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Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Blessed Day!~

This morning when Mom got up she immediately got dressed and put on her makeup. She was ready to go visit an Adult Day (Care) Program. The only glitch in the morning was Mom couldn’t find her purse. But the mystery was solved when she went to get her cereal out of the cupboard and found it there. Mom swears Dad put it there. Dad told Mom if she wants to see who put it there she should look in the mirror.

 Smile It was really kind of funny.

But the highlight of the day was taking Mom to Adult Daycare. She wasn’t too sure about it, but then once we got there, she fit right in.

I filled out paper work and visited with the staff and then left and ran some errands. I came back about 2:45 pm and found Mom sitting and visiting with people. I asked her if she was ready to go home and she said:

“Do I have to go now? There are still more things to do! I want to stay for the whole day.”

I almost cried. I couldn’t believe how happy she was. She stayed for a snack of animal crackers and then decided she could come home. But she definitely wants to go back.

She talked the whole way home about what she did. “Volley Ball” with a balloon, snacks, poetry, lunch, another exercise class, a game called “You Be The Judge.” She loved the staff and felt good with the people. She also found out they have Mass on Friday’s morning and that she can get her hair done. She asked if she can go back.

I asked Mom how often she wants to go, and she asked what she can afford. I asked her if she wanted to start at 2 days a week and she immediately asked if she could go at least three and preferably four…

We will get a schedule set up and get her going! She wants to go on Monday. She is so excited.

I am so happy. This may mean a world of difference for all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lord!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Something for me…

Today I went to see a counselor/life coach/therapist. This is a good thing for me. I’ve done this at various times in my life. Sometimes when things overwhelm and seem too confusing its good to have someone that does not have an emotional stake in what is going on to give an impartial assessment.

I think God sent me to this particular person. I Googled “life coach” in the area close by- and the first one that I looked at is the one I chose to contact. Verified by Psychology Today. A Christian. 10+ years experience (I’m not sure how that is possible- she looks like she’s about 19 or 20!)

We got in contact through email and met for the first time today. I‘ve forgotten how difficult it is to try to explain your whole life in an hour or less! Oh my goodness! And of course after I left I thought- “ should have told her this- I should have told her that…”

My DH and I saw a marriage counselor a few years ago (the best money we EVER spent!) and when I saw her privately she told me two things I’ll never forget. “You have to live your life now- you can’t wait until your parents give you their approval or until they die. You will never be able to please your mother.”

And then after a family meeting which included our parents) “Please don’t tell your mother what I told you. I do not want her showing up at my door.”

I listened to her. And while that may seem to some to be odd that my old therapist would say that, she had good reason. 

I should have told my new therapist this… I will next time I see her.  I love Mom and have always loved her.But sometimes we weren’t good for each other… I’m not sure what that means for our lives now. But I think we are making the best we can of it. Praying working with SM (my therapist) will help me make sense of what I need to be doing to get things under control in my life so I can live it the way God intends me to live it…

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another LONGGG Day…

I was up early again- always am up early on Sundays. It’s a habit and I like it. I like being at the church at 8AM and having a full hour to greet people and work out any problems that may come up.

Mom was up at 6AM but didn’t come looking for me. So I took her pills to her at 7AM. She looked at me in surprise.

“What are you doing up so early?”

“Well, I’m here to give you your pills.”

“Already? It’s early.”

“Yes, you need these before breakfast.”

Takes the pills.

I finish getting ready for church.

At 7:55AM I go in to give her the after breakfast pills. She normally eats as soon as she receives her before breakfast pills, But not today…

“Why are you bringing me these? I haven’t eaten yet. I never eat before 8AM.”

Smile. Leave and go to church. The pills can wait till I get home…

**************************

Meet in the afternoon with the family of the deceased. We have her memorial service pretty well planned I think. I go home and lay on the couch and nap while The Boy watches football. DH is at work.

Someone is shaking me awake and talking to me. Its Mom. I don’t hear what she says.

“What do you want Mom?”

Ignores me-to The Boy:

“Are you watching football?””

Makes comments about the Bears and the Packers.

“Mom- what did you want?”

“What do you mean what do I want?”

“I didn’t hear what you said. You woke me up.”

“You were sleeping? I thought you were watching football.”

“No- what did you want.”

“I don’t know. Oh yes- When are we having dinner? Oh wait- don’t tell me. DH is working so it won’t be until about 7PM.”

“That’s right.”

“Well- that was a stupid thing for you to ask me!”

“What? Mom?”

“Of course I know  when we are going to eat- why would you even ask me?”

“Huh?”

Mom walks out.

Good night Gracie…

Saturday night continued…

9:59 PM- off to see Mom with her pills. She doesn’t want them. Not then- of course not. She wants to talk more about her tooth. And she doesn’t want to take her sleeping pill. Wants Dad to give it to her later so she can “Sleep-in later!”

“No Mom- you need to take these now. I’ve got to get to bed.”

“You never want to talk about things when I want to talk about them.”

“Mom- I’m very tired and I need to go to bed. Take your pills.”

“I’m not taking this one now- (sleeping pill- actually not a sleeping pill- a relaxation medication) Your father will give it to me later.”

“No you need to take it now.”

Look over to where my father sits 3 feet away watching Frasier. He is ignoring the whole conversation even though it is getting loud and heated.

