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.

28 February 2011

Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan

Sue's Gluten Free
Eggplant Parmesan 
My mom LOVES Eggplant, especially Eggplant Parmesan.  Yesterday, I made it for dinner, using gluten free Italian breadcrumbs.  You can make your own bread crumbs or use one like Gillian's Italian Breadcrumbs.  Gillian's is a company that is out of my hometown; it's easy for me to purchase in regular supermarkets.

To make your own, toast gluten free bread, like Udi brand gluten free bread; toast the bread and then putting it into a food processor to chop into crumbs.  Add Italian seasonings like oregano, basil, thyme and garlic powder once the bread is crumbed and add Italian seasonings.

Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan

1 - 2 large eggplant fruit
1 - 2 eggs (beaten)
Gluten Free Italian Breadcrumbs
Olive Oil

Slice the eggplant into long slices that are about 1/2 inch thickness.  Layer the eggplant on a large dish and salt  each layer with sea salt.  Cover the stack of salted eggplant with plastic wrap; this takes the bitterness out of the eggplant.  Leave it covered on the counter for a couple of hours or you can put it in the fridge and let it sit covered over night.

Heat the Olive Oil to medium high in a large skillet.  I use a cast iron pan because I like how it browns the eggplant slices and I don't have to worry about non-stick coatings flaking off into my food.

You'll notice the eggplant sweating a brown liquid, this is bitter.  Rinse each slice with cool water before dipping it into the beaten egg.

Lightly cover each eggplant slice on both sides with Italian bread crumbs.

Place a few slices in the hot oil and brown on each side; about 3 - 5 minutes.  Cook 2 or 3 at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan.  Place the cooked slices on a brown paper bag that is covered with a paper towel.  This will drain the excess oil from the eggplant.

Add extra oil as needed so that the breadcrumbs don't burn.

While the eggplant slices are draining on the paper, make the sauce.

Quick Meatless Sauce for Eggplant Parmesan

3 Celery stalks chopped small
6 cloves of garlic chopped
2 large cans of diced tomatoes (or 2 quarts of home canned tomatoes.)
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 Bay Leaf
2 teaspoons of thyme Oregano
2 teaspoons of dried thyme

Cheese to add to the final casserole 

2 cups of Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese

Instructions for Making the Sauce

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a pressure cooker (this cooks the sauce fast) or you could use a large sauce pan.

Heat the oil to medium heat.

Add the garlic and the celery.  Stir and cook until the celery appears as a brighter green.  Add the dried hebs ( you can use fresh - 1 tablespoon of fresh) and the bay leaf.  Stir and cook a minute.

Add the tomatoes.

Pressure cook on medium high heat until the pressure cooker hisses.  Let it hiss for 10 minutes and then turn off the gas.  Allow the pressure cooker to reduce pressure naturally (or if you are in a hurry, you can run the pan under cold water in the kitchen sink.)

Instructions for putting the dish together

Put a layer of sauce in the bottom of a glass baking dish.  Place eggplant slices over the sauce   Put a little sauce over the top of the eggplant layer.  Add a little of the grated mozzarella cheese over the sauce.  Repeat the layers until you have used all the eggplant.  Save a little sauce and cheese to top the dish - layer of sauce and finish it off with mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 - 30 minutes until the cheese is a light golden brown.

Cool for about 15 minutes

25 February 2011

Folding Laundry

My mom's day program nurses and aides are brilliant.  Yesterday I got a note sent home in my mom's snack box.  The nurses told me how they got a bunch of small hand towels and gave them to my mom to fold.  She happily folded the laundry... she loves laundry.

Once she finished folding the towels, the aid would thank her and take the basket away.  The aid would then unfold all the towels and bring her a "new" basket of towels to fold.

My mom was given an opportunity to feel like she's making a difference; she feels that she has a job.  The laundry job sure did make her happy and helps keep her from wandering out of boredom.  She comes home happy after a day of "work."

Often, real life seems like an endless basket of laundry; it can be pointless but when we believe it's for a good reason, we do the task repeatedly without asking the question... why?  Living life, doing the same thing over and over again is akin to my mom's endless basket of laundry.  We all do tasks, we go to work, we run on treadmills... we fold laundry; over and over again.  Why?

23 February 2011

Observation: Simple Carbohydrates, Sugar and Urinary Tract Infections

My mom seems to have a chronic issue with Urinary Tract Infections.  Just as soon as she would finish a round of antibiotics to take care of one infection, another would come back within days.

The tell tale sign of an infection, the smell, an indelible odor that will never leave my olfactory sensors.  Like clock work, within 2 days of finishing her antibiotic, infection would return.

Diapers surely contribute to the infection woes of every Care Giver.  UTI's have a silent approach, ambushing good days from our lives as quickly as a hawk can strike its unsuspecting victim.

Personally, I've noticed that my mom's UTI's come with more agitation and confusion.  Infections surely usher in vivid hallucinations and difficult behaviors; redirecting is nearly impossible.  My mom forgets how to use the toilet when she has a UTI, pooing or peeing on the floor, in closets or in buckets; a special surprise to clean.

My mom doesn't care to eat nutritious foods when she's got a UTI.  Her dementia is amplified and all logic is flushed down the proverbial toilet.  She craves simple carbohydrates like cookies, bread and other snack foods.  She turns her nose up at protein rich foods; beans and lean meat.

