30 September 2009
I've done some of my own observations based on her diet. I know what foods cause her a problem and I understand a bit more how blood sugar effects every part of the body, including ones mental cognition.
Through my journey with my mom down the dementia highway, I've also come to realize the importance of diet, exercise and mental relaxation. Body - Mind - Spirit; I've learned first hand that good all around health cannot be attained unless one feeds all 3 with the right nutrition, every day.
The experiences I've been having with my mom have proven to me that the body CAN heal itself, regardless of your illness. It's never too late to start to take care of yourself. If you don't feel good today, you can feel good tomorrow. All you need to do is to start now. Take your first step down a road which will lead you to healthier and happier tomorrows.
You can if you think you can!
29 September 2009
28 September 2009
Let me back up to last Monday, my last post.
I picked up Uncle Al on Monday because I hadn't seen him for 4 weeks. He's getting harder to manage by myself with my mom in tow too. He is more demented these days since I haven't been able to feed him the foods everyday that my mom eats. It's sad. Uncle Al believes he's better than he is and doesn't understand how difficult it is for me. He'll probably never understand.
Tuesday was the day that I was taking my mom to the bank to straighten out her accounts. One bank, TD Banknorth charged her overdraft fees of 35 bucks for every bounced check. She bounced checks because around the time of the financial meltdown, she took 2 grand out of her account and had my sister put it in her safe. My mom was afraid the bank would steal her money.
Of course I made attempts to stop her from doing this because I knew that eventually she'd start to bounce checks because she didn't have her cushion in the bank. There was no reasoning with her so I had to just let it go and wait for the inevitable to happen.
It happened. She was overdrawn. She had no idea how it happened. I do, she took her cushion out of the bank and the bank gave her a "complimentary" overdraft protection. Did you know that if you use your TD Banknorth debit card they will approve every transaction even if you don't have enough money in your account. Say you go to the store and spend 3 bucks on a coffee. You have 2 bucks in your account because a deposit you had made didn't register with the bank... you believe you have money in the account and use it. Well, according to the bank you don't. The bank charges you 35 bucks for the "convenience" of not being denied when you are checking out at the store.
Some convenience... in my opinion, it's robbery.
Banks everywhere are making billions of dollars off these damn late fees. They are stealing the money from the very people who gave them the damn bail out. As though we haven't given them enough money, they need to work to get it all! Ok... getting off topic here on a rant.
My mom has been pretty upset with TD Banknorth and believes the bank stole her money and she wants it back.
This brings us back to last Tuesday, the day I took my mom to her former Credit Union. She was upset on the drive to the bank. I think she thought she was going to TD Banknorth, even though she saw that we were going in to her former bank.
Sitting with the Credit Union manager, my mom kept thinking she was at TD Banknorth and she wanted her money back from all the late fees that they had charged her. It was stressful for her. It was at the bank that I saw my mom switch from normal mom to demented mom.
Mom began to hallucinate again after the bank visit. I ran out of Helleborus Niger, a homeopathic remedy to help her with confusion. Damn!
My mom got crazier and crazier as the week went on.
I cried for 2 days. Looking back I believe I cried because I felt defeated. I am exhausted and need a break from my crazy mom. But, my crazy demented mom was back anyway and she didn't know who I was. The man was back, the midgets were back... all of her haunts were back with a vengeance. CRAP!
Crying wasn't helping, it was making me feel worse and in turn, my mom was worse... so I sucked it up and told myself that I had to pull myself together. I noticed that my emotions and mood effect my mom. She's like a damn magnet for emotions. Happy emotions make her happy, stressed out emotions make her super stressed and crazy. This is a true lesson in patience.
I had to end the vicious cycle.
I had run out of helleborus so we needed to make a special trip to the only pharmacy around that sells it. Big time bummer when we got to the store and the pharmacist told me that he was all out of the 30 c strength. Damn! they did had 6c strength so I got it.
Immediately my mom took her 5 pellets and put them under her tongue to dissolve. I told her that she would probably need to take more but we'd play it all by ear. She agreed.
At one point this week I took her to a shoe store and she started to hallucinate in the store! She was seeing monsters come out of the shoes. Man, how do I respond to her monsters?