“I’m not going to take it- (stomps foot)”

“Fine (yes I have raised my voice…) Don’t take it. Don’t take any of them. I don’t care. I’m going to bed.”

And I leave. And I go to bed.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Fun and Games

So…I get up really early this morning. 4:30AM actually. Can’t sleep. Couldn’t get to sleep till about midnight, so I am kind of doubtful as to the quality of the day to come…

But I got a lot done. Laundry, dishes, exercising. Shower, makeup, hair, light breakfast because I am going to a breakfast meeting with other pastors at 8AM in a small town nearby.  As long as Mom gets up at 7AM- which she should because Dad said he would get her up- no problem.

But 7AM comes and goes. And so does 7:15 as does 7:30. So here is my dilemma. I can go and try to wake up Mom- but there is no hurrying her. And if I try to wake her up, will she be mad and I’ll pay for it? Am I wimping out? I’m ticked off. Can I go into my parent’s bedroom and wake up my deaf mother without waking up my father? Should I even care if I wake up my father- after all, he was supposed to get her up!

7:50 AM, Mom gets up. I can see there is no light in her eyes. I meet her in her living room with her pills which upsets her.

“I just got up! Its too early for pills.”

“Mom you usually have your pills at 7AM.”

“I don’t want then now.”

“Mom please take them so I can get some more work done.”

“I don’t have my ears in wait a minute.”

She gets her hearing aid in.

“I don’t like being rushed.”

It is now 8:15AM. I am late and I will not be going. I send a text message to one of the other pastors hoping he receives it in a bad reception area.

“Mom, I was supposed to be at a meeting at 8AM this morning. Dad was supposed to make sure you got up.”

“Why?”

“So I could give you your pills before I left.”

“That’s too early!”

“Mom we agreed to this on Thursday.”

“Agreed to what?”

“When we had the family meeting we agreed you would get up at 7AM so I can have a schedule I can count on.”

“You had a family meeting without me?”

“No, you were there.”

“Well I think I should have some say in this!”

“You did.”

“Well I don’t remember!”

************************************************

Dad gets up about 9AM.

I go in to talk with him in the kitchen.

“Dad. You didn’t get Mom up this morning.”

“Was I supposed to?”

“Yes, every morning at 7AM. Remember we talked about it. It was your suggestion to help me be on a schedule.”

“Oh yeah. Sorry.”

“Well, I missed an 8AM breakfast meeting because of it.”

“Oh honey. I am sorry.”

“It’s okay Dad.”

***********************************************************

LONG but productive day. I am extremely tired- that 4:30 AM awakening was too early. No nap either. Wish I could get to bed early tonight, but The Boy is again babysitting at Dear One’s so no one else can give Mom her pills at 10PM.

Maybe I can snooze in the chair for awhile…

Friday, January 21, 2011

Spoke too soon! (Friday continuation)

Okay- so Mom come’s in here as I’m getting ready to get ready for bed…

“What are we going to do about my tooth?”

“What tooth? The tooth that needs to be pulled?”

“What do you mean I have a tooth that needs to be pulled? It needs to be fixed.”

“When we saw Dr. M today we discussed it needs to be pulled.”

“NO we did NOT.”

“Well, yes after she replaced the crown on the other tooth we talked about how you need to have that molar pulled and we talked about where you wanted to do that.”

“I didn’t hear any of that conversation.”

“Mom, you told us that you didn’t care if it was at the dentist or oral surgeon’s office, but you just don’t want general anesthesia.”

“We did not have that conversation.”

“Mom, you need to have your tooth pulled. Do you want to have the oral surgeon do it or the dentist?”

“I don’t know- I’ll have to think about it.”

Friday…

Dad got up at 7AM to give Mom her pills and came to find me when he couldn’t find the pills… I explained I just wanted to make sure Mom was up at 7AM. I will still give her the pills, just need her to be up. Dad went back to bed.

 

Mom had a dentist appointment  at 9AM. First time to this dentist and she was nervous. She really doesn’t like going to the dentist. She was worried because this dentist is a woman and (she says) the last woman dentist she saw laughed at her when she found out Mom has Lichen Planus. She says, “She laughed and laughed and laughed. She thought it was so funny. I don’t find anything funny about it at all.” I have no idea if this actually happened and I have my doubts of course.

Mom had lost a crown and also has a bad cavity in another molar. She has been putting off seeing the dentist about the cavity. She wanted her periodontist, Dr. S to deal with it and she just wouldn’t listen when we said he doesn’t do that. She didn’t like her other dentist and so when she moved in with us, we tried to switch her to our dentist.

We got to the appointment and she was fine. While I was sitting waiting, I got a phone message that a member of our congregation had passed away. She had a stroke earlier in the week and so it wasn’t a surprise. I felt a little helpless tied up with Mom at the dentist and then knowing I was going to have to take her and Dad to the hairdresser too after the dentist. I called Dear One and asked if she might be able to help out with the transportation and found out that she had just gotten home at 7 AM after riding with my son-in-law in the semi all night. The Boy was staying there, so I asked if he might be able to come home and help out for awhile, but he was staying there to watch the littlest one while Dear One and her husband got some sleep.

So I made some more phone calls and and sent some text messages while I waited for Mom. When she came out with the dentist, the dentist told us she was able to reuse the crown.(Yeah!) But that the other tooth needs to some out.

