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Archive for November, 2011

I’m a Catholic.  That’s no secret, I’m proud of it.  But today numerous changes went into effect in the Catholic Mass and I don’t know if I can deal with it.

If you have followed my blog at all you probably have figured out that I’m not really fond of change.  And there’s been a lot of it in my life in the last year and a half.  Some of it I have handled well, others – not so much.  But today in Mass it seemed like every time I opened my mouth I was saying the wrong words and I did not handle it well.  It has been the same responses for about 40 years, why change now?  Starting today we are expected to say things like, “And with your spirit,” and “…consubstantial with the Father,” and “…incarnate of Virgin Mother.”  What is that?  Most people don’t even know what that means.  Honestly, Mass was the one place I could go where things were as they should be.  Where things were familiar, unchanged, comforting.   And today for the first time in my 54 years Mass caused me anxiety.  I tried to tell my husband in the middle of Mass how anxious I had become, my heart was pounding, my stomach was tight and my breath short.  He kind of laughed and said, “Change is good.”  I know, I know, it seems silly, but I was already on the edge all day, have been for days and this pushed me over it.  I cried all the way home.

My initial response to it all was “I’m done, I can’t go back.”  But I know that this too shall pass.  Hopefully tomorrow my anxiety will wane and I’ll feel normal again.  And hopefully I’ll be more open minded and sitting in church next Sunday.

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Well, we made it through Thanksgiving without anyone ending up in the hospital.  That is something to be thankful for, although Thanksgiving Eve Uncle C was dying again and thanked us for a delicious last meal.  I felt kind of bad about that since it was just leftovers and I would certainly have cooked something fresh and delicious if I would have known it was his “last meal”.  Thankfully he lived to see another day and eat Thanksgiving dinner with us.  My youngest daughter and I spent the entire day cooking a beautiful Thanksgiving meal which included a 20 pound turkey (my husband thought it was 12 pounds when he selected it!) and all of the trimmings only to see family members dropping like flies, two went another direction and my mom got sick so they cancelled at the last minute.  We started calling and texting people, “Please come join us for dinner.  I have lots of food and few people to eat it.”  We ended up with 8 which is a very, very small gathering for us.  So yes, I have more leftover turkey than I know what to do with.  I’ve been downloading leftover turkey recipes for two days now.

I do have a lot to be thankful for even though sometimes in my funky state I have trouble appreciating all of the gifts I’ve been given.  And I’m sort of dreading the upcoming holidays.  To me, at this point, it just means more stress and more to do.  My husband loves Thanksgiving, “It’s my favorite holiday,” and is very excited about the upcoming Christmas season.  But it’s easy for him.  Thanksgiving basically consists of family, football and good food, what’s not to like?  Same for Christmas.  I’m the one running around shopping, decorating, preparing.  For weeks now he’s been working me about having a Christmas party.  I just smile and say, “I see your lips moving but don’t hear anything coming out of your mouth.”  In other words, I’m resisting.

I made the mistake of telling him that I am dreading the holidays.  Next thing I knew he wanted US to see a therapist to fix ME.  No thanks, only I didn’t say it quite that nicely 🙂

But the holidays are upon us and there’s nothing I can do to change that so I’ll try to put on a happy face and go with it.

Soooo, my goals for this holiday season are as follows:

1.  Keep the true meaning of Christmas my top priority

2.  Enjoy family and friends

3.  Try not to stress unnecessarily

4.  Keep things reasonable, don’t overdo!

5.  Keep my sense of humor

6.  Be thankful

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Dad doesn’t go to Mass anymore.  Mom hasn’t gone since she ended up with the ostomy and honestly, she just doesn’t have the attention span for it anymore.  But dad was faithful.  No matter what dad was there, every Saturday afternoon, 4:00 o’clock Mass, same pew.  I usually go on Sunday mornings, but on occasion when I could make it to Saturday afternoon Mass dad would be there, head bowed, on his knees, praying.  Praying for mom.  Praying that her mind and body would heal.

I knew that several times when dad returned from Mass he would find mom confused.  Once I stopped by while dad was at Mass and mom had locked herself out of the house, repeatedly seeing dad arrive as she anxiously anticipated the manicure he promised to take her to get.  One time he found her attempting to put on pants that were much too small, telling him that her sister had called inviting them to go to the casino with them.  Her sister wasn’t even in town.  I meant to offer to stay with mom while he went to church, but I simply kept forgetting.

One Saturday afternoon while visiting with them I asked dad if he had gone to Mass that afternoon.  “No, I didn’t go.”  I thought maybe mom was just having a bad day so I didn’t ask more questions.  The next day when mom wasn’t around I asked dad about Mass.  “I’m not going anymore,” he said.  I was taken aback.  “Why not dad?” I asked.  “Look, your mom and I have been going to Mass all of our lives.  We are living our penance now.  If we don’t go to heaven because we’re not going to Mass any more than to hell with it!”  Wow.  I never thought I’d hear those words from dad.  And they were said with such emotion, such anger.

