Thursday, December 22, 2016

This getting old is really hard work sometimes...

Well, Christmas has really sneaked up on us this year.  I have been wrestling with hip pain and then a week ago was hospitalized with tachycardia...a recurring problem that started with Lyme Disease years ago.  After 4 days in the hospital it seems that when I get chest congestion, it triggers the tachycardia.  Much better now but it sent He-Who into total confusion.  I arranged for some care from Brookdale from the ER but it was upsetting to him and he was still talking about it when I got home from the hospital.  I think we are over the upset now but facing another challenge.  The cardiologist has okayed my hip replacement surgery on Jan. 12.  At least I have time to set up care for He-Who.  I am relieved to finally get this hip pain resolved after months of pain, cortisone shots and physical therapy.  I kept telling the previous docs that it was more a hip problem than a back problem and at last I got to a hip specialist.  Whew!  Family is going to step in to care for us, bless their hearts, and it will put my mind at ease and able to focus on my healing to know that He-Who is being looked after by family.
Our move to San Antonio is on hold for now until I get back on my feet.  Latest report on construction completion is now the end of February.  Perfect!  God does have a way of looking after us.  I will be back on my feet and ready for the challenge.
All our Christmas shopping has been done on the Internet and today the last of the orders arrived.!  Whew again!  I love wrapping gifts and am getting excited about being with family and celebrating the birth of Jesus and new beginnings.  I even made a cake this week for the therapy staff.  Oh my, my baking skills have slipped.  I thought the batter looked very thick and after sticking it in the oven, checked the recipe again.  I had left out the buttermilk so I quickly grabbed the pan, emptied it into a bowl, added the buttermilk and back in the oven it went.  Reminder to distractions, check and recheck!  We will join the Cox tribe for Christmas dinner...our tribe coming from San Antonio and Conroe joining He-Who's twin brother and his family...22 for dinner and way too much fun!  Can't wait!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my friends, family and readers.  Thank you for all your comments and support as we make our way on this long journey.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Oh my..I didn't see this coming

     Yesterday a dear friend of many years came to visit us.  She now lives in Tyler so we don't get to see each other as often as I would like.  She and her now deceased husband lived five doors down from us for nearly 18 years and she and I went to grad school together many years ago.  As neighbors and friends we got together as couple and visited back and forth and have known each others children and grandchildren.  Good, good friends!
     He-Who was doing his sweeping thing on the porch when she arrived.  I had told him to expect her and she greeted him warmly with a hug and they chatted for a few minutes.  She came into the apartment and we sat down to chat.  In a few minutes He-Who came in, said hello, put away his red broom and went into the bedroom and went to sleep.  She was gone when he woke up and I mentioned how great it was to have the visit.  He had no idea what I was talking about.  He didn't recognize her and just thought she was a friendly resident.  New marker:  some long-term memory is failing.  I was shocked!  Maybe I shouldn't be but I was.  She was almost family a long time and I just didn't see this coming.  She didn't realize he didn't know her until later when I told her.  Wow!  At least he is still the same ol' sweet friendly guy in so many ways.
     Oh and by the way,  the flatware I ordered on Black Wednesday over the Internet from Macy's is really ugly and now I have to recruit my daughter to help carry this heavy box sitting in our living room back to the store where hopefully I will find something better.  Oh well, win a few, lose a few and we can still manage with the old stuff.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Black Wednesday

No Black Friday for me but I did buy us a Christmas present on the Wednesday before.  When entertaining the last couple of weeks, I became aware that after 58 years of use the set of stainless steel flatware that was a wedding present is missing quite a few essentials...mostly spoons.  Now that the grandchildren are grown I don't have to worry that they are hauling them away to play in the dirt.  I figure 58 years is pretty good mileage and it wouldn't be extravagant to indulge in a whole new set of flatware at the pre-Black Friday big discount...Merry Christmas to us!  Now to make sure that He-Who doesn't throw a piece away.

Yesterday He-Who proudly announced he was headed for the dumpster again holding up 4 plastic wrappers with old newspapers in them.  "Great!" I said and off he went.  He returned 30 minutes later with the empty wrappers.  "So what did you do with the contents?" I asked.  "Oh, I put them in the dumpster."
"So why did you bring back the plastic wrappers?"  "Because I will need them."  Well, guess there's no point continuing this conversation as he added his handful of plastic to the pile in the corner of the living room.  It wouldn't do any good to explain that our newspapers arrive in a plastic wrapper every day giving us an endless supply.  I am concerned that he will be reprimanded for not having the newspaper bagged when thrown in the dumpster but will cross that bridge if it happens.  Harmless enough and he's a happy camper accomplishing his mission.
He's not reading the three papers we take as much anymore but spends lots of time rolling sections back up so they will go back into the wrappers they come in.  Seems like an expensive exercise so I may eliminate one of the papers but which one?  The NY Times or the Wall Street Journal?  I don't think he would miss one but who knows???

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Rhonda Rollator

Meet Rhonda the Rollator whom I thought was only going to make a short visit but she is still here and working hard some days.  I'm still having a hard time accepting the fact that I need to use one of these suckers but I am better.  I can walk around the apartment all by myself.  Woohoo!Now the challenge is to get my energy back.  Whew!  I haven't driven our car but twice in the last two months and just across the street to pick up prescriptions.  Geezus!!!

New insights into He-Who-Sleeps-Alot....he wants so much to be helpful but when it came to placing Rhonda in the back of the car, he just couldn't figure out the orientation needed.  Spacial perception is all mixed up which makes me wonder what else must be confusing for him.  I know when walking at night, anything painted dark on the cement appears to be a hole to him and to be avoided.  But what else I wonder and how do I anticipate the problem?