So Mom and Dr. M and I talked about how to go about this. Dr. M said she could do it in the office or Mom could go to an oral surgeon. Mom said she’s had teeth pulled both ways before (I didn’t know) and she didn’t really care as long as she didn’t have general anesthesia. We left it that we would give Mom a few days to think about it and then make appointments. Mom isn’t having pain, but there is a chance of infection.

Took Mom and Dad to get hair done/cut. Mom griped about the hairdresser, that she doesn’t bring her coffee (Mom no longer drinks coffee except on very rare occasions) and she doesn’t like the way she does it, doesn’t like her perm, doesn’t like…I told her I could look for someone else in the area. This just irritated her. So I told her (tongue in cheek) that I would be happy to do her hair. That made her more upset. I do know better… Smile

Spent rest of the day talking to folks about the deceased and working on Sunday’s service. Not too bad a day considering everything…

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Family Meeting

Notes from Family Meeting on Wednesday 1/19/2011


To make things a bit easier on me with my job and other  responsibilities at home the following were discussed and approved.
1. I need a schedule I can rely on and need to be able to leave the house no later than 8AM most days- some days I must leave earlier.
2. In order to make sure that can happen, my Dad will set his alarm and make sure my Mom  is up at 7 AM so she can receive her pre-breakfast pills. If necessary, “after-breakfast-pills” can be taken later in the morning- just not on an empty stomach.
3. Appointments for Dad and Mom will be set up on Wed and Thu if possible and before 2:00 pm so my dear daughter(Dear One)  can take them to appointments.
4. One day a week (Tue-Thu) Dear One will start dinner.
5. On evenings The Boy (my son)  is home, he can give Mom medicines at bedtime so I can get to sleep earlier if I want/need to.
6. When my office door is closed- it means do not bother me unless it is a life threatening emergency. The same goes for the bathroom or bedroom.
7. If the door to my living room is closed and locked, it means privacy is needed and should be respected. Only life threatening emergencies should cause a disruption.
8. If Mom has computer problems, she can ask Dear One for help on Tue, Wed or Thu.
9. On days The Boy is home and my DH is working, he can fill humidifiers to free up DH’s time in the evening.
10. Medications for Dad will be left on the top shelf of the hutch to keep away from children who might be visiting.
11. The Boy can cook dinner one night a week.
12. Dad will continue to make salads.
13. Mom  will continue to set the table.
14. We will all put dirty our dishes in the dishwasher. Glasses, cups and silverware need to be washed in the dishwasher to help keep us healthy.
15. Adult Daycare will be tried for Mom

16. A monthly meeting time will be determined.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Are We Having Fun Yet?

So today, I ended up taking my Dad to the eye doctor, out to lunch at Arby’s, to pick out a walker for Mom, picked out new glasses for Dad, and then went for an iced Mocha for Dad. (Iced tea for me please) Then to the grocery store, and then to the post office, because I forgot it was a holiday. It was supposed to rain/sleet and snow. But it didn’t. Thank You Yahweh!

My dear sweet daughter came over with two of my grandchildren to stay with Mom. I had already called the dentist office and they couldn’t see her until Tuesday. So- we lied. On the  Alzheimer’s boards they call this “therapeutic fibbing.”  Lies/fibs told to make things easier on all. I told Mom we were waiting yet to see if the dentist could see her today and told her she had to stay home with my daughter. It worked out well because she had fun with the grandkids and she got to play cards (Spite & Malice) and make origami seed pots with my daughter.

When we got to the eye doctor, I called my Dear Daughter (whose name really means ‘dear one”) and pretended I was the dentist to let her know to tell Mom her appointment would be tomorrow. Mom wasn’t upset at all- except for the fact she wanted to pick out her own walker. As it turned out- there was no choosing, it had to fit her height and with her short legs, there was only one she could actually use.

When we brought it home- she was disappointed. She thought it would have a motor…? Then we figured out she thought we were getting her a scooter. Why I have no idea. But we got her to use it a bit. Hopefully she will use it and be steadier on her feet.

I came in to my home office to do some work- I left the house at 11AM and didn’t get home until 4PM.  Mom came in to my office and asked me to remove her Medic Alert Bracelet. She said she needed a rest from it. She said it hurts and is too tight. She said it hurts her bones. She said she would put it back on at bedtime, but she really needed a break from it.

 Pickles!* (*Enter your own personal swear words here) I was so conflicted! The voices in my head were saying:

“No! You can’t take it off! It doesn’t really bother her! This is an excuse. She doesn’t want to wear it. She needs it. You can’t take it off and put it on and take it off and put it on…”

“But I don’t know if it hurts or not.  It’s possible it does hurt. Her skin looks fine and I know it’s not too tight, but maybe it would be more comfortable looser? But not too loose- I don’t want it to get caught on something. How can I possibly know if it is really bothering her? And if I take it off- will she let me put it back on?”

“You can’t play this game! She will get used to it. And its for her own safety. And you don’t need one more thing to do every day--- on-off-on-off-on-off…”

“But how do I know? What if it does hurt? How annoying is it? If I can’t believe anything she says, how will I know when things are wrong and when they are not?

“Aggh! Do I have to deal with this now?? I need to work!”

“Okay- I’ll take it off. I don’t really think this is necessary. I think you just need to get used to it. But I’ll take it off.”

“Thank you- it really does hurt and I really don’t need it and I really would never go outside on my own…”

“We don’t know that.”

