The saying "There's nothing better than young love but old love!" is so true. One of the sweet things about Momma forgetting Daddy is that they fall in love more each day. She always tells me he is so good to her.

Today's funny...after all the shopping yesterday, Mom arrived to visit in the ONE old workshirt I left in her closet! God bless all of us today!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Learning about Alzheimers

Today started too early as I read until 2 last night finishing "The Myth" book. When I checked on Mom and Dad, it was 11 am and Mom had not eaten breakfast. No telling what all her blood sugar was doing. She was very disoriented and weepy. We did get breakfast down and took off for a walk. She was not sure footed and we walked slowly. At the end of the block she said her knee was hurting so Daddy came back home and got the car...such a difference from our other walks this week. She cried off and on until 2 and then felt better. They worked outside and rested. I came in to watch part of "The Alzheimer's Project"...a HBO series with Maria Shriver. Katy and I watched the first section "The Lost Tapes" and bawled our eyes out...then we decided to watch the next part about helping children deal with AD(thought that part would be easier to watch)...WRONG! I am still processing the information and emotions of seeing the loved ones slip away...sometimes moment by moment. All the reading and watching is helping me to understand what an aging brain acts like. I'm eager to get into the book that has lists of coping ideas for the different issues we may face. I am seeing that my life is going to change quickly. Knowing God is my Strength!

Friday, May 21, 2010

I found a book today titled "The Myth of Alzheimer's"...leave it to me to find a book that comes from a Doctor who no longer trusts what the medical system is doing with diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's. It's been a fast read and I have 6 other books to read and a four part DVD. Last night I found a combination remedy by Hyland's that I used years ago called "Nerve Tonic"...I got it and took a tablet myself then gave it to Mom and Dad. They split one tablet last night before bed. They had their best day in a long time. Dad remarked that nothing happened today that frustrated him. I asked if Mom had cried...he thought about it..."no, not once all day!" She even told me about his plans to go to his family reunion later this summer(a topic that typically causes her anxiety and tears)...today NO TEARS just a joke that I may need to make her a place in the house with the rest of us.

They headed off tonight to the High School to see a performance of one of their friend's granddaughters. When they were back home in less than an hour, I thought something had happened with Mom to make them return. Dad said no the show was over...it had lasted a TOTAL of 18 minutes! They had used their handicapped tag and parked nearby so they jumped in the car and missed waiting for the parking lot to empty. TOO FUNNY!

I feel like God is helping me to understand more about how to help them and giving us ideas to support their bodies and minds in healthier ways. Rejoicing in HIS care. My morning Bible reading was from Colossians 1:11 "Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy!"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, May 20th

Mom and I have been walking the last two days...it gets me exercise(something I desperately need and also dread) and gives her the chance to "travel"...plus we visit and tease each other along. Also Daddy gets a bit of a break from her. Two days this week she has tried to leave here and go "somewhere else"...usually if asked, she says she's walking back to Oklahoma and can take care of herself. One day I drove the car behind her to be sure she was safe and she walked to the busiest street in town...looked around for a bit and watched things go by and then turned around and walked home. By the time she got back, she was not frustrated anymore and had a great evening. We had a very nice day yesterday. Today we took our walk and had a great first part of the day and then around 2 pm something happened and she wanted to leave again. Each time I ask Daddy and try to figure out what has just happened but so far we can't pin it on anything. He does get very frustrated with her when she starts to cry which does not help her confusion. Today I was able to talk her out of walking away from our place by telling her I needed to be with Brett at a funeral visitation and COULD NOT follow her around in the car(she didn't think that was necessary anyway!)...she promised me she would not leave our place and would not cause anyone "trouble". After we left, Daddy said they had a fine evening. I have a dear friend who is walking this same path on the other side of the United States so we've formed a Long Distance support group. Unfortunately she does not give me hope of Mom coming back mentally...maybe she helps me confront what might be reality...but for tonight I am praying and asking God to send answers for something that will help. I appreciate your prayers joined with mine. Sleep calls.....

Monday, May 17, 2010

In the beginning

Why BLOG??? Why would a busy woman choose to blog about her life? I'm feeling the need to have some of this written down for the future. I think it may help me to write out what is happening and what I am feeling. Maybe it will help someone else who is travelling this same road. While busy raising my seven children, I've had the privilege to watch my Mother care for her Grandmother(Great Ma) and Mother(Grams) for years in her home. After Great Ma's death, Mom continued to care for her Mother at home until an unfortunate accident resulted in a leg amputation. At that point, Grams was placed in a nursing home. Mom still spent the bulk of the day at the home caring for her. We finally decided to move her to a nursing home between the two of us so I could do every other day. In the last year of her life, Mom moved into our guest room to be nearer the home. Dad retired soon after Grams died and they built on our property and moved to be near us. So far, they've been here with us for 12 years.

