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.

31 December 2009

A Year to Remember ... a Decade to Reflect

3 years ago when my husband proposed to me, he told me that 2008 and 2009 were going to be tough years. Of course I didn't believe him, after all, I'm an optimist. I always see the bright side of things. I look for the silver lining in all things, even nasty people.

I'm not sorry to see this year end. It has been the toughest year of my life, harder than any job I've ever had to do, care for my mom with Lewy Bodies Dementia.

This year, I learned what Lewy Bodies Dementia is and how to take measures to avoid having it myself one day when I'm my mom's age. Through my mom's illnesses, I've been able to understand how to take care of myself better. Foods that I once believed were healthy are not healthy; I learned how to read food labels.
This year in 2009 we cured my mom's diabetes. It was amazing going through the process with her. We used Fenugreek seed extract where 1 drop lowered her blood sugar 15 points. I learned to cook with fenugreek so that I could make low glycemic treats. The treats didn't raise her blood sugar, yay! She loved the pasta that I'd make for her and the cookies.

Unfortunately, the Lewy Bodies Dementia was already well on it's way to destroying her brain function. I found that whenever she ate anything with gluten or baked goods, she'd hallucinate or be super agitated. I began to pay attention to how she behaved after eating certain foods. If she had weird behavior, I cut the food out of her diet and behavior problems were solved. GREAT!

No Bread. No Pasta. No Preservatives... PLEASE!

In this year that is now on its way out, we learned about Cordyceps mushrooms and how they are great at stopping hallucinations in the elderly. The only trouble with it is makes my mom need to use the bathroom at the most inopportune times. She had to stop taking it. Too bad. It is great for lowering blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. I love the Cordyceps, I take them myself.

I learned about medicinal seasonings, food as medicine and continue to learn. I began writing recipes. All my old standby recipes I couldn't cook for my mom any longer, I needed to learn how to cook all over again.

My good friend Jo, a former colleague, reads my blog. She read about my food dilemma and sent me a cookbook for my birthday, the best darn cookbook I have ever read or used. It was written by a MD who in this book taught me how to cook.

Recipes began filling my head. I mixed spices and herbs, used different vinegars and oils. I used vegetables that I never heard of before. I created a cake that doesn't need flour, a sinfully delicious chocolate cake.

2009 was the year my mother-in-law accepted me as her daughter and I accepted her as mom. I love my mother-in-law. I'm grateful that she's healthy and doesn't require much care from me. I love cooking for her; she loves everything that I make. Usually she does. I think I only got a 7 rating 2 times this past year with meals that I've served her... the rating is on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the best.

I'm lighter than I was at the end of the last decade. I've dropped 50 pounds this year and have even managed to continue to lose weight through the holiday. I feel great. I need new cloths... Yay!

My darling husband, what can I say about him except he's a saint. He survived the police barging into our bedroom in the middle of the night because my mom thought there was a strange man in bed with her and that I was missing.  Hallucinations.  Nights of being woken and not being able to go back to sleep.  The sound of my mom tinkling in our bathroom just because earlier in the day she asked if she could use any bathroom in the house, I said 'Yes'... well, she chose to try out the Master Bathroom (before we moved her) in the middle of the night.  Thanks Sweetie, you sure have put up with a lot. 

Thank you, no wonder I love you so much!

This year, just a few days ago, I realized that he's my main family; he's the top dog in my life, my life partner. I'm grateful for all that he brings to my life.
2009 was a year of liberation

Today, December 31, 2009 is the end of a decade. A long decade of rushing here and there looking for my I AM, searching for the meaning and purpose of my life. I found myself in this decade. I know who I AM and more importantly, I know who you are, all of you. This revelation makes me feel peaceful and happy because I feel that I've accomplished the search of self.

Now I Can Live!

This decade, I met, fell in love and got married to my best friend. He makes me laugh, he's funny. He's really smart too, after all, he did marry me!

I'm prepared for my mom's death day, whenever it is because of the experiences from this past decade. I pray that I don't cry too much when my mom passes. I will miss her.
This decade is over.

I'm ready for 2010 and all the new adventures this new decade will bring. A decade of tens, it's for my husband and me. We will finally have a honeymoon and be able to play golf, a lot.

Retirement comes in this new decade; I'm looking forward to retirement and spending my golden years, happy, healthy and much wiser than the previous 50 years that I've been on this earth.

In a nutshell, my lesson learned through this last decade is everything is possible if we believe. Never ever give up. If things seem bad right now, wait a minute, it will change, and it always does. Tomorrow is always a better day.

Happy New Year everyone!

30 December 2009

"Oh, Thank God it's YOU... How Do I Get Out of Here?"

A little after 4am this morning I heard strange noises from upstairs, they were noises that appeared to be off in a distance.  Immediately I jumped up, hoping not to disturb the kittens sleeping on our bed with us.  The last thing I wanted was to wake them up because they'd either nag me for food or start "doin' it." (Jan 4th they are getting "fixed.")

I got to the top of the stairs, turned the corner to the hall which leads to my mom's room and it was dark.  Her bedroom door was shut.  She never shuts it unless she's having hallucinations about something disturbing to her.

My office light was on, the door to the office was shut.  I opened her bedroom door and every light was on in the room, even the top overhead light that is part of the ceiling fan.  My mom appeared to be in the bathroom.

I sat quietly in her chair for a few minutes, after all, she was in the bathroom.  I chose to give her a few minutes peace to do her business.  10 minutes passed.  I hear shuffling in the bathroom and she doesn't come out.  No toilet flush, just movement sounds coming from the room.

Knocking on the bathroom door I say, "Ma, are you OK?"

Opening the door ever so slowly I see my mom standing at the sink with Savita trying to escape.  My mom was freaking out about letting her out, she thought the door to her bedroom led outside.

"Oh, thank God it's you!  How do I get out of here?  Where's the door out?"  She continued on in a frantic speech, wild eyed like she saw a ghost.  The wind.... something about the cat... something about a door leading outside, I was still reeling from dreaming about my dad and Ed.  My mom woke me just as the dream was finishing.

I assured her that it was the door to the hall that led to the kitchen, the sitting room and the dining room.  I opened the door because Savita wanted out, she was starting to scratch the wood.  My mom was scared.  "Ouuuuuuuu.... don't let her out, it's cold and dark outside", my mom yelled.  Then she said something about the mirror in her bathroom, I couldn't make out what she was trying to say.  She was using the wrong words.  Poor Ma.

I hugged her and told her that everything is going to be OK, that she was just having a nightmare.  I gave her the thyroid supplement and some helleborus.  Tucked back in bed, fully dressed for a couple more hours of sleep with a resistance to closing her eyes.  A few strokes on her head, a little Reiki and a few suggestions got her to settle down and rest.

Immediately I realized what had happened, why she got so scared and wouldn't walk down the hall to squeak the floor... the kittens knocked over the small lamp yesterday and broke the bulb that I had in the hall to light it so that it wasn't so dark and scary for my mom.  I was out of replacement bulbs with the correct wattage; last thing I wanted was to burn my house down using a bulb that was too powerful for the lamp, so I left it until I could get a bulb today.

Darkness is scary to my mom or anyone with Lewy Bodies Dementia.  I've noticed that she won't walk into a dark area or on dark floors with out testing the floor.  Uncle Al does the same thing when he visits, he checks the dark spots on the floor with his foot to make sure that they are not big holes that he'll fall into.

7 AM arrived as did my mom, back to her normal, a place where she can walk on dark floors with out checking for a big hole.  Her hallucinations were gone.  I believe she will have a good day, even if earlier this morning she awoke terrified about something.

Stay with God

Last night I had a dream about my dad.  He's been dead for 30 years.  I haven't seen him in a dream in a very long time.  Last night he visited me in a dream and this time he spoke.