“But I won’t…”

“Okay there. it’s off. I need to get back to work.”

“You seem angry.”

“Mom I just need to be alone so I can work!”

She leaves. Instead of working- I look up adult day care. The county we used to live in has Adult Day Care and and Alzheimer's unit. It is one of the places Dr. P has recommended. I will call tomorrow.

While Dad and I were gone, I tried to talk to him about pre-arranging and pre-paying funerals. He doesn’t believe that’s necessary. (Bless my in-laws! They have ALL of that taken care off!) I tried to explain what could happen if one of them was in a nursing home and one of them died. How the state might get all of the money and that would leave little or nothing for funeral arrangements, but if they were paid a head of time we would be one step ahead. He thinks his $60,000 life insurance policy (which is really $20,000) and is made out to pay to Mom will cover his funeral. (But what about Mom?) And I don’t even know if that’s true- if Mom is left the money and she is  in a nursing home under Medicaid I would think it would go to Medicaid. Another thing to ask the attorney.


He also told me if Mom goes into a nursing home, he wants to stay with us. And of course- Mom isn’t “bad enough” to be placed.

Maybe not. But I don’t know how much longer I can do this. And here comes Mr. Guilt again… Are we having fun yet???

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Doing the right thing stinks

I ordered medical alert bracelets for Mom and Dad.  Mom’s was through the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return program. Dad’s is one I ordered off of Amazon.Com because he takes warfarin (a blood thinner)

Mom’s came first, so I waited until Dad’s came in and then I gave them to both of them yesterday. Both of the bracelets were loose, so my DH had to take out links.

Mom’s was intrigued at first. She liked the idea that it had on the bracelet itself her first name, that she was hard of hearing, that she had allergies, that she has asthma and high blood pressure and that she couldn’t have an MRI (although she had forgotten why) It also has an 800 number that can be called and other medical info can be given as well as who to contact if she were to get lost.

She liked it, but after I put it on her, she said we wouldn’t wear it all the time. I told her she really needed to wear it at home and wherever she went. In other words- all the time.

I gave her her night time pills and she asked me to take off the bracelet. I told her she needed to keep it on. She wasn’t happy.

I started to get ready for bed and she followed me and insisted I take it off.

“I can’t sleep with this on. I’m not used to having things on my right wrist.”

“Would you like me to put it on your left wrist?”

“No. I have too many things on my left wrist (watch). You need to take this off so I can sleep.”

“Mom, the idea is to have it on all the time. It’s a safety precaution.”

“I don’t want it.”

“Dr. P wants you to have one.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“Its true.”

“I’m not that bad yet.”

“The idea is to wear it before you get that bad. It only takes one time for you to get confused and leave the house for you to get into trouble.”

“I won’t do that.”

“Mom, I have to leave it on.”

“Then I’ll find a way to get it off myself.”

“Mom- wearing this bracelet will keep you home and out of a nursing home longer. If you take it off I’ll have to talk to Dr. P about other alternatives”

“I didn’t know wearing a bracelet could keep you out of a nursing home. If I’d known that I’d have started wearing one years ago. (sarcasm…) Take it off!”

“No. I’m going to bed. I love you.”

“yeah right.”

So- now I’ve taken away a bit more of her autonomy and her dignity. I’ve opened up the wounds from last night.

How can doing the right thing seem to be so bad at times? This stinks.

 

Sometimes Good Days are Really Bad Days in Disguise

Mom had a series of pretty good days. She did well with her doctor’s appointments on Tuesday and it was a relief to talk with her and the doctor about Adult Day (Care) Programs. Wednesday, she really seemed to be doing pretty good too. She laughed some. It was a little confusing for her because  it was cleaning day, but the weather was bad and so the cleaning ladies postponed until Thursday.

 

Wed night, Mom thought the next day was Friday and was anxious to get her hair permed. Thursday she was “with it” and was a little put out that the cleaning ladies were late and also wasn’t happy that I was at the church all day. But she was okay.

 

Friday was hair day and Mom was up and dressed and had her hearing aid in at 6:30 AM! She was so looking forward to her perm. I’ve learned now to write notes and leave them on the kitchen counter to let her know where I am, and what time she needs to be ready if we go somewhere.

Mom got her perm on Friday morning and when I went to pick her up she was angry and upset. She was cold. She said she had never been so cold in her life. She told Pam she wasn’t coming back for a perm until summer. Pam told me the perm solution was cold and she thought it kind of chilled Mom to the bone. Mom was not happy and even though we told her how nice her hair looked- it didn’t make much difference. She was with it and she was angry.

At dinner, she lost a crown on one of her teeth. And when I called, I found out the dentist would be closed on Saturday.

That night when I went to give her pills to her, she was sitting in her chair with her hands over her face. It was such a picture of hopelessness…

I asked her what was wrong. She looked at me and said,

“I’m depressed. I’m very depressed. I hate this.”

“What are depressed about Mom?”

“What do you mean, what am I depressed about?? I’ve had bad hearing all my life, I have lichen planus in my mouth, things don’t taste right, sweet things taste salty. My mouth is always a mess. And now- and now I have this awful Alzheimer’s! I’ve tried to be a good person. I say my rosary and pray and I can’t help but end my prayers with WHY?”

“I know Mom it isn’t fair.”

