Friday, February 29, 2008

Patience lesson for the day

My son loves animals more than people. I do too on certain days. Having worked in retail most of my life. So on this new visit he came with his Yorkie and his tank with hermit crabs.

Yup, a large tank with hermit crabs. You would think these are easy to take care off, think again,
they need a certain food without chemicals, spring water, salt water a change of housing (hence many shells around the tank ,) net to for the acrobatic acts and so forth.

Hermit crabs are throw away pets for the most part. Kids at a beach visit will beg the mom for one and have not a clue what to do with them. Soon they die.
And then there are people like my offspring who keep them for years. Yes, they can live very long lives in their tanks.

Today I learned a lesson from one of them. I learned that one should never give up.
That patience is indeed much needed in my situation.

One hermit crab decided to climb up to the top of the tank on a slippery small plastic tube.
I watched it for about 30 minutes, it would climb a few inches and slide back down.
Then reach half way and oops slide back down again on the slippery plastic.
I got sleepy watching the enormous struggle this little animal had in making it to the top
but after an hour he indeed reached the top and hung upside down on the mesh top.

Not once did he give up, no matter how many times he was sliding back to the base.
He decided to reach that top no matter how long it would take, no matter how hard it would be.
He showed me perseverance and patience.
I will keep his message in mind, well least for this evening

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Photo Bob abd company

Bob with Peter and Toto, one year ago

Great days

We had a few great days, B seems to know someone else is around to stay, even so he is not always sure that it is his son. He surrendered his car keys to Bobby which was a biggy.
We let him keep the keys because the car was not around but now that the car is back in the driveway he forgets that he is no longer driving and we caught him trying to drive.
I do not care if you have Alzheimer or are completely still in charge but when someone takes away your driving rights that is major.
W.N.C. is having a very cold spell hope the bulbs can take it in the garden.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I have at least 4 teachers who check this blog.
They know me quite well.
So I am not concerned over them.
They know my punctuation is non existent and I often mix up my French or Flemish
(native languages) with my adopted one.
Truth is, I had an English grammar lesson for about 3 months in 7th grade
and that is IT.
From the GI's in 1945 I knew all the foul language there was to know.
I did not know what it all was about but I was an expert at repeating it.
The rest of my grammar is all self taught so excuse me if I do not use the
right verbs.
I managed to raise kids who do very well in the Language and I manage to express myself even without a comma here and there.


Trying very hard to eliminate a lot of "things".
I now want to live like the Shakers and hang up my chairs on the wall at night
and let my Roomba vacuum robot clean while I sleep. (Oops! that Roomba is not
a Shakers thing), well let me keep something.
I deserve it kind of syndrome.
In order to continue my trips to the Good will and eBay (now on strike)
I purchased ( yes I bought another "thing") a small sign which reminds me
to have "SIMPLICITY" .
Problem is my walls are covered with paintings and "things" and I did not find
room to hang my sign.
Enough said.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

How does one deal with mental health issues?

Years ago, eager to find out what I could about Alzheimer I joined the support group.
People from all walks of life , men and women, wives and husbands, sons and daughters , we all sat together and each of us could talk a few minutes of the "stage" we were in at home.
Bob was still driving but I was beginning to think this was a mistake. He had not done anything drastic. In fact he had to renew his license and he passed. Much to my chagrin. But , angels were working with me. He announced to the DMV person with great aplomb: "Not bad for a guy with Alzheimer". Bingo that did it. License was removed rather quickly.

In some states like California, the doctor has to report this disease to the DMV and after 1 year the license is revoked. Not so in N C . We live in a retirement town and so help me, there are many people who should not be driving. One of our clients can't write out a check she can hardly see and we saw her getting into this long boat Cadillac and drive away. I was mortified.

Back to the "group" . I was listening to the stories, they gave advice of what diapers to use, what special cover to buy to protect your mattress. How to feed them and help the patient should he or she be choking. That is for the last stage I was told. When does that come?
Well it is different for every person. Voila.
Look , they said at Pres. Reagan (he was still alive then) .
The group was anything but a support group for me. I was besides myself with grief.
I stopped going. I read books and books and all depressed me more and more.
Sure, some advice is good such as legal stuff which you have to do early when the patient still knows what is going on.

