Disclaimer

I am not a doctor. I am providing information based on experiences that my mom has with natural remedies. The purpose of this blog is to help folks to educate themselves. Use this information with your own discernment.

29 September 2010

Brussel Sprout and Asparagus Delight

Brussel Sprout and Asparagus Delight
a Sue Higgins Creation

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 Brussel Sprouts split in half and trimmed
6 cloves of garlic chopped fine
Juice of 1 medium lemon
1/2 cup free range organic chicken broth
2 Tbsp Italian Flat Parsley chopped fine
Grated Parmesean cheese as a garnish

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (I use a cast iron pan) until it shimmers.
Add the brussel sprouts cut section faced down in the pan and grate fresh salt and pepper over the brussel sprouts.  Allow each brussel sprout half to brown.
Add the Asparagus spears and quickly and gently toss.
Add the lemon juice and let it saute for a few minutes.
Add the garlic and mix around
Add the half cup of chicken broth and let the liquid boil out
Add the parsley.
Plat serving size portions and sprinkle with a little grated parmesean cheese

The Power of Prayer

Mary Imagine
In a hospital window
in Milton, MA
2003
"Hail Mary, full of grace, help me find a parking space!"
                                                              Mrs. Ragasa

The Blessed Virgin Mary and I have been buddies for as long as I can remember.  I went to a Catholic Grammar School, one named after my favorite saint of all saints.  No wonder I loved the BVM, she was always so nice and gentle looking to me, she made me feel good when I looked at her pictures.  As a child, I drew pictures of her often; I adored Mary.

My passion for the Blessed Mother hasn't wavered, she is always close and when I pray to her, she always comes through... always.  I learned the little prayer that I opened this post with from my "pen pal's" mom when I visited her in Hawaii in 2001.  Mary, she always comes through, even finding parking spaces.  This week, I needed more than a parking space.

I've had her visit me a few times in this lifetime, always when I'm scared.  Just like a real mother, she comes and comforts me.  I just need to remember to ask her for help because she won't help unless I ask.

On Monday, the day after my mom was discharged from the hospital, we went to Dr. Barton's for acupuncture.  I was scared shit.  I didn't know if my mom would ever come back to where she was before she was admitted to the hospital.  She forgot how to swallow a pill.  She was not well.  I was worried that the time had come for her to go to a nursing facility.

While she laid on the table during her acupuncture treatment, I sat in the room and meditated.  I found myself reciting the Hail Mary in my mind.  I felt the words.  Suddenly, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in my third eye.  She came with a brilliant light, I felt relieved.  She came!  

I asked her to help.  I asked her to stand over my mom and heal her.  I prayed.  I opened my eyes with a squint and saw her standing over my mom.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  I felt peace.  My prayers were being answered.

Mom got off the table and she didn't have her hand or mouth tremors.  Her words were coming back too.  The magnet therapy appears to be working well for her in addition to everything else that we do.

In the car on the way home she said out of the blue, "The Blessed Mother came to me today.  She was giving me a healing.... hey, look!  There she is, she's in the back seat sitting behind you."  My mom was back and she was smiling bright.

Thank you Mother Mary!

Goosebumps, followed by a sense of calm.  I told my mom about my meditation and how I prayed for Mary to come and help her.  The power of prayer, it really works.  It helps me to keep the faith during those times when I just want to throw in the towel.  The only trouble is I need to remember to stop and take a moment to quiet my mind and ask for help.

Yesterday, my mother had a very good day.  She was speaking complete sentences even before bed.  Usually she loses her ability to find words when she's tired, but not last night.  She got to talk to my sister Ann on the phone, we never imagined that would happen again.

Who knows how long we have with her, each day that she wakes with a semi-clear mind is a gift.  

Even when she woke up at 3am this morning was a gift, she was happy.  Somehow she turned on Pandora Radio on the computer;  I found her dancing in the dark to Louis Armstrong singing, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."  

I am amazed at the power of prayer. 

28 September 2010

Wild Weekend With Lewy

My Ma, happy to hear that she
isn't in a
nursing home and will come home
 It's been a wild weekend in the ER with my mother and her nemesis, Lewy.  She appears to have moved to the next level of Lewy Bodies Dementia; the hospital stay over the weekend really twanged her brain strings.

Saturday morning, I was ready to leave for the baby's party in Maine, my mom was slumped in her chair.  She was not very responsive, eyes rolling back and all she could say is, "I'll be OK."  Over and over she said this to me.  She kissed my hands and thanked me for everything that I have done for her.  She thought she was dying.  Just moments before this episode, she was joking and laughing, excited to go to Maine to see her Great Grandson and dance with him.

Her blood pressure went sky high, about 235/95 in no time, with no warning.  She had gone outside in the humid warm air.  I've seen her like this in the past so I gave her the homeopathic remedy that Dr. Barton had prescribed.  She couldn't remember how to hold the little blue shot glass.  Finally, she did.  It revived her like it had in the past.  She was walking around and could raise her arms.  Her speech was back too.  I put the phone down and didn't call 911.  911 is my last resort.

We called Jay and told her we weren't going to Maine, instead I invited her to my house so that she could visit with Rachel.  We were going to enjoy the eggplant that I had made and the sauce made from the B rated tomatoes from the farm stand.  I brought my mom with me for the ride to my brother and sister-in-law's where Jay lives.

Along the way, my mom was singing along to the music and having fun.  She was back to her self.  Once at Marty's she tried to got out of the car and then she told me that she was dizzy.  "Sit back down, Ma."  I said to her.  She forgot how to get in the car.  I began yelling, "Marty!  HELP!!"  No one heard me.

I got her in the car and buckled her in; I ran in told everyone, "Help!  I think Ma's having a stroke!!"

Marty came with me to the hospital.  Ma was not speaking words, she was making lots of ssss sounds; saying what sounded like a conversation in her mind but what we heard from her was "swish ssshwwwishs shspwsssh, OK?"  Over and over she talked this way, pointing to the trees and the highway that we were driving.  I heard Ed's name at one point when she pointed to the trees along the highway, trees where Ed was showing himself to our mom.  He made her smile, she was happy to see Ed.