It's much more challenging when my mom has a UTI; she tends to hate me because I say "NO."  She doesn't know who I am or that I'm here to help her.  I become the enemy.  It's frustrating; I need to remind myself that this too will pass.

My mom's craving for simple carbohydrates and her increased consumption of this food helped me to realize that this could be the root of my mom's chronic infections.  I did a little research and discovered that with Chinese Medicine (which I am a big believer), carbohydrates and sugar create the perfect breeding ground for a UTI.  No wonder my mom's been having issues and driving me completely out of my mind.

Our Naturopath Doctor did recommend that my mom take Mannose every morning; this natural remedy wraps itself around the bacteria and flushes it out of ones system before it creates a problem.  My mom eats Greek style yogurt every day for the probiotics and I've cut down on the amount of cookies and snacks that she has every day.

My mom loves eating cookies with her tea.  Seeing her happy, especially after a round of "I hate you!",  gave me approval from my mom, even if it was false.  I kept giving her treats; it was a high for me to get a smile of approval from my mom. Only now do I realize that I was creating the issue by feeding my mom the type of food that harbors infections.

Based on Chinese Medicine, protein is a good preventer of UTI's because it make an acid environment; a hostile environment for an infection to take hold and raise havoc.

Since I've cut back on my mom's simple carbohydrates, added the Mannose and stick to lean meat with lots of vegetables; life has been calm.  Pee and poo are landing in the toilet, my mom is having more enjoyable days at the Adult Day Program and when she gets home she is chatty and able to tell me all about the fun she had while at "school."

Food that we feed ourselves and the seniors in our care, really does matter.

21 February 2011

Today Is A GREAT Day!

Sunrise over Haleakala Crater
Maui, Hawaii
It's President's Day today, my mom's Day Program is closed for the holiday; she'll be home with me all day.  It's also snowing again, all though the storm is just nipping us with a dusting to an inch of fresh snow.  Just enough to make all the dirty snow banks look clean.

My new mission is to figure out how to keep the Care Giving blues away.  My focus is now on myself.  Exercise is important to me; I enjoy the euphoric feeling that comes over me after a good work out.  Meditation, calming my thoughts, breathing exercises and more dark green vegetables are all keys to my personal happiness.  I know the things that I need to do to make myself happy and keep a positive attitude.  I finally have the time to do all these things for my spirit.

Today is the day that I start focusing my attention on me, I've neglected myself for far too long.  No wonder I have been so miserable and angry.  Only I can change my life; it's up to me.  It's time to stop the excuses because we all know that excuses are like ass holes, every one has one!

Upon awaking this morning, I remembered a trick that I used every day before I became a Care Giver.  I greeted my day with enthusiasm, I jumped out of bed and exclaimed with excitement, "TODAY IS A GREAT DAY!"  The tone was set and my days were full and satisfying.  I long for those happy days, the days where I can see the joy in all things.

I've learned through experience that when I declare how my day will be, it typically is a very good day.  Troubles are not as troublesome on the days that I remember to declare how I expect my day to unfold.  It's my choice to expect a good day or a bad day.  I'm choosing a good day... why not?  I love the results.

I see myself happy and laughing today.  The day has magic, like every day.  I'm ready to see the beauty around me and to show gratitude for all the blessings in my life.  I am fortunate.

How will you greet your day?  It's up to you to decide and only you can make the change.  Try it... expect the best and the best will come.

20 February 2011

Care Giving: One of Life's Greatest Blessings

A Blessing that I recognized,
Marty and Jay giving Ma a surprise visit.
I've changed my mind with how I chose to view my job as my mom's Care Giver.   Fighting the daily changes was futile, making my life a living Hell on Earth.  I was not recognizing one of life's greatest blessings; caring for a parent.

Witnessing first hand the anxieties associated with Care Giving, I found myself wondering how my life went from 100 mph to zero in a split second.  We didn't have a family meeting where all siblings got together.  We didn't pull straws or discuss who will be the lucky winner to care for our aging parent.  It just seemed to happen and land on the shoulders of one individual.  Common, but still one of the most painful aspects of Care Giving; coming to terms with the feeling of abandonment.

It does seem unfair, but it's the reality of becoming a Care Giver.  Care Givers often hold a feeling that they have been left holding the hot potato, the last one to remain standing.  Our lives become lonely and full of sadness; we miss the blessings.

Over the last 3 years, there have been days where I felt like one of the Three Stooges, standing in a line where a volunteer is needed and all but one individual in line steps backward one step; left alone to fight the war on insanity.  Seeing life's greatest blessing was covered in a veil of despair.  I was blind.

I did get angry.  My anger didn't help anyone, not me and not my mom.  It drove my family to be "lookie lou's," watching from a distance, rarely coming to my aid.   This was my reality, one that I feel compelled to share with anyone who stumbles upon my words in my blog.

Fortunately, after endless hours of introspection, I came to the understanding that family members can make a choice to stay informed or ignore me.  Either choice is OK; I know that the nightmare that I have lived is not for everyone.  Someday's I've even wondered if it was for me!

I did allow my sadness to take control of my life.  In the process, I missed the blessings and the opportunities to find the joy in each day; there is joy to be found in everyday.   Some days, I have to look harder than others, but when I open my heart, I find it.