I was in my bedroom with my husband and my living siblings and my Brother-in-law's (all of them, even Steve, my sister's first husband) and my Sister-in-law.  We were hanging out in our room, playing Wii, sitting on the bed talking and laughing.  My mom was in the other room with my Mother-in-Law. 

All of a sudden, I saw my dad walk out of the bathroom.  Initially he was a shadow but when I saw him and acknowledged his presence, he turned into a solid person. 

Dad had a big bright smile on his face as I said, "Dad!  Oh, I'm so happy to see you.  I miss you so much Dad.  It's hard.  Really hard these days but we're getting through the challenges.  I'm using my brains to help Ma find her mind.  She lost it.  She keeps seeing you and Ed.  Please don't scare her." 

My dad still with a big bright smile on his face looked at all of us kids on the bed, all of us.  Then Ed appeared next to dad.  They stood there looking at us like they were studying our souls. 

I called to my mom, "Ma, come in here, dad and Ed are here!"  My mom and Rachel came into the room.

Dad spoke, he said, "You kids need to stick together.  You are family.  Now is when you need eachother, this is the time I was trying to prepare you for."

As soon as he said those words he said, "Stay with God", a phrase he always said to us when we were kids, he turned to walk back where he came and began to fade into a spirit.  Dad and Ed turned transparent.  Ed, my brother who passed in 2001 was behind him.  He didn't speak, he had a frown on his face.  Ed seemed upset.

Stay with God, Go with God... both interchangeable and both greetings my parents always said to us when we left the house or they left.  Before bed, they'd tell us to "Sleep with God,"  a phrase that has brought me comfort through out my childhood and a phrase I say to my mom everynight before she drifts off to sleep.

Stay with God Dad and Ed.

29 December 2009

Special Delivery for Ma

Marty, I told you all I love Marty.  Yesterday he came through for me, he visited our mom.  Just like a Postal Worker moto, Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

It snowed and rained yesterday.  It was a nasty night, but Marty came to visit after work anyway, the weather didn't keep him away, just like a good Postal worker.  He came to the house to deliver Ma her present... it wasn't in the box that he brought her, it was the gift of himself. 

Marty called at 3pm to talk to Ma.  He told her that he was coming to see her after work.  Starting at about 3:20 pm my mom began pacing and looking for Marty. 

"Where is he?  Do you think he's OK?" She asked with her mothering tone of voice.  My mom, she has always been a worrier, especially where her kids are concerned.  The big bursts of snow didn't help stop her worry.

I assured her that Marty was OK, that he was coming, that he wouldn't be here until 6pm or a little after.  My mom, she wouldn't eat dinner, not until Marty got here.  She behaved like my little girl, not my mom, I'd give her choices as to what she could have for dinner and it was NO, NO, NO.  She wanted to wait for Marty just in case he was hungry, I could cook him dinner.  Oh, I love my mom.  Of course I would eagerly cook anyone dinner, if your eating, I'm cooking.

Marty arrived, we could hear him pull into the driveway.  My mom, she didn't hear him, she stopped looking out the window when it got dark. 

Opening the door, I saw my brother, my little brother, the brother I have always loved.  Something about Marty, you can't help but love him.  I thought I was going to cry, but I didn't.  I held in the happy tears, the tears of joy that he was bringing me.  The gift of his time is more precious and valuable than any present money could buy.  It was great giving my brother a hug at my door.

I showed him up to Ma's room.  We have moved her upstairs since he was here last.  Marty walked in to my mom's room and she was sleeping in her chair, waiting.  She saw him come through the door and she jumped up and gave him a big "HEY!!!!!!!!!!!!" with her arms spread open for a hug.  She was really happy to see Marty. 

Marty brought her a gift, a new robe, a smaller robe that fit her perfectly.  Good job picking out the robe Marty, you not only have a big heart, you have really good taste in clothing too.

Ma was tired so she started to hallucinate when Marty was here.  She asked me about the girl in the bathroom.  I asked her if she was bothering her.  She said, "No, I'm just afraid she's going to steal my stuff."  She is always worried about being robbed in her bedroom by her hallucinations which she believes are real.  I gave her some Helleborus to help chase the visions away.

I visited with Marty too.  I felt like I was going to bust out crying from happiness.  I even said, "Gee, I feel like I'm going to cry."  Marty looked at the clock and said, "7 o'clock, time for Susie to cry!"  Followed by a brief burst of laughter.  I don't think my mom got the old joke, but Marty and I did.  He made me laugh when I thought I was going to cry. 

On Marty's way out I overheard him say to my mom, "Do you want me to give that girl a ride and get her out of here?"   I walked away but didn't hear my mom's reply.  Ma walked Marty down the hall and as they walked by Rachel's room, my mom said to Rachel, "Here's my good looking son."  My mom, so proud, so happy that her son was here with her and she had someone to "show him off" to.  Again I felt like I was going to shed a few tears of joy, my mom was very excited and happy, I think Marty was too.

Christmas 2009 is the year I realized that I have family, lots of family.  Old, young and all ages in between, I have family.  My heart is full, I have an even bigger family than I thought, my family is coming back, they haven't forgotten Ma and me. 

I love my family, all of you.  Thank you for sharing your lives with me.

28 December 2009

Attention Everybody... I Love My Brother Marty

It's been pretty rough for all of us this Christmas season, primarily because our mom has lost her ability to reason because of her dementia.  The shock associated with seeing a parent, especially your mom, become the child you once were, is like no other reality check you will ever experience.

Marty is my younger brother, my buddy when we were kids.  5 years between us, I gladly turned over the slot of "baby of the family" when he was born, thanks Marty. 

The picture shown is with my family taken the day before Marty was born.  My dad took us to the beach so that my mom could walk Marty out of her.  It worked.

Marty was born on April 22, 1965, Earth Day, I was still 4, not quite 5 yet.  I missed my mom.  I was anxious to see my new brother, my new doll.  I remember sitting on my dad's lap bawling my eyes out while dad sat in his brown vinyl recliner, comforting me.  Telling me that Ma would be home soon, that they needed to keep her in the hospital for a few days with Martin, my new brother. 

I cried and cried, I missed my mother.  My dad finally took me to the parking lot of the hospital so that my mom could wave to me through the window.  I needed to see that she was still alive.

The time came and Marty came home with our mom.  He was so darn cute, pudgy little face that I liked to try and make smile at me.  I still remember the first time Marty's little hand grabbed my finger, I think that's when I really began to love my little brother.  I vowed to protect him.

Life went along and Marty started to walk.  I remember the day he took his first step, everyone was cheering and Marty was smiling.  Just a few short steps in our living room, but he did it, he got the courage and stood up and walked!

The Blessed Virgin Mary has always been my favorite Catholic Saint.  I went to St. Mary's School as a child and often during our art sessions, I'd draw Mary. 

One day I left my best Mary picture on the coffee table, in reach of Marty's little hands.  He took my picture and ripped it up.  He didn't know what he was doing.  He laughed and laughed as he tore my Mary picture up.  I still remember not crying or getting mad at him, he was only a baby and tearing the picture was making him laugh.  I loved hearing his little laugh.

We were always together in our early years.  I remember taking him on the bus and going to Boston.  We'd walk around Boston, see parts of the Freedom Trail, check out the gravesite of Mother Goose and pass on the fantasy that the nuns told me just a few years before my visit to the grave with Marty.  I remember nuns telling me once that we could find Mother Goose's grave because it had feathers all over it.  Later I realized that they were pigeon feathers.

Our sister Donna always took Marty and I downtown.  She'd take us bowling at Lucky Strike and on the way home we'd go to Ollie's Pet Store where we talked to the talking Myna bird in the back of the store. 

Marty loved talking to the bird... I loved how the bird talked to Marty, I think the bird liked him. 

Donna, she was a cool sister, she always would let us buy a little green turtle.  I remember them becoming banned, something about salmonella poisoning from the turtles was making kids sick.  I really loved those turtles and missed it when they didn't sell them anymore.