The ER was a long wait; we had to wait for 14.5 hours before we saw the physician who would admit my mother.  Because we didn't take an ambulance ride, my mom was put at the bottom of the list... what a shitty rule.  My mother was having a hypertensive emergency and she has dementia.  The nurses in the ER were awesome.  I do believe they made the right decision to keep her in the ER so that they could monitor her.  The head nurse in charge was worried that my mom wouldn't be cared for upstairs in the bed that was waiting for her, without doctor's orders.  We waited.

My mom had a temperature of 102 when she finally got to her room.  The doctor was very good that saw her, she understood Lewy Bodies Dementia.  She put on the order, NO ANTI-PSYCHOTIC DRUGS to be administered.  She outlined the diet that my mom could eat based on what I had told her.  The doctor was even open to homeopathy and the natural treatments we use on my mom to give her more good days.

When my mom was settled in her bed at 1:30am, Brian and I went home for a little rest.  I slept for only 4 hours when I jumped up to call the nurse caring for my mom.  It was 6am, the time she wakes up.  I was worried that she would be frightened, not knowing where she is or what was going on.

"She's doing well.  I just checked on her and she's sleeping."  The nurse told me.

"Oh good.  Call me if she is agitated and I'll come back immediately."  I said to the nurse in reply.

7:11am the phone rang.  It was the nurse, asking me to come back.  My mom was up and not allowing them to do anything to her.  She was screaming and scared.  I talked to my mom, she started to cry.  I told her that she was in Lahey Clinic and I was on my way back to be with her.

Mom was happy to see me.  She stopped crying.  I ordered her breakfast, scrambled eggs with a slice of gluten free bread.  She was so happy eating forbidden food... bread.  She looked at it and said, "OOOOO, CAKE!"

Ma listened to my iPad, singing and tapping her hands on her legs.  Music calmed her.

video


Marty and Donna came in the room around the same time, within minutes of eachother.  My mom lit up like the Citgo Sign in Fenway Park, she was excited to see her family with her.  Having us around her helped her to relax a little more.

The doctor came in and examined my mom, her blood pressure reading was 120/39.  She asked me what I thought of my mom's condition, how far off from her baseline that she is; I knew she was asking me in code, "do you want to keep her here?"

"She looks great!  Can I take her home today?  I worry about the food choices, there aren't many and what I feed my mom matters."  I said to the doctor.

"Sure, she can go home today (Sunday)."  The doctor said.  "Would you like a physical therapist to work with your mom?"  She added.

I agreed that PT would be super for her.  Even better that the therapist will come to the house to work with my mom.

The doctor wanted her to see the Neurologist on call before discharging my mother; it was the Neurologist that had seen her the night before in the ER.  She saw my mom pretty quick when we were in the ER.  The doctor couldn't admit my mom, she did recommend admittance.  I really like this Neurologist, she gave me a double look with a big smile when I told her that my mom sees an ND who gives her acupuncture.  I'm not accustomed to traditional doctors being receptive to how we treat my mom's illnesses.  I was pleasantly surprised and it put me at ease.

The doctor told my mom, "Josephine, do you want to go home today?"  My mother was so happy, she said, "YES!"  Then she grabbed the doctor's hand and told her that she loves her.  "I love you!" She said to her as she picked up her hand and kissed it.

We then waited for the Physical Therapist and the Neurologist.  And we waited.  Lunch came.  I let her have cottage cheese as a treat.  Big mistake.  She went completely ape-shit.  Donna couldn't believe how fast she shifted from laughing to total anger and agitation, ready to punch someone out.

The Physical Therapist came and walked with my mom.  My mom wanted to leave.  My mom's blood pressure was high after the walk; the Physical Therapist told the doctor who wouldn't let my mom leave until her BP came down to 165/80 or less.  Of course her BP was 200/95.  My mom was given more BP meds by mouth, which was a challenge.  She couldn't remember how to take a pill.  FUCK!  Is all I could think to myself.

Donna was able to get her to remember how to take her pills, somehow... thank God she was with me to help.

We then needed to wait another hour for the medication to work to lower her BP.  My mom was not happy about this, she wanted to leave NOW.  She became more and more agitated.

I played music on the iPad, mom had a private room, we shut the door so not to disturb anyone.  My mother was pissed.  She wanted to get out of bed.  She had an alarm attached to her because she's a fall risk, not steady on her feet.  I kept her down as long as I could, then I started to dance.  Donna joined in and we danced for our mom.  We had a fun time, it was a riot.  My mother laughed but quickly got bored with our entertainment.

"Come on now, go get the car!" She demanded.

My mom was out of bed.  She wanted to see her cloths and shoes, she had had enough of the hospital.  My mom became more agitated, she was mad.  She was yelling at me with an angry face that made Donna and me laugh out loud.  Of course our laughing made her more mad.

I got my mom's natural remedies from the nurse.  I gave my mom some hyoscyamus to calm her down.  It did calm her a little, at least she didn't want to kill me anymore because I blocked her from going out the door to yell and punch out the nurses.

Donna had a brilliant idea, "let's wheel her around in a wheel chair."  Our goal was to keep her calm, to keep her from walking around making her BP elevate.  If it was high, she would have to wait longer.  Waiting was the root cause of her agitation.  We were in a weird catch-22 situation.

Finally, the nurse came to check her blood pressure, she was right on time... one hour had passed.  My mom's BP was 168/70.  3 points higher than what the doctor had said it needed to be in order to be discharged.  The news bummed my mother out.  The nurse told her that she could put her pants on, but needed to wait for the IV sites to be removed as well as the heart monitor stickers.

Mom waited no time to get dressed, putting her pants and shoes on first, waiting for word that she could leave.

"Can you ask the doctor if we can just take her home?  I'm worried that keeping her here longer will only make her blood pressure go up higher.  Please, for my mom's sake, let me take her home.  She'll calm down if she's home."  I reasoned with the nurse.

A few minutes passed and the nurse said, "Ok, you can go home.  Let me go and get the discharge papers.  You can get dressed now."

Ma, was pissed.  "I'm waiting over here...
Go Get the Car, NOW!"
My mom was psyched.  But, we still were not moving fast enough.  She put her shirt on inside out and backward; not allowing us to fix it for her.

She wanted to be out of there very badly.  "Get the car!"  She would demand of my sister and me.

We got home and my husband greeted us.  He opened the car door for my mom and she was happy to see his face.  She knew that she was home, safe and secure as soon as she saw Brian.  Brian looked at my mom's  inside out and backward shirt, puzzled... I gave him a look, "don't ask."

