Saturday, November 22, 2014

Time Marches On

It's been quite some time since I've posted here. Just to let you know, Mom is doing pretty well.

Tomorrow is Mom's birthday, she'll be 88. Boy, that makes me feel old and tired.

Life has just been hectic. The other blogs are doing well and I'm actually landing a few paid reviews now, plus I picked up a bit of web site design to keep things interesting.

The kids are all starting new jobs, having birthdays and all kinds of stuff that keep life spinning.

We were without power for thirteen hours the other day. With no heat the house temperature dropped to fifty-five degrees. It was a battle to keep Mom warm that day and she spent most of the day in bed to stay warm. The next day was a bit rough. When I woke her, she had no idea where she was, who she was or who I was. After I showed her a picture and explained that I was her son, the panic left and she smiled. After some carb-loading at breakfast and lunch she perked up quite a bit. Actually since the days are shorter now, she's up earlier and stays up longer than she did during the long days of summer.

So anyway, all is well and I will try to write here more often.

Live long and prosper....

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Sad Day Hits Close To Home

I learned last night that a friend's Mother passed away. His Mother was also a victim of dementia. I talked to him on the phone a bit ago and he is doing well, but I know there is more to it. My hat goes off to him!

This strikes so close to home, not only because Mom is suffering from Alzheimer's, but she hasn't been doing that well the past couple days. It seems to run in spurts, but I don't think she will even know who I am again unless I explain it to her. Which I've done the past few days. Today, Mom couldn't even remember her last name.

I'm ready, I can face it, but in the same breath, I'm not . . .

I need coffee and a cigar. . .

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mad As The Hatter

Mom
Last night was another of those rare occasions when everyone ate dinner at the table and at the same time, including Mom. Kel was here and sat next to Mom while she ate.

After the kids had left the table, Mom looked at me and with an angry tone to her voice, asked who was the girl sitting next to her. Paula jumped in first and explained Kel was her granddaughter. Mom gave Paula the familiar "you're to stupid to be alive look," so I jumped in adding Kel was my daughter.

That pacified her for a minute, but then she pointed her fork at Kenna's spot and asked who was sitting there. I explained Kenna and Madi were Paula's daughters and the were both her for dinner. Without saying a word, Mom looked down to her plate and continued eating again.

I just don't know what it is. Every time Kel sits next to Mom during dinner it seems to make her angry. I'm not sure if it's frustration not knowing who Kel is, or if it's an invasion of her space.

It makes me wonder though if any other care-givers notice this type of behavior in dementia patients.

Hey guess what? That's three for three now! I'm on a posting roll.

Have a great day, it's Friday!


Please, check out my other blogs.

DanGumm.com now just general ramblings
CigarandCoffee.guru cigar and coffee reviews
CheapAshCigar.com Cigar, coffee, tea and product reviews.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fork It - Stick A Fork In Me, I'm Done

Fork It - Stick A Fork In Me, I'm Done
I know, two days, two posts. Am I sick? No, this story is so good I couldn't let it go unpublished!

Let's go back in time a few years; actually about forty years. When I was a kid growing up, Mom had a wooden presentation case filled with silver flatware. She kept this box tucked neatly away from prying eyes in the buffet given to her by Aunt Laura. I know this flatware was silver because it tarnished and she just "had" to polish it before every use.

Anyway, about three years ago while Paula and I were up paying her a visit, Mom decided to part with her prized silver and gave it to us as a Christmas gift. Since I knew what it was, I didn't pay to much attention to the contents and gave Paula a quick look.

Once we were home, we opened the case to check things out. That's when I realized the silver was gone and had been replaced with Betty Crocker flatware (Mom was always saving coupons when I was a kid). I asked Mom later where the silver went and she told me it was in the case. It didn't really surprise me that she'd done that. The Betty Crocker was nice looking, it was shiny and no more tarnish. That was one of my first laugh and shake my head moments. Little did I know then how things would turn out now. We ended up adding Mom's flatware to our own daily use utensils. I did ask Mom later about where her real silver had ended up and she swears she gave it to us.

So anyway on to yesterday. Mom had just finished breakfast and brought her plate in to the kitchen. I was talking to Paula on the phone at the time and just happened to catch Mom take her fork, wipe it off with her napkin and slip it into the front pocket of her pants. I looked at her and asked why she was taking the fork and she replied in an angry, scratchy, witch-like toned voice, "it's mine, I must have left it here, I'm taking it." Being the smart-ass that I am, I reached over to the silverware drawer, pulled it open and said, "OK, you gave it to us as a Christmas gift a few years ago, but if you want more, here's the rest."

She sat the fork on the counter and quietly walked to her room.

Over the past week or so, I've been noticing that are spoon count has dropped drastically. It seems like we are always out of spoons. Now I know why. When Mom's eating breakfast today, I'll go on a silverware hunt and recover what I can. She is pretty good at hiding stuff. Paula saw here setting blankets on her hope chest last week, my guess is Mom had hidden "her silver" inside.

It's just another day of fun, fun, fun!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A One Way Ticket To Midnight

Going Down?
I'm sorry that the posts are coming slow to this blog. Keeping up with four blogs is proving to be more than I can deal with. Plus, it's fall. Winter is on the way and my "honey-do" list is really more than any honey can do. LOL Not really, but that sounded pretty funny.

Things are going great. My cigar blog is over 6000 page views per month and climbing at a steady pace. It's time to start working on some advertising to pay for all this. Oh great, one more thing for my to-do list. I'll just keep plugging away; one step at a time.

So I'm sure what you really want to know by now is, how is Mom?

Well let me tell you. Other than being wild and crazy, she's doing pretty well. Since the days are shorter now, she's up way more than she has been all summer. She is up normally between five or six hours a day now, but her mind is slipping more every day.

The other night at dinner Paula told Mom she would be 88 this year, Mom got pretty mad and pretty much told Paula she was lying. I'm not sure why it made her angry but it did. She also asked Paula on Sunday how much she owed her for breakfast.

Stepping back a bit to Friday, Mom came out of her room for breakfast all wild-eyed and confused. One thing led to another and I ended up asking her if she knew my name. I had a pretty good idea what the answer would be before I even asked. Her reply was "no," Even though I had just called her Mom it didn't click.

Mom's sister-in-law Donna called a few days ago. Mom talked to her but had no idea who she was. The real reason Donna called was to tell me that Mom's brother Jack is following in Mom's foot steps and the Dementia is starting to take over. They now realize what I had tried explaining to them is coming true. I feel for that side of the family because I think he will be worse.

Well I guess that's it for now. I have a cigar and a coffee review that still need posted and of course that honey-do list still has my name all over it!

Have a great day!

Just so you know, I don't let Mom's mind get to me anymore. Sure I wish she had a sound and functional mind, but she doesn't and never will. It is what it is.

Oh, the "One way ticket to midnight?" Midnight is about the average time I drift of to sleep lately.

If you get the urge, check out my other blogs.

DanGumm.com now just general ramblings
CigarandCoffee.guru cigar and coffee reviews
CheapAshCigar.com Cigar, coffee, tea and product reviews.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Today Is World Alzheimer's Day

Well, today is world Alzheimer's day. World Alzheimer's Day is, September 21st each year. It's a day when Alzheimer's organizations around the globe concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer's.

Mom was up at the crack of dawn today. Not really, but she was up at 7:00, all on her own. She had coffee and breakfast then made a trip to the bathroom. When she came back from the bathroom I think she had forgotten that she had already eaten and wanted breakfast. Instead of trying to explain it to her and getting in an argument, I just went a head and made her more, but she went back to bed after only eating one bite. Figures. 

I put her first cup of coffee in one of her red cups, but some how she found the other cup that's a deeper red and changed cups. She won't drink coffee from a cup that isn't red. Oh well, it keeps her happy and it only takes a second to wash out a cup. 