Now that the election is over our challenge is how to occupy He-Who.  Again I am so grateful that we live in this community as there is support available.  Home Health comes 3 or 4 days a week to work with He-Who on memory and physical therapy.  He gets on a stationery bike and does balance and stretching exercises and enjoys it all.  He's not crazy about the memory exercises as it really pushes him but the therapist is delightful so he goes along.  I just wish we had started this program a whole lot sooner but there have been some changes in support therapies here at Brookdale which make it now possible.

Last week I was vegging out on a heating pad while He-Who announced he was going for a walk.  "Wonderful" I said.  About 40 minutes later he marches in grinning like a Cheshire Cat and says, "Look what I found!" and holds up a black plastic bag.  "I found it just sitting there full of stuff."  OMG I'm thinking.  "Where?"  "Over there by that big thing".  ????  With more questions I figured out he had been to the dumpster.  OMG, now he is dumpster diving.  "So what did you do with what was in it?"  "Oh, I put it in the thing."  Never a dull moment.  I am surprised he found his way to the dumpster but we had made a trip the week before.  We don't get garbage pickup on the weekend and as we were having company, we made the trip.  I can see some interesting items appearing on the horizon.

I cancelled our Thanksgiving trip to San Antonio.  I just don't want to miss my PT sessions and risk any set backs to my progress by driving there.  I am bummed out about missing a Watercrest event and being with our son and his in-laws but we will have a lovely dinner with our daughters here.
So much to be thankful for this year.  Our move to San Antonio has been moved out the end of January before our apartment will be ready. Hey, what a blessing is that!  I have more time for recovery with the same docs and we don't have to go nuts during the holidays.  We have a roof over our heads, food to eat, great family and many blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A sexy pirate and a fat Wonder Woman

Looking at this, one might wonder which one of us is demented or maybe both!  Would you believe we won first prize for best costumes!  Ya gotta wonder what the competition was!  But Halloween was fun and He-Who-Sleeps-Alot had a great time and we were among the last to leave when the music stopped.
     Our lives continue to be interesting and definitely requires a sense of humor.  I am still in great pain in my knee and hip, on a walker, but hopeful the next trip to the doc will make it all better.  In the meantime He-Who is trying hard to help out which can get very interesting and at times hilarious.  I hired a helper to do the laundry and was busy when she brought the laundry cart back.  Later I looked in the cart to begin to put things away and it was almost empty with just some folded sheets in the bottom.  What?  I voiced my concern and He-Who cheerfully said "Oh, I put the stuff away except for that."  I complimented him on his industry.  Later I found pillowcases in his underwear drawer, my underwear in his sock drawer and his underwear and socks on the floor of his closet.  :)  Bless his heart!!!
     Good news!  I got him signed up for home health physical and memory therapy.  The intake nurse came this week and spent two hours giving the most thorough interview we have had in years!  And He-Who really liked her!  So therapy begins this coming week.  Yay!
     Our daughter has been a saint to drive in and take us to doctors and get us groceries and my sister-in-law is just an angel covering my early morning doc appointments and including us in other events.  He-Who's twin brother has been picking him up and taking him to a class on politics by Richard Murray at the Women's Institute every Tuesday evening.  He-Who so enjoys this and is excited to go.  Of course, he doesn't remember any of the lecture or dialogue but he has a great time and always comes home talking about how great it was.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

And I just thought it was slow going....

Oh my, suddenly I find myself among the disabled, hopefully temporarily but not a good place for a caregiver to be.  Some how in our adventures in San Antonio my back decided to give me fits, mostly in hip and leg.  Not that we didn't have a great time in SA but driving home was difficult.  I could hardly drag myself out from behind the wheel.  So life has been interesting since then...wrestling with the Baylor system of doctors, an MRI which shows ruptured discs in lumbar region and a slight fracture.  So now we have welcomed Folly the Rolly (Rollator to the uninitiated) to our family and I have joined the line up of others on walkers around here which is incredibly humiliating for someone who has been as active as I am.  Geezus!  Of course the next project is to paint Folly...right now she is just adorned with ribbons.

So you can imagine how He-Who-Sleeps-Alot is dealing with this...very confusing at times and frustrating.  I spend a lot of time on ice and heat and not doing much else.  He has such a terrible time with any kind of directions.  I asked him to get an ice pack out of the bottom shelf  of the door of the freezer.  He found the freezer but couldn't grasp the whole idea of the door.  I'm in agony from the pain and he is desperate to help, God love 'im.  But finally we worked it out.

But here is the good news.  I found a series on doctor interviews on a website called Awakening Alzheimer's, excellent and interesting and some supplements were suggested. The website isn't selling them but I ordered them from Vitacost and began giving them to He-Who.  By damn, I think I see a difference!  I think the combination of my needs now and the supplements have lit some kind of fire in him.  He actually volunteered to take a walk by himself the other day and he is trying so hard to help me around the apartment.

And I swear but the Goddess does step in to look after us.  I was so concerned about the potential move the end of November not knowing exactly how this back thing is going to turn out.  I don't want to have to change doctors mid-stream or start all over again with a new team in San Antonio.  Well, folks, Watercrest at the Dominion now says our apartment won't be ready until the first of the year, January!  That certainly takes the pressure off trying to accomplish that event during the holidays.  The whole family is going "whew"!  I can't get upset...we have a roof over our heads and food to eat...lots better off than much of the world, back pain or no back pain.
Daughter has been great driving in to take me to the doctor and get groceries, meds, etc.  I have hired someone to come in and do the laundry once a week.
I have a doc appointment Monday to prepare to get shots in my back...send good thoughts that they work.  I missed Book Club but am reading the book, House Rules by Jodi Picoult, excellent. Life is good and I am grateful for all the good in the world.  Now to just get Hillary elected...Dump the Trump, he is a disaster.

Just know that when the caregiver goes down, everything gets even slower, much slower.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

It's slow going

This has been the scene in the living room for almost a week now.  In preparation for our move to San Antonio I have asked He-Who-Sleeps-Alot to go through stacks of papers that we moved here two years ago and have not been touched since placed on a book shelf.  It is very slow going and I'm in a quandry.  He is going through and reading them all and enjoying the memories or is he?  I can't tell.  I can only tell that so far very little is being thrown away.  Many of these pages are duplicates.  Do I just go in and pitch them while he is sleeping?  In prep for the move here my son helped quite a bit and found our marriage certificate in one of the piles.????  What was that about?