Mom was agitated, she wouldn't sit still.  She was not steady on her feet; I was worried that she'd fall.  Finally, after having one of my one pot meals, loaded with herbs and spices that help her cognition, she settled down, put on her nightgown and went to sleep.

I forgot to give her Ashwagandha before bed.  I didn't want to wake her to give it to her.  I took a chance.

4am... BANG!  CRASH!

I sprang out of bed and flew up the stairs.  My mom wasn't in her room.  Panic hit.  I hollered for her, breaking the morning silence, "MA?!"

"I'm over here!  Help!  I can't get out."  My mother said in a panic.

She was in my MIL's office, in the dark, frightened.  I helped her back to her room and tucked her in.

The next morning, I noticed that she had moved my MIL's heavy standing floor mirror.  I wondered where my mom got the strength to move it as she did.  She also was so scared, she pee'd on the floor.  Nothing was broken and my MIL was super understanding, she didn't get angry.  I cleaned up the mess.

My mom forgot how to swallow pills yesterday.  She didn't understand what I was asking her to do.  She put her cognition supplements in her mouth and let them dissolve.  They taste disgusting, the taste didn't seem to bother her; normally she'd be bitching about the taste.  I freaked out.  If she can't take pills and or supplements, I can't help her anymore.  I cried.  I broke out in a full body sweat.  I was scared.

After having breakfast with the phosphatidyl choline, her mood was better and once the cognition supplements were dissolved in her mouth, she came back around a little more.  She still couldn't remember how to take a pill.

Acupuncture helped her a lot yesterday.  It stopped her hands and face tremors and her speech was clear.  She was finding all of her words.  My mom was back!

We missed food shopping this weekend, with no food in the house, I knew I needed to stop at the supermarket on the way home.  My mom wanted to come inside with me, shopping for food has always been her favorite activity.  She pushed the cart and walked around the produce section picking out things that she wanted to eat.  Shopping made her feel good.  We walked the entire circumference of the store; she was exhausted after our little trip.  We went home.

I made chicken soup for lunch with lots of spices and herbs that help with cognition, lowering blood pressure and blood sugar.  It worked.  My mom was dancing in the afternoon to Frank Sinatra.  Her balance was better and more importantly, she remembered how to swallow a pill!

She woke up at 4:30am this morning to use the bathroom.  She got lost, taking a wrong turn out of the bathroom.  I heard her awake so I ran upstairs and helped her back to her bed.  She's still sleeping... it's now nearly 8am.

It was an adventure for us this weekend.  It's been years since my husband and I have been in the ER with my mom.  Mom, she appears to have notched down, moving closer to the day where she has no idea who we are or how to do simple things like swallow.

Acupuncture is helping her a lot, it takes the inflammation away from the parts of her brain that are not diseased.  It appears to be holding back the progression, giving her more good days to enjoy before the bus comes for her, taking her to Heaven.

*Morning update:  Tuesday:  Ma is back!  She is better and able to swallow pills.  Her Blood Pressure was 144/70.  Yay!

25 September 2010

Back Door Logic: The Review By Shinnerpunch

A couple of months ago, I was reading one of my favorite bloggers at Inconsequential Logic and she posted her review by "Ask and Ye Shall Receive" or more intimidatingly known as, IWillFuckingTearYouApart.blogspot.com .

Roschelle set a challenge at the end of her post commenting on her review, "are you brave enough?"

Being who I am, I said, "Hell, ya!"  I submitted my blog and like Roschelle, I forgot about it until one day a couple of days ago, I got notice that my review was ready.  Wooo hooo... dare I read it?


Most of Shinner's comments were valid and I was excited when I saw how annoyed non-caregiver folks felt when they read some of my posts; exhausting was the common theme.  Sure it's exhausting, try walking in a Care Giver's shoes just for one day, do you have the stomach for it?  Who knows.  Everyone is different with different motivations for doing what we all do at any given time.

Ignorance is bliss.  Ignorance can be cured with awareness.  My blog documents the last days that I have with my mother.  Who knows how long any of us have, but I do believe that we need to live for today because tomorrow just may not come.

Preachy?  I like to call it passion.  I am a passionate writer.  I can't describe it, it's more like I found my voice while writing this blog.  My earlier posts, like Shinner noticed were staccato and synthetic; I was a new writer.  I began writing every day with out fail.  Some of my posts were not very good but I wrote and published anyway, even if it was repetitive.  Today, writing comes easily.  I am a writer because I write.

Repetition?  Sure I have repetitive posts, one day they will be combined into one awesome chapter.  Shinner's advice about not writing the same thing over and over, good advice and I'll keep that in mind when I write.  

However, I see the key words that people use for searches and Fenugreek and Diabetes is a big search topic.  I have witnessed first hand the power of this herb and how it absolutely helped cure my mother of her debilitating disease, diabetes.  I could write a whole book about diabetes, food and fenugreek; it's needed.  

One day if you ever get word from a doctor that you have diabetes, I hope you remember me and look up how we cured my mom with out all the synthetic drugs.  Repetition is also good for ratings on a specific topic.  Like writing every day, writing about the same topic over and over helps me to find my voice about the subject.  Sorry if anyone finds it boring, just skip reading me that day.

My blog outlines my personal growth as I help escort my mom to the bus to heaven.  We never know when that day will come when my dad comes for her, but we're enjoying every day like it is the last.  

It was a challenge getting to the place where we are right now, but we did it.  My mother, she's doing fabulous.  She dances like a young girl and she's 81.  Today, she will dance with her Great Grandson at his 2nd birthday, something we never imagined would happen.  All the anguish, pain and sadness has been worth it because life is about people, people bring us happiness... family, they're important and we all need them around us, even if you don't think so right now.

My hope is that I have raised awareness about Care Giving, what it's like for me and others who chose to do it like I have done.  Young readers, you can't see it coming, it surely seems like it's a long time away, but time, it speeds up as you age.  You can now consider yourself informed, you can no longer be ignorant when you have been made aware; my blogs intent.

We all have choices to make in life, each choice brings joy and sorrow, especially when faced with a parent that has lost their mind.  I am not sorry for anything because everything that I've lived through with my mother has helped me to be who I am today.  I like who I am and have no regrets.  

One day when my mom is gone, I will feel satisfied that I had done all that I could while she was alive.  Knowing this fact, makes me feel good.  Hell, what's so bad about that?