I'm sure that since she was up so early, she will be up again in a bit, so I had better go. 

Have a great day! 

Oh, by the way, today is a better day. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

As I Walk Through The Valley

Today was a good day for Mom. The garbage truck woke her at 6:30, she thought someone was knocking on her door. She was hungry but went back to sleep and didn't get up until 10:00. I made her coffee and a good breakfast, which again she ate it all today. After breakfast she stayed up another hour reading the paper.

Mom slept through the afternoon until almost 5:00. She got up just as Paula was getting home and needed help carrying things in. It was a bit of a train wreck, but we managed and got dinner ready for her. She again ate everything on her plate and read the paper for about an hour before heading back to bed.

Like I said it was a pretty good day for Mom. Actually it's been a pretty good week for her.

The problem today wasn't Mom, it was me. Even though I've had a very productive week, the isolation of this job hit me hard. I haven't left the house during the day all week and it just got to me today.

I pushed through it and posted four other blog posts throughout the day and worked on a plan for next week. That means the day wasn't a total loss. My other blogs are doing great, I'm over 6000 monthly page views on CheapAshCigar.com so that means I'm on track to break 10,000 by years end. That's a good thing and I should be pretty happy right now, but I'm still feeling the effects of the isolation.

Well tomorrow is another day and Paula is working from home so it will be a better day for me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Things We Do, What's Behind Door Number One

Broken Coffee Cup
Days like today all I can do is shake my head and laugh.

Mom was up all on her own before 8:00 again today. That's two days in a row which is great.

She's hungry so I make her a two egg omelet with one and a half strips of bacon (chopped up finely) and a slice of cheese inside, some watermelon plus a slice of toast. Oh, and we can't forget the coffee. That's the most important part of the story (but you see the picture so you think you know where this is going, don't you?).

To step back a bit, Mom ate three solid meals yesterday. When she finished her breakfast today I asked her just like I do every day if she was still hungry. Today she said "yes." That about knocked me over. So I grabbed the sausage out of the fridge and cooked her up pretty good sized patty and added more watermelon to her plate. After that, I headed outside for a smoke.

When I came back in Mom was standing at the sink messing with something. When she saw me she scurried back to the table and picked up the paper. I asked her if she wanted more coffee and she said she did.

Now the real story starts. OK, Mom wanted more coffee but her cup wasn't on the table.

By the way, I haven't mentioned this before, but she will only drink coffee from a red cup. If you give her coffee in another cup as soon as you turn your back she is looking for her red cup and will pour it from one cup to the other.

Since her cup wasn't on the table the hunt was on. I checked the kitchen, bathroom, living room, our bedroom and then her room for the second time. No red cup. I knew something was up, but I grabbed another red cup (we have three), from the cupboard and poured her coffee.

She had her coffee and was happy so I continued the hunt for "red cup-tober". As I walked into the living room, I noticed something under the coffee table. When I got closer I could see it was a broken cup handle. Well half the mystery was solved. She broke the cup, but where did she put it? I went back into the kitchen and checked the garbage, then the recycle bin. No cup. Then I noticed the plastic storage lid on the counter (the one in the picture). I went over to pick it up and put it back in the bin, but it was full of water. Since I threw that lid in the bin last night, I knew she had dug it out. OK, that must be where the cup is and it was. It wasn't on top like you would think, but it was buried almost to the bottom. I guess she wanted to hide the fact that she's broken a cup so she didn't get in trouble.

This entire story shows just how child-like the Alzheimer's mind can be. At least Mom didn't cut herself picking it up.

The plastic lid. How does this come into play? Well it was sitting on the counter full of water. I'm pretty sure she got side tracked trying to stash the broken cup and saw a plastic lid that just couldn't get thrown away.  My guess is she was trying to soak the label off so she could save it. When Kel cleaned out Mom's house she had plastic food containers stashed every where. Not good storage containers either. Most were used microwave food trays she saved. She had saved them by the truck load.

Well have a great day! I will!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Up With The Sun or Yeah Here Come The Rooster

Up With The Sun or Yeah Here Come The Rooster
Today was a good day. Mom was up and running at 7:30 AM, all on her own. Well, she wasn't really running, it was more of a slow shuffle, but you get the drift.

I made her coffee and breakfast, which she ate well--I did have to remind her once to eat since she was engrossed in the daily paper. But never the less she ate and ate well. She was up about ninety minutes before heading back to bed.

At noon, she was up and hungry. Again it was all on her own. She ate well, and read the paper again for another hour. On the way back to bed she stopped by an old desk in the hall. Today she recognized that it was hers. It's a small thing, but it's the first time in several weeks she's said anything about her stuff.

Then to top off the day, as we were cooking dinner, Mom was up again. All on her own. She ate with the family and she ate well again. We had a dinner conversation with the kids about how the internet really works and Mom didn't understand anything we were talking about but she handled it well.

It was a good day for Mom and that makes me happy!



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Like A Pack Of Wild Hyena

I've been out of the house quite a bit the last two attending a cigar convention so Paula has been taking care of Mom. It was a much needed break from the day-to-day stress.

Anyway, I woke Mom up for breakfast today and it surprised me how fast she was up. Some days it takes her forty-five minutes to reach the table because she forgets what she's doing and needs a couple reminders. Once she started eating it also surprised me how fast she ate. Instead of picking for an hour and leaving haif uneaten, she ate it all in record time. I tried getting her to eat more but she wouldn't.

Tonight at dinner she was the same way. Quick to rise and then ate dinner quickly--she nearly finished before I did--and once again she cleaned her plate.

I'm glad to see her appetite is getting better again. Seeing her eat well really cuts down on the daily worries.

Plus the best part of today was I didn't need to find her teeth! That's always a good day.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me?

Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me?
Happy. The word today is happy! Yesterday started out well but by dinner time Mom wasn't doing very well.

The day nearly ended with a trip to the hospital, but finally she finished 75% of her dinner and she was a bit more coherent. I still worried about her most of the night.

But today, it's a new day. Mom was up at 8:00 AM, she looked bright, there was more color to her face and she could carry on a conversation--in her own way.

She finished her breakfast, including a glass of water and a cup of coffee. I had to threaten her with a trip to the hospital if she didn't drink the water and it worked.

Only time will tell how the day turns out, but I have a feeling it will be a good day.

It still surprises me just how fast Mom can change. She can be fine at breakfast, in outer space at lunch and back to her evil self for dinner. It's not the just the moods, it's the physical states throughout the day that really stump me. Perhaps it has to do with how rested she is at any given moment. I just don't know!

Well, I keep you posted if things change. Have a great day!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Like A Kite Floating On The Breeze

If you're reading this daily, you know yesterday started out kind of rough. Well once Mom finished her meager breakfast, she headed straight back to bed.

Since she was having a bad day, I just let her sleep. She woke up hungry a bit before 5:00 last night. This time she looked better and acted like a totally different person. She wolfed down a good dinner and sat up reading the paper for a while.

I'm guessing that instead of slipping another gear yesterday, Mom was just tired. That makes me happy.

The day really did end like a kite floating peacefully in the wind...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dizzy, I'm So Dizzy My Head Is Spinning

Dizzy, I'm So Dizzy My Head Is Spinning
Today is one of those bad days for Mom.

Yesterday she was up on her own several times and pretty clear headed. Today, I woke her at 10:00. Her voice was rickety, her arm was shaking and she had no teeth. I guess the teeth issue is a pretty good indicator on how she's going to do on any given day.

No teeth, foggy mind. Perhaps it's how deep she is sleeping, perhaps it's another clog slipping. I'll only figure it out as the day goes on. She's having trouble eating today, but so far she's had a glass of water and a cup of coffee. I can only wonder how much longer she will be able to feed herself.