Changing my attitude, I became more compassionate and understanding of my mom's odd behaviors.  My mom continues to decline, each day bringing new challenges and opportunities for me to create a solution and find the blessings.  I've learned that there's always a solution, there's always a blessing from the Universe.

Care Giving for someone with dementia is clearly an exercise in patience, perseverance and compassion.  I have learned that caring for my demented mother can be as hard or as easy as I choose.  It all begins with me and how I choose to react to each new development in my mom's decline.

I am OK with the fact that I'm on my own with the burden of caring for my mom.  I believe that I am fortunate; I am blessed.  Caring for my mom has made me stronger and one day when she does pass on, I'll have no regrets.

Care Giving is one of life's greatest blessings, especially when we can find the beauty in even the most chaotic of days.

18 February 2011

Recipe To Manifest Magic In Ones Life

A Happier Time in Hawaii
Thoughts are real... I have learned this over the years and have even used thoughts to help create magic in my life.

Manifesting situations and things is easy; it starts with a thought.  Positive thoughts provide the best results, negative thinking will create more of the same.  We are the boss of our thoughts, no one can take away your thoughts, you create your life with how you think.  Mixing in a bit of enthusiasm and strong emotion with your thought, gets the attention of the Universe and before you know it, the very thing that you had hoped for, is presented.

I know this sounds crazy, but seriously, it works.

Just a week ago I was a Debbie Downer, not very positive and only focusing on the negative crap in my life.  The poop and pee, a defiant mom and a MIL that enjoys wallowing in self pity all the things I didn't want were front and center in my life.  I created the very things that I didn't want by feeding the negativity with strong emotions.

I was stuck.  I knew that I could change my world with a simple thought but I couldn't feel the magic within me.  I was so burned out and worn out that I couldn't hold the thought of a brighter tomorrow.  It was as though I was trapped in my own mind, unable to lift myself up and out.

I got sick, really sick.  I was forced to stop and rest, there was no other choice for me because my body just wouldn't move.  Fever, chills and delirium filled my days.  I cried.

I had an epiphany during my illness.  I remembered all that I had learned about creating the life of my dreams, things that helped me feel good about life.  Lessons that helped me manifest everything into my life, a loving husband, a great job and a family that I love.  My personal power was high during the days when I focused on the positive.  I was riding high, catching one wave after another.  I was happy and able to confront any challenge with ease; then, I became a Care Giver for my mom with Lewy Bodies Dementia.

My mom's insanity is contagious.  Constantly talking about dead people began to put out my fire for life.  I wondered what is the point of living.  We live, we get sick, no one cares and we die.  Life seemed pointless.  My thoughts turned darker as my inner light faded.  I cried enough tears to fill an ocean, tears that added to my impending demise.  I was alone, facing my own mortality and questioning who I AM.

The flu helped me to reset my thoughts.  I felt like I was going to die.  I knew that the thoughts that I had held about dying could have come true if I didn't pull myself out of this hole that I had dug for myself.  A hole that was created by sadness and self pity.

Turning my thoughts to positive outcomes, focusing on a happy ending with this phase of life has helped a lot.  It's like a big light was switched on inside my mind.  I am focusing on the positive, looking for the joy in all things, even the not so pleasant situations that crop up.  A result of my change of focus is more joyful emotions and thoughts.  Happy thoughts are flooding my mind, each happy thought feeding more happy thoughts.  I am out of the hole.

My future is bright.  I'm focusing on the outcomes that I want and not thinking about how I'm going to make it happen.  I trust that the Universe will bring me what I desire.  Opportunities are presenting themselves and will continue to land at my feet, the magic of life is beginning to fill my heart and soul.

I can if I think I can

My favorite mantra from years past, "Everyday in every way gets better and better!"  I find myself repeating this phrase over and over again in my mind.  I hear it.  I feel the words.  I believe them to be true.  The Universe is listening.  Hope is alive within me.

I see myself happy and laughing in my minds eye.  I am enjoying my life with my husband.  Golfing, swimming, travelling and working a job that brings personal satisfaction are all part of my future dream vision.  It's my focus.  My thoughts are happier.  Life is worth living and I CAN create a happy life for myself even when I have to wipe my mom's ass.

The recipe to manifest magic in ones life is pretty simple.

Ingredients:

  • Positive thoughts
  • Affirmations
  • Lots of Enthusiasm
  • Strong emotion
  • Belief

Instructions:

Think about the outcome that you desire... hold positive thoughts and images in your mind of what it is that you want to have come into your life.  If it's more happiness, see yourself smiling and happy, doing things that bring you joy.  It will come to you in the most unusual ways.

Next, state an affirmation out loud so that your subconscious mind can hear the words.  Declare your desire with strong emotion.  Enthusiasm and emotions fuel the thoughts, setting wheels in motion to bring you the best possible outcome.

A little caveat,  desires and affirmations can not include another person, it needs to be all about you because we only can control ourselves.  Some of my generic affirmations that I've used with great success are:  "Everything is going my way!", "I can if I think I can," "Every day in every way gets better and better."  Keeping the affirmations simple and positive make it easy to penetrate your mind, shifting the energy, creating opportunities that will usher in the desired results.

