Friday, March 13, 2015

Retail therapy and the technicolor dream coat

Kay's tecnicolor dream coat
I highly recommend a little retail therapy for you caregivers out there.  I went shopping with my daughter today for something to wear to my high school reunion next month.  It had been months since I had been in anything other than a grocery or drugstore and oh my, was it ever fun to just get out without He-Who and look at the latest and greatest.  And what fun it was to have my daughter with me as she can quickly spot things that look like me.  We came away with a jacket for her, two blouses and a jacket for me.  The jacket is just awesome!  Woohoo...a good for the soul adventure!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

You gotta keep your sense of humor

This morning I took He-Who to the dermatologist for his regular check-up.  He has had a series through the years of pre-cancers that the doc continues to zap...all those years around that swimming pool, years of Saturdays spent cleaning it and seldom using sun screen.  But his latest complaint is about a corn on his foot that needs the attention of a podiatrist (appointment to be scheduled).  So when the beautiful dermatologist comes in, he immediately shows her his foot.  She looks at it and recommends that he see a podiatrist.
She finds a cyst on his chest that she is sure is harmless but will remove it.  And she did and he has several stitches in his chest for which we return in a couple of weeks.  So then he gets dressed and as we walked to the front desk to get the appointment, he says, "Oh my foot feels so much better."  All the way home he tells me how much better his foot feels, that the pressure is off and it doesn't hurt.  He is convinced the doc treated his foot.  Wouldn't it be great if that is the way medicine worked?  Who knows...maybe it did but I'm still chuckling.

And life around here does have some pretty hysterical moments, sad but funny.  There is a very sweet elderly lady here who has found her a boyfriend here though she is quick to tell me he isn't her lover.  But last night I dropped by the Bistro upstairs to get some milk and the sweet one was talking to the cute young thing at the register who looked as though she was having a hard time keeping a straight face.  She turned to me big brown eyes sparkling and with a sweet smile asked, "Do you have some clothes?  I'm having a baby and my tummy will grow and I need some clothes."  I told her "I am so sorry but I don't have any maternity clothes."   Disappointed she took her banana and walked to her boyfriend waiting for her at the door.  The story she had just told the waitress was that she had been at the bus stop and asked a large man standing there if he knew how babies were made and he had said yes, that he would show her and he did.  So now she is pregnant.   I doubt it will be a virgin birth but it will be a miracle indeed.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dream messages

After watching Spinning Gold the other night, the documentary interview with James Hollis and Pittman McGehee about Carl Jung's work, I have been inspired to revisit some of the thoughts and ideas from the years I studied Jung, especially his book, Memories, Dreams and Reflections.  I do believe in recording and taking a close look at my dreams for some new insights.

Last night I had a doozy.  I dreamed I was invited to He-Who's office at NASA by some of his co-workers for a celebration of his work and the presentation of an award.  I got all dressed up and wandered through the halls of a building until I found the large room where the award was to be presented.  I greeted several of his co-workers  but then they started asking me if I knew where He-Who was, that they were ready to give the award and the crowd was waiting.  I stared at the empty brown office chair that was his and was baffled.  I had no idea where he was and others had been looking and calling around to find him.  I stood there totally perplexed and then woke up.

So much for any denial I might have about him being totally present...sometimes he just isn't there.  Physically present but his brilliant mind just isn't at home.  It tells me that when he is present, that I do hear and understand his desire to continue to contribute to the space program.  Now to just figure out a channel to make that happen.  The Geek Squad comes Tuesday to hopefully get him back up and running on his computer and we will try to set up some Skype conversations for him.  Hopefully there will be some guys still at NASA that are willing to listen patiently.  And so it goes....

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ugly thoughts

It is a good thing that this caregiver is going out to a program on poetry with a girl friend as the whole episode about The Amazing Place has pissed me off.  And I don't get pissed very often but I'm having some very tacky thoughts.  Think about it, folks.  These Alz patients get waited on hand and foot.  They don't worry about what is for dinner, do I have a clean shirt, preparing the income tax, getting the car serviced, refilling and dispensing medication, doing the laundry, deciding what to wear, which grandchild has a birthday coming up, what to get anyone for Christmas, birthdays, paying bills, banking, are those dishes in the dishwasher clean or dirty, calling repairmen.  They eat, sleep and pretty much do whatever they want.  The incredibly sad thing is that they don't even know they are missing out on all those things.  I would so love to know He-Who's thoughts at times...what would his life be like if there was no one there to do for him?  Would he notice an empty refrigerator?  Would he think to eat?  Would he wander off looking for something?
Do they worry about anything besides how to get Channel 80 on the TV?
Okay, I've ranted...thank you.  I'm done for now.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Aiiiyayaiiii and The Amazing Place

Geezus!  I toured this place today.  Everyone there looked so peaceful and happy.  Beautiful, clean building with lots of activities going on...discussions, Bible study, pool, bridge, dominoes, gardening, lounging in the sun in the garden, program on TV.  My meeting with the marketing person went well and she assured me that there were plenty of people enrolled that could carry on serious conversations and that there were some graduates of Rice University (where He-Who got his doctorate).  I left so encouraged and even though it is pricey (recent hike up to $725 a month for two days a week from 9 to 6 including lunch, activities and a regular health check of vitals) I think we can afford it.  The staff seems trained and adequate for the limit of 60 participants.  It is only about 8 minutes from our home!!!