Here's another issue that's coming out. For the past couple of weeks Mom leaves the water running in the bathroom sink almost every time she goes in there. Today, and I caught it by chance, she left he water running full blast and the sink basin was nearly full and running out the overflow hole. Luckily that was keeping up or it would have been a real mess. It's just one more thing to worry about and keep me up at night. She's still making one to two bathroom trips nightly, so now I have to check each time.

Fun, fun, fun, but sad at the same time. Seeing my Mom slip away, sometimes on a daily basis, is tough at times.

Well, that's enough for now. Have a great day!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Like A Hawk Poised To Attack...

...Mom was waiting for me at dinner.

Last night Paula and I were headed to the Spokane Interstate Fair for a night out of the house. So when Mom got up around 4:30 in the afternoon I made her dinner.

Dinner was grilled chicken, a baked potato with butter and sour cream, skinned and cut up, apple sliced and watermelon. I thought it was a fair dinner.

Before Paula and I left, I wanted to make sure Mom was doing OK. I went into the dining room and asked her, "how's your dinner?"

 What I received as a reply wasn't exactly what I was expecting. In a snotty, angry tone of voice Mom  harshly said, "I suppose it's OK".

I merely replied, "OK, that's good", walked away and we headed out leaving her for the girls to deal with.

It probably wasn't the food she disliked. Most days when she gets up in the afternoon she thinks it's morning again and she wants breakfast. There are many times at dinner when we are all sitting around the table she will comment that it's not very good breakfast.

Perhaps today I'll try giving her breakfast for lunch too and see how that goes.

By the way, the fair was pretty fun last night. Ate some good food, ate some OK food and Paula even talked me into going on a ride. That's no small task. I don't do rides!

Until we meet again, have a great day!


Monday, September 8, 2014

One For The Money, Two For The Show, Three To Get Read And Four... Huh, Who's In My House?

I'm baffled nearly every day. Why? Let me tell you.

One of Mom's friends from Colville called today, actually it was the friend that had been helping with things before Mom moved here.

I talked to her for a bit first, and she still doesn't understand what's happening with Mom. Every time Mom talk's to a friend it's the same thing. Who's in my house? Do I have any money? Where does my money come from? I don't think I have a car any more. Why did they--not Dan--sell my car? Of course no one and I mean no one, other than us will tell her that she has Alzhemier's and can't drive. That's my job, it's always my job. This friend sent her a puzzle last week, that I didn't give to Mom and then asks today if she received it. I didn't give it to her, she can't do a puzzle, she reads the newspaper upside down some days, she can't do a puzzle. Well maybe a child's puzzle would work. But things like that create a nightmarish round of questions for me. Ugh!

No one seems to understand the age regression of the mind that comes with Alzheimer's.

OK, enough of that. On the dinner front, Mom still can't figure out who Kel is and glares at her most of the way through dinner. I told Paula the other day that I bet Mom doesn't even remember her own name. I haven't tested that theory, but I will.

I know this hasn't been a productive post, I just needed to vent.

As always, thanks for reading! Feel free to comment, and please share this.

Oh, one final thing. I pointed a domain name at this blog today. Now you can visit using http://alz.dangumm.com


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Alzheimer's In The News.

Here are two recent articles on Alzheimer's and age. They are both worth taking a look at.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/with-women-perhaps-facing-higher-risk-of-alzheimers-female-scientists-unite/2014/09/03/2aa0506c-28ab-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/living-to-90-and-beyond/

One Is The Loneliest Number

The Road Traveled Alone.

I was going to write this last night, but just didn't get around to it. One is the loneliest number, and there's a reason I say that.

It's after 7:00 pm on a Saturday night and here I sit, alone. Alone with my thoughts, my smoke and my coffee. Everyone else in the family is out having fun and here I am standing watch, again.

It really is the solitude that gets to me and it's every day.

Something else notable happened last night, I received this tweet from @dadmesa: "@DanGumm I am with you dan my wife at 61 has Alzheimer's and in a memory care home . She is part of the 200,000 with early on set".

I read this and tweeted back, "thanks." before the message really sank in. Once I realized what the message really said, I tweeted: "that's really to bad. I feel for you"! I really do feel bad about this, I can't imagine what life would be like if that happened.

That's why I think Alzheimer's is such a devastating disease.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Alzheimer's and ALS, What You Should Know

First, let me start by saying this; ALS is a terible disease and I know it needs more funding. The "Ice Bucket Chalange" has raised millions for ALS research and that's a great thing. However, it saddens me and it even angers me that so much attention has been given to ALS and not Alzheimer's.





Let me explain my point of view on this.

According to ALSA.ORG, about 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year, and currently there  may be 30,000 Americans living with the disease.

I think that statistic is terrible and something should be done to find a cure, but let's compare ALS to Alzheimer's.

According to ALZ.ORG, there are currently 5,000,000, yes five million, Americans living with Alzheimer's right now and Alzheimer's is the number six cause of death in the U.S.

Now, are those scary numbers or what?

Alzheimer's is personal to me and my family, my mother is dying from Alzheimer's. Not only that, she is the fifth person I have personally known to get this horrible disease. Mom's brother is three years her junior and he has Alzheimer's too. However, his part of the family is in denial and only think it's "old timers". But he's right where Mom was three years ago, perhaps even worse. There is a storm coming for them they are not prepared for.

Also according to ALZ.ORG, "In 2013, 15.5 million caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion". I am one of these people, not only am I unpaid, I pay for this with my blood, sweet and tears on a daily basis.

I'm not trying to slam on ALS or the ice-bucket challenge, but it really bothers me that this type of attention has not been paid to a disease that affects ten times more people.

As a final note, our family will donate to ALS and Alzheimer's this year.

If you have any thoughts on this please feel free to share!




Friday, September 5, 2014

What is it like you might ask?

Me
I don't talk about this much, but today, I think it's time.

What's it like being a care-giver? Well it looks easy and for the most part labor-wise it is easy. Although, I have been told more than once I have it made.

Oh really, I have it made. Yes, I sit around all day taking care of Mom, smoking cigars, drinking coffee and pounding out review after review. On average I make two posts a day, every day. Well actually some days it's four or five, some days none.

My cigar and coffee blog, cheapashcigar.com is getting over 5000 page views per month now and that's a pretty good feeling.

But in reality, this is a pretty tough job.

Like I said, it's not the work or the decline in Mom's health--I know she is getting better care here than in a home, and she has lived a full life, I understand and can deal with that. It's the stress and the solitude. Stress? Yes there is stress and lots of it. Mom is 87, soon to be 88 and every day when I go to wake her up, I wonder what I will find.

Mom had a good day yesterday so I'm not to worried today, plus she was up at 6:00 AM for a bathroom trip. But there are those days when she wasn't feeling well the day before that it actually takes a conscious effort to check on her because I'm unsure of what Bob Barker (on Monty Hall or Drew Carey), has for me behind door number 1.

OK, well I got off track, it's easy for me to do, I have so much running through my head all the time.

The real problem is the daily solitude, the lack of human interaction. Most of the day it's just me, my coffee, my cigars and my laptop.

Don't get me wrong, I love writing and reviewing, but it gets tough sitting here alone every day. Yes Mom is here, but it been months since she's been able to carry on an actual conversation. I make all these blog posts and do my best to promote all these products yet no interaction comes back. No questions, no comments, and lately, no real thanks.

On a good week I might get away twice to escape, but normally it's only once. One trip to stop by Axel's Pawn shop to see the gang and one trip to Cigar Train. Pretty exciting right? The life to envy right? Well that's up to you to decide I guess.

I've even tried approaching a few companies about taking over their social media, companies that could really use the help, with no results so far. Even taking over one account would give me a bit more purpose.

Well, that's enough for today. Writing these last two posts have cost me well over 100 page views on my review site and keeping traffic up there is my main focus now days.

Until we meet again! Have a great day my friends!


Will The Real Mom Please Stand Up?