The community in San Antonio or at least our part of it now will not be ready until the end of November.  I refuse to get worried about it as there is nothing I can do but wait.  We are going back on September 27 for another gathering of the future residents.  I so want us to get connected with some folk before we move in and we enjoyed the last gathering.  The group looks much more active than what we have experienced here.  At each visit I hope to get a better picture of what life will be like and what activities will be available.

I am so going to miss my poetry community here.  Yesterday the Gulf Coast Poets hosted Mutabilis Press and their most recent anthology, Untamed City, for a reading.  I was one of 12 reading and it was such fun being back with my tribe.  I had a reconnect with a dear fellow poet who lost her husband a year ago to dementia.  Once a caregiver I think it creates a special bond with others who have had or are having similar experiences.  Geez, it's everywhere!  Hardly a family that hasn't been touched in some way by dementia of some form, Alzheimer's or Lewy Body.

We have been meeting He-Who's twin brother and wife for fish tacos every Sunday night for several weeks now and He-Who so enjoys getting out.  Beginning this week his brother will take him again to a class at the Women's Institute on the current political scene, a continuation of the class in the spring and summer.  He-Who really enjoys going even if he can't remember what was discussed.  I am so grateful for this.
I constantly try to remind myself to be grateful for our moments of clarity and for all the support.  We celebrated 58 years of marriage last Monday...many moments to treasure.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

It's gotta be cooler in Montana....

My gypsy soul is having a melt down and I'm trying to revive it.  And why have my recent blogs been kinda sad.  Well, damn it!  This disease is sad, no cure, no remission, just progression and isolation.
     My dear Artist Way sisters are tempting me with a trip to Montana to visit an AW sister.  The thought of mountains and cool air are so tempting as it has been in the 100s here with high humidity.  I mentioned the idea of my going to Bozeman for a few days to He-Who-Sleeps-Alot and he had a fit.  He wants to go somewhere and the idea of my going on "another" all girl trip makes him mad.  And sadder yet I have come to the realization that it is more than I can manage to go through airports with him without some help.  I have a hard enough time getting me through with knee replacements and our last experiences together have been frustrating.  On one trip he carried someone else's bag off the plane...thank God they caught up with us.  On another he couldn't figure out what to do at security and then couldn't find his bag on the belt.  I can't imagine trying to change planes now with him.  All of it very confusing for him.
     I'm not sure I can drive long distances anymore.  San Antonio is just far enough but could I make it to NM?  That's a possibility.  I know He-Who gets so bored and what will he do when the campaign is over?  Is there something called the summer doldrums?  I think so.
    I worry that he doesn't get any exercise.  Yesterday in the pool I tried to get him to just walk back and forth with me but he mostly just sits or stands around picking leaves out of the pool.  I'm sure that is comforting behavior for him as that is what he used to do with our pool in Nassau Bay but I just wish I could get him moving along.
     And I wish a fairy godmother would come along and whisk us both back to San Miguel.  Wheeeee!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

No boost from Boost

Well, the Boost didn't boost this morning.  Every day for the past three years I have put a chocolate bottle of Boost on the breakfast table for He-Who-Sleeps-Alot.  I add it to the other breakfast stuff as I feel he needs the "boost".  He takes his morning pills with it along with his Axona drink.
          This morning I am sitting in the living room and he comes in with the empty Axona glass in one hand and the full Boost bottle in the other.  "What is this?" he asks holding up the Boost.  I told him what it was and that he should drink it.  He did and I'm thinking, "Oh boy, this is going to be a fun day."
      Right now we are waiting for Dr. Ho (yeah, that's really his name), the podiatrist to arrive.  One of the nice services offered here is having Dr. Ho come to our apartment when needed.  We sign up ahead of time for a slot on a Wednesday once a month but we are never sure what time he will show up.  Looks like he is running late again.  Life on hold with the elderly...I can't leave as He-Who won't remember he is coming and won't know how to pay him.
      A good time to blog, huh!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Caregiver's Lament

Caregiver’s Lament

The bracelet labels me “Caregiver,”
gives me an ID number
labels me as one who looks after someone with memory loss.
But there are some days now
when I don’t want to “care,”
don’t want to answer the same question for the tenth time,
days when I try to find the courage
to say no to another trip to Starbuck’s,
days when I don’t want to explain which is the phone,
which is the TV remote,
days when I tired of coaxing him to eat,
to take his pills, to brush his teeth,
days when I have ask him not to wear his pajama top to church
even though he calls it a shirt,
days when I’m tired of being angry and frustrated
when I am lonely and miss the brilliant, funny man I knew.
There are days when I want to take off that cloak, that bracelet
and travel to an exotic landscape if only in my mind,
when I want someone to ask me if I would like to go for ice cream
or would I like to watch a movie?
when I wish someone else would take out the trash,
days when it would just be nice to be remembered
days when I wish someone would take care of me.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A neighbor moved today

A going away party for my lovely neighbor, Elizabeth Lanham, in the blue print blouse.  She is 90+, sharp as a tack and going back to Gatesville to live with her son.  I will miss her and the irony of living next to my maiden name but there will be an enclave of Lanhams up near Dallas where quite few of my Lanham relatives live already.  He-Who, in the background, had a fair time at the party but left early.  I think the estrogen level in the room must have been overwhelming, plus he has difficulty hearing and understanding in a room where there is a lot of high decimal chatter.  Geez, so do I sometimes!
I'm going through file after file and throwing away and shredding.  Fortunately our office will shred for free.  How does all this paper accumulate!!
Our TV is not working correctly and after an hour with Xfinity/Comcasst they finally decided to send a technician but not til Monday.  Bah humbug!
Better go check the fridge...I asked He-Who to put away the soup container and sometimes stuff ends up in the freezer.  He has the hardest time with any kind of directions in spite of my efforts to make them simple.
He was a happy camper yesterday.  We found him two new Hawaiian shirts at Walmart and he loves them.  I'm for anything that is wash and wear!  :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


