Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown

 
 


Being a caregiver...the good stuff

Being a caregiver...

You learn to be more patient.
You are more understanding.
You are more loving.
You learn new skills.  (the ones you thought you could never do)
You forgive easily.
You appreciate sleep.
You appreciate quiet.
You appreciate good health.
You appreciate life.
You cherish all that is good, learn from the bad.
You really do learn what are the important things in life are.  And having the nicest home, the most expensive cars, a lot of money, you name it - none of us are immune from sickness. 
You appreciate friends and family.
You find joy and laughter in the small things.

Just a few things..there are more...but I bet you can add to the list.

Beng a caregiver....the not so fun stuff...

I want to share this.  I want people to know it is not easy being a caregiver.  I only can speak from the point of being a caregiver to an Alzheimer's patient - but there are so many other folks suffering from diseases that cause much pain.

I can laugh, I can find joy - but it is hard.  I get mad, I cry, I yell, I question my faith, you name it.

If you have kids at home, it is hard.  Thankfully Tori and Sam are older and have jumped in and helped unselfishly.  Given me breaks, help take care of mom.  Now when mom needs lifting, Sam helps.  But as a mom, I feel divided.  Do I go to this event or do I stay home?  Will he miss me at this one game?  Will Tori mind me not going to the dinner with her?  The guilt can weigh you down. 

It is terribly hard on your marriage.  Especially when your spouse doesn't quite get the disease.  Being my second time going through this and watching from afar, three aunts battle this hateful disease, I understand.  Not only do I feel divided between kids and mom.  Add hubby.  I feel like I am failing miserably.  As I mentioned in an earlier post - there is much much strain. 

It is hard on your health.  Mental health, emotional health, spiritual health, and physical.  My doctor tells me I am stressed.  Ya think?  I am tired all the time.  I hurt all the time.  My mouth and face hurt - I need something done to my teeth or lack there of.  It is a must - I am really going to try to get this done. Constant lifting or fighting off mom hitting, punching, kicking, you name it - is hard on me.  I try not to hurt her in the process - and end up hurting myself.  There is no easy way to deal with the violence.  I would have thought we would be well past this stage - but just the other day - she threw a hot baked potato at me.  Her new thing is spitting - ugh.  Mental health, you have to make decisions constantly, hourly at times.  I used to read about seven books a week - now I am lucky to finish one in a month - and that is my sanity - reading.  I don't want a Knook or Kindle - I like turning pages.  Emotional.  I am a blasted wreck a lot of the time.  This ride into Alzheimer land - is up and down, turn for turn.  I get mad, sad, happy, cry, you name it.  Spiritual health - I pray - I try to have a quiet time.  I try to read devotionals - but I often wonder does God see?  Does He hear?  Does He understand?  I often wonder about the one He cast out demons from  - was it mental illness?  Addiction?  But why doesn't He cast out now?  I don't get it - this is a hateful disease.  It robs a person of everything.

Easy...

I know some are highly allergic...by far easiest recipe! 

Random Pics...


One of Tori's gifts finally arrived! I am out of paper and bags. I refused to go to the store! I used an old birthday bag..and covered up Happy Birthday. She thinks it is hilarious and said she is going to save for me! 

I saw this on Facebook and it hit me hard. Talk about conviction.


Church on Sunday. Our choir sang beautifully.

Mom completely happy and content with babies and such.

Mom and Tori. And nosey Barney.

Ignore the mess in Sam's room...look at Barney trying to hide. 
I  a mother of a police officer. All the recent violence has really touched my heart. We've seen some major crimes for our area.  Rural we are no more. 

Totally behind

I will post pictures and other updates later.  I am so behind in EVERYTHING.  I haven't let it get to me - just taking things a day at a time.  I have so much swirling in my head.

This has been a hard month.  Appliances breaking, unexpected bill, me not feeling that great (probably from stress) ... you know LIFE.

I have to be honest - our marriage is under so much strain - I am a wreck.  Where is all this strength, courage and faith supposed to come from?