Although the day started off fairly calm, the it ended with a real bang.

Again, Mom got up on her own. I like those days. So like normal, I made her a cup of coffee and then breakfast while she read the daily paper. So far so good! When she had finished eating I took her plate and she headed off to her room. So I thought anyway. She actually made a loop around the living room and came back to the table thanking me for making her a great breakfast. Even though I had been calling her Mom all morning, I could tell by the expression on her face she had no idea who I was. She turned around, went to her rocking chair and picked up the paper again. I grabbed her more coffee and told Kel I had to run some errands then headed out.

When I finally got back, Kel said she had stayed up another half hour or so after I left. That's a good thing. It seems now that the days are getting shorter, Mom is up more. That's a good thing, but I don't understand why it's happening.

The day progressed in a normal uneventful way, that is until dinner. At dinner the Mom of old decided to show up. Don't get me wrong, she was still dazed and confused, but the mean streak I had grown up with came poring out.

We  had Mom's plate all ready for her, but we were all eating before she finally made the thirty minute trek from her room, to the bathroom, to the table. She sat down, looked at her food then gazed around the table with angry look on her face.

I'm not sure if it was Paula or me that asked her what was wrong, but instead of replying directly, she pointed her crooked and gnarly witch-like index finger at Kel and said with an angry, shaky voice, "Your name"?

Paula was quicker than I was with a reply and said, "That's Kelsey, your granddaughter".

Well that earned Paula the "you are to stupid to be alive look"', from Mom that's normally reserved for me and I had to hold back a laugh.

Mom didn't really reply, she just kept glaring at Kel, muttering "Kelsey, Kelsey, Kelsey". After a few seconds she said "don't I have a Kelsey at home"?

Well I had to do it. This time I told Mom there is only one Kelsey, her granddaughter. OK, that got me the normal, you are to stupid to be alive look from Mom that I love so much. After a few more minutes of banter back and forth, I think she finally figured it out, or forgot what we had been discussing because the conversation ended. That is, for now.

After Paula, Kenna and Kel had all finished eating and left the table, Mom asked me, "who was the woman sitting across from me"?

I replied, "that's Makenna, Paula's daughter".

With another glazed over look, Mom said, "Paula"?

I explained who Paula was the best I could and then left the table shaking my head and chuckling under my breath.

Even though the day started out well, the Mom of old showed up in the end. Mom's behavior doesn't bother me anymore, but I'm sure it gets to Paula a little, and even though they don't show it, I know it gets to all the kids.

Like always, please feel free to comment and share this post! If you, the readers, have any questions, please ask. I will do my best to supply an answer.








Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Like A Whirlwind Time Slips Away

Time Slips Away
Even with the best intentions, like a whirlwind, time slips away.

Every night before bed I tell myself, "tomorrow I will write a post for every blog". But in all honesty, no matter how hard I try, it rarely happens because life just gets in the way.

Yesterday, run errands, three hours gone. Poof! Today, fix the car broken down fifteen miles from home, five hours gone. Poof! What will happen tomorrow? Perhaps a relapse of the cold and flu I'm finally getting over? Five days gone. Poof!

Oh well, I'll just keep pushing through it and try getting more published on this blog. Put on your seat belt, it should be a good ride!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

Yesterday,

...oh wait, that word, yesterday. Every time I see or hear that word now, Metallica playing a hard rock cover of the old Beatles tune comes to mind. I can actually picture James Hetflield belting out the lyrics.  "YESTERDAY. . . . ALL MY TROUBLES SEEMED SO FAR AWAY. . . . .

My crazy, crazy, mind.

OK, back to our story...

Yesterday, Mom had a pretty good day. She woke up on her own, not only for breakfast, but for lunch and dinner too. She even sat in her rocking chair for an hour or so reading the paper after dinner.

That makes up for the day before and another one-hour search for the missing teeth. She'd lost (hidden) her bottom plate again. We tore her room apart looking for them with no luck, but an hour later she had them so I know they were hidden.

And then today. When I got home from repairing the car, I woke her up and asked if she were hungry. She said she was. Forty minutes go by and she finally gets to the table. Fully dressed today too I must add. I asked her if that was enough for breakfast and she looked at me like I was to stupid to live and said, "BREAKFAST, but it's 11;30!"

"Well Mom, it's the first time you've been out of bed today".

And with the same snarly attitude she says, "No, that can't be true".

I just give up and walk away now without giving her the satisfaction of an argument.

In a nutshell that's the past few days in my life.

Writing this blog post didn't kill any trees, but it probably did cost me around 100 page views on my cigar and coffee blog, http://cheapashcigar.com. So do me a favor, comment on this post, share this post, print it out and mail it to everyone you know! Just kidding on the last one, don't mail this to everyone you know, but please comment and share.

See you all next time! Have a great day!




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

As Alzheimer's Advances The Cogs Are Slipping

The gears are slipping
After mom fell on her butt the other day, I thought she had taken a down hill turn from the fall, but after the last two days I know that's not really the case.

I can see now that as Alzheimer's advances the cogs are slipping. It's apparent now that mom fell changing clothes the other day because her mind is slipping and so is her balance.

When I woke her up yesterday for breakfast she needed help to get out of bed and getting to the bathroom. When I asked her how she was feeling and if her back hurt, she implied that she was fine, but tired. It wasn't until dinner and Paula was helping her that she began complaining about her back, but that's another story.

I woke her up at normal time today, there was no playing the "I can't hear or understand you game," today, she was hungry, she got out of bed by herself fairly quickly, made a short stop at the bathroom and came out to eat. She had a two-egg ham and cheese omelet, some grapes, watermelon and toast. She ate it all even asking for jam for her toast (she abruptly stopped eating jam one day about three months ago and I have no idea why). This all sounds great, but I can tell, I'm with her every day, all day. She's not the same.

She looks feeble and tired, I can see it on her face and hear it in her voice. The gears have slipped a bit more and they'll probably never be the same again. I can tell that she will soon need a walker to get around, she will need more help changing and getting dressed and will need a lot more coaxing to get out of bed each day. It saddens me to see this downward spiral happening so quickly.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Things That Go Bump In The Day

Cracked Egg, Things That Go Bump In The Day
Well right after finishing my last post, I went in to check on Mom. She was sleeping, upside down in the bed again, and I could see her breathing so I decided to let her sleep a bit more. That was about 7:30 AM.

9:30 AM seemed like a good time to get her up on a Sunday. I knocked on and the opened her door asking her is she wanted some breakfast. After the normal "I can't hear or understand you game," she said she was hungry.

After about five minutes I went and checked to see if she was up, she was up and dressed. She made her normal bathroom run, but instead of coming out for breakfast she headed back to her room. Wondering what was up I opened the door a crack and told her that breakfast was on the table and getting cold. Mom said, "OK."

I started to close the door and walk away when suddenly there was a loud "boom" in Mom's room. I knew instantly what it was. I opened the door again to find her sitting on the floor with her underwear down around her ankles. Luckily Paula was home since Mom was half naked. Mom was fine, just a hurting back so Paula helped her into bed. We added a couple more pillows so she could sit upright and served her breakfast in bed.

Mom's fine, but she is going to be stiff and sore the next couple of day so this will be fun. I'm telling you, it just goes like this lately. The stress keeps piling on and up making me question and wonder if it will ever even out. Writing here does help, I'm glad that I decided to share my care-giver experiences here.

The Day That Never Was

Last night was, today will be one of those days that no one understands, unless of course, you've been there, done that yourself.

Mom's been doing pretty good the past couple of weeks, except for the daily episodes of seeing her mother, visiting her Aunt Laura and reading the newspaper upsidedown (see today's picture).

Yesterday she was up a couple hours for lunch, but when Paula tried waking her for dinner mom was out of it and wouldn't get up. OK, no big deal, but when I tried waking her for breakfast earlier she wouldn't wake up then either. I could tell she was breathing and Amy the cat was in her room which told me she had been up since the cat can't let herself in, so I let her sleep.