“I’m stuck living here. No no! Don’t get me wrong! I’m grateful to be here, but I didn’t want to end up here. This place is lovely. But it’s not mine. I can’t have my own money anymore. I can’t drive. I can’t talk on the telephone. I can’t go to the mall and visit with people. I can’t go to my own hairdresser. I can’t I can’t I can’t!

There was a silence.

“Mom, try counting your blessings…”

“You don’t think I count my blessings every day?!” She was yelling.

“Mom, I’ll talk with you, but if the yelling starts and an argument starts, I’m going to bed.”

“I’m sorry! I don’t want to argue. I know I have blessings. But sometimes I wonder if there is any reason why I shouldn’t  just give up.”

“Because you don’t give up. Because God is with you even when you feel alone. Mom, let’s see about you going to one of the Adult Day Programs Dr. P talked about. At least you would get out of the house once a week or so and you could be around other people going through the same thing you are going through.”

“I think I need to do that.”

“I do too. I love you Mom.”

“I love you too. And I don’t mean to be ungrateful. I am amazed at every thing you do for your father and I. I know its not easy.”

“no- sometimes its not.”

“you need to go to bed. Thank you for talking to me.”

“okay Mom.”

“Good night.”

“Good night.”

Hug. Kiss.

She was having a “Good Day.” She knew what was going on. And it made her so sad. Good days are not always good. Good days are knowing how bad things really are. She was for a few minutes, my Mom. And she knew- she knew how much she had lost and was losing. And I don’t think Good Days are always good. Sometimes they are painful. Sometimes they are bad.

 

 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bananas

Ha! So you all told me to keep writing! Now I can’t seem to stop…ComputerSmile

Bananas…

Last night my DH and I did a big grocery shop. We hadn’t had any bananas for a while, so we bought a big bunch of green ones.

 

So this morning, I go into the kitchen and Mom says to me:

 

“I have to ask you about the bananas.”

“Okay…”

“I don’t understand why they are still green. We’ve had them a long time.” (Less than 12 hours!)

“Well, no Mom- actually we got them last night.”

“No, they’ve been sitting there for days and they are still green.”

“Well- I truly believe we got them last night…”

Well I wanted you to know I microwaved one of them to ripen it faster and it tasted awful.”

“You what? (Trying to keep a straight face) You microwaved one? In the skin?” Quickly walking to the microwave to see if there was exploded banana lining the interior of the microwave…

Looking at me as I needed to have my head examined… “Of course not! I peeled it first.”

“I don’t think that works Mom.”

“Well sunshine works.”

(I’m guessing heat and sunshine seem to be close to the same for her at this point)

“Well, if you just wait a few days, they’ll ripen up on their own.” (Giggling behind my hand and quickly walking into the other room where I laughed so hard…)

A Mixed Day

Yesterday was a good day for Mom. She had two doctor’s appointments. She didn’t remember why she had the first one with a dermatologist. She doesn’t remember that she had a basil cell carcinoma removed a few years ago and needs to have it rechecked and her skin checked for other issues, but she did fine. And normally she hates the doctor- Dr. N is very outgoing and smiles- ALL THE TIME- and that normally (recently) annoys her. But yesterday she found it charming.

Second appointment was with her primary doctor, Dr. P. Dr. P always gives us an hour  appointment. On the way there, Mom told me I couldn’t come in, but I told her I had to because I do her medicines and I need to talk with Dr. P. I told her I would leave during the physical itself if she wanted me to.

Dr. P was pleased with her blood pressure, her ankles (no swelling) and her lung function. She told Mom it has made a big difference since I started making sure she got her pills every day. Thumbs up We were able to discuss many things with mom. I know she won’t remember everything, but that’s okay- I can at least tell her truthfully we have discussed things. We now have a prescription for Mom to get a walker. The “Cadillac” of walkers according to Dr. P. Mom doesn’t need it all the time, but she is sometimes unstable on her feet. She does really good at the grocery store with one of those small carts- so this should help. We’ll rig it out with a basket and cup holder and that should be awesome.

We also talked about Adult Day “Programs.” (Adult Day Care) and Dr. P thinks it would be a good thing for Mom and for us. So I’ll check into the place she suggested.

We also talked about nursing homes. Yikes! And she told us which two she believes would be best for Mom. “When the time comes.” Mom was okay talking about all of it.

I kept telling her what a good day she was having and that seemed to make her happy.

But my Dad! O dear! We were in the coffee shop in the clinic (yes- a coffee shop with all sorts of bad things to eat in a clinic!) and Mom and Dad know the young woman who works there.  Mom was talking to the young woman (who knows Mom has AD) and Dad wanted to say something, but Mom kept talking… He yelled at her- “Dammit woman- keep your mouth shut for a minute!” Thumbs down Yikes! There were small children in the room. A very small room. I turned to him and loudly said (okay- I may have yelled too) “Dad!!”  And looked at the mother of the children and mouthed the words “I am so sorry…”

I got my coffee and walked out of the shop into the waiting room. I went back in to get a napkin and Dad was talking to this young woman about her fiancĂ©.  As I walked in I heard him say, “So tell me about your boyfriend. What does he do besides make love to you?” Thumbs downThumbs down (Aw please Dad! Really? You said that to a 20 something year old woman???)  I walked out. Quickly.

Later that evening I told him I was upset with what he said to Mom in front of the children that were there. He really seemed to have no idea he said it.