One doctor gave us a lecture on the caregivers.
SHe told us that 90 percent of caregivers become ill themselves because they do not
take the time to check their own needs.
One lady sat there with a smile telling us that when she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had some days in the hospital that she was happy.
She was happy that one of her kids had to come down and watch over her husband.
I could not imagine this. Now years later I know this is so.
What would I do without my Lexapro?

I worked for some years as a caregiver with a child , I did respite work.
I adored the kid. He did have violent days and sometimes I went home with bruises.
But I could leave, the parents were there 24/7.
I could not even imagine living with this.
We also know a boy with Aspberger autism , he is a doll, but when he was very young his constant activities , constant moving about, and sing song phrases where something to
adjust too and I can only say that the parents with these children are saints.

Yet, when you work in the field of mental health, how much is available to help you?
How much money does it take? How long before you find the right therapist who can work
with you? If you need a nursing home what are the cost? Will you lose your house in paying the monthly fee?

A friend of mine had to watch over a single uncle with Alz. he needed to be in a nursing home, after all the money was gone from his house, boat and car, he needed to go on the system.
My friend found out very quickly when they started using Medicaid then there was half the
care for his daily routine. My friend reported it but nothing much was done.
The V A does not give you a bed with Alzheimer because it is not "service related".
So much for my soap box today.

Best advice I can give anyone is to do it all one day at a time.
I was a child age 8 when war broke out in my little Belgium. My mom always said that if she had known what the next five years would bring she would have committed suicide on May 10 1940.
She said that living the 5 years day by day was all what she needed to continue and see
the liberation in 1945.

Cheer up if you can and laugh a lot and watch fun movies!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Having a Dish installed keeps one busy

Son showed me how to save money and still get more value.
He made me join the new century.
Out Mediacom in Dish!
That took a few hours of a man getting in and out of the house,
under the house, and back out in the cold.
Old B. just did not get it so he followed the man around, minute by minute.
Any change of daily pattern is difficult for an A. patient.
My darling who is (read was) very generous is now very paranoid.
Everyone who enters the house will get his "things".
You would think we live in Versailles and he has to watch for the
This , by the way, made it easy to install the alarms on the doors.
We want to know when he goes out.
We told him it was for those who want to come in.
He was delighted.
Fact is, it will work both ways.

So on to another day, it is raining and could have been snow so I am happy for that
and looking forward to a calm day at the office and the hairdresser.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Forget the last 2 days

I am amazed that I get feedback from this blog. I started it to just let the family know where we are, yet this somehow mushroomed into readers who have the same situation at home.
They relate or I hear about other "help" which may work for me too.

Having said all that, I want to forget the last 2 days.
Bob was mostly out of total reality and very unpleasant.
It was my day off and I wanted to run to the safety of my small office at Steinmart.
SO no elaboration , I can't rethink these days and hope today is better.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dealing with pack rats

Old B. is a pack rat, always has been. Alzheimer does not change that, the objets collected just changed. He will save any , I mean any box, large or small. Empty TV dinner trays are washed and kept, coffee cups from the Bank are washed and kept, large boxes and small ones are all in his studio. Most of these vessels hold "something". The rocks from the driveway for one. He must have half a ton of rocks upstairs all in little containers. Sometimes the rocks are lined up nice and neat on the kitchen counter.
Some cups hold the tops of soda bottles, rubber band or two, a penny here and there, a toy taken from the grandchildren. There are probably dozens and dozens of these small cups in bigger boxes.

I kept his studio like a sanctuary for he always had this habit only with "good stuff".
Stuff he was going to put in a still life. Stuff he needed for his art.
The upstairs was his sanctuary together with dozens and dozens of records 5 machines to play them and not to count the tapes.

Now it is time to clean this up so son can have his old bedroom back.
No easy task. To explain that we are going just up the steps needs a lot
of words. But the artist in him is still there even if he no longer knows colors.
So he announced the other day that he will paint again and I am using this
excuse to get into the sanctuary.

I am overwhelmed but I will get help from the kids.
Being a pack rat is bad enough but being one with Alzheimer and you hide
everything is another matter.
One day I did not find my underwear, all my much needed spandex type of girdles had
gone. I wondered is cross dressing was going to be the next thing.
I was desperate , I went on a feaverish hunt and found my goodies in between his
shorts, he just did not know the difference.
When mail comes in with his name on (like our bills) he hides them.
We have a run for the mailbox when we see the mailman.
Now I have a new accomplice , young B runs faster than the two of us.