So far so good, right? Well not really. After skipping breakfast and dinner both yesterday, I really wonder what I'll find when I wake her today. Will she be live or will she be Memorex?

The odds are Mom will be OK today, but you never know (I'll go wake her earlier than normal just to be sure). But it's the stress, the worry, the lack of sleep that gets a person down. No wonder care-givers statisticly die young. Will I become a number in that statistic once this is all over? I doubt it, but you just never know!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Turn The Bed Or Close The Blinds? You Make The Call.

The head or the foot.
It's just amazing and I'm still blown away by how the Alzheimer's works at times.

Like almost any other day, I went in to wake Mom for breakfast. I knocked on her door, opened it and slowly poked my head inside. What I saw today made me laugh out loud, then chuckle off and on most of the morning.

As I looked in at mom I could see she had made her bed backwards and her head was at the foot. I asked her if she would like breakfast, (four or five times because she can never understand what I say), and she just gave me her normal dazed and confused look. OK, so then it was "Mom, are you hungry"? Now to this she did respond. She gave me a growling "YES"!

This is just our normal everyday routine, no surprise. The surprise was she was in bed backwards. I asked her why she was in bed upside down and she informed me, like I was stupid, that she didn't like the Sun in her eyes.

Well, that sound great in theory, but one, the Sun never shines in her room and two, it would probably have been easier just to pull the shades rather than remake the bed. All I could do is grab her coffee cup of the dresser, walk away shake my head and laugh once I was out of her hearing range.




Here, Let Me Pay For Dinner.

Alzheimer's sufferer eating

I've been slow posting here. I'm launching a new web site, my cigar and coffee blog is up to 5000 monthly page views now and just life itself has been more than hectic.

Mom on the other hand has been doing pretty good the last three weeks, that is until the other day.

This past week Mom has gotten up twice at 7:30 AM. That is way early for her and I'm not really sure why she's getting up so early. When that happens, it throws her entire day off.

Two nights ago, we got her up for dinner, she came out and started eating with us. It went along just fine for about five minutes when she suddenly stood up and started looking around. I asked her if she needed something and she said she was looking for her purse. She walked into the kitchen and looked around for a bit, then walked into the living room. I'm sure by the time she hit the kitchen she'd forgotten the task at hand, looking for her purse, which is always in her room. She walked over to her chair, knocked the news paper off the table and grabbed some Hot-Tamales candy from the bowl. At this point Paula told her that her dinner was on the table. Mom's response was, "oh". She came back, sat down and never mentioned her purse again.

Every day is like going to a casino, you don't know what you will end up with!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Night and Day: The Difference Of Two Brothers or A River Runs Across It

My brother Steve called yesterday saying he was in town and wanted to come see Mom. He did show up, but here's a bit of back-story to get you up to speed.

We are both adopted and even though we were both raised by the same parents, you'd never know it. Steve was taken away by the State when he was twelve because he was out of control. He just couldn't deal with being adopted and acted out. Since then he has never really held down a job, he has been a life long drug addict and floats in and out of jail. He was just released last month from another lock-down type court ordered drug treatment program. On the bright side, it may have worked this time, but only time will tell. OK, back to the story.

Mom was sleeping when Steve arrived so I went in and woke her up, she was slow getting up so I sent him in to prod her along. That probably wasn't the best move since at first she had no idea who he was. After he talked to her for a minute and took off his glasses, she finally said, "oh, Steve".

We all sat in the living room so they could talk. Steve told mom about his new teeth and that he is getting new knees soon, but once he was done with that it started. Mom started out by telling him about aunt Laura's house. How it was just around the corner and she'd walked over there a few days ago only to find it full of furniture, but no one was living there. After that it was a steady barrage of questions from Mom, "who's in my house"?

"Who's Kelsey?"

"Where is my car?"

"Where do you work"?

And once she'd finished those questions, plus a couple more, the cycle started all over again, except this time she told Steve her car had been stolen.

At one point Steve told her that after his new knees are installed, he is going to get a job running an excavator for $110 per hour. Hearing that, Mom's face lit up and she said, "my boy Steve does that!"

Steve's almost broken hearted reply was, "Mom, I am your boy Steve." I think that got to Steve a bit and he left shortly thereafter.

Mom sat up for a bit and then returned to bed. When she got up for dinner, she could remember someone had been her to see her, but had no idea who.

It was strange to see the effect seeing Steve had on Mom. She had not asked many of those questions in well over a month.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Why ask Why: How Can You Do This?

Question
This started as a question from Kel. How can I be a care giver for my Mom. Well, I can explain it, but it will be drawn-out and go in circles a time or two.

Actually taking care of Mom isn't that rough. The worst part is the feeling like you are trapped or in jail because you really can't leave her alone, there are weeks I only leave the house once and only for a couple of hours, and the fact I no longer sleep. This may seem odd, but "today" (i.e. the last few months), Mom has been easier to get along with than any time during my life.

The first few months after moving her were pretty rough at times. When we first moved her she had enough brain function and memory left to believe nothing was wrong with her and that she belonged at home. Everyone that knows her, knows that couldn't happen, but she has always been the boss and done things "her way". She also could remember how to push  my buttons and boy, she did it on a daily basis. Many times she told me she was the parent and I was to do as she wish. Mainly this was over driving or going home since she had stayed long enough.

With that being said, let's take a step back in time. Growing up, Mom was good mother, but life at home was like being in Marine boot camp until the day I moved out. You did what she said, when she said it and just how you were told to do it, or you paid the price. Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't fun, but I developed into a pretty decent person. At least I think so. Perhaps I expect to much from people sometimes, but I can be fair and negotiate; most of the time.

So now, I just take care of her, some days she knows me, some days she doesn't have a clue who I am. But I know she is being well cared for here. She's treated with respect, dignity and honest compassion, all the things she may not get in a nursing home.

However, the biggest reason I do this is; I watched what it did to my Dad when grandma went to a nursing home with Alzheimer's and I promised him that wouldn't happen to him or Mom if I could help it. Dad didn't make it long enough to need care, his heart finally gave up eleven years ago, but I am honoring my promise and it makes me feel good to do that.




Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Note To Kel

Kel, you didn't say anything yesterday or today, but I know it bothered you when your grandmother didn't recognize you. I know it's tough watching her mind fade away like it is. It's life though. That may be me some day.

Try thinking about the good times you two had when you were younger. Like baking cookies and winning state Grange with them. Plus the many other things you learned from her instead of your mom.

Just don't give up, she comes and goes, the next time you are here she just may remember you. That will put a smile on her face because she still loves you.

Keep your chin up kiddo. I love you too!

Just a side note. Mom came out to use the bathroom a few minutes ago. When she went back to bed we heard the door lock. I'm sure she didn't recognize Paula and I. Then locked the strangers out of her room.

Like I said, her mind comes and goes. In the morning she will probably remember me anyway.

Going Once, Going Twice

Cloudy no longer describes what Alzheimer's has done to Mom.

Kelsey was down yesterday and for the first time that I'm aware of Mom had no idea who Kel was.

Earlier in the day I'd mentioned that Kel was on the way down to see her and at that point she questioned it by saying "now who is Kelsey." That's not abnormal, but until yesterday she had always recognized Kel once she sees her.

Today when Mom got up, she looked outside and saw Kel talking to Paula out on the deck and asked me who the young girl was outside. Again I explained to her that it was Kelsey, her granddaughter, she appeared to comprehend but I don't think she really did.

I fear the dark clouds are closing in and soon it all will be gone.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Patience: Virtue Or Curse? You make The Call

Patience: waiting dog
What a difference 12 hours can make. Yesterday, Mom was bright, cheery and full of energy, today it has been all I can do to get her going.