We don't often get to church and I so miss our wonderful congregation at the Bay Area Unitarian/Universalist in Clear Lake but I'm finding there are many other opportunities to practice our faith.  One has come up recently with my neighbor.  I will call her Beverly, at least 10 years younger than me and declining rapidly with dementia.  Her sister, Alice, is here for the second time in the last 9 months to look after her. Beverly has been very reclusive since we met her two years ago, seldom eating with others in the dining room and never attending any activities.   The few times I have seen her she wore a "deer-in-the headlights" look.  Alice lives in North Carolina, a retired nurse with an adult son who is autistic.  She has been here now for several weeks getting her sister through a gauntlet of tests.  Alice wants to move Beverly to NC and has located a pleasant assisted living facility not far from Alice's home but Beverly is resistant, of course.  At this point Alice is pulling her hair out trying to deal with it all and has been shut in her sister's apartment helping her dress, etc.
     I ran into Alice taking a walk for a break and invited her to call or come over when she needed a glass of wine or a hug.  And she called!  I had just made a batch of brownies and invited them both over for wine and brownies.  Beverly doesn't drink alcohol any more which is a good thing but was happy with a cold Fresca.  And Alice talked and talked and He-Who so enjoyed the visit.  I did what I could to support Alice and the move going through all the reasons why we are moving to San Antonio.  Beverly sat listening but said little.  Alice calls her by the nickname of "Bev" and when I hugged her goodby, I asked if I, too, could call her Bev.  She smiled and said, "Of course, you are family now."  Mission accomplished!!!
      On reflection I thought we had just had communion shared with love and compassion.  And this is what it is all about.  And it was so good for He-Who to feel that he was helping and contributing.  And he showed them the new book with the dedication to him.
     Later I ran into Alice again and she thanked us once more and said that was the only social event she has had here.  Damn, this disease can be and is so isolating for the victim and the caregiver.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Reeling and sad...what has happened to America?

      OMG, what a horror!  This terrible mass shooting has left me shaken to the core!  And certainly has a way of putting my life in perspective!  I can't imagine what it must be like to be the mom waiting outside the Orlando hospital for word on her son!  My heart bleeds for her and all the other families sent reeling by this latest senseless murder of dozens.  Why cannot we put an end to these massacres?  Why are assault rifles available to civilians or in this case, someone already on a list of suspicious ties to ISIS?  What happens to a young person to fill them with such hate?  And I can't imagine what other countries must be thinking as they observe our armed population and the arrogant, racist bully who has become one of our presidential nominees.
      My life as a caregiver seems simple in comparison and I can better appreciate the isolation and insulation we find here on this Island of the Blue Hairs.  Now my task is to prepare for the future move to another Island on the northwest side of San Antonio.  We signed a lease last week for a projected move-in the end of September or October.  How did we accumulate more stuff in the 2 short years we have lived here?
      He-Who-Sleeps-Alot had a great time last week in San Antonio at our granddaughter's high school graduation.  My daughter-in-law and a friend had a large party to celebrate and we both enjoyed meeting our granddaughter's friends and their parents and grandparents.  He-Who was quite sociable chatting with guests and I doubt anyone suspected he would not remember any of them the next day.  But he did remember he had a great time and I am so grateful for these moments of joy.  My DIL knocked herself out cooking for all of us and making sure we all got where we needed to be at the right times.  Love that woman!  I'm finding my son to be an amazing host as well and he is having such fun with his new outdoor kitchen complete with a TV...his outdoor man cave that produces delicious grilled shrimp.
      Darn my stupid back...went bizzerk the morning of graduation so I was kinda limping along but managed to make it through all 600+ grads and home again.  It isn't a new problem as I have ruptured discs in my lower back but it certainly was inconvenient and still bothers me.  My regular orthopedic doc has left the practice and I can't get into another until July 13.  I kept thinking I would wait until we moved but realize I better get it attended to ASAP.  I managed to drive home from San Antonio but have been babying it ever since with heat packs.  But again, looking at Orlando, I'm trying not to complain and He-Who is happy to do any lifting.
      He-Who had a wonderful surprise on returning home.  Four copies of the latest book, Space for the 21st Century, edited and published by his good friend, Langdon Morris, from the Aeronautical Technology Working Group that He-Who formed years ago.  It has a beautiful dedication to He-Who as a leader in aerospace...brought tears to my eyes and certainly gave him a boost.  It means so much to both of us to have his tangible legacies.
     So much to be grateful for.....we are blessed indeed.

Friday, May 27, 2016

My sweet, always gallant husband...

Alzheimer's may have taken his short term memory but he is still the gallant man who loves to help.  He is the one who charges ahead to open doors for those with walkers or wheel chairs or move a chair in the dining room to assist.
Once again more dining room humor:  A dear 95 yr old woman joined He-Who, another resident and me at a table for four.  She mouthed "I can't hear anything" and pointed to her ears.  Oh dear, the other three of us are thinking.  It seemed she couldn't talk above a whisper if she can't hear...strange.  The more she indicated that she couldn't hear, the more concerned the rest of us, especially He-Who.  She kept mouthing how quiet it was but she managed to order lunch and ate well.  I wrote on a napkin that perhaps she should contact her daughter and that we would help her do that.  "No, no," she mouthed.  "My daughter is coming.  I am fine."  She finished her lunch and left leaving the three of us debating what to do and with questions like "did she have a TIA (mini-stroke), should we go with her, should we contact the nursing staff?"  He-Who insisted we go down and report it so the nurse would go by and check on her.
That evening I went to play Mexican Train Dominoes with friends and mentioned the incident.  "Oh, she does that all the time.  She forgot her hearing aids again."  Whew!  Good grief!
End of story of life on the funny farm.