The Universe hears all of our words like a Genie in the Magic Lamp waiting to grant our wish.  Putting words out into the ethers, words that are backed with strong emotion are full of energy.  Like attracts like, it's a simple law of physics.  Happy thoughts create a happy life, sad thoughts creates Hell on Earth.  I proved this to myself.  You can read my old posts to see how I was making my life suck because of how I chose to think.

It's possible to be happy even during the worst of times.  Change your mind, think about what it is that you want in life while avoiding thoughts of what you don't want.  Thoughts are real.  Good thoughts brings peace, negative thoughts bring sadness and more sadness.  We all have the power to create magic in our lives, it all begins with you.

What are you thinking about today?

17 February 2011

UTI's and Cognition

My mom gets UTI's as frequently as our cats bring home dead rodents... a lot.  I've learned how to read the physical signs that she has an infection.  She will poop and pee on the floor.  She gets confused and forgets where the bathroom is or even how to sit on the toilet.  The smell associated with the infection is one that has been burned in my brain for eternity.

The antibiotics always make her more confused with more difficulty for her finding words to express herself.  It's a chain reaction that takes place, not finding words always leads to agitation because we don't know what it is that she wants.  Frustration makes her cranky making it super difficult to care for her.

Yesterday we saw our Naturopath Doctor, he recommended Mannose, a natural remedy used to prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI's.)  Mannose works through the adherence of bacteria in the urinary tract.  Even if E-Coli gets in my mom's Urinary Tract, the Mannose will wrap itself around the bacteria and flush it out before it causes any trouble.  Let's hope this works to keep my mom's UTI's at bay and occurring less frequently.

UTI's are tough on Care Givers.  Keeping our loved one clean in the "pecacular" and butt area is our first line of attack against the dreaded UTI.  Not keeping clean allows E-Coli to get into the "pecacular" (my mom's word for her lady parts in the southern region of her body.)  Poop in their diaper or when using the toilet, the individual doesn't wipe themselves well or in the right direction.

Showering every day is our goal, but she fights us.  Having help in the shower by anyone except me, always brings on a fight.  Mom will plant her feet in the ground and refuse to bend her legs to walk.  She even threatens her home care worker.    I wonder why my mom won't shower every day so that we can keep her problem area clean?   I wish I had a solution or a way for her to understand the logic; keep clean and avoid UTI pain.

UTI's are nasty;  when a demented person gets them, cognition declines and Care Givers are pushed to their limits.  It's during these times that I want to call 911 and have them cart my mom off to a psych ward for evaluation and then dumped in a home.  I know this isn't the right approach but sometimes it feels like the only answer to a chronic problem.

God help all Care Givers... we are faced with challenges that can make a grown person break down and cry.

15 February 2011

You Expect Me To Eat This?

video

November 2009, my husband and I decided to bring some young blood into our home.  We chose 2 kittens; a brother and sister.  We named them Sammy and Shakti.  

Sammy looks like he has a suit on, he's a beautiful tuxedo.  He reminded me of Sammy Davis Jr. so we named him Sammy.  

Shakti, she was a lovable kitten, she comforted us when we were feeling blue.  Shakti decides when you need her.  She carries Mother Earth energy.  She watches over everyone in our house.

She's also very fussy with what she eats.  The food needs to be cut a certain way for her to even consider eating it.  If it's in little cubes or mushy, she will give me a dirty look and proceed to try and cover it up like she does her poo.

I video taped her covering her food.  I find it pretty funny.  She gets into it and becomes compulsive with the task.  I wonder what the Cat Whisper would say about this behavior?  Spoiled cat?

14 February 2011

Valentine From My Mom

Valentine from Mom
February 14, 2011
I opened my mom's lunch box when she got home and tucked inside was a Valentine that my mom made for me.  Actually, 2 Valentines were inside.  It was so sweet.  I felt proud like a mom must feel when their pre-schooler comes home with a card or picture that they had made for mom.

My mom was so excited when I liked her card.  I know she spent lots of time working on it at the Day Program with nurses and aides helping her.  She had fun making the card for me; how special!

The card that my mom made for me will be treasured, always.  One day I'll find this card, long after my mom has passed and I'll wish that she were still alive.  I can almost see myself at a future time, missing my mom.

I'm grateful to have received such a beautiful Valentine from my little demented mom.

13 February 2011

Changing My Focus

I've been focusing on the negative aspects of Care Giving; it's easy to go negative.  I suppose cleaning up poop and pee will do that to a person, especially when said person vowed to NEVER clean another human's excrement; EVER.  Facing the fact that my mom had now begun to crap herself was beyond difficult; it was my worst nightmare coming true.

I cried.  My resistance was compromised.  I came down with the flu.  Sickness never makes me pleasant, nor does it help my patience quotient.  Actually, I am way less patient and have zero tolerance for anyone who isn't helping me to feel better.  I became selfish and had begun to have lots of self pity for myself.

Spiraling out of control, my life took a nose dive.  I was unhappy, even with my mom going to Day Care 5 days a week.  She was gone for 9 to 10 hours a day; I was not happy when I should have felt elation for our progress with getting my mom to socialize.  My focus was on the negative, the daily shit cleaning was all that I could think about and it was clouding my vision.

I have so much to be grateful.  No longer do I have to carry the burden of caring for my mom alone.  I have nurses and aides that help me during the day.  My mom, she's socializing.  She has a life.  She has friends and people that she enjoys seeing.  She comes home happy, most days she's super chatty, trying to tell me about something that made her laugh.  Usually, she sits and laughs without getting the words out... I need to laugh with her.