It started around 8:30AM today. I heard her head to the bathroom so I tried intercepting her with some coffee as an enticement to stay up for breakfast.

Even though I kept a close watch, she managed slipping back to her room undetected--she is actually pretty good at that, I have caught her peering out the bathroom door to see if anyone is looking. Well after yesterday I wasn't having any of that! I took her coffee into her room, she was getting up today (as Alice Cooper would say, "welcome to my nightmare"). She was already in bed and nearly sleeping again, but I said her name and she opened her eyes.

I told her I had coffee for her and it was time for breakfast. She gave me a dumbfounded look and said, " what"? And that's when I noticed, no teeth today. I told her again it was breakfast time and this time she understood. I told her again it was time to get up, but she needed to find her teeth and left her room so she could get up. It's always risky waking her any more since her state of dress varies every day from very little, to yesterdays clothes to pj's and a robe. Today at least she had a robe on.

About ten minutes later she still wasn't up so I gathered my nerve and went back in. She was sleeping again and when I woke her she still had no teeth. We played this game for about an hour when she finally went to the bathroom. When she did I stripped down the bed but still no teeth. I had already searched all her drawers with no results. I grabbed her another cup of coffee and let her be.

About four hours later she finally got up again. This time I did catch her coming out of the bathroom and told her that breakfast was ready. Guess what? You got it. Now she had teeth. I asked where she had found them them and she said they had been in the bed. I know that wasn't true, she had hidden them so no one would steal them and wouldn't tell me where. I just don't get it, who here would want to steal her teeth anyway? That's just nasty. But it shows just how cruel the Alzheimer's mind can be.

All I could do is shake my head and walk away laughing.

Is patience a virtue? Well me being patient is good for mom but it just may be the death of me!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Strange Yet True; Maybe It's Just Summer

I haven't written to much lately, Mom hasn't been doing well. At least I thought she hadn't until today.

For the past couple of weeks it's been really tough getting her out of bed, and to eat. There have been several days she's only eaten one meal and twice I feed her in bed because she was tired and didn't want to get up.

Well today things changed dramatically in a good direction. Mom was up at 8:30 and all on her own I might add. She ate a hearty breakfast, but then again she has been eating well nearly every morning, then went back to bed like she does every day. About an hour later, while I was trying to write a cigar review, I heard the slider behind me open and to my surprise it was Mom wanting to come outside.

We've been trying to get Mom outside for well over a month now and she has been out, but only for a minute or two. Today, she came out, sat down and had a cup of coffee while we talked.

It wasn't a real conversation, Mom can no longer keep thoughts long enough to carry on a conversation, but we talked about the yard, trees and flowers while she drank a cup of coffee. After about forty-five minutes she'd had enough of being outside so I helped her back inside. But once again she surprised me. Instead of heading straight back to bed she grabbed the paper, sat down in her rocking chair and read for about an hour before heading off to bed.

But wait! That's not the end of today's story.

About an hour later Mom poked her head out into the hall, when Paula asked if she needed anything, she sad she was a bit hungry. We made made lunch for Mom, she ate about half and then disappeared into the quiet abyss of her room once again.

Today was encouraging, it was nice to see Mom up and eating more. If we can get her out in the sun more the next few days that should help too.

It's odd though, today is the first day in a sound three weeks that Mom didn't mention aunt Laura. I don't really know what the correlation between the two is, but maybe she is having a better brain function day, or maybe it's that she hasn't slept and dreamed as much.

Today will ease my worries about what I will find when I wake Mom for dinner and maybe even for the next few days.





Monday, June 16, 2014

Around and Around and Around She Goes, Where She Stops Know One Knows

Yesterday was one of those days. Normally I'm up before the alarm rings at 5:00 AM, but after a restless night I slept until the alarm went off. For some reason I didn't go out the back door, instead I walked in to kitchen to put on a pot of coffee.

That's when my day really began. As I reached the end of the hall I could see Mom at the front window peeking outside and trying to open the curtain. At that moment I knew it was going to be one of those days.

I asked Mom if she wanted some coffee, which she did, then I asked if she wanted breakfast and again she did. So I made her some coffee, went out and retrieved the paper and made her some breakfast. With Mom's hunger needs satisfied I went out side to enjoy a cup off coffee. After about ten minutes, needing a refill, I came back inside only to discover Mom had eaten about two bites of her breakfast and then quietly crept back to her room. Well OK, it was about 5 hours early for her to get up so it didn't surprise me that she went back to bed. I cleaned her leftovers off the table and put them in the fridge for later. That ended up being a pretty darn good move. For some reason Mom only stayed in bed for about ten minutes and came out hungry and looking for food again. At that point she actually seemed pretty sharp and she stayed up a couple hours reading the paper. It seemed today would be good day. Boy, was I wrong.

I had an appointment in town so one of the girls stayed with mom while I was gone. She went back to bed and got up again a couple times during my outing and was sitting in her rocker by the window when I came in. I hadn't been in the house two minutes and she tried telling me about, something, what I didn't know. I had no Idea what she was trying to say. I heated her up some coffee and after a few minutes of probing her for information I found out she was telling me about an article that I had written in the daily paper. It's been 20 years since I'd done anything like that, but she didn't believe me and kept telling me her thoughts. Finally frustrated, she shuffled off to bed. I didn't know it, but this was just the tip of the iceberg compared to what was coming.

Since Mom had been up about four hours longer than normal, I figured she would take a nap. Oh no, not today. She was only in her room about ten minutes this time. She shuffled over to her rocker and picked up the paper. I asked her if she was hungry and would like something to eat. Wrong question. She looked up from her paper, glared at me and snarled, "it's about super time isn't it"? I told her dinner was about two hours away and this time I asked if she'd like a snack. Wrong question again. She s snapped at me again and informed me sternly that she would wait for supper. Things went pretty smoothly after that, well until dinner was over.

Once dinner was over the real fun began. First it was her Mother had been here and just left. Then it was aunt Laura's house was just around the corner, she had been there, went inside and it was empty. Next it was " where's my car"? Followed by "it's almost winter, it's time to go home". So that's not so bad. Well it ended up as a  four hour circle of the same questions over and over again. At one time as Paula and I were explaining that her mother had passed away 19 years ago, Mom became angry and said " NO, NO, NO, NO, I just talked to her"!

Finally around 10:30 Mom asked us how she had gotten here today. We again explained that she has lived with us for a year now. With that she said, "OK, then I'm going to bed". And it ended as quickly as it started.

It has taken me a few days to write this post, but as a side note, Mom slept 22 hours the next day. It took me almost all day to get her out of bed once for dinner.

Friday, June 13, 2014

And Who Do We Have Here? I Act Like I Know, But I Don't

person in fog
Last night after dinner one of the kids mentioned that she thinks Mom doesn't like them since she never talks at dinner until they are done eating and have left the table.

I know and understand, it seems like Mom really doesn't like anyone in the house but me. In reality I think it's just the opposite. The real problem is Mom's memory, or lack of.

At the dinner table Mom really has no idea who anyone is, other than me, and at times even that is questionable. She looks around each night trying to figure out who these strange people are sitting at the table with her. Then once everyone is done eating she will talk because she's no longer sitting with strangers.

Quite often, but not always, the only reason she knows who I am is because I call her mom. We've had many discussions over the past year that I can't be her son, I am to old, her son is just a young boy that she hasn't seen in ages.

When we moved Mom in with the family, we brought most of her belongings along hoping they would help feel more at home. That ended up being a mistake. It's not so much the furniture, although she fusses and gets possessive over it, it's the photos, family photos to be more specific. She looks at those old photos and Alzheimer's throws up the fog and tricks her into thinking they are her current reality.

I was hoping to get more interaction with this blog. If you are a care-giver or had similar experiences with a family member please feel free to comment.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Like Sand Through An Hour Glass, Wait, What Time Is It?