Mom is okay - she is not walking.  But can if she wants to.  She is still eating and swallowing.  Playing with babies and toys.  And will talk.  Will respond to you - but you have to be eye level - looking directly at her - you can't talk across the room or from behind. Alzheimer's patients have tunnel vision.  They only can focus on what is directly in front of them.  I am considering calling in hospice for extra help -  they evaluate Alzheimer's patients differently. By talking to Melecia, if they came today, they would ask why they were called.  I am still thinking about it.

I went to church on Sunday - our pastor spoke on peace - and it hit me hard - in the midst of these life's troubles - I have been focusing on the troubles and the worry and not on His face.  This time last year - my nephew had cancer.  He is cancer free today.  I looked around church and saw people who a year and days far worse than I did.  What is a refrigerator problem compared your child having cancer?  What is a hot water heater - knowing this will be your last Christmas with your wife or husband?

And I have been battling memories.  I just do not have many memories from childhood. There really are not that many pictures of my childhood.  My parents were in middle age and grand parents at the same time.  Well, as mom has been chattering - things are coming back and they are not good memories - so I guess as some of sort of internal/emotional protection - I blocked them.  I am going to share - a form of therapy for me.  Now, I can see them as clearly as the screen in front of me, from clothes, to scents, etc.

At six years old - I remember being in a room with dad, he was drunk, he held a gun to his head.  I remember my oldest sister coming through a window to get me.  Dad later overcame this problem - he and mom were separated - he had an affair - but I guess I just chose not to remember.  I remember him falling out of the attic drunk.  What a horrible thing to remember.

Momma used to hit me in the face all the time (still does) with shoes or whatever.  She was verbally abusive.  It has been hard to overcome this as her caregiver.    My sister asked how I could take care of mom - based on what happened in the past.  I told her I have to forgive daily. We are forgiven by God, we must forgive.

Happier posts and such to follow - I just wanted to share and document before it slipped my mind.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Can I Be Real?

In the past two weeks, we had $900 in unplanned expenses. Our fridge stopped cooling...Arrrgghhhh.

The parts were $140. Because our fridge has a board...not just a simple thermostat. 

 Thankfully Steve was able to repair.

 The repair job forced me to clean..which is a good thing...just wasn't ready!  It was a tight squeeze for Steve. 

Now the real part, and if you know me, I'm me all the time. What you see is what you get. We are BROKE!!! I am eyeing my Salvation Army change jar. Seriously.

I know compared to so many, we are blessed, but heck I'm tired. The company that sends moms depends sent us some that had no seams...and would not work. Horrible. They replaced them. A local animal rescue and spay/neuter clinic can use the bad ones to line cages - they are picking them up tomorrow. 

While Steve was repairing....I wrapped up our Colorado kids Christmas to mail. It sure doesn't look like much when it's wrapped. 

I wrapped up mom a new baby doll. I hope to pick her up some sweat shirts and such. Tori bought her some pj's as did my sister.




Sunday, November 30, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Not 0'dark thirty

Mom slept late today. First time all week. Whew!  Here she is playing with her busy basket and babies. 


Simplified and decorated

Usually, there is not a space in our home not decorated. I simplified. Tree, mantle and Nativity. And I like it. 



Selfies








Friday, November 28, 2014

What a week

It has been a week.  I am not going to lie.  I don't know how I made it through.

First and foremost - please be in prayer for Steve's oldest son - he is 30 years old. And has been diagnosed as bipolar schizophrenia - with suicidal tendencies.  He will not accept help or take medicine.  I have suspected for years now - but it has been confirmed.  Now convincing family that he is not faking or putting on.  He is very sick. Mental illness is so real.

Our hot water heater busted on Tuesday - fortunately - we caught it - and it did not leak - it is in the attic - it could have been a huge mess.  A new one cost $400.  I am not going to lie - I sat down in recliner and cried.

Remember the bill we have been paying one - well they turned over to garnishment - because no one would answer calls, return calls, respond to letters, emails and faxes - over $300 garnished from Steve's check.  I managed to get it reduced to $90 per pay period - but if everyone had just responded  - it would have happened sooner.  It makes me sick. I researched - two Federal trade commission laws were violated.  I am not denying the debt - but how it was handled was unethical and just plain wrong.  I am going to contact a lawyer to see what options there are - I cannot believe this - we were following the Dave Ramsey plan - and were making so much headway - no complaints, no letters, no notices, and this happened.  I am so blasted aggravated.