I missed sharing her happy moments because my thoughts were stuck; focusing on the negative.  It wasn't serving me any good purpose.  I was becoming more and more unhappy.  My mom, she was becoming more and more difficult for me to provide care.  My mom's brightness was turning to darkness because of my attitude.

Blessings.  The grace of God around me.... I was missing it.  My vision was clouded by the bad stuff that I was experiencing, things that I was creating by focusing on the negative.

Everything bothered me, especially my MIL.  My patience and understanding was out the window, gone.  I wanted to run away and leave this nut house.  However, I do know that we can run but we can never hide from our troubles, facing them head on is the only solution.

In years past, I had studied with a Spiritual Teacher, Prema Baba Swamiji... he is someone who taught me how the mind works and how we create our own reality.  I learned the lessons.  I felt like I was ready for battle after 10 years of study.  I believed that I could handle anything that was thrown at me, handling it with grace.

My personal war came.  I fought the good fight.  I never gave up as those who've been following my journey with my mom can attest.  I had to face so many things about myself, even my selflessness.  I questioned my motives.  I even wondered if I just plain sucked as a person and I was fooling myself, that I wasn't a very good Care Giver.  I turned bitter and negative.  ME!?  All that I had learned about life and living a happy life appeared to be gone.

I cried.

I prayed.

I asked for help.  I reached out to my Spiritual Teacher.  Fortunately, he reminded me who I am and what I am capable of accomplishing in life.  He helped remind me that I am in control of my life and my happiness.  It's my choice to be happy or miserable.  It's all in how I perceive the experiences that I'm living.

My prayers were answered.

My mom, she has another UTI, second one within a month.  I knew she had one when she left me a gift, a trail of poop that lead from the bathroom door to the toilet.  This time however, I chose to react differently.  I let go of my vow.  I nullified it and just let it go.  It wasn't serving me but adding to my stress and anxiety.

Cleaning up my mom's poop, showing kindness and letting her know that I understand she can't help making these messes, shifted the energy.  My mom was calm.  She was not so difficult and defiant.  I didn't cry or become angry because I was left to do a job that I didn't want to do.

I was reminded that my attitude and mood matters when Care Giving for someone with Lewy Bodies Dementia.  My mom is connected to me, she depends on me like a child depends on their mom.  Instead of being angry that I have become my mom's mom, I am now grateful that I can be her mom and hold her hand until the day she decides to get on Heaven's Bus.

Changing my focus has helped me to see where I had gone off track. I finally understand what one of my friends wrote on my Face Book page awhile ago;  "Sue, see the beauty... there's beauty in everything."

There is beauty, there's grace... it's up to us to see it and sometimes it requires us to change our focus.  I'm grateful that I became so ill these past 3 weeks' it opened my eyes.  I'm feeling better.  My head is clearing and my heart is opening again... all because I made the choice to change my focus.

10 February 2011

My Decree

Team Building with Colleagues
Lisa, me and Mike
I'm ready to work.  I mean, seriously... I AM READY TO WORK!  Do you hear me Universe?

I DECREE THAT I WANT TO WORK AS A SYSTEMS ENGINEER AGAIN.

Ok... so now that I've got that out in the ethers, my wish will be able to manifest.  Situations will present themselves to me, it's up to me to recognize the opportunity.  I'm ready; eyes, ears and mind are open.

I do believe that I will get a job soon, a real job making serious money.  I miss not having money to buy myself what I need or go on a vacation to a warm destination on a whim when the mercury is reading below zero outside my door.

Life was so sweet when I was working a regular day job, a job that came with a paycheck.  I long for those days again; a job is what I decree to the Universe.

Universe?  Are you listening?

I learned over the years that whenever I shout out to the Universe and state my hearts desire, miracles occur;  magic happens and what I want finds me.

Today, I stepped out into the world with ears, eyes, heart and mind open.  With my mom in Day Care, my day was my own for the first time in way too long.  I decided to go to the local Chinese Restaurant for a bowl of chicken soup before I went food shopping.  I love their chicken soup.

I sat in the booth by myself, opened my iPad and I began to read and drink tea while I waited for my soup.  A party of 3 people walked in and sat in the booth next to me... they were very chatty.

I began to day dream, thinking how nice it will be to work again, to have colleagues to go to lunch with and chat about business.  I miss those conversations.  I miss the problem solving and brain storming sessions.  My thoughts drifted in and out as the folks at the next table talked.

It was distracting to hear the chatter, chatter that I always loved to engage in when I worked.  I began to wonder what their business sold.  I made a game of it, listening for keywords that would indicate their business.  It quickly became a boring game, they were talking about colleagues, so I did my best to shut them out and continued reading the book that I am reviewing for a friend.

Then, I heard one of them say, "We need to hire more SE's."

My eyes darted up from the page, was I hearing what I thought I heard?  I began to eavesdrop, I needed to know more.  The conversation shifted to another topic as I sat and wondered if I should jump up and scream, "Hey!  I'm an SE, I'm your girl!!!"  or if I should just sit and be quiet.

I sat and was quiet, but my mind raced.  I wondered if I should say something to this group of 3, sitting at the next booth... I began rehearsing in my head how I would introduce myself so that I could find out more about the SE opening.