When Marty was 8 and I was 12 going on 13, we had our first nephew.  Oh... I will never forget the day Joe was born.  Marty and I ran up the street to the corner store to tell Margarett and Joe, the corner store owners that we have a nephew.  It was an exciting time for Marty and me, after all, we were an Aunt and Uncle... none of our friends were an Aunt or an Uncle.

Donna got a job and our new little family kid squad was Marty, Joe, Andy.  We were always together, we were close. 

Marty, he has been a really good Uncle from the very first day of Unclehood for him.  Our nephews are more like his little brothers, even to this day. 

Things changed in our family when our dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in January 1979.  He only lived about 7 months with this agressive form of cancer.  I am sad that Marty was only 14 when dad passed away, much too young to be left with no dad. 

Our brother-in-laws stepped up and took Marty fishing, hunting... all sorts of things that dad's would do with their sons.  Brad and Steve did a good job helping Marty to adjust, they were his role models.  Unfortunately though, Marty missed learning from our dad, a man who had wisdom beyond his years. 

Yes, Marty and I fight like brother and sister, we have for a long time.  I even remember getting him into trouble with dad when it was really my fault.  I still feel bad about that time.  I'm really sorry Marty, I was being a jerk.  Kids definitely will be kids. 

I have a lot of memories with my little brother.  Marty and I heard Santa's sleigh bells together on Christmas Eve, our imaginations wild with the ideal of Santa. 

We would play baseball in our tiny backyard and shop the thrift stores downtown for bargains.  To this day, Marty is the best bargain shopper I've ever met.

Marty knows how to peruse all the free lists and find things that any of us need.  All we do is say, "Hey Marty, I need xyz."  Before we know it we have an email with a link where we can pick it up or he shows up at our door with the item.

Marty is also the king of "Marty Makeup Facts."  He is a quick thinker and is so convincing with his Marty Makeup Facts, I can't even count how many times I was fooled.  Marty has a dry sense of humor that I find funny as hell.  Marty knows how to make me laugh really hard (and cry too, this proves he's my brother.)

Marty met Patricia.  They fell in love and got married.  There wedding was a great party.  A quaint wedding in their home, oh so sweet. 

It was quite a wedding.  I love weddings when it's hot and sticky, but as soon as the ceremony is over, on come the swim suits with everyone splashing in the pool. 

Marty is thoughtful.  He has a big heart, a huge heart.  I know he loves his family as much as I do.  I know he does because he is making plans to call and visit our mom. 

Thanks Marty.  I love you so much, you are my brother, the one I vowed to protect in this lifetime. 

I'm so sorry if I'm a royal pain in your ass sometimes, but hey, I'm your sister and I love you.

I love Patricia too, thanks for giving me the sister I have been missing all these years.

27 December 2009

A Quick Trip to the Supermarket

Today we spent our time cleaning and rearranging rooms.  I'm using my Home Staging training to repurpose stuff in our home and bring the energy together better, so that it feels good in every room.

It was raining and foggy most of the day today so I wasn't in a hurry to rush to the market.  My mom was watching the Patriots anyway, I'd hate to interupt some of her fun time.  She loves the Patriots.  I think she loves them so much because they win all the time (well, most of the time.)

I cleaned one room that has been bothering me since I moved in.  We rearranged furniture did some repurposing and before I knew it, we were all sitting in there having a cup of tea, Brian, his mom, my mom and me.  It was so sweet.  It was our little family, really special, no one went running, everyone stayed and had tea.

The Patriots game finally ended and I had my mom come to the market with me to pick up a few things that I needed to make dinner. 

It was an uneventful trip until...

My mom and I were walking to the truck with our few groceries.  I had my mom hold the cart while I put the bags in the back seat.  She then put the cart in the cart coral.  Oh, she didn't do it like we would do it, she turned it around and made sure it was really straight but backward.  Now, the cart kid, the kid who comes out and gatherers the carts, he's going to hate pulling the cart out of the jam my mom put it in.  She believed she was doing something good, I didn't stop her.  Screw it.

I went over to the passenger side of the truck, waiting for my mom to come around so that I could help her into the front seat.  I saw her and yelled, "over here Ma!"  I watched her come to the passenger side.

As luck would have it, there was another SUV type truck next to me... a white one, like mine.  The back door was open.  The people were loading the back of their SUV with groceries.  I look and there's my mom, ready to climb into the back seat of this OTHER TRUCK! 

I yelled, "Ma!  Over here!"

The owner of the truck said, "No problem.  I'll give her a ride!" 

Oh, the thoughts that flashed through my head, the comeback lines, the vision of driving away ... FAST as my mom was sitting in the back seat of the wrong truck...


We all got a good laugh.  The guys wife said, "Oh, I know exactly ... my mom is the same way!"  We all laughed and laughed as my mom was buckling herself up in the front seat, oblivious to the brief moment of enjoyment she had given to these 2 strangers and me.

26 December 2009

The Day After

Christmas is over. 

Our day was pleasant, my mom was happy and she enjoyed being served all day.  No different than any other day.  It was a good day for my mom, it was an ordinary day, no hustling here or there; our house was peaceful.  I didn't have to chase any hallucinations for my mom.

We had dinner at the table, something we rarely do.  Normally the moms like to eat in their rooms.  My mom isn't a conversationalist and eating together makes her nervous because she can't find her words.  Last night, we had lamb, cauliflower and peas with an Aujus that I had made for the lamb.  It was fabulous.  My mom didn't worry about words.

Christmas music was playing, we ate, conversed, mom swayed to the music and we shared some laughter.  We exchanged gifts.  My mom really wasn't sure what to make of the gift that my mother in law gave to her; a gift card so that she could go and buy herself anything that she wanted.  It took awhile for it to sink in. 

We didn't have a lot of gifts this year, one each.  It was awesome.  No shopping stress.  No after Christmas, "oh shit, how much money did I spend?"... one gift each was superb.

Christmas with my family, my new family, was better than I could have imagined.  I found the Christmas spirit at the dinner table last night.  I found it in my husbands heart.  How did I not recognize it before?  I was blinded by the past, ideals that I had built up in my mind, ones that were unrealistic. 

Let the new day begin.

This morning at 4am I heard the squeaking of the floor above our bed.  My mom was awake, roaming.  I got up and when I reached the top of the first landing, I saw my mom, fully dressed saying to me in a panic, "I've got to go and help her!  come on!  come on! "  as she motioned for me to go to her bedroom with her.  She was trying to say something but couldn't find the words.  She was freaked out.  My mom's hallucinations were back.

I convinced her to go back to sleep, that it was only 4am.  She tried to explain to me that today she needed to help someone.  "She has a doctor's appointment, she needs me!" my mom said in a panic. 

I said, "Who needs you Ma?" 

"She needs me.  I don't know who it is, but she needs me.  She told me that she needs me to go to the doctors with her."  My mom's mind was stuck in a hallucination.

Convincing her that it was Saturday and whoever she was going to help will call to remind her did the trick. Fully dressed, my mom climbed back into her bed.

6am... squeak, squeak.  My mom was up again.  I woke up.  All the cats were up too and following me as though I was the pied piper.  They see me and associate me with food, pretty much like everyone else in my house!

Ma was paranoid early this morning.  She hid her Christmas gifts that she received from Donna and Rachel under her pillow.  Once she woke up, she took the gifts from under the pillow and put them in her desk.  I really need to keep track of where she's put those things before she believes that the "little kid" came and took them.

Today will be a great day.  I have the Christmas Spirit.  I always had the spirit, I just didn't see it until I looked at my husbands face and realized... he's my Christmas Spirit, he's the love of my life. 


Just like my dad always told me, "Susie, wait a minute, things will change.  Nothing stays the same."  Christmas Eve I mourned the loss of family and on Christmas I realized that I always had a family, a really awesome one, one that I couldn't see because I had my heart closed.