Thank you Shinnerpunch for the fine review and helping me to raise awareness about dementia and Care Giving.

I ask once more... are you brave enough to have your blog reviewed?

24 September 2010

I Want to Go Home

Care Giving has challenges and one day when you least expect it your loved one will inevitably demand, "I WANT TO GO HOME!"

It is unnerving the first time you hear those words come out of your wards mouth, especially when they are already at home.

Confusion and disorientation take over, logic and reason are out the window.  Arguing about reality leads to conversations that end in a stalemate; frustration and anger often take the front seat in the mind of the carer.  To the demented mind, what they believe is true is true, period.  End of topic.

I have learned this phrase to mean that she's scared.  Hugs work really well.  Reassurance that everything is going to be OK and words of encouragement that she's safe and secure helps ease her fear.

Mom would run out the door and head down the street looking for "home" so often that I stopped sleeping soundly.  I always had one ear open, listening for foot steps and doors closing.

The first time she took off, she was mad at me because I wouldn't take her home... she was already home and no matter how many times I told her, "you're home!"  she wouldn't believe me.  Eyes off her for only 10 minutes; backyard gate wide open and mom off on a mission to find a home that doesn't exist.

Instead of arguing with her, I now say to her, "Oh?  You want to go home?  Come this way, I'll take you there, follow me."  I take her to her bedroom and show her all of her things.  She looks at me in amazement and says, "Wow!  How did you do that?  Thank you dear."

Sometimes I say to her, "It's right down the hall over there, Josephine Way, follow it all the way to the end and you will be home."  That often works depending on how confused she is at the moment.

Thinking that I needed some sort of prop to give her a sense of control, I had a key to the house made for her.  She wears the key round her neck on a pretty chain, it is a piece of jewelry to her.

Occasionally she is argumentative about being home.  During these times, I take her to the front door, she takes her key from around her neck and puts it into the lock.  When it fits, she will say something like, "Gee, that's nice."  "I'm glad I'm home."  "Ohhhh, how'd you do that?"

My mom NEVER takes her key necklace off, not even to shower or sleep.  The key has become her security.  She feels safe with her key, rarely do I hear her tell me that she wants to go home.

Since my mom has been wearing her key necklace, she doesn't wander away from home.  More importantly, she doesn't wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, dressing herself, packing a bag and heading out the door to look for "home."

The key.  Who knew that a tiny piece of metal could help answer the question, "I want to go home."

22 September 2010

Finding My Italian Roots

Montefalcione - My Grandmother's Village
Image from:  TrekEarth.com
I've been interested in my family tree and who everyone is for as long as I can remember.  My dad told me an awesome story that I believed up until the time I was about 30 and my dad's sister, Aunt Jay told me the real story.

My dad told me a fascinating story about how we come from a line of Polish Jews who were held prisoner in a Russian camp.

The story went on to describe a bunch of people who were all chained together with holes in their wrists. One day they all escaped, running through the Black Forest and finding refuge in a place called Jarmolo in Turkey (does not exist as far as I know, my dad was a good story teller.)

My dad told me that the people who escaped together, all changed their names from a Jewish last name to the name we all have today.  My dad always told me that our name meant, 'the beginning of a new life,' a belief that I held for most of my life.

I even told my nephew Joe the story of our Polish ancestors when he was in 3rd grade.  I remember sitting down at the table with him, telling the story just like my dad told me.  I believed the story with all of my heart.  Joe, he did too and wrote the story as a homework assignment.  I wonder if he remembers the story?

Little did we know that the real story was that my Polish ancestors didn't want to fight in the Russian Army so they changed their name to protect their Jewish heritage.  By the time my family immigrated to the US back in the early 1900's they were Catholic.

Lately, I've wanted to understand my mom's mother and our Italian side.  I want to know her story so I signed up for the 14 day trial on Ancestory.com and have been spending all my time researching instead of writing blog posts.  I apologize to anyone who may have missed my posting.

What I've learned about my Italian grandmother is that she has the same birthday as my mom's first born, September 9th.  Our grandmother's birthday was September 9, 1899.  In Numerology, that would make her a 9, just like my sister.  She had a challenging life and her numerology chart backs up the sad life she had lived in mental institutions here in the United States.

My grandmother, she came to America for the first time when she was 7 with what appears to be a bunch of her siblings and a relative from America.

My grandmother returned to live in America in 1912, arriving on a ship named the San Gregrio on May 25th... just a little more than a month after the Titanic sunk.  I couldn't imagine putting a young girl on a ship that was docked in Naples, Italy and sending her to a foreign land, one where she didn't know the language.   She came to Ellis Island in New York and eventually settled in Massachusetts where she had relatives in Revere.

I'm still searching for information about her.  My mother loves hearing what I'm learning about her mother.  She never knew anything about her family because she didn't speak Italian and my grandmother never spoke English.  Information was lost.

Fortunately, there are places like Ellis Island that has made public the passenger lists for the ships that arrived in New York from ports around the globe.

I really want to know more about my mom's side of the family.  I would love to meet my family in Italy.  I found out that if you are of Italian descent, you can file for citizenship of Italy!  You can read more about Italian Citizenship here on this website.  

I have learned that my Grandmother lived in Montefalcione, Campania, Italy.

Finding my Italian roots... I look forward to possibly meeting some of my mom's relatives one day so that I can learn more about my grandmother.

20 September 2010

How to Use Herbs to Help Cognition in LBD Patient

I've noticed that when my mom ingests a certain combination of spices and herbs, her mind is more clear.  When I make a soup or an all-in-one pot meal for dinner, my mom sleeps better and she wakes up in a happy state of mind.  I've also noticed that she doesn't hallucinate as soon as she wakes up.

So, what are the herbs that seem to help her cognition?

Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, Garlic, Turmeric, Coriander, Cumin, Black Pepper (fresh ground) and Himalayan Sea Salt.

I grow the herbs in my garden so that I can put fresh sprigs into meals that I am preparing.  It's pretty easy once you know how to use your garden herbs.

How much do you use?  

This was always my big question, I never knew how much of a fresh herb to use in cooking.  Through trial, I've discovered that 2 - 3 sprigs of Rosemary about 2 or 3 inches in length is about a tablespoon chopped; same is true for fresh Oregano.

Do you have to take each leave off the branch?  