I gave her more Helleborus.
The more that I gave her, the better she was getting.
That was until I told her that we were going to Maine to visit her grandchildren. She was so confused. She thought she was staying overnight and insisted on taking a clean shirt, her toothbrush and tooth paste with her when she was just going to the hairdresser on Saturday morning.
Finally, it was time to head up to Maine to celebrate my Great Nephew's first birthday. I prepared some food to bring to the party that was gluten free, I wanted to make sure that my mom had food that wouldn't give her the crazies.
It is a long drive up to my nephew's house, just about 2 and a half hour drive one way. We picked up my sister Donna on the way up north and got to the party late, about 1:30pm.
Of course it was awesome seeing everyone. My great nephew didn't disappoint anyone, just 1 year old and he was dancing up a storm. So darn cute. Here's the little guy DANCING on his first birthday ... he just learned how to walk! I wonder if he's a future dance protege?
My mom had a great time visiting with everyone and seeing her little Great Grandson.
We got on the road much later than we had intended. On the drive home my mom fell asleep and then she woke up talking to faces in the trees. I knew at that moment we could potentially be in for a rough night. Donna had no idea, she just laughed thinking that it was funny. It was funny but when it happens at 2am, it's not very funny at all.
My mom was so confused by the time she got home she had no idea where she was. She didn't recognize her home. She didn't recognize me.
After driving for almost 6 hours I was exhausted. I couldn't wait to get home and have a glass of wine. I had eyed the bottle of one of my favorite wines on the shelf and told myself that a glass would be my reward for the long day of driving.
However, things didn't work out the way that I had planned earlier in the day. The bottle stayed on the shelf that night because I needed my wits about me. My mom was in total dementia land.
I came into our bedroom and said to my husband, "Well, we're in for a rough one tonight! I'll need to sleep on the sofa downstairs." Oh well, so much for a night cap of a fine glass of wine with my dear sweet husband.
I was beyond tired at this point; I set myself up on the couch. I gave my mom a Melatonin tablet and within minutes she was snoring gently. The sound of her breathing put me to sleep.
5am Sunday morning.
SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK
I woke up. I stopped and listened to see if the squeaking floor woke her from her sleep. It was silent. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. Several minutes pass.
SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK... mumbled voices .... light flips on to the stairwell. I see my mom's feet coming down the stairs. She sees me and is ready to walk off the stairs. I instruct her to hold the railing with both hands and come down slowly. She does. She tells me that she's very tired. I tell her in a calm voice not to worry, everything will be OK and I tucked her in.
I couldn't take the couch anymore so I went upstairs and laid in my bed for a 2 hour nap. I didn't sleep very soundly the night before, mostly because I was worried about my mom.
My mom didn't wake up until 10:30am. I waited in the living room next to her bedroom for her to wake up. I was anxious to see if the Helleborus Niger was starting to kick in and pull her out of her state of confusion as it has so many times before. She woke up and to my delight she was more clear. Yay!
I gave her more helleborus, this time I gave her the water that the Naturopathic doctor told me how to make for her. It was made with the 30c strength Helleborus.
As the day went on, she became more and more clear. She started to laugh at her own insanity. Yay! My mom was on her way back.
When Brian finally woke up I asked him why he was walking on the dining room floor at 5am when he knows the squeaking wakes up my mom. He said, "Well, it wasn't me. It was your mom." He continued, "I was laying in bed and I heard a loud tinkling noise coming from the bathroom. I thought to myself, Sue never leaves the door open. Then, out comes your mom, walking toward the bed, taking a right turn like she would out of her own bathroom. "
Brian got up and lead her down the hall. He turned on the light so that my mom could see where she was going.
Last night, after I gave my mom a little more helleborus water, she came back fully. I told my mom about her wandering in to our bathroom earlier in the morning. She had no memory of it.
Wednesday we finally see a neurologist. We'll get the answers we need so that she feels good all the time. Of course I did some research of my own and I'm beginning to wonder if my mom has narcolepsy. She hallucinates just before she goes to sleep and just upon waking - a symptom of narcolepsy.
Stay tuned, soon we'll know what's going on in little Josie's brain.