25 December 2009

Letter to My Family - Christmas 2009

Dear Family,

We've had a lot of years together.  You were the ones that I believed would always be here, especially when I need you the most.  But, when I look around, when I ask for help, the only reply is the sound of crickets.  What happened?  You were always there for me when I needed you before?

I cried.  I cried a lot over the thought of losing my family.  What did you expect from me?  You know I am the one who is sensitive and cries at the drop of a hat.  Remember when dad used to say, "Six o'clock, time for Susie to cry" and then I'd start to cry.  All of you would laugh and laugh.  I cried and cried.

Death and dying is not as glamorous as birth and living.  No wonder no one is coming around.  It's part of life, dying.  We are all one day closer to our death day every morning that we wake up.  The most valuable gift that I'm getting from Ma, now that she's lost her mind, is I'm allowing myself to face the inevitable, her death day.  It's not easy facing ones own mortality but it will make it easier for you to deal with Ma's death if you face it now.   

I've been reading blogs and comments from caregivers around the globe.  Did you know that care giving usually lands on one person in a family?  It's usually a female who's about 48 or 49 on average.  Well, what do you know?  I'm a female daughter who's 49 and Ma's caregiver. 

Did you also know that most families are destroyed because of the pressures of caregiving?  Do you want our family destroyed over Ma's dying?  It's happening.  It's making me cry a lot.  I am not ready to lose my family over Ma's illness and everyones fear of facing what could potentially happen to each of us.

I can handle Ma's day in and day out routines, she's way better than she had been before seeing the Naturopath Doctor.  What I can't handle is seeing you all put your heads in the sand, making believe that this will all go away.  It will one day, Ma will die.  But that's when the pain is going to really begin for all of you. 

I should have....

Do you want to be the one who says, "Gee, I should have done...."  fill in the blank.  It will be too late if you find yourself crying and saying this phrase.

We are all busy.  Time ticks away quickly.  But don't you have 5 minutes to call Ma?  Say hello, how are you?  She may not know you but that's OK, she can feel the love, she can feel that someone cares enough to call her.  She asks for all of you at one time or another.  I make shit up so that you all don't look like assholes for abandoning her.  Don't you think she had enough abandonment in her life?  Geez, the woman was homeless when she was 14.  Her mother and sister were locked up in a mental institution, her brother was dead, killed in the war and her other brother who's still alive always wanted everything that she had, a family.

I've been accused of doing what I'm doing out of "guilt."  I have no guilt.  I care for Ma because it's the right thing to do.  She would care for any of us if she could, she wouldn't put us away in a home.  I can't do that to her either.  I care for Ma because I genuinely love her.  My deepest wish is that she passes peacefully at home.   

I know you all love Ma too.  But why the excuses as to why you can't call or visit.  What's your excuse?  Is it a good one?  In my opinion, excuses are cop outs.  You are showing that you are afraid, you are allowing fear to hold you back from releasing the pain, a pain that will only worsen upon Ma's death.

The other day when Ma's health insurer called to talk to me about what I've done to help her, the nutritionist told me that her parents are both in a home.  Her mom has Alzheimer's.  Her daddy lives in a different wing of the home, he's still got his faculties about him.  The dad, he's torn up over the loss of his wife to Alzheimer's.  From what I understood from the conversation, her dad and mom are alone, everyone has abandoned them, no one likes to visit a nursing home.

The daughter, the nutritionist that I spoke with told me her excuse for avoiding her mom.  The nutritionist told me that she is too sensitive, too emotional.  She can't see her, it's not her mom... the list of excuses went on and on.  To her mind the excuse seemed plausible.  Of course it did, her mind made the excuse to make her feel better about herself because deep down she knows she's being a shit head.  When her mom passes, she will have guilt, she will be saying, "I should have..."

Look you guys, you can hate me, I don't care anymore.  All I want you to know is that one day when Ma is dead, if you found yourself ladden with excuses as to why you stayed away, don't come crying to me.  You have an opportunity NOW.  There's a window open, one where you can come in and do the right thing.  You will feel empowered.  You'll feel better about yourself.  You'll stop running away from me, avoiding me and hiding.

I am not asking any of you for money.  I am not asking anyone to take Ma to live with them.  All I am asking you all to do is call Ma.  Did you know when you call Ma and talk to her for 30 minutes, tell her about your life, your day, it does two things.  1.)  you make Ma come alive, your calls mean the world to her, someone remembered her and 2.)  You help me.  You give me a few minutes where I can meditate or just relax with out worrying.

Now is the time folks, it's the time to take action to avoid having to see a Psychiatrist to help you deal with the pain of losing Ma.  Enjoy her now.  Make memories with her now and when she dies we can share our stories and laugh.  We can be a family again. 

Stay with God.


24 December 2009

Why I Don't Feel the Christmas Spirit

Caregiving is a hard job with little time off.  Day in day out, night after night, it's the same; comforting my mom who has lost her mind. 

Hallucinations are prevelant, mostly during those times when she knows she is going to a gathering of some kind.  My mom, she can't find her words, she uses the wrong words and it's very difficult to understand what she is trying to communicate.  For this reason, my mom gets nervous and her trouble worsens the more she thinks about the coming special event.

Here it is Christmas Eve morning.  I don't have the spirit of Christmas.  I'd prefer that this was January 2nd, with holidays over so that life can be uneventful, chasing my mom's hallucinations once again.  Change, any change is tough on my mom especially since she doesn't have the ability to reason. 

Getting together with family that we never see is a perfect recipe to bring on hallucinations in my mom.  Visions of strangers in her mind scare her and cause unrest for days.  It's a quandry.  Do I suck it up and bring my mom to the family gathering just so that family who never sees her, who never call, can feel good about themselves because they are "seeing" Ma?  What about all the other days of the year? 

This Christmas I'm done throwing parties in an effort to get my family together.  It's too late now.  The parties upset my mom, she can't communicate and she becomes withdrawn.  She can't eat the party food, it brings on hallucinations and behavior issues.

It's a lot of work organizing and throwing a party. At one time I would throw parties because I believed in family.  I believed that they would be here for me.  Instead my belief about my family has been shattered.  I have learned that death and Christmas don't mix.  No one wants to be around the old person who doesn't quite know who you are. 

Hey, where did everybody go?

Christmas is about family.  My family is gone and with their departure the Spirit of Christmas is gone too. 

23 December 2009

The Day the Insurance Company Called

My mom's improved health is not a secret, it's been my focus.  Wanting to understand why my mom became so ill, I discovered the root of the healthcare crisis in my country.  It's not just the pharmaceutical companies with their new miracle drugs that mask ailments only to give you new health issues.  New issues that require you to ingest another new pill.  Lack of knowledge is the culprit to a problem that has snowballed into disaster.

People are not taught how to take care of their bodies.  We never really learn about nutrition and the affects fast food has on our health.  Processed food is poison to the human body; I've witnessed it first hand with my mom's health as well as my own.  Maybe the processed food industry doesn't want us to become educated on food, they'd be put out of business.

Obesity, heart disease, diabetes... all serious illnesses that can snuff out a life, but not before it empties your bank accounts.


It's been a question that I've had, why don't people know about all this stuff that I'm discovering?  Why is Naturopathic Medicine looked upon as quackery when I am witnessing the healing power from the Earth's medicine cabinet? 

My latest big question, Why is my mom's health insurance company calling me and asking ME what I'm doing to help my mom?

No one believes it, not the traditional doctors or the insurance company.  My mom was sick.  Really sick.  She was on her way out, she even said "goodbye" to my husband and me.

It wasn't time.

My mom, she lived.  I was laid off.  I began to pay attention and started to read abstracts from medical researchers.  Slowly my mom began to get off all her pharmaceutical medications, they were making her sicker. 