At the end of my meal, I paid the check and stood up to put on my coat.  There was a natural break in the conversation so I walked up to the table and excused myself for eavesdropping.  I introduced myself and told them that I am a seasoned Systems Engineer and couldn't help but overhear that their company could be hiring new SE's.

The woman in the group, she immediately handed me her business card and suggested that I send my resume to her.  I took her card, thanked her and apologized if my intrusion was unwelcome.

So... even if nothing comes of this potential job opportunity, I put myself out there.  I took a chance and spoke up.  It felt good to assert myself.  I'm preparing for the interviews that I see myself going on in pursuit of a very good job.

I've taken the first step, it's all it takes to get momentum going when looking for a job.  It won't be long now before I'm working again.  Once I am, I can afford to pay someone to stay overnight with my mom.  I can afford to have them come early in the morning or to meet her when she gets off the van.

I see a new door opening.  It's beautiful on the other side.  I'm so close to the entrance of life after Care Giving.  I can if I think I can.

For the first time in 3 years, I feel that I can actually get away and work.  I'm excited to work again.  My job search has begun.

09 February 2011

The Joy of Being Sick

Swine Flu Germ
I still have the flu.  Yesterday I felt bad, very bad.  My sinuses were dry and painful.  I couldn't breath too well; my lungs were gurgling with noise with every breath.  Every cough was deep and painful.  My body ached all over and the chills and fever were back... I couldn't sleep.  I have no appetite and I'm dropping weight (not a bad thing.)  I was home alone.  I needed help and no one was here to help me.

I pulled out the Vick's Vapor rub, hoping to help clear my sinuses.  The faint camphor smell caused me to drift into the past. I remembered my dad and how he used to rub Vick's on my chest and put some in a tissue for me to sniff.  I remembered him rubbing me down with rubbing alcohol or witch hazel when I was burning with a fever as a child.  He was such a good dad.  I cried my eyes out, wishing my dad were alive and here to help me.  I missed my daddy and I'm freaking 50!

Yesterday, my husband took my MIL to the doctor to get checked out after her fall on Sunday in front of the supermarket.  The good news is she didn't break her hip, the bad news.... she broke her arm.  She is now completely helpless and needs me to help her again.  I'm back to serving my MIL who doesn't like me.  FUCK!  This is surely a lesson in humility.

Everyone arrived home around the same time yesterday.  First, Brian and my MIL came home at 4PM.  My mom pulled in at 4:05PM.  I had mustered up the strength about an hour before and made a pot of chicken soup.  The house smelled homey and welcoming for everyone when they all walked through the door.

Mom was confused more than usual yesterday.  It's hard to know why she gets so confused, although I do know when she is getting ill or has a UTI, confusion becomes part of our lives.  I pray that she doesn't get this flu bug, it will put her in a hospital.

On Monday, we visited her new Geriatrician, primary care doctor.  He is a doctor who specializes in senior health.  Dr. Zucker is awesome.  He is the first doctor who recognized that my mom has Lewy Bodies Dementia without any information that I had divulged previously.  He was pleased with my mom's health plan; diet, exercise, music, day program and that she isn't on any pharmaceutical drugs.

The doctor understands that pharma drugs cause LBD folks more issues than they help resolve.  He will also consult with my mom's Naturopath Doctor.  Alleluia!  Dr. Zucker is the perfect doctor for my mom because he understands the concept that food is medicine and natural remedies.

My mom liked him a lot.  He knew how to talk to her and even told me that I need to become a better listener.  I am not very good at listening.  I run out of patience because I have so many things to get done in a day to keep the house running.  I promised him and my mom that I'd do better with using my mouth and ears proportionately.

Dr. Zucker is the doctor who visits the nursing homes that I have my mom on wait lists.  The homes I have found for her are outstanding and now that I know Dr. Z is the attending physician, my worries have been squelched.

Today I feel better.  My husband got me some Alka-Seltzer cold medicine last night.  It's the only stuff that I have ever taken that can clear up sinus congestion.  It tastes disgusting and the only time I can drink the liquid is when I'm sick.  I was trying not to take anything with chemicals, but yesterday I was so sick I felt that I needed to do something before rushing myself to the ER.

The Alka-Seltzer worked.  It cleared my sinuses up and I was able to breath.  I slept for 6 hours without coughing; what a relief.  Just like the old commercial jingle, "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is..."

I'll sleep today.  Sleep seems to be the only cure for what ails me.  It's going on 2 weeks that I've been sick and I'm tired of it.  I'm ready to get on with my life, especially now that my mom is gone all day at the day program.

I have learned a lesson through all of this illness.  The Universe has a way of slapping us down and forcing us to rest.  I often wonder if there's some spot in the brain that triggers illness when there's too much stress on ones system.  In any event, this has been one heck of a flu bug.  I looked up the symptoms and it appears I have contracted H1N1, the "Swine Flu."  I had ever symptom... lucky me.

07 February 2011

OK Universe... I Need My Rest!

Oh, the Universe sure does have a way of making jokes on my account.  I don't know if I should be thankful or bitter.

Knowing how the Universe works, I think I'll check my bitterness at the door.

The weekend was OK.  It wasn't great; I was sick.  I had a few rounds of fever and chills, symptoms that came on after I insisted on going out for a few hours when my mom's Home Care Worker had arrived on Saturday.