Wrist watch
I've been wondering for a few days now, but yesterday it became clear, Mom can no longer tell time.

During breakfast Mom asked me what time it was. I told her it was 10:20. Mom replied, " oh I thought it was ten to four". "I thought I had slept all day". Then she gave a quick laugh and started eating.

Then last night at dinner she looked at her watch and again asked what time it was. Paula told her the time and Mom gave Paula a look like she was a blooming idiot and asked again.

Needless to say, by the time Mom was done asking what time it was, setting her watch and winding her self winder, everyone else was done eating.

It's hard to see her mind going like this. Being a care giver for a parent is rewarding, but it's a lot tougher than I ever imagined.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Oh Where Oh Where Has my Underdog Gone, Oh Where Oh Where Can. . .

What does that title tie into today's post? It doesn't. But it was one of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid and it just came to mind.

It's been a long day, for many reasons, but this story started last night. . .

At the table for dinner last night it was just Paula, Mom and me. We were having grilled chicken and Mom was cutting off the grill marks because she won't eat burnt food -- Paula made the mistake on day of giving her toast one day a while back that was a bit to dark, she was tongue lashed by Mom for that.

OK, back to the story. Mom looked up and told us that she had seen her Mom earlier and that she had gotten on a bus and waved goodbye to her. Mom nearly had a tear in her eye as she told us that. I asked if she knew where grandma was going on the bus, she said she didn't, but she thought she'd never see her mom again.

Now I'm pretty sure these are the memories from her childhood, probably after grandma had come to Laura's to visit from her live-in house keeper job. But then after today I really have to wonder if that's what is really happening.

So today, by 10:30 Mom wasn't up yet so I went in to wake her up. She was having a great deal of back pain and didn't want to get out of bed. I'm sure this was just the antics of a child not wanting to get out of bed, but instead of forcing the issue, I gave her a couple pain killers, some water, a bowl of fruit and left her be.

Around 3:00 I went in and actually rousted her out of bed. Wouldn't you know it, her back was fine then. I cooked her some breakfast, but had to keep reminding her to eat instead of reading the paper. It took her well over an hour, well really almost two hours to finish eating.

It sounds crazy but the day after Mom is supposed to met her mother she has a bad day. Is she dreaming about her mother or is grandma suggesting that mom come join her? I don't know and I'm sure that I never will, but the story doesn't stop here.

I've been busy, broken sprinklers, refrigerator quit working and much more. There are two more days of this continuing saga of Mom and her mother, but I'll stop here and start a new post once things are caught up.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

School's Out For The Summer or When Will Things Be Back To Normal?

Kel was down for the weekend, Madi graduated from high school Friday. Since Kel was here Mom was a bit off all day yesterday.

At dinner time everyone was gone but Mom and I, she saw all the flowers around the house and made some comments about how pretty they were. I explained again that Madi had graduated and they were gifts. Mom actually surprised me with a clear moment and asked if she had given Madi a gift. I told her she hadn't and she said that she should. I told her I'd remind her to do it.

After that moment of clarity, the next words out of her mouth were some of the most surprising yet. Mom said, "I can't wait until things are back to normal". Normal? Well I didn't understand normal so I asked what she meant. Her reply was, "I wish school would start, I'm ready to go back to school". That reply just about floored me.

After thinking about it for a few seconds and thinking about how often she talked about aunt Laura, every day still, at that moment in time, I believe she was back living with Laura, recovering from scarlet fever and wanting to go back to school.

Well schools not out for the summer but I reassured her that it will soon start again. That seemed to satisfy her so she sat down for dinner and never mentioned school again.

It amazes me just what Alzheimer's can do to a person. It's truly sad how it destroys a person a bit more every day.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Around The Corner Again, Or On The Phone

So things with Mom visiting with and seeing dead relatives has been pretty low key the past week; that is until today and she hit us with both barrels.

wall phone
First, while eating lunch today Mom looked up from her plate and with a great deal of excitement said, "I meant to tell you, I talked to mother on the phone today, we are meeting at the Addy Grange Hall". I've been trying not to burst her bubble lately and just agree with her but today I couldn't control the urge to tell her that her mother passed away nearly twenty years ago. It saddened her a bit to hear that, but she finally thought it through and decided she must have dreamt it and laughed it off.

Mom unloaded the second barrel on us at dinner when she again looked up from her plate and asked, " would you like some extra income"? "I walked over to aunt Laura's house and it just sitting there empty, you should rent it out." This walking to Laura's is getting to be a bit concerning so we explained again that it was nearly ten miles away and she couldn't have walked there. This time she actually go a bit mad and replied "no, I was just there, it's just right over there, just around the corner," while pointing over her shoulder. We tried using a different tactic this time giving her street numbers so she could understand the house is about 150 blocks away. I still don't think she believed us because she gave us each a scowl and then continued on giving us another verbal tour of the house.

We're starting to get a bit concerned about this "around the corner" notion she has. What concerns us is that if she thinks the house really is just around the corner is she going to wake up from a dream some night and decide to wander over there. Plus, on top of that, what will she do when it's not there? Keep walking until she finds it? Which she never would.

Something else that's crossed my mind a few time since this "I see dead people" thing started is, is she dreaming these conversations or is she actually talking to them as preparation to pass over herself? This really became interesting yesterday when Paula told me she had been thinking same thing. I'm guessing they are just childhood memories she is replaying since she never mentions talking to or seeing Dad.

Well you can make the call yourself on this one. If you have any thoughts leave me a reply. I'd like to know what others think...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I Can See Clearly Now; After 45 Years I Understand Why

In an earlier post I mentioned that my great aunt Hester scared me to death as a kid and I had no recollection why of why she really did. Well this weekend our granddaughter spent the night and mom scares the hell out of her.

So anyway, after taking her home yesterday Paula and I discussed why mom scares her so much. Well first thing is Mom can never rember her name. Every time Mom she sees her, Mom asks in her gravely-witch-like-voice "and who do we have here" What's your name?"

Now she's only five but she remembers who great Grandma is, so why can't great Grandma remember who she is? I'm sure that's her logic. She doesn't understand Alzheimer's plus about half the time mom has just crawled out of bed and her hair has gone completly native creating an even scarier image.

To finish this half of the story, we never did push our granddaughter toward Mom any more than her comfort level would allow. I'll also share this post with Kelsey so she understands what can happen. Mom doesn't scare Kel because she grew up with a grandma that taught her to bake cookies and fun stuff like that. It does bother her to watch Mom slipping away, but Mom doesn't scare her. If Kel were five she too may be affraid.

So after this conversation with Paula I started thinking about Hester. I know this seams like no big deal, but every time Mom mentions Laura the first thing that jumps into my head is the fear of Hester. After this many years that means it was a huge childhood imprint.

I can only remember three things about great aunt Hester. She was a large woman that wore funny socks (support hose) and she used a walker to get around the house. I don't remember, but knowing my mom she probably forced me to go give Hester a hug. I'm guessing that any type of close contact was traumatizing being only five or six years old.

I'm calling this one solved, after 45 years I think the answer is clear and this issue can be laid to rest!


Monday, May 26, 2014

The San Francisco Treat or I Must Be Wicked Because There Is No Rest.

In a recent post I mentioned Mom's fascination with her aunt Laura's house and deceased family members. Starting last week while Mom was eating breakfast, she camly looked up from her plate and said, "I've been wondering about my mom lately, how's she doing?"

Well several seconds later, after the shock wore off, reluctantly I explained that grandma had passed away nearly 20 years ago. Surprisingly she calmly replied, "I thought maybe she had."

That brief conversation seemed to have put her mind at ease and put the issue to rest. Which it did, but only for a couple days.