Naturopath Doctors can help you switch from pharmaceutical medications to natural or homeopathic remedies; natures medicine that is gentler on the human body. My mom and I did it on our own but looking back, it would have been much easier and less stressful if we had an ND's assistance.
Once I changed our diet, what we ate and how I prepared food, my mom's diabetes seemed to go away.  Everything is better now, all of her blood readings are showing significant improvements.  My mom isn't visiting the ER, we haven't been to one in quite sometime, not since my mom stopped eating processed foods and gluten.

Over the last several months, my mom has been getting requests by her doctors to have additional blood tests.  I wondered if they believed the test results were flawed since we'd be going every couple of weeks.  My mom, we'd go and give blood samples when requested by her different doctors, we want them to see that there are alternatives for people, alternatives that they need to talk about.

Last week on Friday, my mom's health insurance company called to talk to me.  It was the prevention department of the insurer, he asked questions about my mom and he was wow'd.  You see, this man knows how sick my mom was, he knows how much money she was costing them to pay for her benefits, her private hospital beds, her expensive drug treatments that would cost over a thousand bucks for one dose.  All of these expenses are gone. 

My mom's sleep apnea, well it appears to be gone too.  She's lost 80+ pounds and eats a diet rich in nutrients.  She takes supplements that were prescribed by our Naturopath Doctor.  Her diabetes A1C is now 5.4 - normal.  Blood pressure readings are now 120 something over 60 something.  Her health is better than it's been in decades and her insurance company has noticed.

The supervisor that I spoke with on Friday asked if one of their nutritionist could call and speak with me.  Of course I said yes, I want to teach as many people about my discoveries.  It's the only way to help folks from going bankrupt with high healthcare cost.  Stay healthy, that's the best defense we have in order to protect ourselves from the healthcare corruption.

The nutritionist called this week.  I told her how I helped my mother, what I did and what we both do together now.  I taught the nutritionist, maybe she can help others to restore their good health. 

Nutrition is where it all starts.  Food is medicine, it's our first defense against disease and illness.  It matters what you put into your body.  Think about that cookie or that empty treat.  You can make treats and cookies that taste way better and they can be healthy. 

It's not hard to heal yourself once you chose to do it.  You can if you think you can, the only limitations are the ones that you put on yourself. 

So... what are you going to do?  Stay on the same ole same ole path or take charge of your health and regain a life that is full of rewards.

22 December 2009

"Where's the other person who's with us?"

Today was an adventure with my mom, it always is when I take her out because I never know what words will come out of her mouth.

The ride up 95 was pleasant with the sun shining and Christmas songs playing on every station.  My mom, she sang along with the radio and at one point, she was conducting with her hands.  She showed me how the woman at the new Senior Center moved her hands when they were singing last week.  It made her laugh out loud, which made me laugh because I had no idea what she found so funny. 

We had one of those moments that I know I'll remember long after my mom is dead.  I am predicting that when I drive in my truck around Christmas time, after my mom has died and that song "Sleigh bells ringaling, ting-ting-tingaling... we'll have a lovely sleigh ride... da da da da da.."  comes on the radio, it will remind me of my mom.  I hope I laugh instead of cry when the memory hits.

Today was a day where I made some good memories with Ma.

By the time we got up to Kittery, it was lunch time so we stopped at the Weathervane and had a grilled swordfish lunch/dinner.   We sat in the booth and my mom looks at me and says, "Where's the other person who's with us?  Aren't they coming in?"  The waiter was totally confused and said, "Oh, are you waiting for someone else?"  I replied, "No, no, it's just the 2 of us."  My mom she looks at me and says, "Really, there's only you and me?"  "Yup, just you and me Ma."  The waiter left not knowing what just happened.  I chuckled because my mom made his brain stop.

Nothing like one of my mom's hallucinations to make one's brain stop as you attempt to find the logic.  When will I ever learn, there is no logic with the demented brain.  I still haven't gotten to the point where I can play along with her imaginary visitors.   My facial expressions tell all.

Lunch was delicious.  My mom ate everything on her plate, including a baked potato.  She ate it like she was cheating, but I wanted to see if she could handle the potato now that she's on the thyroid supplement and the additional Phosphatidylcholine powder.

We had a bright idea to drive up to Sanford and check out Marden's.  It's been ages since we were up there, probably last year when I bought my fake Christmas tree for 25 bucks.  I fixed the broken string of lights and now I have an awesome tree that doesn't leave needles on the floor for the kittens to eat.  Marden's didn't have anything good, not for us anyway, not today. 

On the drive back down 95 we swung in to the Kittery Outlets and my mom bought 2 pairs of pajamas.  I left her in the Jockey store to shop on her own while I picked up under garments for my husband.  I overheard the store clerk asking my mom if he could help her.  She said yes and then I heard the guy ask her what size she needed.  I heard my mom say, "A small." 

I poked my head up from behind a counter and said to the guy, "she'll need a large."  My mom, she still thought she needed a small.  God love her.  I did convince her that buying a small would only require that we return the item and it would cause us to have to drive way up to Maine to return it.  I showed her the large and convinced her that this was the size she needs.  I told her that next year she'll be a size small which worked.  She got 2 pairs of pj's and she was happy.

As we were leaving the store, she saw gloves in a box next to the register.  She picked up a pair, didn't try them on and bought them.  I had the clerk take the tags off so that she could wear the gloves.  Note to self... make sure Josie tries stuff on first before removing the tags.  She couldn't fit her hand in the gloves.  The clerk found a pair that fit her and we were finally on our merry way.  My mom was thrilled to have a new pair of gloves and even happier that she got an extra 10% off because she's a senior.  Her gloves cost her $4.25, a bargain in her eyes.

The extra choline appears to help her find her words but she still hallucinates; mostly dead relatives.  My mom is happy and feeling great.  I just wish I could get used to her hallucinations.

Phosphatidyl Choline Powder... could it be the memory solution?

Yesterday my mom had an extra dosage of Phosphatidyl Choline Powder as prescribed by our Naturopath Doctor.  He suggested more in an effort to help my mom remember her words, to help her with her memory.

Fortunately, my mom loves the taste of the stuff in yogurt or with a blueberry smoothy.  After she had her yogurt yesterday afternoon, she was more alert, she was finding her words.  Not all of them, but more than she had been.  She stopped trying to whistle out her words and then stopping in frustration. 

Could Phosphatidyl Choline Powder be the memory solution for folks with Alzheimer's? 

It's only been one day since we doubled her daily Choline intake, it appears to be working.

Today I am going to be adventurous and drive up to the Outlet Malls in Kittery with my mom.  Shopping with her is a good gauge for me, I can tell how sharp she is or if she's experiencing sensory over load from all the items in the stores.

21 December 2009

It Really Is a Great Day

Even though I heard through the grapevine today that there was a Rapture coming to end the world, who cares... I am having a great day!

My mom, she woke up.   Not until 8:45am, but she woke up, wide awake and only a little confused.  When she saw me she said, "Who's taking me home so that I can have my pills?"

"Right this way Josephine, your pills are over here, in this room."  We walked back to her bedroom and she sat in her chair.  She looked to the table where I keep her supplements and she said, "Oh...  there they are!  Isn't that amazing?" 

"Sure is Ma.  Funny how they can just appear, huh?"

We both laughed.

Dilly dallying along today my mother in law says, "Gee, don't you and your mom have an appointment with the doctor today?  There's a message on the answering machine."  I listen to the message.  It is now 9am.  "Hello.  This is Dr. B's office, Josephine and Susan have an appointment Monday morning at 10 and 10:30am.  Thank you."


Getting into high gear, I give my mom all her supplements and a yogurt with the choline powder.  I forgot to give her Ashwagandha.  I forgot her blood pressure and blood sugar readings.  All I could think was, Oh no, we have 30 minutes to get dressed and get out of here.