22 September 2009
It was a beautiful day to sit in my back yard. The temperature was perfect and the sounds of nature were like an orchestra of soothing music for our souls. Uncle Al sat in the back yard and enjoyed the quiet. He was away from the beeps and sirens that are prevalent throughout the nursing home. Makes me wonder if the beeps and sirens contribute to his dementia because they are keeping him from getting his rest.
My mom also had a hairdresser appointment yesterday, her standing 12 noon appointment every Monday to get her hair done. I dropped her off at the salon and I took Uncle Al over to the local hardware store to walk around and get some exercise.
He always enjoyed the trips we took to the store last winter when we'd go for a change of scenery and a little exercise. I'd have Uncle Al push the little cart and he'd follow me up and down the aisles, occassionally he'd stop and pick something up to look at it.
The hardware store walks inspired Uncle Al to dream about the day he gets out of the nursing home and buys himself a car. He told me that he wants to work at the hardware store because it's not far from my house. Uncle Al expects to live with me.
Yesterday Uncle Al had trouble walking the store like he has done so many times before. His legs got sore and tired. He was winded. He just couldn't walk.
I felt badly, mostly because I can see how much he's declined in just one month. Uncle Al was out of it all day. His sentences didn't make sense. He strung words together that didn't provide any clues as to what he was trying to tell me.
He did get his haircut yesterday. When we went to pick up my mom, the hairdresser had time to cut his hair so Uncle Al got a much needed haircut.
Uncle Al was hard to manage yesterday. He plants his feet in the ground like tree roots. It's almost impossible to move him unless he moves himself. He forgot how to sit down at one point during the day. My mom couldn't handle it so she excused herself and went inside to play her piano.
I sat on the patio with Uncle Al. We sat and enjoyed the birds singing and chirping. It was very calming.
My mother in law Rachel came out to the patio to say hello to Uncle Al. He was looking at her but didn't appear to see her. Instead, he picked up my hand and started to talk to it like it was a phone. Rachel would say something to Uncle Al and he'd answer her using my hand as a microphone device. It was all I could do not to laugh. It wasn't funny, but I wanted to laugh. I didn't.
Now, we have 2 siblings, my mom and Uncle Al. Both with similar health conditions. My mom is being treated with all natural treatments and a balanced diet that promotes health. Uncle Al? He's being fed the pharma drugs and nursing home foods which are loaded with wheat gluten and other processed crap. His "acceptable" blood sugar range is up to 400!
How can nursing homes be good places to put our elders when they are fed garbage? Yesterday Uncle Al's blood sugar reading was 317... alarmingly high by my standards.
More and more it seems like we are all the pons for the insurance and pharmaceutical giants. People are not getting well. They are being put on a subscription prescription plan which makes them get so sick that they need a nursing home and eventually die.
The only winners here appear to be the people making money off the hides of the aged and sick. No wonder the news media is fighting the public healthcare option, because the big conglomerates pay them money to show their ads that tell people to "ask your doctor." Really? Since when is it OK for us to diagnose ourselves?
If we asked our doctor about herbal treatments he'd tell you that the dosages can't be consistent, blah blah. I don't buy any of this anymore because I'm seeing for myself that the traditional stuff turns you into Uncle Al and the natural treatments in conjunction with traditional doctoring has brought my mom back.
One day we'll all look back at this time in history and realize how barbaric our healthcare system is. Currently, healthcare is a for profit business with our health as their target to increase their bottom line. No wonder the doctors are pushing the latest drugs on us, they are working to keep their jobs secure by making us all sick!
So... are you going to sit back and let them kill you slowly or are you going to stand up, take charge of your life and question, question, question. Just because a doctor writes a prescription for you, it doesn't mean you have to take it. Ask questions. Find alternatives. It's your health... it's your life.
When it comes right down to it, YOU hold the power to your own health in your hands.
21 September 2009
It is disturbing when she hallucinates because she believes what she saw is real and trying to tell her otherwise is a futile effort.
I did a search again, "what causes hallucinations" and I found a condition called Hypnagogic Hallucinations. The article that I read describes my mom's hallucinations. http://neurology.health-cares.net/hypnagogic-hallucination.php
Hypnagogic Hallucinations come on at sleep onset and just as one is waking. The episodes can be frightening as the article states. I've seen my mom get really scared.