Got to go to work,
Au revoir

Monday, February 18, 2008

Changes are Rough if you do not remember

If you can't remember what someone said to you a few seconds ago then imagine how hard it is to have major changes.
How do you think the patient works things out when they do not understand the change, do not comprehend what is happening in their familiar environment.
So it is with old Bob, he constantly forgets that his son moved back in.
To him it is a man on the couch and an extra dog.
Both he did not ask to be here, he tells me.
He kicked the dog the other day and that set off all sorts of alarms.
First of all son likes animals more than people.
Secondly the calm man , the gentle soul , has his limits.
I have seen him being cruel to our Toto and I too am then outraged.
What worries me with it , is that Alzheimer patients tend to become
violent on the last stage and that is something I am not prepared to accept.
No one is going to hit me ever even with an explanation such as this.
I had enough beatings as a child, thank you , not going to take it as an adult.

Work went fine we had two days with extra good sales so I had more hours.
I am like in the days of my own business, I like the kaching noise up front.
Gives me more work to count money in the morning.
Even if the money belongs to Mr Stein.
Having said that I bought 2 tops which should have been 59.95 and
my bill was 11.17 with tax no less.
So I do not think we are actually going to see better figures NET for this
month either.
If you have a 75% sale plus another 20% there is not much left to chew on.

I keep forgetting to mention daughter Rhonda who is and always will be
there for me. She too does a great share to keep this household going.
Most of all she has a hard time to come here as Bob does not like small
children, so our grandson Peter gets on his nerves and Bob is not nice to
him. Breaks our heart, c' est la vie.
But it is hard!!!!

Time for work, Cioa

Sunday, February 17, 2008

new entertainment

I am looking forward to Thursday. Son has ordered a dish and Mediacom will be out the window!!!!I don't have time to watch this much TV but with available movies it may
become another matter. Bobby has ordered me to start relaxing with a movie once in awhile
and maybe I will do that now. Old Bob does not understand the TB anymore, he does not know the difference between a story and a commercial.

When I laugh at something he does like the kids he laughs too.
Mostly we watch Animal kingdom together so he does not have to understand a story.

I guess I do not know what I am in for as basic cable is "kind of" different from having
200 channels !!!!I am thinking I am joining the new century.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, I will buy me a nice TV when Bush sends me that extra money.
or maybe I will pay for more meds.

When I think that the first 7years of A. I paid almost $700 a month for 2 medications.
We did not even know if they would help, but I kept it up and I do think that
is why Bob is still walking around and still able to remove alarms if he does not like them.
It was worth it. Now we "discovered" that he could get help at the VA.
Yet their meds cost more than my HUmana program.
Go figure.

Time to get to work and count money!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

So this is what you do every day.............

Our son has moved back home for awhile and told me today that he is frankly
amazed on what goes on in any given day with his dad.
Old B. locks himself out of the house many times a day. He goes and checks the car, (now son's car)
a zillion times a day. Several times a day he is not sure who the "new"man is in the house.
He looks out for the mailman and runs to get it so he can hide the mail.
We have to argue with him to bathe. He accuses "those people of the little stunts he pulls.
The imaginary "people".
I know my daughters think they understand what it is to live with a challenge like Alzheimer but it is only when you are faced with it 24/7 that you truly know.
What is worse is that from my readings and meetings I know that the worst is yet to come.
So I try very hard to live one day at a time.
We all have only this moment so why fret over what next year might bring.
So easy to write.....doing it is .....................something else.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Goodbye again

I was so elated when I found out my friend of 52 years was moving back into town.
She changed her mind and is going to stay in Mass.
We had two nice lunch dates this week while she visited and that is again a goodbye.
I will miss her.
Also I am not having my Belgian friends come this summer as he has major problems with diabetes.
Life is like that, we have to accept the changes.
They are there for a purpose.
Meanwhile we here at home, we are adjusting to our son who returned to our nest.
His Corgy is a very friendly one, well trained and has minor disagreements with Toto (my Maltese). It is another matter for Bob when he is somewhat out of sink.
He then yells and the animals and gets frustrated.
BUT when he has his good moments the dogs amuse him and he is great with them.
I love the jobs that son is taking over.
He installed alarms at the doors so we can hear if someone goes out.
Yesterday , old Bob, tore off one alarm, he told me the people came in and took it out.
Yeah right. More of then not he is accusing "the people" ofhis little mistakes.
You know what? he gets away with it.