____________________________________________________________________

Mom has not been sleeping - nada - zippo - I am tired.
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Thanksgiving was wonderful - simple.  We did have Steve's two uncles, his dad and his oldest son out - and it was nice.  It was nice to set the table and everyone sit and talk instead of chaos.  Mom ate a great meal and did well with the company.

_____________________________________________________________________

I just ask for prayers - I am so tired, discouraged - you name it.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mark Twain Award

Watching Jay Leno receive the Mark Twain award at The Kennedy Center.

Sooooo funny - I can't stop laughing.

Church




God is working in our church...each week we have been blessed to see teenagers baptized. Prior to their baptism, a film with their testimony is shown. I love this. 

Our pastor preached three weeks on the gay lifestyle- he did so with love, discernment and wisdom. 

And I want to share this post from Facebook. I can clearly picture it.  I can feel His arms around me.




A good weekend....



Mom, Steve and I went to the mall yesterday. Mom had the best time.  She said hello to everyone and chattered away.

Today we went to church. Janice was here to sit with mom. Each week I learn a little more about her..she really had been through so much. 

Here is mom this morning after breakfast. Still tired from last night. 

Wish I could say life with Alzheimer's is easier - it is not. Just taking a day at a time and enjoying the good moments.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Just pray with me

We are having trouble with a creditor we have been making payments on faithfully - never missed a payment and are well over half way through the balance. 

They have decided to turn over to garnishment.  arrrrgghhhhh  I am fighting it.  They won't return calls, take my calls, respond to faxes or letters.  Tonight, I emailed an attorney for advice. We are not trying to escape the debt - we were paying it.   I looked up the agency collecting - they have an F with BBB. 

Hmmph.

I praying that somehow $900+ makes its way here somehow.  Geesh.  Car and Financial trouble I do believe, as my friend Carla will say , are "from the devil."  Miss you Carla

On the upside - I am exercising more.  A lonngggg way to go.

Venting

Warning - I am venting!

I learned from two different sources that at an in service training for caregivers employed by the agency that Melecia works for - that Mom was mentioned by name by substitute caregivers, office personnel, her health care plan and insurance discussed in a group setting.  Can we say HIPPA laws?  Questioned out loud in the class by office staff  "do our services justify what we are getting paid?"  Seriously?  They do not pay their caregivers enough.

I am so aggravated about those who started the discussion.  I am protective of mom, but I also understand how hard their job is.  I always say... "if you are uncomfortable with anything, let me know."  I had three subs - who would not cook a meal for mom - I had to cook her lunch, get snacks ready, etc before leaving for the day.  I did this because one caregiver said mom  said "I am not hungry."  Who the heck takes the word of an Alzheimer's patient?  She had nothing to eat or drink for a whole day - developed an UTI.    Heck, I had one who said she couldn't open a can of soup - and I asked her if she tried the can opener.  Hmmph

I prepare mom's medicine for the week - divided by days and hours.  They said in the class - this wasn't part of the job.  That they were concerned about getting sued.  So, last night I changed all mom's meds - so I give all to her. 

The in service was on Alzheimer and Dementia care - which I am all for.  But my mother should have never been mentioned by name, her finances never discussed.  I am so upset.  A trust has been broken.  If they need someone to teach a class on Alzheimer care - give me a call. 

(Melecia is not the guilty one - but I heard how she was upset at all was being said-she was as upset as I....I had more folks there that cared about us as a family than they think/thought)

Mom can still be hard to care for - but she literally sits and chatters all day. Can be tough to change and clean up.    Plays with her babies, busy basket, will let you read books.  Takes a bath daily  - just because mom took pride in her appearance, and I refuse for her to smell bad) - but even then I will say - if she won't cooperate, I will do it.  I am about 20 minutes away - any issue - I have said - call me. 

arrrrggggghhhh

I am so mad and hurt.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pictures

Randomness

My dad. 

Church Sunday - awesome services. 


No baby gate needed. We had a baby gate up to prevent mom from hurting herself in kitchen. I'm sad but glad. She is not as mobile and we do not use all the safety equipment, glad that we don't have to mess with it. Mixed emotions.