I instruct my mom to get ready.  She seemed to hear me.  I rushed off, took a shower, got dressed and rushed up to see how my mom was getting along.  Not too good.  She was sitting in her chair, laughing at TV, still dressed in her nightgown.

Of all days, she couldn't be up and dressed at the crack of dawn like she has been in the past.  I screwed up.  I didn't tell her about the appointment this morning.  Hell, I thought it was tomorrow!

We did make it out the door, only arriving 8 minutes late. 

It was a good visit.  My mom loves our ND.  I think she'd adopt him if she could.  Who knows, maybe she already has?  In any event, he has me giving her Choline 2 x's a day to see if it helps improve her memory and ability to find words.  Finding words is her biggest challenge these days.

The extra dose of Choline has appeared to help my mom.  I'm not totally sure because she is always in a good mood after seeing Dr. B.  I'll know as the week goes on.

In the meantime, I am grateful that we have a Naturopath Doctor who understands dementia in the elderly.  He's a Godsend, helping my mom to have more good days and nights.

Graphic Art by Louise Jarmilowicz, Jarmo Designs - http://www.jarmodesigns.com/  Vist her site to see and purchase her original art.

It's a Nightmare and I Can't Wake Up!

My mom seems more confused lately.  I don't know if it's a temporary setback or if this is her new "normal."  She doesn't recognize me most times.  I've lost a lot of weight, which I'm happy about; I've been working on it.  Last week, after months of needing to see a hairdresser to fix my locks, I finally had a mini-makeover.  My mom too.  It confused my mom, now she has no idea who I am.

Initially she didn't like her hair, but on Saturday, she loved it.  The hairdresser told us about a hair powder fiber that her Grandmother and Great Grandmother use on their thinning hair spots, Organin.  We were told that her Grams swear by it.  Before we left, she called one of her Gram's and asked where she buys the stuff.  "Folica.com" she told her, "the name of the product is Organin ."

My mom was excited to hear about the product and kept asking her new hairdresser to put some on her head.  Once we were able to help my mom understand that she didn't have the hair product, that I had to order it online, my mom began to ask me over and over again if I had ordered it yet.

I ordered her some as soon as I got home.  I hope it arrives this week so that on Christmas she can feel like she has a new head of hair.  Often she tells me that she wants to buy a wig to cover her shiny bald scalp.  Based on the recommendation by our new hair stylist, we're hopeful that this product will give my mom the lift she needs. 

I'm hopeful that once her hair is "stylin'" she'll want to go to the new Adult Day Health program.  My mom, she was one to get her hair done every week when I was a kid.  Her lack of hair has been the cause of much of her unhappiness over the last 20 plus years.

Confusion is the norm for my mom.  All day yesterday she asked me when I was taking her home.  It began with the little bag that she packed yesterday morning.  Later in the afternoon she looked at me and said, "This is so confusing.  It's like a nightmare that I can't wake up from... don't I have kids?  Where is my house?  You look like Susie, but I'm not sure if you are Susie.  Where's Donna?  Where's Eddie?  Ann, she loves me.  Marty?   Have you seen Marty?  Is he OK?"

On and on the questions came from her yesterday as I did my best to provide answers that would settle her mind.

Today is a new day.  A GREAT Day. 

It's great because I was able to have a cup of coffee and write a blog post as Savita laid across my desk.  My mom still sleeping.  Everyone is still sleeping, except for my big Savita the Cat and me. 

Quiet time with my cat.  My day has begun with quiet time... is it because it's Christmas week or is it because my mom died and I don't know it yet?  Time to make my way upstairs and see if she's still breathing.

20 December 2009

Where Is Everyone? Don't I have kids?

I'm not sure if it's the Christmas holiday that is approaching or if it's some other reason, but my mom has been asking me for a few days now, "Where is everyone?  Don't I have kids?  Where are they?"

This morning she packed a bag, ready to go to her home.  Dressed only in a night gown and her favorite red sweater, holding her bag, she was ready to go.  She's looking for her kids, like a mother cat who has been separated from her kittens. 

How do I respond?  I've tried with out any luck to get my family together since we moved from my home to my new husband's house.  I am giving up.  Mostly because I build up my hopes, hopes where I will see everyone here, like the old days, but the old days are that, old.  They are distant memories that I treasure but they are also the memories that set me up for disappointment.

Maybe I was in my own fantasy world in my mind, believing that I have a family, one that would help me when I need them.  The sting of the reality of being abandoned by ones family sucks, especially when I believed my family would be here for me no matter what.  After all, it is what my dad preached to us and taught all of us kids during our childhood.

Stay together, your family are your only true friends.

Sadly, I was wrong.  No one cares when death is involved.  Everyone is too busy, rushing here and there, with some purpose only known to them, anything that will keep them from facing their own mortality is more important.  I have cried over this realization but now, I know there's nothing I can do so I'm letting it go.  Fuck it.  No more tears.  Why should I cry if no one cares?  I care.  I can only control me.

Even though my family appears to have forgotten us here, I still love them.  All of them.  It's probably why it hurts.  Ya, it's my ego getting in the way, I'm still Sue, the Sue who can cry at the drop of a hat.  It's who I am, I am not sorry for who I have become.  I love me.  Even the me who cries.

I always loved Christmas and being with my family.  But this year, I don't want to see them.  I don't want them around me.  I want to be alone with my new family, the people who are here for me day in and day out.  The only ones that I know I can depend on.  Right now, that's what I need, nothing more, nothing less... family love, love that I know doesn't just come around on 1 or 2 days a year.  My mom, she won't remember that anyone was here anyway, she barely knows who I am.

Mom keeps asking about her kids.  Where are they?  She asks, "I need to see birth certificates, I know I have kids."  She forgets that Ed is dead and asks me where he is.  I miss Ed.  I know that he would have helped me with my mom.  I like to believe that he'd be here to give me a day off so that I could enjoy life, even if it is for a few hours.  I believe this because Ed visited every Sunday when he was alive, he was my best friend. 

The most difficult part of care giving for a parent who is losing their mind, is answering questions like the ones my mom keeps asking, "don't I have kids?  Where are they?"

19 December 2009

'Tis the Season for House Fires

The week before Christmas, my tree is completed, our stockings are hung, but the Christmas Spirit in our neighborhood has been overshadowed by our neighbors who's house burned down on Monday night.  I can still see the intense flames bellowed by the wind, growing and spreading from their garage into the main house. 

Fire spreads fast, no doubt about it. 

As the fire burned, their Christmas lights freakishly turned on.  Flames, lights and chaos filling the night air.  Crackling fire, soothing at the right time, has left an echo in my mind, reminding me of the power which fire possesses.  Horror and disbelief was evident on the faces of those who were displaced from their home, less than 2 weeks before Christmas.  We often hear about fires caused by Christmas lights, never believing that it could happen to us.

This year, like every year, I put my plastic candle sticks in the windows, just as my neighbor told me he has done for 15 years.  At our house, we have single white lights in each window, simple, elegant and beautiful.  Nothing worse than not having all the bulbs lit, some were blown from last year and I had forgotten to pick up replacement bulbs.  Patience is not a strong suit for me, it's something I constantly need to remind myself to work on.  The night I put the candles in the window, I was impatient, I wanted all lights to be working to complete the look. 

I checked our bulb supply and found 2 flickering candle like bulbs, they had the right size base to fit into the stick.  I put them into the candle sticks on Sunday night, just before I went to bed.  The candles are sensitive to light and darkness, turning themselves on and off with each passing night and day.  I pulled the shade down past the candle sticks so that the ambient light from our room didn't turn off the candle lights in my windows.

After the fire, I noticed the lights in the window behind the shade; the lights looked bright and were flickering.  Worried about fire, especially with the image of the fire across the street so fresh in my mind, I checked the bulbs.  The bulbs were touching the shade and those bulbs, they were very hot.  The shade was hot.  I pulled the plugs and made a note to myself to never put the wrong sized bulbs into anything, even if they appear to fit.