I had been in all week and really wanted to get out; We went out.  Saturday afternoon dates with my husband is something new for us and the thought of missing my date made me feel sicker.

Finally, help has arrived for my mom and indirectly, me. YAY!  Life is beginning to transform a bit for us.  I am grateful.

My MIL and I never had any more words after Friday's heated explosion.  My husband took over mom duty for his mom, doing things for her, things that I usually do for her.

I took care of my mom.  I loved not waiting on my MIL.  It was liberating.  I felt like I had a part of my self back, more time for me.

Then...

Sunday morning it was icy.  MIL still drives at 87 and always needs to get her Sunday paper.  She went to the local supermarket to get a few things for herself, including the papers.  On the way in to the store, she wiped out.  There were witnesses... she didn't get names.  Instead, she got up and went shopping.

She bruised herself pretty good.  She didn't call us and drove herself home, barely able to move her arm to drive.  All I could think was, "Oh great, your reflexes are already not very good and you are driving without full use of your body?"  I kept my mouth shut.  I was proud of myself for my silence, even though inside I was ready to have a rupture from holding in my thoughts.

Of course she wouldn't go to the hospital to be checked out.  She told me this morning that walking hurts.  She can standstill but can't walk without pain.  Her arm is also sore with a huge bruise to show where she hit the ground.  I coaxed her to call the doctor.  She told me that she had to think about it as she said, "You know, if I broke my hip, I'm going to die soon."

My MIL loves to be a martyr and wanting folks to feel sorry for her.  She loves attention.  I did have a few sweet comebacks for that last remark, but I bit my tongue once more, gave her a look to tell her she is nuts and I walked away.

My husband was ready to take her to the doctor today, all she had to do was call him.  My mom and I already were visiting my mom's new Geriatrician today... by the way, I LOVE my mom's new MD.  Subject for tomorrow's post.

I got home from my mom's appointment and the supermarket.  It was now after 1pm and everyone was hungry, including my MIL>

I found myself in the kitchen, heating food for my MIL.  It made me a little mad that I had just pulled her off my back and now she was latched on tighter than before.

I'm still pretty sick.  I still don't have much of an appetite and get fevers.  I'm exhausted.  I want to rest.

My MIL, she finally talked to the doctor and will see a Nurse Practitioner tomorrow at 10:30am.  Of course she waited for tomorrow because I could take her to the doctor.  She doesn't want my husband to take time off from work.  She doesn't care that I am still really sick and need to rest.  She sees me up, cooking and care giving and thinks that I'm back up and running like before.... I'm not.  I feel like I'm about to drop from exhaustion.

I've got a hacking cough that hurts like mad.  The medicine that Dr. Barton gave me is helping, but it's not a miracle cure by any stretch of the imagination.  I know that I need to rest because once I get sleep and wake up, I feel pretty good.

So... now I've got myself into a pickle.  My MIL assumes that I will drive her tomorrow because my mom is gone all day.  It's sort of like when I started working from home 15 years ago; everyone thought I was "home" and available to do things for them or someone else.  I wasn't.  I was working.  Eventually, as the years went by, my home office became sacred territory between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

Tomorrow my mom leaves at 7am.  I have been counting the hours for 7am Tuesday morning so that I could lay down and sleep all day.  I need my rest.  It's the only way I'm going to get better.

I'm sure my husband will take his mom to the doctor tomorrow.  He should, it's his mom.  I pray that he doesn't have any meetings so that he takes her.  I really want to rest... I need my rest.

OK Universe... do you hear me?  I need my rest!

06 February 2011

Are You Kidding Me?

I've had the flu blues for about a week now.  Care Giving when well is difficult; doing it when you have the flu is like a nightmare that you can't wake up.

My mom's been great while I've been sick.  She hasn't shit or pissed on the floor all week!  I'm grateful that we cleared up her UTI before I got sick.  I couldn't imagine having to clean up my mom's feces off the floor while sick with the flu.

My MIL however has been a pain in my fanny since we moved in with my new husband and her almost 3 years ago.  She has not been very nice to me, not even wishing me a Happy Birthday when my birthday arrives.  The first year of our marriage she worked extra hard to put a wedge between my husband and me.  I sucked it up.  I became more unhappy as I fought depression while Care Giving for my demented mother.

In my new home, I have felt like a visitor where my MIL is concerned.  She has refused to honor my place in this house; it irks me.  We'd go long stretches where she'd mind her own business, but then something would happen and she would become a colossal meddler in my husband and my affairs.  She has a habit of sticking her nose in where it doesn't belong.

This week, the long stretch was broken, we had a window begin to leak because of the ice dams.  It wasn't a big issue.  The window is a bay window where the water was leaking outside and not compromising any wall board.  My MIL saw the leak and immediately asked me, "What are you going to do about it?"

At the moment, I had no idea because I wasn't able to assess the leak.  I didn't answer.  I began to walk away as she demanded, "Well, what are you going to do about it?"  I replied, "I don't know yet."  My goal was to lay down and rest while my mom was at the Day Program; I'd deal with the trouble later when my husband got home.

My answer wasn't good enough.  Immediately she ran and got towels and placed them all over the window sill, taking charge like this is her home (it isn't, we let her live here rent free.)  There wasn't any puddling that I could see but I figured I'd just let a sleeping dog lay and let her do some busy work.  