101 years old. My kids great grandmother in Florida. Grand we call her. Even after their dad and I divorced, she and I remained close. I love her so! 

 

Hurt Arm

Last Thursday my sister, Judy and I took mom to after hours Campbell clinic. She had hurt her left arm, it was black and had a huge raised bruise.  Mom was so funny and sweet the whole time. 

It wasn't broken or sprained but badly bruised. They put a temporary cast to prevent get from bumping it.  We take her next week to have it removed.

She enjoyed being "made over" and loved the sucker and stickers they gave her.

Yep, it is a sucker and not a cigarette.


The cast. I'm really surprised she had left it on...she has pulled at every mouse wrapping.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Productive Day

This has been a very productive day for me. I have to be honest..I spend Saturday's trying to catch up on lost sleep and lazing in recliner.  That is not a good thing! I have to stop! 

Gave mom her bath early..she spent day playing with her babies and blankets. Very content. 

I excercised for thirty minutes..I'm determined to lose weight. Gotta drop the pity party and move! 

Sam and I washed windows. I dusted  house. Tori did baseboards and vacuumed. I cleaned out behind fridge and stove  the other night. I have a goal to complete an out of the ordinary cleaning/organizing project one night a week. I'm not so overwhelmed that way. And it works. 

I just finished bathing dogs and cleaning bathrooms... now time for me to clean up. 

And let's not forget about all the laundry...that never ends!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Version of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"

My version of "If you give a Mouse a Cookie"

If you take the grate off the front of the refrigerator to clean...you see yuck...you start to clean yuck and decide to move fridge..you move fridge and see more yuck..you clean yuck...and you see dust on cabinets...you clean dust..move fridge back...replace grate...and as you look up you notice ice maker needs cleaning...you clean ice maker which leads you to dishwasher...you clean dishwasher...you notice can opener...

This could ...go on...I stopped at can opener.

To be continued...I just don't know when....

 The whole thing started with me dropping a spoon.  Sigh.....

KEEPING THEM IN BUSINESS



Whew - what a week! Sam is sick.  He went to doctor - ear infection and one hateful cough - he was feeling tough yesterday.  Tori took him to the doctor today. 

I have visited the pharmacy three times since Sunday.  I think they have a button on their screen that just pulls up our family.

Mom is doing okay - she is in bed right now - she had a real good day.  She has been staying busy with her busy basket, her purse and her babies. 

Tori has been working so much - you can call her messy - but never lazy!

I went to doctor yesterday - waiting for the test results.  Mammogram next week.  Then maybe we will be finished for a bit.  It is like a domino effect - one sick person to the next.  Ugh.

Please pray for all of us.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Feelings

Mom is full of energy and walking tonight and that is good. And exhausting. 

I am trying not to be upset, bitter, resentful. I'm trying not to cry. Unsuccessfully! 

I'm lonely. Not one sister, not one niece, whom  mom help raise and provide for has called, come by, etc. One niece is a respiratory therapist, visits a patient in our neighborhood, never comes over whole here to visit the grandmother she says she loves so much.

I have been with mom non stop since Thursday afternoon 3:30. It is like we are joined at the hip. I'm so glad she is better, she looks and sounds better, but I am drained in every aspect of the word.

What is wrong with people? Is it me? I try to be kind and welcoming. Granted we are not fancy, I'm not going to put on airs. I am me. My house is clean, but not a mansion.  I just don't know. 

Oh, a couple will make visits on moms birthday, Mother's Day and Christmas...just enough on my opinion to keep them from feeling totally guilty.

The Book of James, Psalm 91, Psalm 119, Psalm 23...scriptures I know, but I can't pull into my head and out my mouth. 

I need..we need prayer. 

And if you know me...I'm stuck on same song second verse after being away from it for a long while. Things have been so nice. 

I



Saturday...


Mom feeling better....she is where she was last Christmas today. Walking, talking, into everything. And we had major Sundowning today. I am dreading time change next week. 

Whew. But she feels better. 




Now tomorrow could be so different.