My neighbors, the fire to their home, just could have helped save our home by giving me the thought to check my bulbs.

Have you checked your bulbs lately?  Is your house safe from fire this holiday season?

18 December 2009

Do You Have All of Your Marbles?

Most of the time, my mom has no idea who I am.  It is confusing to her on so many levels.  Sometimes, for brief moments, she recognizes me and then laughs that she thought I was someone else.

Tonight, she was confused, she asked me if I had a license to be her nurse.  She asked me if I had a birth certificate to prove that I am her daughter.  She wants to see the birth certificates of all of her children.  Tomorrow, I told her that I'll pull them out of the safe and show them to her.

She asked me about my dead brother Ed, "where is he?" she said to me.  I look at her puzzled and then she started to laugh as she said, "Oh, he's down the well." 

She is confused about who I am more often than not.  She loves the me that's her nurse, she loves Nurse Sue.  As Nurse Sue, I call her Josephine and I talk to her like a nurse would talk to a patient; like I used to talk to Aggie, the woman I caregave to just before I bought my house and moved my mom in with me in 1998. 

It's better when she thinks I'm her nurse.

Sue visits, her daughter Sue.  Sometimes she thinks I'm Donna.  She knows Ann is in Maine, far away.  Marty?  She's always asking me where's Marty.

Today, she had visitors again.  The little boy was back.  Her sister Florence, who she reminded me her first name was Victoria, came today and visited.  My mom is slipping.  She's declining. 

I gave her Helleborus to see if we could chase the hallucinations away.

She will bounce back, she always does but she won't be at the place where she was before the mental slip.  I wonder if there's a natural remedy or homeopathic remedy that will help where Helleborus seems to be losing ground? 

Lewy Bodies Dementia is a strange disease. 

From what I've read on the LBD usergroup postings, this is something that just happens, the patient has setbacks and they don't go back to the sort of good days they had before the set back.  They still have good days, more of them, but they are different.  It requires more work for the Care Giver.  The patient believes they are doing great, while the Care Giver is asking the question to themselves, "Really?!"

Will we ever be ready for the next Lewy Bodies Phase?

My mom, she's starting to get the Lewy Body Lean.  She's leaning to the left.  I wonder if it's because she's been a life long Democrat that she's leaning left.  Leaning left works out in a healthful way too, because the left side is the side to lay on if you are constipated, it gives gravity a chance to work with your body.

All of this is amusing to me, my mom's confusion.  Just earlier today my mom was talking about the new Senior Center that she went to this week.  She told me that they were "unorganized."  I said, "In what way?"  Then she went on to tell me how the folks there don't have their "marbles." 

I asked her, "What do you mean?"

She said, "Well, we played the Price Is Right on Wii (we have that game and it's my mom's favorite TV Show, she never misses it) their was one guy who got mad, he doesn't have all his marbles.  He thought he really won the money on the Wii game, he was crazy.  I wanted to laugh out loud"  she said to me, "but, I just held it in.  These people were funny, they thought they were going to win real money."

My mom, it's really hard to describe how she is.  She seems to be in limbo most of the time.  She has good days.  I consider a good day to be a day without a hallucination.  Helleborus works for her but it takes more lately to get her to be more in life's realm of reality.

She sleeps through the night on her herbal remedies.  I really couldn't ask for much more.  My personal life is slowly coming back to me.  Time away from my duties as a Care Giver, time to just be with myself; it was better than any sedative prescribed by a doctor. 

This week, I had a taste of freedom, I was liberated from Caregiving, even if it was just for 5 hours, but it is 5 hours where I felt that I had all of my marbles!

Is It Getting Easier?

Being a Caregiver for my mom appears to be getting easier now that I have had a couple of respite days, one after the other.  It's been just peachy now that I've had a break.  The lesson that I learned as a caregiver is that we need to take breaks.  Getting the ball rolling however is what I found to be the most challenging.  It was as though my feet were stuck to the ground, I couldn't move.

What stops us?

Looking back in retrospect, fear was what was stopping me.  Fear of the unknown.  I was afraid that if I rocked the boat my mom would spiral downward into a deeper demented state of mind.  The fear that I felt was real but it was unrealistic.  How could I be so sure that she'd react in a negative way?  Why did I believe that it was possible for her to flip out?  Probably because my past experience molded my belief.

I had forgotten that I have the power to change what happens in my life.

My mom, she did get a little upset with me because I didn't include her in the planning of her first day at the new Adult Health Program.  I took the control away from her which pissed her off.  If I had to do it over again, I would have talked to her on one of her good days and had her in the room when I made the call to schedule the day.  If I had included her in the scheduling, I think she would have been happier going to the special Adult programs for folks with mental impairement. 

It's interesting how my mom's mood and behaviors change based on the regularity of her daily routine.  When things are the same every day, where she knows that she's staying home or we're going food shopping, my mom has a really good day with clear cognition.  Changing her daily schedule seems to scare her and she can't remember words, her speech is affected. 

Today we are going to a new hairdresser who will set her hair in rollers after she colors it.  I have noticed that when my mom gets her hair done, she always walks taller and smiles more.  Let's see if the hairdo gives her the lift that she needs.

Update on Savita the Cat's Surgery

Savita did well with her surgery.  She was alert and awake not very long after the procedure.  Dr. Janice told me that she did amazingly well for having 16 teeth extracted.  The cat has a bone infection in the back of her mouth where her infected molars had been. 

Oh boy, we get to squirt antibiotics down the cats throat every day. 

Wouldn't it be something if the surgery turned my near ferrel cat into a mild kitty who liked to be patted with your hands and not only feet?  Savita, she allows pats to the head with feet but if a hand  tries... don't say you were not warned.

Savita ate an entire can of cat food this morning.  The vet told me that if she eats not to give her the pain meds.  So, I'm not going to give her the pain medication, she ate more than she has eaten in a long time, she must be feeling pretty good. 

The kittens are anxious for her to play chase with them down the long hall.  I can see it happening one day soon.  I'll feel like we crossed the chasm of Cat Hell when I see the three of them playing and sleeping together.

17 December 2009

The Day Savita Lost Her Teeth

Savita the Cat, pictured, has lived with us for 7 years.  She was a near ferrel kitten when I got her from the vet after having my awesome black and white cat put down because he had a blood clot break creating complications.  Obviously I cried when they put Kitty Kitty down, I held his little paw, he wanted to be near me.  Kitty Kitty was an awesome cat.  I inherited him from an elderly woman that I cared for years ago. 
At the vet I asked if they had another cat that I could take home.  I was told that they had no cats, just kittens.  My reply, "No, no, not interested in kittens, I want a full grown cat."  The woman asked me to wait and just look at the little kitten.

I waited.

Out comes this little tiny black kitty (pictured standing up to Shadow.)  Savita she was feisty and swatted at me playfully.  She made me laugh.  I named her on the spot, Savita, which means sunshine... she was my sunshine, she brought me joy immediately, just as I imagined happend with my parents when I was born.  My parents gave me a special name when I was a kid, they called me their Sunshine, replacing the sadness they experienced with having a still born before I was even a thought.
Savita the Cat, she has been my sunshine, making me laugh and comforting me when I felt sick or sad.

Today, Savita is at the vet, The Cat Doctor, having her teeth extracted.  My poor cat got a virus when she was out in the wild as a kitten.  The vet explained to me that some cats get this virus that attacks the enamel on the cats teeth, making them rot at the root.  A few months ago I noticed one of her canine teeth hanging, all snaggle tooth-like.  We took her to a vet that treats all animals.  They pulled the tooth.

We took her back to the vet a couple of weeks ago so that they could look at her teeth again.  The other teeth didn't look right.  The vet on call said that they would need to extract a couple of teeth but couldn't do it for 3 plus weeks. 