Cable Car
Over the next few days Mom would randomly ask about grandma and each time I would explain that she had passed away. Then, at dinner a couple nights ago, instead of asking about grandma she told us that she had met up with her yesterday and they had taken a ride together on something. The name of what they had ridden on escaped her. After naming several older modes of transportation I mentioned a cable car and she stated she thought that's what it was. So I asked if they had fun, without mentioning grandma was deceased, and she said they had. The only problem with that reply was that I had no idea when or where that may have taken place and if she wanted more details I would be stumped.

Then it happened. Last night during dinner, Mom told us that they day before she had met up with her mom and they had taken the casino bus to the casino. OK, now that's not a cable car but I can understand the confusion. I asked if they had a good time together and she thought they did. She also mentioned that it was nice spending time with her mom again.

I'm not sure if mom is dreaming all of this or regressing while she's awake, so I'll do some research and see what I can lean.

About the second half of the title, I no longer sleep much. I slept less than three hours last night, one hour at a time. I gave up at 4:00 AM and started this post around 5:00 lol

If you get a chance, check out DanGumm.com there are coffee and cigar reviews galore!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

There's Sausage In My Sandwich, Not In A Million Years

For the past couple of months now we've plating Mom's dinner for her, which includes cutting items up and applying the appropriate condiments. It's much easier on her and everyone else in the house if we do this way. We try giving Mom as much Independence as possible, while at the same time keeping her frustration factor to an acceptable level for her.

The past Thursday night we had breakfast for dinner. Well not really a full blown breakfast, we had link sausage, French toast and fruit. As I dished up Mom's plate, Paula asked if I wanted her to cut up the sausage and French toast. Being the smart ass I am, I told her that I was pretty sure Mom could take care of it since it was only sausage and toast.

In a million years I would have never guessed the outcome of sausage and French toast.

Right out of the gate dinner threw Mom for a loop. I'd told her it was dinner time and when she sat down at the table it was breakfast. And no, I wasn't intentionally trying to be mean or to confuse her. Every time she gets out of bed she thinks it's breakfast time and quite often she thinks it's the first time she has been out of bed for the day. I guess this means I should simply tell her it's time to eat and let her draw her own conclusions as to which meal it is.

Anyway, back to the story. There were two sausage links and one piece of toast on her plate, with the butter and syrup right in front of her. First she cut her toast in half, not so odd, she does that with bread quite often before she butters it. But today, instead of buttering her toast, she rolled up a sausage link in the half and ate it like a pig in a blanket. Just when I thought it couldn't get any stranger, for the second link, she cut her half slice of toast in half again and made a mini sandwich. As she tried to eat, the mini sandwich kept falling apart but she fought it until the very end.

It gets tough watching the daily decline and seeing Alzheimer's take away what my Mom once was, but hey, at least she's here living with dignity instead of just another person in some institution.

Until next time. . .

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

It's Ten Miles. But It's Over Here, Just Around The Corner You Know

My Great aunt Laura lived and died here in Spokane. I was about 10 when she passed away, but I do have quite a few fond memories of her. She lived with her half-sister Hester, (who for some reason scared me to death as a kid and I have no recollection exactly why other than she used a walker), in a small house on Euclid street.

When mom was in the third grade grandpa and grandma were divorced which forced grandma to take a job as a live-in house keeper. Grandma being unable to keep mom and her brother with her, sent them to live with grandpa's sister, aunt Laura. At that time Laura and her brothers lived on Cedar street. Mom and my uncle Jack, mom's brother, lived there for over a year. By the time I was born, Laura had moved in with Hester on Euclid street and until Mom moved in with us I had no knowledge there was house on Cedar street.

Mom has talked about this house many times since moving to Spokane and one day we took her by so she could see the old house again. It had a fresh coat of paint and the landscaping had changed, but she did recognize her childhood home away from home.

OK, so by now I am sure you're wondering just where this story is going.

For the past three weeks, at least once per day, when mom gets up from a nap she tells me that she just got home from Laura's house and that since she no longer has a car (a stab at me for selling her car), she walked there and back again. When she told me this the first few times I tried explaining to her that she had been dreaming. I added, It was more than ten miles to aunt Laura's house and there is no way she could walk there and back. However, being Mom, she was quite persistent that she had been to Laura's and had a nice conversation with someone, but she couldn't remember just who it was. Plus, it wasn't ten miles away, it's over here, just around the corner you know.

After those first few times I changed my strategy by just agreeing with her and asking if she had a good time. She replies that she did and then gives a detailed account of the house layout and where everyone slept back in the day. Mom slept on a small cot at the top of the stairs because there was no one for her to share a room with.

I realized that it makes her happy reliving those childhood memories and talking to relatives that have long been deceased. Perhaps this is her defense mechanism and how she deals with life knowing that besides us kids, she and her brother are the last of their family generation.

I'll never know the real answer to that, but I'm learning, if it makes Mom happy, it makes me happy. . .

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Can The Cows Come Home To Play

Mom grew up on a 2000 acre ranch, which her two nephews still own and operate in Colville. They grow about 600 acres each of wheat and alfalfa, plus maintained about 100 cow-calf pairs each year.

About two weeks ago mom had a rough couple of days phasing in and out of reality with each passing moment. We had all sat down at the dinner table and were eating dinner when mom looked out the window and asked, "where are the cows"? I asked her what she meant and she explained, "we have room for eight cows in the back yard, we need to get some cows".

Our Back Yard
I politely told mom we would get some cows for the back yard. Being satisfied with that answer she went back to her dinner and hasn't broached the subject since. Actually our yard is just big enough to hold the six, grey squirrels, the four valley quail, one dog, an occasional escaped cat and a wandering raccoon that already live here.

To those that don't understand Alzheimer's it may appear that I'm making fun of my mom and in one aspect perhaps I am, but the main reason behind this blog is to relieve some of my daily stress brought on by watching my mom deteriorate a bit each and every day. Most of the family and most of mom's friends don't understand this disease and have labeled me a bad person for taking her out of her home. They think she is just forgetful and should be living alone.

My other idea behind this is perhaps this blog will help someone else understand this disease or help them find the occasional humor in being a care giver. It's a high stress, 24/7/365 job that doesn't stop, you just can't walk away and go home for the night.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Now, just who the hell was that?

For one reason or another my brother, Steve, has been in a treatment facility for the past couple of months. About every other day mom asks where Steve is and if he is OK. Normally I skip the details and just tell her that he is fine and called a couple of weeks ago. Hearing this puts a grin on her face and seems to satisfy  her for the day.

Well, last week he called and said he was being let out for part of a day so he could come see mom near mothers day. Intentionally I didn't pass this on to mom until the day he was scheduled to show up. When she got up for lunch the only way to keep her up was to tell her Steve was coming to see her. Of course this opened up a two hour barrage of questions, "Why is he coming"? He is coming to see you for mothers day mom. "Where is he living"? He is staying here in Spokane. "Why is he living in Spokane?" etc. etc. Then five minutes later we would go through the same gamut of questions all over again.

Finally, 30 minutes late, he arrived with his wife. Mom had no idea who his wife was but gave her a hug and then gave Steve a hug. The first thing out of her mouth was, "you don't look like my boy."

To be honest there are days she tells me the same thing and she lives with us.

Well after about an hour Steve and his wife headed out. I walked them out to the car and bid them farewell. When I went back in the house, mom was looking out the window at them as they drove off. She turned around, looked me in the eye and asked, "now, just who the hell was that?" With a grin I told her that was her son Steve, my brother and he had just came for a visit. Her reply, "he doesn't look lie my boy." I chuckled a bit, gave her a hug and she headed back to bed.

We got her up for dinner about an hour later and she had no idea Steve had even came to visit.

I'ts sad to see my mom like this, but I know she is safe and well cared for. That makes it all worth it.

Well stay tuned for another story tomorrow!

And please, feel free to comment or share your stories!!

Hey, if you like cigars or coffee, check out my other web site DanGumm.com I have loads of cigar and coffee reviews and info posted there.