Monday, May 23, 2016

And in the Dining Room...

Geez, you just never know and it is bizarre how one makes the adjustment to life's fragility.  People appear and disappear around here so often.  Yesterday a woman at the table next to us became distressed with dizziness and shaking.  The EMTs were called and our chef stood by until they arrived, put the BP cuff on her and wheeled her out to wait for the ambulance.  She's okay, just dehydrated.  But on reflection the whole scene was pretty funny.  No one looked up and everyone just kept on eating and talking like nothing was going on around them.  We did as well...whether we are all just numbed by the frequency of these emergencies or not wanting to embarrass the woman by staring, who knows but with my weird sense of humor, I now find it funny.

The weekend menus around here are questionable and yet predictable.  Saturday, not being much of a beef eater, I took one look at the slab of roast beef and the weak group of previously frozen veggies and just couldn't eat it.  He-Who-Sleeps-Alot noted it and I just said I didn't care for it, no big deal.  So the next day on the way to the Dining Room, He-Who showed me a note pad and said he was going to write down all the things I don't like to eat.  "So what are you going to do with the list?" I asked.  "I'm just going to keep track." he answered.  "Okay, so are you going to write down all the things I like?"  "Nope, just the ones you don't like."  So off we go.  Our menus always offer a soup or salad as the first course.  Our darling waitress gave me the "don't go for the soup" sign so I declined.  He-who ordered the soup, pulled out his pad and wrote down "no soup".  I ate my lunch and later back in our apartment found the note folded up on the floor, never mentioned again.  ???? Ya just never know.

Playing catch up here, my get away to Colorado was wonderful!  My niece and her wife pampered us with delicious, incredible dinners, two trips to the wonderful Brown Shoe Store in Ft. Collins and a dinner theatre.  Granddaughter came and stayed with He-Who and they both had a great time.  She even got him out on the dance floor at the Happy Hour.  My fabulous sister-in-law suggested that we put me in a wheel chair at the airports and we whizzed through security at Hobby leaving and in Denver, more difficult on the way home at Hobby but it was made better by our nephew and his significant picking us up with bouquets and taking us to Mother's Day lunch.
Then last week we were off to San Antonio to be part of our youngest granddaughter's Senior Prom weekend which was such fun.  She looked beautiful, her date, a handsome accomplished saxophonist.  AND we visited the office of the under-construction Watercrest at the Dominion independent living facility just minutes from our son's home and put down a deposit on a corner 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment with a utility room with a washer and dryer and a wrap-around balcony with a view. And continuing care and a memory unit. Occupancy the end of September or October which is great!  I am terrified in a way about leaving family and friends in Houston after all these years but I think this is a wise go before we have a crisis and have to take what is available.  Change is coming, better get used to it.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Life at a snail's pace....

Oh dear....wrestling with high blood pressure and swollen ankles...enough distress to cancel a planned trip to San Antonio to look at a new retirement community there.  It won't be ready until August but I think it is going to be perfect!  Great floor plans and a WASHER and DRYER in a little utility room...Hallelujah, would that ever be nice!  Doc was encouraging me to go on but I'm glad I didn't!  The additional BP med knocked me for a loop!  I was in no shape to drive for sure.  Heart rate crazy and all I wanted to do was sleep.  No energy and I have to be well soon. Off the new med for now and much improved with very skinny ankles and 5# lighter. You think stress might be doing a number here?  DUH!

 I have a ticket to fly to Denver to visit my niece on next Wednesday with my SIL (our annual Mother's Day treat) so home we stayed this weekend.  I was going to leave hubby with our son's family in San Antonio while I was gone but our doc advised against it as it would be too much for hubby and disorienting.  But plans are in place for hubby to stay here with a combination of caregivers and family.  Our granddaughter is going to spend two nights and daughter will come in one day. I've labeled the remote  for the TV as it is confusing for He=Who and have glued a note with his favorite stations on it on the table under the TV.  Instructions to caregivers say leave the TV on MSNBC when they leave.  He doesn't wander (thank goodness) so he will be fine..Whew!  By damn I am going to be on that plane!!!

Last week He-Who finished his shower and came into the living room all dressed and ready to go to lunch.  The weather has been so warm here so he came in wearing the bottoms to his short pajamas.  Cute, huh, but he was happy to change.  A few days ago he came into the living room after eating his breakfast and greeted me with a warm Happy Birthday birthday was weeks ago but hey, I thanked him and have learned to treasure these moments of sweetness.  He was quite proud of himself for remembering that I had a birthday and I am, too.

Monday, April 4, 2016

You gotta have a sense of humor...

The weekend was full of birthday celebration.  Our son came from San Antonio to help me celebrate my hard-to-believe 79th birthday.  We concluded with breakfast out at the Buffalo Grill...always a treat.  He drove us back to Brookdale and was dropping us off in the front on his way out of town.  As I opened my car door, a female resident ran up to the car holding a card and a bouquet of beautiful flowers  shouting "Happy Birthday!".  I was totally puzzled as I hardly know the woman and how did she know it was my birthday???  She took a good look at me and my puzzled "Thank you" and stepped back. "Oh, wrong person.  I thought you were my daughter Laura."  Such is life on the Isle of the Blue Hairs.

Friday, April 1, 2016


Yes, they are both black and there is not much I can do about that!  I've just spent a frustrating hour teaching He-Who_Sleeps-Alot how to use the land line telephone and the TV remote.  He wrote everything down and has now forgotten where he put his notes.  His anxiety is mounting over my departing for 4 days in a couple of weeks.  Lesson for me:  don't tell him until a couple of days before.  I made the mistake of taking him with me to arrange for caregivers to come while I was gone.  My thinking was that if he met with them, he would be more comfortable with the idea.  Wrong!  He can't remember the visit but does remember I am leaving but not when.  Is this a sign we are ready for memory care?  I have mounted in big font important phone numbers right by the phone.  He lost his cell phone weeks ago, no idea where it went...I've searched everywhere.  I cancelled his line as it had not been used in 3 months...he never remembered to take it with him and when he did, he couldn't figure out how to answer it.  The good news it has saved us $100 a month on our bill.