I said nothing about the other- he seemed flustered enough about the swearing…

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday’s Sermon- Another Irony

As I wrote this sermon- I couldn’t help notice the irony. I found myself responding to it as if someone else wrote it- Parts of it at the beginning made me cry- not as I was giving it, but as I wrote it. The ideas of independence and the gaining of it, brought me to tears as I realized again what my mother must be going through at the loss of hers. I hope this brought  some peace to those who heard it.

Affirming Whose We Are

There are times in our lives when we wonder who we are? We start off life as helpless little babies, relying on someone else for all of our needs and all of our wants. As we grow, we gain independence- a little at a time. We still rely on others for most of our needs and desires, but slowly we replace that dependence on others with reliance on ourselves.

No longer do we need someone to make us a sandwich or tie our shoes. We can pour our own cereal and milk. We become increasingly independent and we fiercely retain that independence. We learn to read, we learn math skills, we learn how to take care of our daily hygiene. We learn to drive and are able to take ourselves from one place to another- without help.

As children, we are taken the places we need to go. For many of us, we were taken to church- whether we wanted to go or not. It was not always in that category of desire; sometimes it was in the category of need. Our parents or relatives or friends knew we needed to be in church, knew we needed to learn about God and about His love for us. That was not something we could just pick up by reading a book, and it was not something that was taught in school or on the playground.

For many of us, the knowledge that God was important to our lives, that Jesus Christ was more than just a name that was used when someone swore in anger-that knowledge came during those trips to church and Sunday School. They may have come during Youth Group meetings or Confirmation lessons.

For others of us, the seeds of that knowledge were planted, but didn’t take root until we were much older.

And for others of us, those seeds were never planted during our childhood- they were planted through the things others said, through the actions of others, through our reading, through our watching perhaps of television shows like Little House on the Prairie or Touched By an Angel or a Billy Graham Crusade.

As we grow into adulthood, that question of who we are continues. It changes as our life circumstance changes. We start off as daughters and sons and then we may find ourselves as wives or husbands. Or we may expect to someday be a wife or husband but that may not be a path we end up taking. Some of us end up being parents, others of us do not.

Some of us know who we are- and are comfortable in our own skins, but others of us struggle to know exactly who it is we are supposed to be and to accept that knowledge.

And who were are continues to change as we get older. We take on an identity from the work we do. We take on an identity from who our friends are and what activities we enjoy. We are Scout leaders, or musicians. Mountain climbers or poets. We are teachers or we continue to be students- or we are both.

We are dreamers and we are practical. We are farmers and business people, actors and house wives. We are male, female, young and old. We are straight, gay, Hispanic, white, African American, Asian, American Indian. We have our own identities- and yet we still need to know who were.

While we are all here today in church, we are all here for different reasons. Part of that reason for some is for worship. For others of us it is to continue to learn who we are.

And here is the truth- “It's God's own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you're from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he's doing it everywhere, among everyone.”[1]

If you came here today to learn more about who you are, let me tell you that I can’t look at you and tell you the answer to that question. But more importantly, I can tell you whose you are.

You belong to Jesus Christ. You were loved before you were even born and you will be loved throughout your life, no matter what you do, no matter who you have become. Who you are doesn’t matter nearly as much as your knowledge of whose you are.

Your vocation in life isn’t nearly important as the One who loves you. The One who will never forsake you.

*/*/*/*/** Ad Lib…

If we all knew this- if we could all share this with others, then maybe- just maybe tragedies such as the shootings in Arizona wouldn’t happen. Maybe if everyone knew how much they were loved, they wouldn’t try to destroy others. Maybe if we could affirm whose we are, each and every day we could stop the violence against women and children. Maybe we could stop hate crimes against people who look different, have different lifestyles, have different political or religious views. Maybe if we could affirm whose we are- we wouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. Maybe we could see that it doesn’t matter if we measure up to the world’s standards, because God loves us. And when we remember that, we can love others. The unlovable, the unworthy, ourselves…

Baptism is a sacrament. It is something sacred. In a sacrament, God uses common elements -- water -- as way or channel of divine grace. Baptism is administered by the church as the Body of Christ. It is the act of God through the grace of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. We are baptized just once- and in that baptism, whether it was in a Methodist Church, Catholic Church, or a non-denominational church, we were connected with God. Baptism is a gift of God's grace to be received as part of the journey of salvation.

While we are only baptized once in our lives, we can remember our baptism symbolically. Through life giving water, we can remember whose we are. We can affirm who we belong to. And we can know that we are loved.

If you have been baptized, I invite you to come forward and take a handful of water and place it on your own head in remembrance that you are a child of God. If you have not been baptized, but would like to come up for a blessing, please do so as well. And take a moment if you desire to kneel at the rail and pray.


[1] Acts 10:34-35 The Message

Irony

Saturday Mom had a bad day. I don’t know how else to put it except she was really out of it. There is a vacant look in her eyes on these days. She seems to lose interest in anything happening around her. When you talk with her, she will forget what you’ve said within moments.

There is usually little anger on those days- she just seems dead in spirit.

Sunday I was up at 4:30 with a lot to do before worship. I don’t do well staying up late- I get a lot more done in the early hours than I do when I stay up past 10pm. I had decided to change the beginning of my sermon and I needed to get some fruit together for our 1st Sunday Fellowship (Held on the second Sunday this month because of the holidays) So I was up and dressed and busy when Mom got up at 6:30.