I was too sick to have an argument with her.  My MIL rarely accepts anything that I say as truth. I'm always wrong in her eyes; an attitude which sure does make my blood boil, especially when I am ill.  

All day she was vigilant with the leak.  Removing wet towels and replacing them with dry ones every half hour.  My bed is directly under the floor where my MIL was changing the towels; squeaking floor boards added to my angst.

My husband came home and he innocently gave her the job to watch the leak, a leak that really didn't need anyone to watch it.  She convinced him that there was a huge puddle that formed and it would drain down onto the wood floor.  I was too sick with a fever and chills to deal with it so I just let her do what she wanted to do.

Night-time came and she was still changing out towels.  The wood ledge now had water stains from the towels, not from a puddle caused by the leak.  Still too sick with fever and chills to attempt to explain how she was doing more harm than good, I went to bed.

All night, every half hour, she changed those towels.  I still had a fever and chills.  Just as I fell asleep, she would walk across the floor with big heavy shoes that clomped loudly in the silence of the night.  The squeaking floor boards just added to the annoying affect.  I was too sick to get up and tell her to stop.

Finally, at 5am I couldn't take it anymore.  I got up and walked to the top of the stairs and screamed at her, "Are you fucking kidding me?  You don't need to do that now!  I'm sick and we all need our rest.  I DON'T WANT YOU LIVING WITH ME!"

She yelled back at me, "I've been doing this every half hour.  I need to do something about the leak!"

At this point my husband was up so I walked away before I said something that I didn't really want to say out loud.  I was annoyed and had very little rest that night because of her constant walking back and forth.  She woke my mom a few times too, which just added to my joy of the sleepless night.

I was pissed.  

My MIL was pissed.

My poor husband was left feeling helpless, torn between me and his mom.  Of course he honors my place in our home; he told his mom to leave the leak alone.

She stopped watching the window leak and retreated back to her room.

Her bathroom window had some water leak happening, she shifted her attention to this window.  All day long she checked that window.  She had left the window open (storm window closed) I worried about heat loss.  I made a comment about the window being open.  Immediately she said, "No, it isn't."  My reply, "Of course, what the hell do I know?  I'm no one in this house, just the servant."   

We did have words, mostly me having words.  I blew up.  I started a rant.  "I feel like a fucking visitor in this house, it's not my house... I am a servant.  I can't live like this, I'm going to have to move.... I am sick and tired of parking in the driveway  when I should be in the garage.  I leave in the morning, it's freezing cold outside .... you never go anywhere and you have a garage bay to park your car!  .... "  That's when I stopped myself, I was mad and didn't want to say things that I didn't want to say out loud.  

She stood and looked at me like a deer looking in the headlights as she said, "This is your house, I'll leave things to you, it's your problem." she said to me.  "If your truck fits in the garage I'll park in the driveway."  She continued.  I thanked her and asked her to get away from me before I said things that I didn't want to say.  

My husband was preparing a talk to have with his mom about parking in the driveway.  I took care of it during my rant.  I called him after I lost it with her.  He was relieved because it was going to sound weird coming from him.  She did need to hear it from me, not my husband.  

I have to take my power back from her.  She is not the queen of this hive.... I AM.  I can not live with her, especially when my mom goes to a home.  I'm done serving her 2 - 3 meals a day.  I'll cook one meal and if she doesn't like it she can figure something out for herself.   I had been making her a special dinner when she didn't like what I had made for dinner.  All of this extra caring for someone who was capable of doing for themselves was adding to my stress, especially when all that I do for her was going unappreciated.  I felt like her servant and this was not working for me.  I didn't marry her.

So...

Today I am feeling better.  I was able to get to the root of all the leak problems that had cropped up.  My MIL will park in the driveway and I will take my place in the garage.  My MIL understands that she has no power in this home.  I prepare food and she serves herself.  My stress levels have dropped and peace has been restored.


01 February 2011

News Flash: Care Givers Don't Get Sick Days!

My mom's UTI was cleared up with five days of Cipro.  She is less insane and when she craps on the floor, she cleans it up herself.  Well, she tries to clean it up; God bless her.

I am rip roaring sick with the flu.  The thought of care giving is enough to make me want to hurl; which I have more than once over the last 24 hours.

I have learned a new lesson, Care Givers can NOT get sick because we don't get sick days.  Just because we get sick doesn't mean our job gets to stop; this is not right.  

I've not been sick like this for at least 10 years.  Last time I was this sick, my mom was able to make me soup and dote on me.  It was sad today when I was moaning on the sofa, my mom got up and covered me with a blanket.  She was so worried and was trying to help me, somehow.  She won't leave my side.  

The smell of food cooking turns my stomach; preparing food for my mother has been awful.

My nose is burning and itching, my eyes are watering and my throat is sore.  Coughing too... boy, it's deep and it hurts like hell.

I'm out of Astragulus.  Fuck!

We are in the middle of a freakin snow storm and my mom's day program is closed.  My mom has already told me that school is way more fun than staying home.    Yay!

Thank God Brian is working from home; there is no way I could do it alone today.

However, even though it seems like the sky is literally falling, I'm grateful for my loving husband who's getting me cups of tea and an extra blanket when I'm shivering with the chills.

Care Givers, we don't get sick days and that just sucks.