Work has picked up a little bit.
If we do not sell a lot then there is not much for me to deposit and my hours are VERY short.
It is the economy, stupid. People do not have a lot of money for dresses and frilly purses.
SOme of our sales are 75% off plus 20% on top of that.
Better days ahead? We can hope!!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

Daughter Rhonda took us to lunch, Bob and I.
We are married 40 years today.
We have all told him many times that this is the occasion but it does not register.
Besides that he is quite upset with the new man who is sleeping on the coach (our son).
I did not think a good idea to take him out but our daughter is so romantic and she
wanted something special for us.
As it turned out he did not eat the lunch but adored the spumoni.
It is a new Italian restaurant and an Italian waiter came to sing at our table.
Did he sound like Pavarotti? Not one note/ Did he at least sound like Perry Como
or Dean Martin as he belted (read whispered) Volare? No, no and no.
YET, I could not help it but cried as the man next to me just did not have a clue
to what this serenading was all about.
I thought I am celebrating our 40th by myself. Followed with a more UP note:but at least I can still sit here and hold his hand.
Somewhere deep in this gentle soul there must be a smidgeon of a memory to that
day in Santa Cruz Cal when in the middle of a big storm and landslides we managed to say
I DO with Perry Como singing on the recorder and our girls giggling in the background.
Perhaps he remembers the 2 piece outfit I purchased second hand from my dentist wife.
It was pink wool , a sleeveless dress with a coat to match, it cost me 12.00
It came from London and I thought I was a glamour girl.
I cooked our dinner and baked the cake for a hand full of friends and we laughed
all day long.
We were 36 and 42 and we both thought we would not live very long.
The "ifs" we make up in our tiny brain cells, geez we are now oldies and we had
40years. Most of all they were very good years.
He is going out like a candle, day by day, one thought at a time but he is still
my best friend, my discovery in a flea market in Santa Cruz Cal.
Can't get bargains like that anymore!!!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Back to work

I was off for 1 month so it took some oiling of the brain to get back in action.
Fortunately I woke up in time.
At the beach we slept 12 hours a night! Imagine that!!!!
I feel full of energy and upon our return Bob returned to his routine and does the dishes
and walks the dog.
It is like we never left, he is not skipping a beat.
I was petrified before the vacation that he would get lost or get worse but the fear had no merit.
Besides that I also am learning after 10 years that it is time that I do the things I want to do.
As long as it does not interfere with taking care of Bob , I still need to live my life and try for it to be "normal" as much as possible.
I am verylucky as my son is back for the time being and his help is just fabulous.
It is the little things. A bulb blew up and I thought I have to replace that but when we came
back from the beach he had done that already and numerous other small things which I had neglected.
When everything in running a house and working starts to fall in your hands and your hands only you tend to forget things or put them on the back burner. You are writing your own
"get to IT lists" and they become dusty and soon you forget where the list is.
Son , is starting to take up that slack.
It is heavenly.
I went to lunch with friends and I was so happy to sit there and relax without thinking that I
must be home , I must be there in case...............................
A client of mine left his wife to run to the drugs store, was gone 25 minutes, upon his return the house was on fire, she stayed in. Lucky he got her out in time. She had not done a thing to start the fire, it had come from a light fixture but she did not know how to call the firedept nor
the emergency to get out of the house.
Scenarios like that are rare (I would hope) but it is in the back of your mind.
In his last days of driving I kept thinking "what if he does not remember where the brake is?".
It has been 3 years without his driving but he is still angry at me about that.
Well.....more tomorrow

Monday, February 11, 2008

Return from Paradise

Back home after 30 days in Paradise. Bob and I were in Sandestin Fl. and had a great time. He had to be reminded hourly where we were and he almost got away twice .
I learned quickly how to baricade doors as our alarms did not work there and when I needed a nap I would put my head on his lap so I would know when he would take off.
But he was very calm most of the time and fed the ducks on the lake which was wthin a few feet from our patio.
We were allowed to bring Toto who is now a very spoiled little Maltese as he got all my attention for a whole month.
I am refreshed and ready for a great year. It is amazing what this rest has done for me.
I am like a new person. I did not know how much I needed this.
My body and mind had come to a point of no longer registering as it was supposed to.
The bunny batteries were on empty. A great recharge has been accomplished without a
computer around, without visitors, just our kids checking on us daily and the rest of the time
sleeping and just becoming a couch potato.
I recommend it for anyone who is taking care of an Alzheimer afflicted family member, if you can time some time off , DO IT.