I heard her in the kitchen at 6:30. I went in to check on her and found  she had set up her cereal to put in the microwave. I waited about 15 minutes and went in her living room to give her her pills.

She was a little out of it, but seemed  more tired than anything else. She did not have her hearing aid in so we really couldn’t talk.

I had my breakfast and continued to get ready for church. As I think I said in my last blog, I try to be at the church at 8AM. Of course living right next door makes it pretty easy!

At 8AM Mom sill hadn’t fixed her breakfast- which means I couldn’t give her her after breakfast pills. I went in and told her I was going to church and left a note explaining I would give her her pills after I got home from church.

My son came over to the church about 8:45. Mom had eaten breakfast. He said he went into the bathroom ( “his and Dad’s bathroom”) to get dressed and heard Gma (our abbreviation for Grandma) standing outside the door talking to herself.

“I wanted to use that bathroom. I guess I’ll have to use my bathroom. But I don’t want to wake up D- I’ll have to be quiet.”

My son said the next thing he heard was Gma and Gpa’s bedroom door opening and Gma yelling “Good Morning!”

Church went well and then I went home.Mom had already eaten lunch. I gave Mom her pills.  I walked in to her living room and said, “Here’s your after breakfast pills for after lunch.”  mom heard me say, “You forgot your pills after breakfast.” And she got angry. She started yelling at me that she didn’t forget her pills, I was late.

This always surprises me when she does this. I know she must have been waiting o say something. She was upset and it wouldn’t have mattered probably what I said.

I got her to calm down and gave her the pills. She no longer had the look in her eyes of being out of it, she had the look in her eyes that means she ready for a fight…

A little bit later, Fred called. Fred is from a Catholic church in the area that does home visits and brings communion to shut ins. Fred had come over earlier in the week and Mom really liked him. So he called and asked if he could bring Mom communion. I went into her living room to tell her Fred was coming.

“Mom?”

“WHAT?”

“Mom, Fred called and…

“WHAT? Who called?”

“Fred called and…

“What did he say?”

“”Fred called and he’s coming over to give you communion.”

“When will he get here?”

“Soon- I don’t know the exact time.”

I started to walk out and she stopped me.

“You looked upset when you were telling me that. Why?”

“I guess because you interrupted me when I was trying to tell you something.”

“I didn’t interrupt you.”

“Yes you did.”

“You have to get my attention first. I don’t hear well.”

“Okay Mom.” Turn to leave.

“Where are you going! We need to “discuss” this.”

I walked out- if I had stayed it would have been a no win fight.

Dad was aggravated by being woken up so early and so last night he asked me if I could give Mom her sleeping pill later at night so maybe she would sleep later in the day. He feels she should sleep till 8AM like he does.

After my last blog about the schedule I’ve got Mom on, I almost laughed. But I was too tired. I told him I couldn’t stay up late to do that. He asked if he could give her the pill at 11 PM. I’ll admit I was slightly irritated. Dad doesn’t always remember to take his pills on time and last week forgot to take his bedtime pills twice. So I told him yes, we would try it, but reminded him that sometimes he forgets his pills.

And then I got mad at myself for saying yes. I don’t need Mom to sleep later! I’ve got things to do. I have to work. I can’t wait around for people to get up. So I got myself all worked up and ticked off. My own doing. No one else’s.

It was suggested I hire someone to be here in the mornings to give Mom her pills whenever she gets up. I’m going to look into it, but I believe state laws prohibit anyone giving meds unless they are licensed to do so, and in my state I believe you have to be an RN.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Diane said…

“Just reading it helps to encourage others going through this that we aren't alone. God Bless you and your precious family.”

Thank you Diane for those kind words. I appreciate them, but sometimes I feel as if I don’t deserve them.

 

I was talking to a friend yesterday whose Mom had AD and died a few years ago. She said she felt so much guilt at times. Every time she lost her temper. Every time she was short. Every time she wished her mom would just go away… I do too. But mainly I feel so unequipped! How can every day be so different and difficult? Why can’t there be any continuity? Why can’t I plan- and then actually know the plan will go through?

The emotional and physical toll caregivers go through is tremendous.

My mother doesn’t have a schedule except the one I’ve put her on. But that schedule doesn’t always pan out. 7:00 AM for first pills. 7:30 AM for after breakfast pills. Then I can start my day. This only works if Mom gets up before 7AM. Which she was doing regularly up until about a month ago. Now it can be any where from 6AM to 8:30AM. My problem is I need to be at the church on Sundays at 8 AM. And I really need to be in my office most mornings by 8:30 AM. I can’t trust Dad to give her the pills- he sometimes forgets to take his… So when this happens I start my day frustrated and resentful and angry. Some Sundays I just leave the before breakfast pills out and give her the after breakfast pills after I get home from church. I know I shouldn’t do it this way, but I’m not sure what else to do.

If I try to get her up before she is ready (which is not easy to do with someone who is totally deaf and confused upon awakening) I would have to do it at least by 6:30 AM because it would take until at least 7:30 AM to get her to the place where she could swallow her pills without choking.