No.  What I have learned, especially with thyme is if you toss in several sprigs, the leaves will fall off by themselves and you can pull the twig out once the dish is cooked.

I sometimes pull the leaves off Rosemary and Oregano because it's so easy to pull them off by lightly pinching the branch and sliding your pinched fingers against the grain of the twig.

How much spice?

With the spices, I use 1 teaspoon of each turmeric, coriander, cumin... pepper and salt, I use about 3 turns of the grinder.

Fast Food Cooking

Pressure cookers are the greatest invention because it allows me to make fast food that is full of healthy nutrition.  Pressure cooking traps in all the nutrients so that nothing is lost as is done when cooking conventionally in a pot on the stove.

Be creative.  

Use boneless skinless chicken thighs as meat in your pot with lots of vegetables.  Use olive oil and coconut oil.  Cook the meat first, put in chopped up garlic and the spices.  Add the herbs.  Add  vegetables, broth and tomatoes.  Pressure cook on high pressure until the pot hisses, let it hiss for 5 minutes and turn off the heat, allowing the pan to de-pressurize on it's own.

My mother (and all of my family) love the dishes that come out of the pressure cooker.  You can put in 1/4 cup of gluten free pasta before you pressure cook, it is amazing how a little bit of pasta can be so satisfying.  I also add legumes like Cannellini beans in place of potatoes.

19 September 2010

Good Day for Everyone... Especially the Cats

Ma and Jay at Mann's Orchard having coffee
Yesterday morning, even though my mother woke up screaming that she needed to get to church, the day ended up being a really good day for everyone.

The Hyoscyamus worked well to ease my mom's agitation, just as I had expected.  She put on headphones and listened to music, music that made her dance and sing around the house.  I love Frank Sinatra for the peace his music brings to my home.

I have been thinking of Jay.  My little aunt who was always there for us when we were struggling.  My mom and Jay were best of friends for as long as I can remember.  Yesterday, I was going to Mann's Apple Orchard to buy local vegetables and native fruit; it's not far from where Jay is living with my brother and sister-in-law.  I called and invited her out.

Initially, she told me that she was too tired to come out.  "I just woke up."  She said.  "I'm tired."

"Well, come on out, moving around and a change of scenery will do you a world of good.  Besides, I'd like to bring you to my house so that you can visit with your buddy Rachel."  I replied with enthusiasm.

Jay having lunch in our "luxurious" setting
Jay did come out with us to the farm .  She sat and had coffee with my mom while I walked around the farm stand gathering vegetables and fruit.  My mom usually sits and watches me from a table that overlooks the store as she sports a set of headphones that play the crooning of the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.  Yesterday, my mom sat with Jay as they enjoyed a cup of coffee.

Jay visited with Rachel.  I served them lunch on our old dilapidated deck, setting up TV tray tables which prompted my MIL to say, "This is so luxurious!"   I missed a photo opportunity with Rachel and Jay together on the deck.

Toothless Savita and her prize
Savita, our cat with no teeth had caught a chipmunk which caught all of our attention.  Jay was bummed that she was torturing the animal.  Seeing Savita run with a chipmunk in her mouth, drop it in the middle of the yard, chase it ... repeat, had me following her around with my camera.

Whenever the kittens come home with their daily kill from their morning hunt, Savita seems to want to one up them, often coming home with a bigger rodent.

Yesterday, Shakti had brought home a field mouse, Sammy brought home a mole and Savita, she brought  a chipmunk.

What makes Savita amazing is that she's 9 years old and lost all but her front teeth to a virus that she caught as a kitten in the wild.  She's lost weight since we moved her and took control of feeding her.  She is happy.  She goes outside and has her favorite hunting spot where she waits for any rodent to cross her path.

Yesterday, Savita had a successful hunt.  Sammy the cat seemed impressed as he dropped his mole on the patio and hurried over to see what Savita had going on in the middle of the lawn.

He even had the nerve to try and steal the dead chipmunk away from Savita but she would not have it.  Growling and hissing chased Sammy away from her prize.  Savita sat proudly by her chipmunk, making sure everyone knew that it was hers, especially Sammy who I've seen lower his head to the ground and dip his paw into a hole as he flipped a startled mole into the air.

Jay had a nice visit with her buddy Rachel.  My mom was happy and having a very good day.  She listened to her music, dancing around the yard and singing out loud as she watched Brian do yard work.   Jay and Rachel kept an eye on her, making note of where she was and alerting me if she was out of their sight.  "JO!"  I heard them yell a few times.  My mom didn't hear them, she was busy listening to music and watching for her "friends."

Most important, I had a great day yesterday.  My mother was occupied and I had other folks here to watch her so I could have a little break.  It was awesome.  Everyone had a great day yesterday, even the cats.

18 September 2010

I Need to Get to Church!

My mom's brain seems to have been twanged since Thursday when she didn't have a very good day at "school." She became extremely agitated in the afternoon, the way she gets when she eats any food made with wheat gluten or white foods like potatoes.  I don't know if it was the Joseph's pita bread that I used to make her a sandwich or if she sneakily nabbed a sliver of cake.  In any event, my mother was wild when I picked her up.

Mom didn't recognize me.  I tried to put my hand on her back to help guide her out the door but she planted her feet and yelled at me to get my hands off her.  She was mad with everyone, even the aids and nurses.

It sort of started on Wednesday when one of the assistants took my mom to the bathroom.  My mom doesn't need assistance and got angry that someone took her after we told them she was fine by herself.  She believed that the woman would stick her in the ass with a needle so that we could cart her off to a nursing home, her biggest fear, a fear that seems to have surfaced since she visited her brother Al in a home last week.

I knew that once I got her home and gave her a drink of Hyoscyamus Niger her agitation would go away and she'd be more pleasant to be around.  My challenge is getting her to trust the nurses at the program to give her the drink when she is agitated.  Currently, she is paranoid and suspicious of the workers and the nurses and won't eat lunch that I pack for her if the workers put it on a plate for her.  It's really crazy.

The Hyoscyamus worked fast, within 15 minutes my mom was dancing to Frank Sinatra tunes that I put on Pandora Radio as soon as I got in the door.   I wish she'd allow the nurses to give her "the drink."