I think it fits the criteria for getting He-Who into some activities that will challenge him so I made an appointment for him to be assessed to see if he will be accepted.
So I came home all excited and showed him the beautiful brochure and tell him about it and how great I think it would be for him to be with other Rice grads, into some challenging activities to keep his mind active, etc.  He immediately lashes out at me because I didn't turn the speaker phone on on my cell phone soon enough when our son called earlier with news about his mother-in-law who is critically ill.  He-Who goes on and on about not getting the family news and how he doesn't want to go to the Amazing Place, he wants to go to events at NASA.  I have told him over and over again that I would take him to NASA but he has to let me know when he wants to go.  I asked why he wanted to go and he said he wanted to go see somebody.  I asked who and he couldn't remember who and so it goes.  These conversations drive me batty so I just have to redirect us on to something different like walking to the mailbox or going to the March birthday party here.  I will let it alone for a day or two and bring it up again.  I would at least like to get him to go look at it and go through the assessment.  Geez, maybe I will sign me up and let him sit at home in front of the TV watching MSNBC all day.  Actually they are very interested in the possibility of my leading an art therapy group so I may just do that and let him sit in that recliner and rot!.(Whoops, that wasn't nice, was it!)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

New docs, new questions

He-Who still enjoys a party, thank goodness.  This was the 70s party here at Brookdale.  It is hard to get him to get food and eat at these functions even if I offer to get it for him.  I don't know if he finds the buffet table intimidating or what.  I have noticed that he eats more when we are at a table by ourselves...he finds conversation distracting and it is likely that he is focusing on tracking and trying to keep track of what people are saying.  Next year I will be sure that he also has a tie-dye shirt and a scarf for his head.  And my line dancing class paid off...great fun hopping around to "Elvira".

Our appointment with the new geriatric team at Baylor went well.  We were interviewed individually and then together.  We have increased his Exelon medication to every day and it is my challenge to remember to change the patch.  Both the doc and I are concerned that he spends too much time in front of the TV and cutting up newspapers and that he needs to be challenged more.  He has to be bored.  There doesn't seem to be anything here at Brookdale that is a fit for him so I am going to tour The Amazing Place, a day care for those with dementia, tomorrow.  It has good reviews and is nearby but kinda expensive...$700 a month for two days a week but an all day program including lunch.  I would have two whole days to myself but it is only open Monday through Friday and much of what I want to do is on weekends...poetry gatherings, art openings...but I'm willing to give it a try if he is.  I will check it out first and then if I think it might work for him, take him for a tour later.
Yesterday He-Who slept 14 hours straight...that can't be good for him so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that The Amazing Place will be amazing.

The doc questioned our decision to come to this Brookdale facility which has no continuing care and of course, I immediately began to question it, too.  Am I in denial about the progression of his illness?  Is he farther along that I realize?  Should we have looked at more facilities?  Should we have gone to San Antonio near our son?  I am narrowing my criteria now for the next move and I feel sure there will be one:  continuing care, a washer and dryer in the apartment, a door that opens to the outdoors, and adequate staff on the weekends.  Surprisingly the square footage is not an issue for me...letting go of all the stuff and the big house really doesn't matter.  I miss the yard and our friends and church...the stuff was just that: stuff.

Friday he had a wonderful visit from a NASA buddy...the first of any of his friends to come and visit..and it did him a world of good.  The friend brought a DVD of an interview of He-Who about his role in getting the astronauts back to earth on Apollo 13 which was loaded into my computer so we can watch it anytime.  He-Who loved the visit and having someone to talk "space" with him.  He is bound to be bored around here and it is great to see him pull up that long term memory  and talk about his work in the space program.  Another friend in California with whom he had collaborated with as an editor for several books on the future of space wrote the most beautiful dedication to He-Who in his new soon-to-be published book.

I've had walking pneumonia but am much better after two weeks of antibiotics.  I must take care of myself I know and I think I need to quit feeling guilty when I leave He-Who behind and go out even if it is to just run errands.  Sunday afternoon I played Mexican Train dominoes and had so much fun I will go again.
It is in the 70s today but another freeze is scheduled in a couple of days.  I am so glad we live in Houston and not Boston.  I can't even imagine what that life is like with all that snow.