And then there are the nights I would love to go to bed before 10PM. NEED to go to bed before 10PM. But 10PM is the time I give Mom her pills. She used to take her before bed pills anywhere from 11PM-1AM. When I took over her medication completely, I set the 10PM time. And the fit she has when I vary her schedule isn’t worth the extra 30 minutes to an hour of sleep most nights. Especially right before bed.

So there are times I really resent that I don’t have as much freedom as I used to have.  My DH and my son are sometimes able to give Mom her pills. But since my DH gets up at 3AM to get ready for work most days, he can’t stay up till 10P most nights. And my son isn’t always available.

So I carry resentment (especially when I am tired) and that in turn leads to guilt.

And I look at Mom  and wish I could see my mother, but she’s not there any more. Others outside our home consider some of the things she says or does cute. I can’t see the cute anymore. I can see the humor at times. But I can’t see the cute or the lovable most of the time.


The other day she said:

“Have I been giving you a hard time today?”

“Yes!”

“Oh- I wasn’t sure if I was giving you a hard time or if you were giving me a hard time.”

I’ve considered not blogging anymore because I am afraid I will say something to offend others. I’m a pastor- but sometimes I feel so ungodly. How can I ever be an example of God’s light when I feel so dark some days? But I know I can do all things through God who strengthens me and I cling to that. Even when I don’t see the light. And sometimes the light comes from the comments of those who read my blog. You have no idea how much you are appreciated. All of you.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kitchen Privileges

Mom’s been banned from the kitchen. Sort of.  Tea making is still happening, but when others are in the kitchen trying to cook, she has to stay out.

We’ve had too many close calls. My DH almost spilled boiling hot syrup when Mom ignored him when he told her to stay back. We thought some of it was due to her eyesight, but she had her eyes examined this week and they are fine.

She just can’t process what is going on around her. It is dangerous to herself and to others. If DH is using a knife and cutting cheese or carving meat, she will suddenly reach in to get a “taste.”  She can’t judge whether or not its safe to do so.

And then there is the practical issue too. I know Mom wants to be with us when we are in the kitchen. We have an open floor plan and she could sit or stand safely on the other side of the snack bar. (Unless she reaches in when we have knives.) But she keeps coming in and getting in the way.

That may sound mean. But when we are trying to fix dinner or make a snack it is frustrating. The other issue is hygiene- Mom doesn’t wash her hands much any more and even after getting into the kitchen garbage, she will stick her fingers in food we have on the counter.

We’ve asked her to stop taking food off of other people’s plates. Not knowing if her hands are clean, or if she washed after toileting, we aren’t crazy about her snitching food from our plates. She told me to slap her hand! No way!  If she misinterpreted that we could end up being accused of elder abuse!

Mom is not happy about this. Of course not. But I don’t know what else we can do.

 

 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Different Kettle of Fish

Since Mom and Dad moved in with us last in March of 2009, my mother has been drinking tea she makes in the microwave.

 microwave1

My DH has been concerned that she might get it too hot and burn herself, but I’ve been more afraid of her using the stove. Mom has a cup of tea with her from the moment she gets up to the moment she goes to bed. She reheats her tea in the microwave many times a day. Many times we find it in the microwave, completely forgotten. My DH was considering buying her a small microwave for Christmas because she was getting upset whenever anyone else wanted to use it.

But within the last couple of weeks, Mom has decided that she wants to use the tea kettle on top of the stove.

 Revere23qtTeaKet35270171

It has a very LOUD whistle. And that is good, except if Mom isn’t in the kitchen, she can’t hear it. And if she is in the kitchen without her hearing aids, she can’t hear it . So, I’ve told her if she uses the stove to make tea, she must stay in the kitchen the whole time the tea kettle is on the stove. I knew saying this was rather pointless. Mom gets distracted and has difficulty staying with one thing for very long. She has done pretty good- but she has been switching back and forth  from the tea kettle to the microwave and then back.

But in the last couple of days- the tea kettle has become an issue. It has been left unattended and its piercing scream brings me running! And that is good- but what if Mom and Dad are here by themselves and Mom leaves it that way. Dad won’t hear it if he is asleep with the door closed and if Mom is not in the room or has her hearing aids out- then it could be a dangerous situation.  And when my DH is asleep he hears nothing either. So my DH decided to hide the tea kettle.

After waking up from a needed Sunday afternoon nap, I went into the kitchen to find a very small pan of water on the stove. Uh oh.

So I got out the tea kettle and then went in to talk to Mom and Dad. I told her the tea kettle was out again, but said reminded her she has to stay in the kitchen with it. Her reply was of course that she NEVER leaves the kitchen when making tea. Dad disagreed with her and that began a mini-argument. I told Mom it was a safety issue. She told me she doesn’t like making tea with the microwave.  She only likes tea made with the the tea kettle. I told her that was fine, but she has to stay in the kitchen- it’s a safety issue. She laughed.

Dad got mad and told her it wasn’t funny.

Then she started giggling. She put her newspaper up to her face and pulled it down like she was playing peek-a-boo and she started giggling. Dad got really upset and I tried to calm him down.

I said “Mom, if you leave it on and leave the kitchen we might have to take the knobs off the stove.” She said “Well, then I guess I’ll have to move!” And started giggling again. It was kind of…cute. Like a small child. It was better than the anger. But it cause Dad to be upset. And I almost burst out laughing- which would have made it worse for Dad.

This is a different kettle of fish.

I think its time for an electric tea kettle with an automatic shut off…