One thing that I do notice, the hallucinations are fewer and fewer now that she's off gluten.
Other than the occassional hallucinations, my mom is doing fabulous. Her fasting blood sugar is now in the 80's every morning and her blood pressure is starting to come down. She's exercising every day on the treadmill, sweeping the patio and front walkway, doing laundry and vacuuming her bedroom. All of these tasks she wasn't able to do on her own just a few weeks ago.
Once we cut out gluten from her diet, my mom became more sane and is able to communicate with everyone around her.
19 September 2009
18 September 2009
17 September 2009
16 September 2009
15 September 2009
There's no one magic bullet, no single miracle cure for what ails her. Reflecting back over the 2 years when we first embarked on this incredible journey together, my mom began to make some lifestyle changes soon after she had her pacemaker installed.
The thought of injecting herself with synthetic insulin depressed her and the more she injected herself, the more she wanted to kick the needle.
I helped her. Not as much as I should have, but I did help a little. I travelled a lot for my job so it was super tough to monitor what she was buying and eating while I was away. My mom did the best she could and began to wean herself off insulin by reducing the amount and type of food that she was eating.
Meat and vegetables were good choices, always leaving her blood glucose numbers lower than meals where she ate starchy foods loaded with simple carbs. She ate lots of Activia Yogurt too. She bought so much yogurt that often I'd open the door to the refrigerator and yogurts would come flying out of the ice box and splat on the floor. It was annoying and one of my biggest gripes, too many flying yogurt containers!
Gradually mom began to reduce the amount of insulin she was injecting into herself. She would have the spikes up and down the charts that would cause her to shake or hallucinate. Too low her body would shake, too high and she would hallucinate which would send her running through the house screaming about something that frightened her.
Obviously, she hated how she was feeling and didn't want to live like that anymore. She asked me to help her.
I did. I stepped it up. I began to make sure that my mom was eating better food that was more nutritious and taught her through her own body how food effects her blood sugar.
Life happened and our world was turned upside down. We sold my house and moved. My mom got wicked confused and wasn't able to find her way home when she was out driving. She drove by the house over and over again not knowing that she had made it to her destination. Mom stopped driving... thank God.
In January of this year my husband suggested that I write a blog about my experiences, he felt it would help me with my caregiving duties. So... I began to write.
Writing about my experiences helps a lot. Who knows if anyone will read my prose and gain any insight, but it sure did act as a tool to help us get over the tough spots.
There were times that I felt like giving up on my mom, but there was something deep inside of me that wouldn't allow me to throw in the towel. Not yet.
Thankfully, I persisted and looked for alternative solutions to my problem. I did the proverbial "look outside the box" that was so often preached to me when I worked for GE back in the early days of my career.
I'm not sure if it's too soon to claim victory over my mom's dementia, but I'm beginning to feel more confident that she is well on her way to having good health in her 80's.
Nutrition, diet, exercise and relaxation all contributed to my mom's recovery from diabetes. She started with nutrition. Cut out bread and pasta. Eat complex carbs like legumes. If the carbs are too high, use fenugreek to help the body absorb the sugar from the carbohydrates slowly into the blood stream. Fenugreek helps to avoid the spikes in blood sugar. It's a great supplement to help regulate blood sugar and get off synthetic insulin. Fenugreek also seems to repair the pancreas, cleaning up the system so that insulin resistance is reversed.
Spice up foods with spices and herbs that lower blood sugar, they will also help you to kick the simple carbohydrate habit.
Walk every day. Start slow and form a habit, get into a routine and soon you'll be jogging around the block.
Do things for fun. Play a music instrument, write, read, sew, garden... there are so many things that we can do for enjoyment. Having fun and laughing is very important.
Socialize. Get out and talk to people.
14 September 2009
Mom's mental clarity is improving every day that she doesn't ingest gluten. To me it is miraculous. I had done my research on dementia and knew that there wasn't much hope for mom to find her mind once she lost it.
Sending my mom to a nursing home freaked me out. I had to find a solution that would keep everyone happy.