The cat was suffering so I searched for a Naturopath type cat doctor.  Fortunately, I found one!  Dr. Janice is awesome.  Savita seemed to like her and especially liked that there were no dogs in the place.  After a thorough exam, Dr. Janice recommended removing all of her teeth because we'd only be back in a couple of years to get others removed because of the virus.  She also ran the risk of a bone infection if she kept the teeth which would be very bad for her health. 

Today, Savita becomes toothless.  It will make her feel better.  I know that she wants to play with the kittens, she's curious about them and keeps an eye on them.  This morning she did the little ass wiggle like she was going to playfully pounce on one of the kittens, but she changed her mind. 

We're hoping that once she's out of pain she'll be happy to share our home with 2 new roommates, Shakti  and Sammy.

16 December 2009

A Groveland Sunday

The first day of anything is always scary, even for someone with all their mental faculties.  My mom did well today.  It was her first day at Adult Day Health.

This morning she was confused and thought she was going to live in a nursing home.  She packed one of her little plastic shopping bags with random things; towel, toothpaste, a Brookstones Advert, gloves, shampoo and a few other items that escape my memory.  My mom packs bags when she is uneasy... today she was uneasy and gathered what she believed she'd need.

I packed her a lunch and waxed her facial hair, it was bugging her terribly.  I knew it would make her feel self conscious so I did it for her.  It made her feel good, she walked a little taller.  We were out the door an hour later than I had wanted but I didn't want to rush my mom.  I was afraid it would make her nervous if I was over zealous about "dumping her off."

We made our way to the place, under 5 miles from our home.  We were greeted by a nice staff of nurses who listened to me tell them about my mom's issues.  What she can and can't eat... the form of dementia she has and her natural remedies.  The nurses were intrigued.

While I spoke with the nurses, my mom was whisked away into a room with a bunch of folks in the program.  My mom was put at the table with all the ladies who talk and participate in the activities.  Then there was the table of old "couch potato's" and another table of folks who couldn't talk.

I had 5 hours to myself. 

Time to myself was foreign.  It had been so long since I had time to just do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.  Freedom, the freedom I once knew and took for granted was awesome.  I turned up the radio in the truck and sang Christmas songs outloud while I drove down Rt. 38.  Oh, the sun was shining as I sang "The weather outside is frightful...."  Just like the old days, the days that I like to call Groveland Sundays.

Groveland Sunday's were my one day a week that I spent doing things for myself.  Brian would leave around noon and go home, not to return until the following Friday night.  My mom, she was always off to bingo early, 9am to pick up my Aunt Jay and ensure that they got a "good seat" at the bingo hall.  She'd be gone until 5pm.  I would have 5 free hours.

Today was a Groveland Sunday. 

I went to a greenhouse just to walk around and look at flowers.  I smelled some orchids and other tropical flowers.  I closed my eyes and returned to Hawaii.  By smelling flowers, I was able to take a quick vacation to Hawaii, even if it was in my mind.  I'm grateful that I have visited Hawaii a couple of times and can recall the experience by smelling Hawaiian native flowers.  Plumeria are the best, I smelled one today.

Driving further down the road, I continued to sing and think about the great day we were having, even if the outside temperature is so fridgid that I was cold.  I am never cold, not since I began this whole menopause joy; today I was chilled. 

A little further down the road I spot a Home Goods.  I decide to stop in.  This is one store my mom can't handle, it doesn't have anything of interest to her.  Today, I went by myself... just like the Groveland Sundays where I'd shop in stores that had kitchen gadgets.  I love gadgets.

In the store, I got to read cookbooks and look at all sorts of neat things.  I had a 25 dollar gift card that I had won last year when I took my courses to become an ASP Home Stager.  Today, I bought 2 new cookbooks with my gift card. 

Strolling the aisles, I overheard these 2 senior women talking.  One woman said, "You know Margy, my son called and told me that I will never go to a nursing home, I can live with him."  The woman's eyes were teary as she spoke those words to her friend.  I couldn't help myself.  I said, "My mom lives with me."

We got talking and I told them about our Naturopath Doctor and how he's helped my mom.  I talked about Fenugreek, Cordyceps, thyme, curcumin,  turmeric, rosemary... I talked and talked.  They asked questions, I talked a bit more.  The ladies can't wait for my book to be written and published.  They want to see me become the next Oprah.  One of the ladies said, "You know, Oprah isn't doing her show anymore, you would be so good as a replacement." 

How sweet of them to vocalize my personal dream, to have my own TV show. 

Everything is possible if we believe... coming to a station near you in the future... ME!

From Protected to Protector - Caring for Elderly Parents - Guest Post by Roschelle Nelson

They're our fiercest protectors, most loving and biased critics, strongest allies and if the gods of Olympus decide to really shine a little favor our way - they can be the best friends we'll ever have. All these descriptions and a plethora of others I don't have enough room to mention can be used to define devoted parents.

The faces you seek out in the crowd at your little league game. The voices you long to hear when you're homesick and in need of reassurance. The touch that has filled you with warmth and an unconditional sense of love and dedication your entire life.

Then one day far too soon for most of us to grasp, the roles change. We become the protector not the protected....the supplier not the supplied....the caregiver not the one being cared for.

In this journey called life if the circle makes it's completion without incident, you will eventually be faced with the challenge of caring for elderly parents. Don't take the word challenged lightly. It can be one of the most difficult tasks you've ever faced - but also one of the most rewarding.

The role of caregiver in these situations is usually a job that rests on the shoulders of one individual. Oh, sure....siblings will pledge help in many ways...money, time, assistance with decision making and emotional support. But as time passes the responsibility slowly drifts to that one person who has stepped up and assumed most of their parent's care - usually the adult child that has decided to move mom or dad into their home.

The elderly parent can also present a challenge. Realizing they've lost a certain level of their independence, the parent will often develop hostility and resentment toward the one in the direct line of fire - the primary caregiver. It's not personal. Just something I call a good ole fashioned "knee-jerk reaction" to a stressful period.

Managing and working through this type behavior takes patience, time and a strong support system.

As a nurse and daughter, I've served as a caregiver to the elderly at work and at home. During the 90s, my mother and I cared for my elderly grandmother and shortly after she passed away....we cared for my grandmother's mother. My great grandmother. Boy, was she a card.

Toward the end my great grandmother developed dementia. She would be that sweet strong woman I had known and loved all my life one minute; 5 minutes later, she was as foreign to me as a man from Mars. Those moments would inspire some of the funniest moments I've ever experienced and also some of the most heart wrenching, but somehow we got it done.

If you're currently caring for an elderly parent, there are a few things you can do to make sure you and your parent receive the best care possible.

• Have a strong support system - if you can't find this through other siblings, look for support groups. Talk with your parent's health care professional about options.

• Utilize In-Home Care services if available - Senior companions, Meals on Wheels, Meal Preparation, Sitters, etc

• Familiarize yourself with their medications - to be alert to adverse side effects, reactions or overdose

• Allow your parent to remain as independent as possible even though you are caring for them

• Take breaks - to avoid burnout treat yourself to some ME time

• Realize your limitations - if caring for your parent becomes too much for you to safely and effectively perform, look into alternatives such as assisted living facilities and/or residential nursing homes. This one can be a hard one. Many children feel as if they're giving up on their parent or "throwing them away" by placing them in these types of health care facilities. The only time you're throwing them away is if you don't carefully research the facility's reputation and make sure to visit frequently. I've worked in a few local nursing homes. And though I've never witnessed neglect or abuse....I can say the residents who had family members visiting on a regular basis often received more attentive care.

Just a few tips from me to you. Good luck on your journey and God Bless :)

Roschelle Nelson has been a Registered Nurse for 15 years.  She's a fine story writer with her ability to capture emotions and pictures in words.  Please visit Roschelle's blog.  If you are a blogger, she offers tips that have helped my blog ranking a lot.

Thank you Roschelle!