No more sandwiches for my mother.  I don't want her to start looking for the exits at school to escape.  Once she does "exit seeking" she won't be able to attend the ADH Program, she'll need to go to another where the building is locked down.   The first program she attended was locked down and it seemed to cause more disturbances, she hated it with a passion and lashed out at me more frequently.  I do want to avoid this behavior because it sucks to be on the receiving end of the abuse.

Yesterday was pretty good when we got home from visiting Patricia.  She hallucinated a lot in the afternoon and got angry with me when I couldn't tell her names of the hallucinations or where they had gone.  She appears to hallucinate more when she's left alone, probably because she doesn't know how to entertain herself anymore.  People, like the folks at the program she attends, help to keep her focused on activities so that she isn't seeing her dead friends and relatives.

I played music all afternoon and began dancing spontaneously every so often; it always makes her laugh when I begin dancing slowly from the kitchen and move into the room where she is sitting.  My mom laughed, and before long, she was up dancing and singing along to the music from her days of youthful fun.

My mom was exhausted last night.  Walking up those stairs tired her out.  She fell asleep at 7pm... way too early.

2am... squeak, squeak, squeak.  My mom was up and walking across the squeaky floor boards above my bed to wake me up.

"Ma, it's 2am, it's too early to be awake."  I softly said to her.  I got her to go back to bed.

5:30 am... Sammy the cat was coming to tell me that my mom was awake.  He draped his body across me with a big plop.  He was trying to wake me.  I was woken but I didn't move, I didn't pat him to let him know that he woke me up.  He sighed a few heavy sighs with a purr that got louder and louder.

5:50 am... squeak, squeak, squeak.  My mom was up again, this time I could tell she was dressed because I could hear her shoes clomping and making the squeaks louder.

At the top of the stairs, I saw my mom fully dressed.  She was angry and yelled loudly, shattering the morning silence... "I need to get to church!  We go to church every morning here in this place.  I need a ride!"  My mom was panicking.

I whispered... "Ma, it's not even 6am yet, everyone is sleeping, you'll wake the house...  I think you had a bad dream, we never go to church.  It's OK."

With her outside voice my mom yelled, "I don't give a shit!  I need a ride to church!!"

I calmly got her blue shot glass, filled it with water and added the homeopathic remedy Hyoscyamus, it always calms her agitation.  My mom saw me preparing the remedy and she yelled, "I am not taking that shit!"

I ignored her outburst and handed her the blue shot glass with the remedy.  She drank it with no argument.

She went to her room and sat in her chair.  I put on the taped Ellen Show that I record every day for her, she loves Ellen, she makes her laugh.  I brought her a cup of decaf coffee, her pills and a banana.  She is calm and reasonable.  Our home is back to a normal state and my mom realizes that she was dreaming.  Maybe I need to take her to church tomorrow?

17 September 2010

Jo the Stair Master

Today my mom had acupuncture and then we stopped in and visited Patricia, bringing her a sandwich that I had made for her.  It's what we do every week after my mom's Acupuncture appointments; visiting Patricia is part of our routine and my mom loves it.

Once we arrived at the office building that Patricia manages, we got to the elevator where we noticed a sign, "Sorry for the inconvenience, Elevator Temporarily Out of Service."  Oh great I thought to myself.

I noticed that my mom was walking pretty well and the way she has been dancing lately, I figured walking up five flights of stairs wouldn't be a problem for her.  It was raining and I didn't want to walk back to the car so I said excitedly, "Come on Ma, let's find the stairs!"

"Ok."  She said as we walked and found the stairwell up to the 5th floor.

She did really well, she walked up the stairs pretty fast for an old lady.  You'd never guess that she is 81.

Here's a little bit of a video showing my mom climbing the stairs, mastering them as though she was scaling the highest mountain with ease.  My mom continues to prove that it's never too late to take care of yourself no matter how old or sick you think you are.  My mom's new nickname is Jo the Stair Master.

video

16 September 2010

Paranoia and Dementia Is Challenging For Care Givers

Ma, looking for Heaven's Bus and Dad
My mom is paranoid, she believes that real people and hallucinations are out to get her.  She believes that the nurses at the Adult Day Care program are up to no good and that they are trying to poison her so that she is committed to a nursing home against her will.

I pack her lunch every day.  I only give her food that I know won't cause her any weird behaviors, like chasing after Heaven's Bus so that she can hitch a ride or better, talk to my dad who's been dead since 1979.

I've been experimenting with new breads for sandwiches that I make for her.  The carbohydrate count is important, anything over 15g will send her chasing her hallucinations or believing something totally off the wall.

I've asked the nurses to open her food in front of her or she won't eat it.  I let them know that she is suspicious of them and what they might put in her food.  The only thing that I can think is that my mom is worried that she is in a hospital during the day and that we are all in cahoots in an attempt to get her admitted to a nursing home.

What can I do to calm her suspicions that she believes with all of her heart?  The power of belief is very strong and appears to be even stronger when the mind is demented.

My immediate solution...  I am making her a new hypnosis recording, one with customized phrases that will penetrate her subconscious mind and ease her paranoia.  I have been listening to everything that she says, trying to make sense out of her fear.  I need to create positive phrases that she will believe; new beliefs that will replace her suspicious thoughts.

What I am hearing between her words is that she's frightened of nursing homes and being committed to one.  Seeing her brother in a new nursing home last weekend seems to have brought on more paranoia as far as her fear of nursing homes is concerned.  She can't put her head around the fact that the day program is keeping her out of a home.

My mom, she won't eat or drink anything that the nurses give her at the day program.  She believes that she saw them putting something in her food.  As all Care Giver's for an LBD patient knows, there is no changing their minds; going against what they say will only lead to upsets.

Dead people... she's obsessed with the dead.  She believes that they are real, that I need to feed them and that she needs to take care of all the children.  She sees so many children, it makes me wonder what may have triggered hallucinations with kids.  Little boys, little girls, all of them needing help.  My dad, he has children, lots of children in Heaven according to my mom.  She tells me that I have brothers and sisters that are babies and even a sister that's 18.  She gets angry with me because I don't know their names.

Validating her hallucinations is tiring.  I repeat the same thing over and over again but it's not the answer she wants to hear so she tells me that I'm wrong.  I then tell her that I have no idea, that I can't see them but she can... none of this works.

My mom believes that I know more than I'm telling her.  I have begun to tell her that I can't tell her anything because it's against  the Universal Laws of Nature for the dead to be part of our world of the living.  My mom, she doesn't believe this explanation, she wants to talk to her dead people and wants me to make it happen for her.