Six years ago now...Dad had day surgery and the Doctor came out and announced excitedly that they thought they lost him during the surgery. On closer examination, they realized he had "fainted". Dad had great recall of the events(he was not anesthetised)...bright lights, whirring sounds, smells of flesh, etc...and then the blackness...when he came to, there were 20 or so residents and interns crowded into the room. For safety, they decided to keep him overnight.

We decided that I would stay with him so Mom could come back home for a good night's rest. The next morning the head resident reported that Daddy had a heart 20 years younger than his age. We headed home to get him settled. It never crossed my mind that he might not relay that information on to Mom. She began months of caring for him and missing lots sleep. After some months, I began to notice that she seemed to be off center...instead of getting upset, she'd cry and withdraw. I thought she was suffering a bit of depression and she'd regroup.

About a year later, I went to a Doctor's appointment with them and she told the Doctor that Dad's surgery had gone fine except "he DIED during the surgery!" Dad agreed that had happened but he was fine now. Until this, I did not know that Dad had not told Mom about the heart monitor report. I could only think that maybe Dad did not have his hearing aid turned up when the resident gave him the report at the hospital. I explained to the Doctor and them what had happened and what was said. I felt very sad that Mom had gone a whole year at this point thinking she had almost lost Dad. It seemed to have a profound impact on her.

For several years, Mom was a bit forgetful but nothing more than you'd expect. When she would get upset about it, I'd laugh as menopause has robbed me of much of my memory so she didn't seem bad to me at all! The worst times would be when Daddy was planning to leave for his family reunion in July each year. Her perspective was that he was abandoning her...as her parents had when she was young. Her childhood was filled with her father in the service travelling...her Mom accompanying him and her staying behind with an incredibly loving Grandmother. She never regrets being with her Grandmother but she deeply missed her parents. It was hard for her to make sense of being left repeatedly...like she was not really a part of their family. She grew up an only child so she didn't have a sibling to be with.

I don't remember a moment of thinking "OH NO what happened"...instead I remember times of thinking Mom was slipping away from us and then just as soon, she'd be fine again. The few times were sporadic and unpredictable. They'd leave as quickly as they'd come...they were far and few between. Then there came a time when they seemed to come to stay...the days of not knowing where she was or how she got here became the norm.

For along time, she knew who I was but did not know Daddy. My heart would ache to hear her question him about who he was. He found a way to tell her again and again of his love. "We've been together for a long time and until God calls me home, I'm not going anywhere." Their love seemed to be fresh and new to her...precious to watch them act like "kids" again...rediscovering each other. They both are clinging to each other for support. She often tells him how incredible he is...what a wonderful man he is...how she doesn't deserve him. Maybe that's a small consolation for not remembering all their years together.

Love endures forever

Today Mom came to ask me what to do when you find someone you really love. I told her you do whatever you can to stay with them. She asked if her staying would cause problems for him? She hasn't remembered for some time that Daddy is her husband of over 53 years(Daddy with his great command of numbers could tell you the exact years, months and days). For a long time, she has had a period of years missing...she has her childhood and some current memories but from the time of her marriage to current seems to have disappeared. It's odd the way the mind works.

Now she calls me the woman in the BIG house. She's heard I'm supposed to be the mother of all the children and thinks I'm probably her Mother also. She doesn't call any of us by name anymore.

Last week we went to a Doctor's appointment. I've not gone with them in over a year because Dad felt he could handle it. There were some issues with a test of Mom's and she was worried. I promised to go along. It was a disaster...come to find out, they've been seeing a P.A. without any Doctor oversight. Mom's on 5 different meds for blood pressure and two more for other things. Dad's on 4 meds. When I get home with the lists and start looking into them, I am stunned that several of them are not recommended for the elderly and several of Moms have the side effects that we are seeing...confusion, weight loss, depression, etc. Now we need to look for a new Doctor and see if we can adjust/eliminate some meds.

I feel like I've not taken "good care" of them...even though up to now, they have not asked for help. I wish I had checked their meds before. I continue to study and try to find a homeopathic remedy to help Mom. Over the years, I've been able to keep them very well physically with only homeopathy. This is a much bigger challenge...I have had some success with a few remedies over the years of helping her mind get centered again but not much success lately. I have such good success with other cases that I am working on but can't seem to get a focus for Mom's case. Tonight I am determining to call a friend who may be able to help me get a clearer picture.