I am still wrestling with being depressed and will talk to the doc about it.  We went to Happy Hour yesterday because He-Who enjoys the music.  I don't even want to go anymore.  The music is so damned loud you can't carry on a conversation I guess because half the people there can't hear well anyway.  Nobody says "Hey, come sit with us."  I'm realizing how isolating this damn disease can be.  The women I enjoy are all widows and get together in clutches and the couples get together but because He-Who doesn't interact we are seldom included unless I push for it.  Am I whining???  Probably but I don't care.

I look at some of these residents and have to wonder why and how do they keep going?  Would I want to keep on keeping on when I can no longer care for myself or contribute in any way other than just maintaining myself?  I'm reading Diane Rehm's new book, On My Own, and it brings up so many questions about life and extending it at what cost to the person and the family.

 Right now physically He-Who is in good shape and most would probably not know anything was amiss until he misses a cue.  What do I mean by that?  Alz people don't pick up on what would be obvious to most of us.  For instance:  he orders shrimp salad for lunch everyday and dips his shrimp in the Ranch dressing rather than the cocktail sauce.  He eats dessert first...all this no big deal.  At a Chinese restaurant large plates are placed in front of us to place servings from the platter of food ordered.  He ignores the plate and eats from the platter.  All of this is no big deal and I ignore it though aware that others dining with us note it.  The point is that it is just some of the little cues that are missed that indicate we have a problem here.  Thank God it isn't a huge one and I remain so grateful for that.

And by God, I am looking to find that joyous person I once was.  Good thing I am going to visit a friend in Tyler for a few days.  Whew!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Gift of Alzheimer's

     Many years ago I read and reread Ram Das's book, Be Here Now, about living in the present, that is really all we have.  Well, such is the gift of Alzheimer's and sometimes I'm jealous.  All there is is what is right in front of future, no past.  This doesn't make it always easy for the caregiver, the one in charge of keeping life together.
     Today was a great illustration.  He-Who and I had an 11:00 am appointment with our dentist for tomorrow.  We have a long-time relationship with our dentist so continue to drive an hour, sometimes more depending on traffic, to his office near our previous home.  About 9:10 this morning the dentist office called and asked if we could come in today at 11:00 as the weather prediction for tomorrow is for severe storms and flooding.  I agreed whole heartedly as I was already concerned about traveling in such conditions.
      But He-Who was still asleep meaning I had to get everything going in high gear.  High gear is almost impossible with an Alz patient but I got him up, explained the circumstances and laid out his clothes while urging him to get into the shower ASAP.  Gratefully he complied while I raced to get showered and dressed as well.  I ran back in the bedroom to check and he was progressing.  Then I got out his medication and a breakfast drink.  He came out and was puzzled about what we were doing.  I explained again about the call from the dentist and wasn't it great that they were squeezing us in today to avoid the drive in the weather tomorrow.  By now it is 9:45 and he's checking his hearing is dead, of course, and needs a new battery.  He goes through batteries quickly because he forgets to open them when he takes them off.  So okay I change the battery, he grabs a newspaper to read and we are finally out the door and on the freeway.  Again he asks where we are going.  Again I explain.  He is perfectly relaxed and I am white-knuckled on the steering wheel negotiating the traffic.  Note to self: BE HERE NOW!
     The dentist discovered an abcessed tooth in He-Who, consulted me in the other room about it being removed and I agreed.  In a few minutes He-Who comes into see me wondering what I thought about it.  I assured him it was the correct thing to do because of the infection amazed that he was present enough to be concerned about whether to go ahead.  Nice gift here.
     There is a lesson in all of this and a gift.  I'm the one who gets her panties all in a wad when confronted with an urgent change of plans.  I'm the one who was worried about being late for the appointment when looking at bumper-to-bumper traffic.  He-Who was fine and just along for the ride.  I need to breathe deep and let be what will be and at the same time remind him to brush his teeth.  I, too, am just along for the ride.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Always a challenge....

I can laugh about it now but it wasn't funny then.  A couple of days ago He-Who had an appointment at 10:00 am at the Cosco Hearing Aid Center to get his new hearing aids checked.  I had posted the trip on the white board and that departure was at 9:30.  I got him up, got his clothes out and he showered and got ready, breakfast and meds complete.  We arrived at Cosco a few minutes early and sat in the car listening to NPR until the doors opened at 10.  As we were walking through the store toward the hearing center, I said something to him and he didn't hear me.  I looked at him and he didn't have his hearing aids on.  Well, damn.  I asked the tech if he had time to see us if we went home to get them.  He said he thought so and off we went racing back to the apartment.  I waited in the car and he managed to get back with his hearing aids.  Of course, one of them needed a new battery and I got that fixed and off we went again.  Of course by now the parking lot was full and we finally found a place and raced (well, that's Alz person doesn't race, more like a saunter but I guess that's safer) into the hearing center.  In we went and all went well.  The tech escalated the volume a little and He-Who left a happy camper.  I was a relieved but sweaty mess.  Good thing I took my BP med that morning.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Wally World...always an adventure