Thank God we found her a Naturopath Doctor who suggested Gluten Associated Dementia could be the root of my mom's mental disorder. He suggested that we stop all gluten for 2 weeks and see what happens. Well, it's been 9 days and my mom is doing great!
I woke up this morning thinking I heard her screaming for me. I ran downstairs to her room and she came out of her room with a big smile and a warm "good morning" greeting.
Seems that I am suffering from a sort of caregiver post traumatic stress syndrome. I have been so accustomed to my mom's dementia that it's taking me a little while to get used to the idea that she sent her imaginary visitors packing!
13 September 2009
My mom has been off gluten for over a week and hasn't had any hallucinations. Her blood pressure is gradually coming down and its way easier to manage her diabetes. She doesn't need much fenugreek or Camu Camu to maintain her sugar.
All along I had a suspicion that gluten was trouble because every time she ate some, her readings went high and she hallucinated.
I did have a bright idea that if I added fenugreek seed powder to the breads and cookies that I could make the simple carbs low glycemic. While it did help to keep my mom's blood sugar from spiking when she ate my homemade breads and pasta made with wheat, barley or rye flour, it didn't stop the hallucinations. It made them worse!
Documenting how my mom behaved after eating certain foods triggered a thought in our Naturopath Doctor. He mentioned Gluten Associated Dementia. I did research and found an article by the Mayo Clinic http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061010022602.htm .
Now the article states that it's a "potential" link between Celiac Disease and Cognitive Function, but let me tell you, it's more than a potential, it's true... stop consuming gluten and you will feel better. My mom stopped gluten and now she's just a regular mom who has the ability to push my buttons to annoy me for her own enjoyment... just like the good old days.
I've been experimenting with gluten free recipes. Last night I made Coconut, raisin and spice cookies... gluten free. My God you would NOT believe how yummy these little treats are. My mom ate 2 with breakfast; we'll check her blood sugar 2 hours after her eating the cookies.
Life is getting back to “normal” where my mom reminds me at least once a week that she's still my mother. Gluten or no gluten, she still has the innate ability to make me a little nutty at times, not because she's seeing people or things that are not there but because she's my mother. Thank God she’s here to annoy me!
You know, I really do enjoy her more now. I feel as though I have a second life with my mom. I am fortunate and wicked happy for everyone, especially my mom and my family. Everyone has the opportunity to know Ma (or Gram) and enjoy the moments where she makes you laugh or bugs the living snot out of you! Amen.
The lesson I've learned again is that through my patience (believe me, practicing patience was a tough one for me) and perseverance, no matter how bad something was (or is, depending on the day,) if we stop, breath and wait a minute, change happens and everything gets better.
My dad taught me at a young age when I was bothered about something to stop, breath and relax because everything always changes, nothing ever stays the same. His advice was to wait it out. Great advice that I've used through out my life.
I believe life is like a big wave and the key is to ride the wave for as long as you can while enjoying the adventure. The longer you can ride the wave, the more fun it is and it will be much easier to catch the next wave for another ride of a lifetime.
08 September 2009
03 September 2009
Uncle Al does the same thing. If you want them to go right, they go left and vice versa. It can be annoying if you don't understand that they can't help it, the brain is not functioning properly.
My mom has been having good days and bad days. Helleborus helps to bring her mental clarity back, so I make sure to have it on hand for those times when she becomes trapped in her own mind.
Last week we went to Costco to pick up a few things like paper towels. I brought both mom's along for the ride. They love the little sample stations through out the warehouse. My mom and Rachel pushed their carts slowly against the flow of people and tried the little treats. Both have it in their minds that the samples are small so they won't give them any problems.
Oh... quite the contrary.
My mom ate a little chocolate cupcake. It seemed to effect her thinking almost immediately. She become more disagreeable as the day went on. She couldn't sleep that night and ended up waking me up at 5am the next morning wondering where everyone was. Obviously this is not normal thinking... hello, it's 5am, did you think we could be sleeping?
We had a rough Saturday last weekend, but helleborus and Arnica pulled us through and my mom's thinking become more logical and clear.
Sunday was a great day. We went shopping and had lots of laughs. I love shopping with my mom when she has her mental facilties.