Misdiagnosis

Friday we went back to doctor for a follow up from Thursday's  ER visit. (Mom was so sick) But I first want to share what happened at the hospital-and we will never go back to this particular hospital and I am sure they have many fine employees who work hard. 

Once we were in the back - a nurse introduced himself...requested we change mom into gown...asked why we were there. I explained the constipation, the vomiting etc... And he left...we were only behind curtains...so I heard this conversation between the nurse who began checking us in and another nurse... "84 year old Alzheimer's patient. Possible impaction" the response of nurse two..."well I'm not cleaning that **** out of her." Nurse never came back...shift change..we had to go back over everything. Could not get mom a blanket..good thing we brought our own. After hour four X-rays finally ordered..the X-ray techs give mom a blanket and juice. X-rays complete - back to our tent room...that's what it felt like...no privacy. That is when I notice mom has a used IV bag on her bed from two days ago...and a clip board with a chart from oct 13. The floors were sticky with goodness knows what. And all of a sudden mom goes potty - by end of night..she would go four more times. Diagnosis time..they said at time of X-rays and check in she had just gas...hmmph..I knew differently. But I didn't argue...mom had relief..they said mom had a touch of pneumonia. They give her a shot..and we finally go home.  

Now we go to doctor....mom was totally misdiagnosed. No pneumonia and yes at the time she was impacted. Our doc takes his own X-rays to compare. To say I am livid is an understatement I knew in my gut what the problem was. Hmmph. 
I'm calling hospital Monday. What if they had mixed up blood work? X-rays? I am so mad. This was our first visit in six years to the hospital, I know mom. 

We are their voice. And trust me this voice will be firm and stern Monday. I am giving myself all weekend to calm the heck down!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Prayer requests...

Ms. Janice....our Sunday Caregiver...asked for prayer for her daughter. She called her mom and told her she was entering drug rehab. Janice shared there are times she doesn't know where her daughter is. But this is hopeful, she sought help herself.

A coworkers marriage. Gambling is the mistress in this marriage.

A 12 year old in our church battling brain cancer. Her name is Cassy.

A friends mom. Recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's and now cancer. 

Another friend, both parents have Alzheimers - she has been caring for both - dad was admitted to hospice on Friday.

Salvation of my zoo buddy's family.

Melecia's mom--had back surgery last Friday.

For mom- she is stronger and feeling better. For Tori and Sam- for them to remain focused and be less cynical about their dad. For Steve. And for me.

Thank you!

Never Give Up

Zoo Trip

Steve's dad turned 71 yesterday.  So we went to the zoo with Steve's family.  I won't post pics of the kiddos because I don't have permission.  But one little tow headed boy - who came with his grandparents and I had a come to Jesus meeting about not using foul language, hitting and staying with a grown up. I'm not gonna lie, he is adorable, but someone has taught him to say and do  these things... By the end of the trip he was behaving, talking politely and staying with the group. Unfortunately I bet "I'm going to call Aunt Becky" will be a threat. Please pray with me for this family to see the light...I would mentor his mom if I thought she would do it.  I'm trying to think of a way to offer. Not that I am that great..but she grew up without a momma and I  sure it left a huge hole in her life whether she realizes it or not.

But, now a few good pics. 


The lioness

Her fellow-he is huge!

The puma and the most vocal animal there yesterday.


Bears


Albino Tiger
 Zebra
A very alert ostrich

And the best pic of all!


Steve took more pics of the animals than I did....once I had my little companion...my focus changed.I will get those and post those.  Pandas were active as were the polar bears. Memphis has the number one Zoo in the country...there were additional displays that cost extra...I would have gone on in these - but not everyone had the extra - it would have stretched us a bit.  If you live in TN- and have a valid ID it is free on Tuesdays after 2:00. As is the Pink Palace. Brooks Museum of Art is free on Saturday mornings as is the U of M museum. There are other discounts - just look them up. I highly suggest Sun Studio tour. We have not visited Graceland. I would like to visit Lorainne Motel...they have renovated. I recommend going to the top of the Peabody at night for an awesome view, a show at the orpheum, and BBQ Nachos from the Rendezvous at a Red Birds game at third base. 

With mom we don't do as much as we like - but I hope to get back in the groove with Respite care.