     A new Walmart opened recently near us and He-Who declares it his favorite store and always is eager to go.  So off we went.  He remembers this is where he bought his red broom and pauses as we pass the mops and brooms.  I remind him he already has a nice one.  I pushed the basket through the aisles of the grocery department with a quick side trip to baking for a loaf pan.  How did I not move even one here?  Somewhere along the way He-Who says he wants some soap.  I hate to deny him the pleasure of a purchase choice but had to ask what kind.  He wanted bath soap.  I had to say, "You know the drawer in your bathroom has eight bars in it.  Do you think you need more?"  "No, I guess not," he said disappointingly.  But he did get to pick out the cookies and seemed quite pleased.
     Finally we are at the checkout counter.  He helped load the items on the belt and went to the other side of the now empty basket.  The cashier is very nice and I watch her ring the items up and put them in bags on the carousel.  Then I look over at He-Who and he is emptying the bags one item at a time into the empty basket.  I managed to kindly suggest that he put them back in the bags so that we could get them into the car and apartment with ease.  By now there is a line behind us.  The dear cashier was so sweet and jumped around to load everything back in the bags and into the basket.  I've never had that kind of service from a Walmart employee and thanked her profusely and out we went.  Whew!  Never a dull moment.
     At home I showed him the drawer of soap and he was delighted.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Before I Forget...Such a fine story of a couple dealing with Alzheimer's

There are some 5.2 million Americans with Alzheimer's.  500,000 die every year from this disease.  It is considered by one recent study to be the third leading cause of death in this country.  One in nine Americans over 65 has it: 33% over 85.  200,000 have early on-set...those under 65. Two-thirds of the 5.2 million are women.  African-Americans are twice as likely to get it.  Scary stuff, isn't it?
The chances are overwhelming that as you age, someone near and dear to you will have Alzheimer's.
In my husband's case there is a pattern in his family on his mother's side and among his siblings.

So it is important that we all become informed about this atrocious disease and know how to recognize its symptoms.  I have read a lot of books on Alzheimer's but this is the best so far and reflects the current thinking about causes, treatment and research.  Gasby has done a lot of research on Alz and shares much of his findings and experience as his wife, B. Smith, progresses in the disease.  It is worth the price of the book just for the resources listed in the back.  If any of you reading this have a history of Alz in your family and are concerned about it being passed on to generations, please tell them to consider joining the Brain Register.  Information is gathered that will be critical to research on this illness.  It is a sad story of a beautiful, smart, charming soul with early onset Alzheimer's and the challenges presented to her husband as caregiver.  Thank you B. Smith and Dan Gasby for sharing your story which is the story of many of us affected by this devastating illness.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The week that wasn't....

Picture is from Christmas....
Good grief!  Am I hard headed?  It takes a lot for me to get the message.  Caregivers are vulnerable!   I am vulnerable as a caregiver!.   A week ago Tuesday everything was falling into place for the trip to Ft. Sill.  My sister-in-law had talked He-Who- Sleeps-Alot into staying with them while I joined our daughter, her partner and granddaughter's boyfriend for the trip to OK. After many questions and explanations of what was in his suitcase along with written instructions to my sister-in-law for his meds and care, he was off to their house.

Even though granddaughter was not graduating, I so wanted to have the brief visit with her.  I hadn't felt really great the day before and after getting all packed with brownies made for granddaughter, I thought I better check my BP and heart rate....holy moly.  The heart rate was really high!  I took it again a few minutes later...still high.  What now!  I called my daughter and told her to go without me.  I didn't want to run the risk of ruining the trip and ending up in some hospital in OK.  I couldn't locate the resident nurse (that's another story) and drove myself to the local ER which sent me on to the hospital for a nuclear lung test to make sure I didn't have a blood clot on my lungs.  It took all day mostly spent in waiting rooms...all came back negative and I am fine.  Evidently the stress of the whole scene had triggered my tachycardia again.  Damn that Lyme Disease which started all this years ago.

So I'm okay but granddaughter isn't.  She has multiple stress fractures and was told she will never be able to have a natural child birth.  She's in Medical Hold and miserable and has little to do.  Of course we are all worried sick (in my case, maybe literally) about her and there is not one damn thing we can do but send her cards and letters, books, coloring books, etc.

But I got a brief respite here at home and He-Who had a great time at his brother's.  And life goes on with Alz.  Yesterday I found the carton of coffee ice cream in the refrigerator instead of the freezer.  Unwashed glasses appear among the mugs on the shelf.  His jackets are on the floor in the dining room and he asks me "How did I enjoy the program?" that his brother had taken him to.  I had to explain I didn't go.  Hmmmm.... he was delighted to be back home with his red broom and sweeping.  I'm grateful that the weather has been beautiful and I welcome the sunshine.

We watch the Republican debate on TV and I have to wonder which is here in our apartment or what I'm watching on TV.  What has happened to the Republicans and what has happened to us as a country that we allow such a debacle to continue?  They have lost my respect, much less my vote.  Geezus...isn't there someone to step up and stop this craziness?

So what have I learned as a caregiver?  I have to pay attention to what is going on with me so I can take care of others!  And I think I need to paint!!!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Another dilemma

Our granddaughter is at Ft. Sill, OK for boot camp in the National Guard and the plan has been for the family to drive up for her graduation BUT life is what happens when you are making other plans.  She is not going to graduation as she now has stress fractures on her femur and pelvic bones.  She is in the medical unit and we can only see her on Wednesday for 8 hours instead of the two days of the original plan.  She's miserable, devastated, sees her life plans falling apart.
I was already wishing I didn't have to take He-Who with me as it is so difficult getting him ready for travel and dealing with his confusion when out of his comfort zone.  There are 5 of us planning to go on the trip including him...two in the front and 3 in the back seat...aiiiiyayaiiii for the 6 + hour drive.  BUT he really wants to go, is so worried about our granddaughter that at this point, I can't bring myself to say "no".  If she decides to stay, we won't get to see her for several more months and I think she should stay and stick it least until she heals.  If, down the road, she stays and  gets a medical discharge, she will get VA benefits the rest of her life.  If not, she comes home and has no insurance.
      But right now how do I make this quick trip easiest for us both?  Lots of planning and prep...crazy, huh!
      We had a good day today.  We went with the Brookdale group to the George Bush Library in College Station.  He-Who really enjoyed it and has gone to bed a happy camper.  Lovely!