On Monday I made her a sandwich from some organic bread that I bought the day before. She enjoyed the sandwich very much. However, I noticed her mental state decline after she ate. Hmmmm... could it be the bread causing her mental confussion?
My mom hasn't had bread in 2 days and her mental state has been great. She's also sleeping through the night.
I wrote to our Naturopath Doctor and asked him about carbs and dementia. He told me that there's such a thing as Gluten Associated Dementia. I looked it up on the internet and found all sorts of great articles that state my personal findings... wheat gluten and sugar cause dementia.
Here's an article that I found interesting - The Correlation of Alzheimer's and Diabetes Exposed
I really liked this woman's comment - http://ezinearticles.com/comment.php?Correlation-of-Alzheimers-Diabetes-Exposed&id=901085
Our ND suggested we try a gluten free diet for 2 weeks to see if it helps my mom's mental state. I have a feeling it will because I've noticed when she doesn't eat bread or pasta she feels good all around.
Another part of the article that I just posted here is my mom had this problem with internal bleeding a few years ago. She went through all sorts of tests, even a test where she swallowed a small camera that went through her digestive system to take pictures. It didn't find any problems.
Finally, we had a really great doctor at Mass General who figured out that my mom's intestines were springing leaks. She told us that it happens to the elderly and the leaks can heal themselves. She prescribed Nexium. My mom took it for a few years until she stopped taking it last year because she didn't want to take it anymore.
I wonder if my mom's problems are related to her diet?
I'll keep you all posted.
02 September 2009
Yesterday I made up a stuffed artichoke recipe that was really delicious.
I didn't measure out the ingredients so I'm going to just give estimates here. The consistency of the bread stuffing should be moist but not soggy.
4 big artichokes steamed and center prickly portion removed
1 stick of butter
2 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
About a cup of Italian flavored bread crumbs
1/2 cup of freshly shucked peas
1 medium onion (sweet vidalia if you have one)cut into small pieces - not diced
1/2 cup of pine nuts
In a pan (I use a cast iron one because it seems to cook evenly) melt the stick of butter with the oil (adding the oil prevents burning because of the oils higher boiling point.)
I add the onions to saute them until they are transparent.
Transfer the oil/butter/onion mixture to a mixing bowl.
Add the pine nuts to the frying pan (using the butter that was left in the pan - don't clean it out before adding the pine nuts) so that they brown a little. Add the peas and stir around until they turn bright green.
Add a little of the butter/oil and onion mixture to the fying pan and stir around a little.
Add the pine nuts/ pea mixture to the mixing bowl.
Add enough bread crumbs so that the mixture is moist but not soggy.
Put the stuffing in the center of the cleaned out artichokes. Put stuffing around the sides of the artichoke flower pedals.
Put some home made tomato sauce on top (I bought a 25 lb box of tomatoes from a farm stand for 12 bucks and boiled them down into a fine sauce.)
Top with grated mozarella cheese.
Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes - or until the cheese is melted and a little golden brown on top.
01 September 2009
My mom has often used the phrase, Oakey Doakey to describe a good feeling day. This morning when I woke and went to check on her I said, "Good morning, how are you feeling today?"
My mom's response, "Oakey Doakey!"
Her mind was clearer. She had a good night's sleep. Her eyes, wide and awake.
My nice mom was back, the agreeable mom who could reason and communicate.
We checked her blood sugar and it was back under the 100's - 92 was her reading. Her blood pressure had been elevated, especially in the morning when she woke up. It has been reading 190-200 / 90 +. This morning, her blood pressure was significantly lower, 137/73!
The doctor has her taking Seacure, 12 capsules a day and Cardio HTN. The Cardio HTN is used to lower blood pressure. Seacure for cognition. The doctor told me that it will take about a week to start to see results. This morning we seem to be seeing results from the Cardio HTN. Wooo Hooo! We began taking these supplements last Thursday so it hasn't been a full week yet.
I am walking in uncharted territory. I have no experience with dementia except the crazy part of the disease. Everywhere I read it appears that there's no cure; the person is destined to be prisoner in their own mind.
However, the mind and body has incredible power to solve all problems. I believe in a solution to help my mom not feel so confused and have lots of "Oakey Doakey" days ahead.