My mom is paranoid, a symptom of her illness.  Hypnosis has worked for her in the past.  Today, I will write a customized hypnosis script for her that will be geared toward easing her fears.  I'll mix it with music and have her listen to the recording every night before bed.  Of course I'll report the results as well as the reasons why I created the phrases that will be part of the hypnosis script.

Paranoia and dementia is challenging for care givers.

14 September 2010

The Outcome: Natural Treatment for Lewy Bodies Dementia

April 11, 2008
My wedding day
Ma, me and Rachel (MIL)
I've been blogging for a couple of years now, beginning my journal, documenting the experiences as a Care Giver for a parent with Lewy Bodies Dementia.  

My mom, she was pretty sick when our journey started down the final leg of her trip here on Earth.  She was on lots of pharmaceutical drugs, at least 3 different high blood pressure pills, pills that appeared to do nothing to help manage my mom's blood pressure.  Blood pressure readings were off the charts, even with the medications that she had filled at the local pharmacy; medicine that's supposed to lower blood pressure.  It didn't.

My mom was dizzy a lot.  She fell often and even toppled out of her chair after she had drifted off to sleep sitting up and being woken by her head smacking the dresser.  Bangs to the head are never a good thing, especially with someone like my mom who already has a degenerate brain disorder, Lewy Bodies Dementia (or Vascular Dementia - one can't be sure without an autopsy.)

Looking back over the last 2 years, I wonder how we did it, how we got the outcome that we currently have with my mom.  The answer is simple, food, real food... food is medicine.  It took me awhile to come to this conclusion but the more real food that I fed my mom, the healthier she became.

First, there was her uncontrolled diabetes.  She had an A1C that was very high, in the mid-teens during her worst physical state of being.  My mom took 62 units of insulin, every day; her blood sugar was nearly impossible to manage, even with the high doses of synthetic insulin.  My mom was riding on the blood glucose roller coaster, spikes ... one minute her blood glucose was sky high, the next it was bottoming out on the dangerously low end.  High sugar caused my mom to be disoriented, low blood sugar caused her to shake uncontrollably and feel really sick.

Her cholesterol was off the charts; statins caused her lots of muscle pain and weakness.  She stopped taking the drugs to lower her cholesterol and the pain in her body went away.  I researched statins and discovered that these drugs were the cause of her pain.  

When I was dating my husband before we were married, we would spent just about one night every weekend in the ER with my mom.  Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, blood sugar in the 300's and blood pressure off the charts where the Blood Pressure machine screamed warnings; some of the episodes were scarier than others.  She survived Congestive Heart Failure and eventually had a pace maker installed.

My mom, she also had sleep apnea, a condition where she stopped breathing a lot during the night while she tried to sleep.  Lack of sleep and poor diet are more than likely the root cause to my mom's health issues.  Losing weight and eliminating dairy products has helped this condition a lot, my mom doesn't stop breathing at night anymore.  Sleep apnea... gone.

Hallucinations became the norm for us early on in about 2005, where she'd run through the house screaming about "the baby."  I'd wake up to find her in a panic... this was the beginning of adventures in Josie's Crazyland.

Once I lost my job due to a lay off, we moved fast.  I got married, moved my mom and cat, prepared my house for sale and sold my house 16 days before the financial meltdown.  My mom, appeared to become crazy over night, declining to a catatonic state.  The move was too sudden, everything happened so fast.  My mom stopped talking, she couldn't find any words and she began taking her pills incorrectly.

First, we cured her diabetes with fenugreek and food.  I cut out all processed foods and preservatives from our diets.  I observed her behaviors after she ate certain foods.  I researched.  I wrote and wrote and wrote.  


Today, my mom's diabetes is now managed without any pharmaceutical drugs.  She has lost 100 pounds and has a consistent A1C of 5.1 - 5.4... normal.   An added benefit, I lost 50 pounds and my husband lost a chunk of weight too.

I learned to cook with Fenugreek.  I was a Fenugreek fanatic.  It was my answer for everything.  It lowers blood sugar, gets rid of fluid retention and seemed to do the trick for constipation issues.  Fenugreek is amazing.  I've written lots of posts that describe how we used it and the results it had given to help cure my mom of diabetes.  I do have a book that I'm currently writing that outlines how we used fenugreek to cure my mom's diabetes.



I made observations.  I noticed that her pharma drugs were causing her issues; side effects that required her to take another pill.  Each new pill made her sick or gave her weird behaviors.

Dementia set in suddenly when we moved her, she began hallucinating during the day when she was awake.  She became paranoid.  I noticed how dementia episodes seemed to line up with her blood sugar and blood pressure readings.  High readings made my mom insane, confused and disagreeable.  I began preparing foods using herbs and spices that are known to reduce blood sugar and blood pressure.  



Fenugreek seemed to raise my mom's blood pressure.  I began to use bay leaves and garlic to help manage her blood pressure and blood sugar.  I cut out all white carbohydrates and quickly learned how bad white potatoes really are for our health.  


I experimented with gluten free recipes and noticed that it wasn't just the wheat gluten that seemed to bring on dementia episodes.  If carbohydrates were high in any food, it raised her blood sugar.  I paid attention to carbohydrates and focused on low glycemic index foods.
My mother was becoming more and more withdrawn.  She couldn't speak.  She hallucinated a lot and was frightened by "the man."  So much so that she actually called the police at 2am to report me missing and to tell them about a strange man in her bed.  Nothing more frightening than to have a cop barge through your bedroom door in the middle of the night, shining a flash light into your eyes as he said, "Madam, it's the police." 



I was at the end of my rope... so I thought.  I couldn't handle my mom's fears, her paranoia was intense.  I didn't want to stop the natural healing road that we were on so I began to experiment with hypnosis.  I am a trained Clinical Hypnotherapist; I created a custom hypnosis script for my mom and dubbed it in with music so that the messages would reach her subconscious mind.  It seemed to work a little.



Doctor's began to give me looks as though I was hurting my mom; I felt uneasy.  My mom was improving, but I was being looked upon as a wacko because I wouldn't insist that my mom take the drugs that they were prescribing.  My mom didn't want to take them and I wasn't going to force her to take them.  I became my mom's voice once she lost her own ability to speak.