I'm going to bed and think good thoughts for all of us.  Wish us luck!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Breaking past denial

I know it was a dumb question and I knew what the geriatric doc was going to say when I asked it but I had to.  At what point is hubby ready for a memory care unit?  Of course, even you, dear reader, can guess her answer. "When you can't take care of him anymore."  And when and how do I do that? And why did I feel like I was going to burst into tears. I don't know.  The doc wants me back without him for a talk next week.
There are days he drives me nuts with the same questions over and over.  And not being able to follow the simplest directions and work the remote for the TV.  At this point to most anyone else he seems fine, sweet, pleasant and wanting so much to be helpful that he drives some residents on walkers and scooters crazy trying to help.  He can dress himself but it will be in the same clothes he wore the day before if I don't intervene.  I routinely cruise his closet to find his dirty clothes even though the laundry basket sits on the floor of his closet.  He will not brush his teeth unless I tell him to in spite of the reminder I posted on the bathroom mirror.  And he continues to sleep a lot, I mean a lot, like 12 hours if you count the nodding off in his recliner.
        One of the funny/great things he does now is sweep the porch and the walkways.  He will disappear for an hour or so with his red broom.  It is great exercise for him as he comes in sweaty and it has endeared him to our lil' ol' lady neighbors.  It only concerns me that he frequently can't stand up straight after one of his walks.  If I am out of the apartment, he will leave me a cute little note saying "I've gone for a walk."  Sure enough he and the broom are gone.
     Today I had to laugh.  I had an appointment with the eye doctor for a checkup.  I knew it would take a while as I always have to wait while my eyes dilate.  I was thinking I would go alone but my shadow said, "I want to go with you."  Cautioning him that it would be a long wait for him, he still insisted.  "You might be in a wreck or something so I need to go with you."  I said, "What would you do?"  "I don't know but I need to be there."  Sweet man and so he came along.  He hasn't driven a car in 3 years and never carries his cell phone.
      He still loves to go to movies and eat out.  I order for him as he can't remember what he wanted on the menu but we manage.  I choose the movie and he agrees.  And he is willing to sit there through poetry readings and seems to enjoy them.  So I guess we aren't there yet.
       We are still planning to move to San Antonio to be near our son but I'm dreading pulling up roots again.  More loss.  I knew when we moved here that it would be temporary because this community doesn't have continuing care which we will need at some point.  The doc says go now while He-Who-Sleeps-Alot can still get oriented and I know she is right.  Our son says, "Come now while you can choose.  If you wait for a crisis, you may not have what you would like available."  Sooooo....I am looking around at the apartment and deciding what I can get rid of.  I laugh and think "I don't have time to move."
      San Antonio has more retirement communities to choose from than Houston due to the military wanting to retire there.  We have found several we like, none have the space we have here but we can certainly shed some things (I think???).  I insist that our next apartment will have its own washer and dryer and that I can walk to a connected memory care unit.
      So now to unplug from family and friends here and go forward.  Getting old is all about loss I have decided.  One's body can't do what it used to, one doesn't look like one used to, and friends pass away or move away to be near their sons or daughters.  I can't imagine being without family support in this late stage of life.  I'm so grateful for all their support...priceless!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A little TLC goes a long way for a caregiver

Okay, I'm through whining, for now anyway.  Christmas was wonderful!  We were in San Antonio with family and friends.  Next to me is my dear friend, Nancy, and her husband, Robert.  Nancy and I have been friends since first grade and were sorority sisters at UT.  Mexican food is always on the agenda when we get to SA and La Fonda fit the bill.  Nancy had recently had a health crisis but is doing well and Robert has signs of dementia but we still laugh and giggle our way through life.  She is such a lift to my spirits.
This was just one of the highlights of a delightful week with our son, Chris, and his fabulous family in their fabulous house with visits from some of their fun friends.  My daughter-in-law is a wonder!  She cranks out great meals including breakfasts day after day and I really feel pampered!.  They even treated me to a wonderful massage where I walked out like a bowl of jelly but feeling like a Queen.
We toured Santa's Ranch near San Marcos...a wonder of lights with different themes. Pretty amazing and something that He-Who-Sleeps-Alot could really enjoy.  He responds well to music and lights so it was a great excursion.
Once again we toured Incarnate Word Retirement Community, this time to check out their memory care unit and a 2 bedroom apartment.  Then we went on to Brookdale Patriot Heights to do the same.  I loved a 2 bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor but it is smaller than what we have now.  Beautiful view from the balcony and 5 minutes from our son's office.  We really liked the adjacent memory care unit....a small cottage with 10 residents...a real family feeling.  Definitely worth considering.
On Christmas Eve we all went to Oak Hill Church, heard a fine message from Max Lacado, the minister, and some beautiful holiday music and singing.  Then home to a Cox traditional Christmas Eve dinner of homemade tamales and Mexican food.  Our son had found a little house on the way to Boerne that sold delicious homemade tamales of all kinds...the spinach and cheese were delicious as well as the chicken.  We were joined for dinner by another family with 3 children which added to the frivolity.
Lots of treats and surprises on Christmas Day topped off with another delicious dinner.  We gave our granddaughter something that was on her list but I had never heard EcoSphere...fascinating glass globe with a plant and some teensy shrimp.  It will go on independently forever and what fun to watch!!  Her brother called it "a nerd" thing but we all were fascinated.  Then it was off to the movies and then dinner.  Whew!  Just wonderful.
We departed the next day as the family was headed to NYC for New Year's Eve on Times Square.  I came home rested and refreshed.  So grateful for all the love and pampering.
I came down with a cold or something just in time for New Year's.  Had soup bubbling on the stove and the table all set ready for my Artist Way girlfriends dinner when I developed fever and stomach upset and had to cancel.  Bummer!!!!!  Much better now, thank goodness.

But I just have to remember this gorgeous sunset in the Hill Country and be grateful that we are so blessed.  May the New Year bring joy and health and all things good to all our friends and family.