I shared everything with my mom, everything that I was learning.  She understood and was totally on board.  Her dementia symptoms freaked me out a bit, especially when police showed up in my bedroom at 2am.  I wouldn't give up.  

I researched and found Cordyceps Mushrooms for dementia, a sort of magic mushroom for the elderly.  Instead of creating hallucinations, it stopped them.  The mushroom grows in Tibet and have been used in Chinese Medicine to help ease the symptoms of dementia in the aged.  Side effects were minimal, stomach discomfort and diarrhea when too much is ingested.  The mushrooms helped her to come alive a little and it absolutely helped her to never be constipated again.  Today, my mom takes 500mg a day in a capsule form.  Cordyceps are amazing.  I've written a lot of blog posts about it.
It was around the time that my mom was taking Cordyceps that I searched for a Naturopath Doctor, someone who understood the test results from the traditional doctors and who could prescribe natural supplements and remedies to help my mom's condition.  I needed a professional to help my mom, someone who knows the pros and cons with any supplement that he prescribes.  

I found Dr. Barton from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website.  He wasn't too far away so I wrote him an email, telling him what I had done with my mom and asked him if he could help her.  We set up a consultation and here we are, a year and a half later and my mom is dancing like she's 20!

My mom's disease is progressive, although it appears that we've slowed the march toward her final day on Earth with more good days than bad.  We achieved this phenomenal outcome by going back to basics.  I found new ways to cook food fast.  Through my mom, I learned which foods are good and which ones not so good with keeping a healthy body.  

I learned from my mother the greatest lesson of all, the importance of good health.  My mother never taught me about food, the food she taught me how to cook is all the stuff that got her sick in the first place.  She gradually poisoned herself and her kids, unintentionally!  The worst part is she also passed on the learned behavior of  how "good food" is supposed to look and taste.  

Yesterday when she was having her pace maker tested, the nurse commented and tried to give my mom credit for teaching me how to cook so well.  My mom pipped up and said, "No, no, I can't take credit for that, Susie did that all by herself and she helped me lose 100 pounds.  I feel great today because of my Susie."  Tears came to my eyes.  My mom gave me approval IN A PUBLIC SETTING!  

When I was given the opportunity to take control of my mom's diet, she suddenly began to feel better.  I prepared fresh food from scratch every day.  I began to discover the healing power of food and how to combine the food into tasty delicious meals that seemed to help my mom's cognition.  I discovered what food caused hallucinations and which ones seemed to keep her scary visitors away.  

The pharmaceutical pills were making her sick.  The side effects were horrible, worse than the illness they were supposed to treat.  Gradually, my mom took herself off her pills, she told me that she didn't want to take them because they made her feel more sick. I didn't force her to take the pills.  I began to cook with herbs and spices that I knew were beneficial for all that ailed her.

 In hindsight, we should have had a Naturopath Doctor helping us wean her off the pharmaceutical medications, especially the high blood pressure medications, she was on 3 or 4 different ones!  Nothing bad happened to her, we got lucky  because I was feeding her a nutritious diet.  However, I do recommend seeking out a professional to help with this because they can take the guess work out of the equation.


Acupuncture for her dementia is working well.  I found a study that stated how the average improvement for each individual who participated to be 43%.  Acupuncture is amazing.  It helps my mom's mood and has an amazing result with helping her to find her words.



Today, thanks to our fabulous ND, my mom is having very good days.  She's happy and dancing daily.  She loves "school" where she has real friends, friends who interact with her and don't just ignore her.  She loves the people at the ADH program where she is beginning to fall into a structured routine.  The structure seems to help her to feel more in control of her life.

My life is coming back.  I can actually sit and write the books that need to be written, where I tell our story.  It's amazing.  The entire story.  Even the side stories are awesome, the happy beginnings with family, mending hurt feelings and rekindling the family love.  

I love my family, every member of my family is a part of me; each of them has helped me become who I am.

Ma and Uncle Al
May 2009
My mom and my Uncle Al's dementia have taught me volumes about myself and my family.  We lived through the storms of life, even one as devastating as dementia of a parent.  

I never believed things would ever be right again with my family... I'm so happy that I was WRONG.  My advice to other families going through the muck... communicate.  Talk.  Listen.  Understand.  Most important, never stop loving your family.  

My sister in law Patricia said to me one day, "Sue, that was your journey.  It was something that you needed to do by yourself.  It was your life test."  She was right, it was my Karma, it was my choice.  

Now, we take one day at a time.  Each minute we get to share with each other is a gift.  

I cherish the time with my family.  

Bonus lesson learned through all of the pain is that when it comes down to it, it's about the people in your life, not the material things.


13 September 2010

Dancing With Ma

Instead of TV, I play music in our home.  I blast Pandora Radio in my mom's favorite sitting room that looks out into the back yard where she can see all of her "friends."

video
Frank Sinatra croons like my dad once did;  Dad sounded like Frank to me with a voice that was strong and clear. My mom believes that Frank Sinatra is my dad singing to her, music that seems to carry her away to a time long ago when my mom would go to the Oceanview and dance to the top hits of her day.

Big band music makes her move.  First her feet start to tap and then her legs move a little to the left, a little to the right as she looks out the window for any activity that she may witness from her hallucinations.  Happy music brings happy hallucinations.  Big Band music is happy music.

Yesterday, my mom was feeling a bit blue; she was bored.  The days she goes to the Day Care Program she comes home happy, dancing all afternoon until it's time for dinner.  I have been playing music on the days when she's home, it helps.  I also dance into the room and around the kitchen so that she can see me.  She laughs and makes comments like the one from yesterday, "Gee, you look like you are going to start stripping!"

I danced with my mom yesterday.  It was her idea.  She came over to me, grabbed my hand and put her hand around my waist as she laid her head on my shoulder.  It was so sweet.  I wish someone was around with a video camera.

We danced and laughed.  My mom told me to "go with the flow" and to "stop rocking back and forth, it's not how it's done!"

I'm grateful for the way things are turning out for us.  My mom likes the Day Care Program, the regularity and the scheduled activities keep her mind occupied on the living.  She does look for her hallucinations outside in the trees, even while she's at "school," but she also knows that they are just there to see how much fun she is having with her living friends.

Dancing with Ma is new for us, moving to the music brings her joy.  Her joy translates into happy hallucinations, hallucinations that make her laugh.  I can not ask for anything more!