I do understand his frustration.  I do understand his anger.  After all, his life has changed drastically.  I don’t think he is necessarily angry with God, just his situation.  But I don’t want him to give up on God.  I pray that he continues to look to God for strength and hope.  My prayers are as much for dad and his well-being as they are for mom, just in a different capacity.  I continue to pray that He heal mom and give dad strength.  I know that God is a loving and understanding God.  I feel certain that He will not punish my parents because they can no longer attend Mass.  But I am sorry that the Mass is no longer giving dad comfort.  Maybe one day he will return.  I can only continue to pray for both of them.

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I forgot my good friend’s birthday.  I have known her since first grade and we have been friends ever since.  I don’t see her as much as I would like anymore, but we always call each other on our birthdays.  I didn’t just miss it by a day or two.  Oh no, that would have been explainable.  Her birthday was on November 1st and I did not even think about it until the 15th at which time I called her in a panic.  (What really went through my mind was “Oh crap!”)  “Oh my God!  I forgot your birthday!” I yelled into the phone.  She immediately burst into laughter saying, “I’ve been laughing about it ever since you missed my birthday cause you gave me so much trouble about being one day late for yours.  I knew you’d remember eventually.”   Oh how I love that lady!  And I really believe she has been laughing ever since just thinking about what my reaction would be when I finally did remember.   Not only did I miss her birthday, but her anniversary as well which is the day after her birthday.

Yes, I felt horrible.  Yes, I felt like an awful friend, although I must say her reaction lessened the blow tremendously.  But what this has taught me is that despite all the hoopla around me, despite my running around like some mad woman, I need to take time for other things that are important.  Like friends.  Like other family members.  Like myself.  I’m trying, but when you are caught up in all of the craziness it’s hard to remember to just stop, to just relax.  I am trying to pray more.  I’m trying to read more.  And I’m trying to enjoy more.  Wish me luck, I think I’ll need it.

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Mom is doing well – really well.  She’s not her old self, of course, but she remains clear-eyed and more talkative than she has been in over a year.  Yes, the hallucinations are still around and yes, they still bother the hell out of dad.  On Halloween, despite the fact that my granddaughter was not coming to our house, mom saw her arrive.  When dad corrected her (he just can’t help himself, everyone else just sort of ignores it), she pointed to a spot in the yard and insisted, “She’s right there!”  And even when dad corrected her again she continued to look over his back, into the yard with a little smile on her face.  Oh mom saw her alright and enjoyed it immensely, even if it was only in her own mind.  And yesterday when I arrived dad told me it hadn’t been a good day, that mom complained about not feeling well.  Then he mentioned Princess.  “Oh, you know about Princess?” I asked.  He replied, “Oh Lord, Princess has been around for a while.”   I didn’t think he was aware of Princess since he had not mentioned it before.  I found Mom sitting on the patio, repeatedly looking out the window before asking dad, “Where did Princess go?”  “She’s on the other side of the motor home using the bathroom,” dad replied.  It was the first time I heard dad play along with the hallucinations.  They were planning to leave on a trip and dad had been hauling things into the motor home all day.  I guess that was on her mind as she turned to me and said, “Princess will be so upset when we leave.  She has been following your dad in and out of the motor home all day.  You should see her sitting in the front seat with her little paws on the dashboard,” as she holds her hands up like doggy paws, showing me just how Princess looked.   “Aren’t you taking Princess with you on your trip?” I asked.  “Oh yes, she’s coming along,” she replied.  Thank goodness, I really don’t need something else to care for!

Later in the afternoon when mom’s sister walked over to visit, mom brought up Princess.  Aunt H looked at me confused.  I simply shrugged and gave her the just-play-along-face.  You see, Aunt H hasn’t figured out yet that mom has dementia and we haven’t told her.  She is 10 years older than mom and very tender-hearted.  She would not take it well.  Aunt H cries for the smallest things and we don’t need her crying every time she sees mom.  Aunt H knows something is different as she often comments to her family that mom used to talk a lot and now doesn’t say much.  She complains that when mom visits she will only stay for maybe five or ten minutes before she’s ready to go home again.  Aunt H doesn’t know about the anxiety, she doesn’t know mom’s mind just isn’t what it used to be.  Confused, Aunt H asks, “Who’s Princess?”  Mom replies, “Well, my dog!”  Looking even more confused and again glancing my way Aunt H asks, “What dog?”  Mom answers, “You know, my little white dog,” cupping her hands into a small ball as if showing Aunt H the small size of Princess.  I again give Aunt H the just-play-along-face and she replies, “Oh, that dog.”  I guess it’s time to have a chat with Aunt H and explain what’s going on with mom, but I dread that conversation.

Other than the hallucinations, mom is doing pretty darn well.  She got a clean bill of health from her oncologist.  The CT scan came back good and that was a huge relief.  Her diabetes is a bit whacky, but we’re working on that.   I figure if the hallucinations are the worst thing we have to deal with we’re okay.

And actually mom’s memory is incredible, much better than dad’s.  I am beginning to worry about his mental state as he can’t seem to remember words or names and is beginning to repeat himself – a lot.  When dad stumbles over a word or a name or a place, mom immediately interjects.  If we were only going by memory I’d have to seriously question the dementia diagnosis.  I think maybe dad’s forgetfulness is just stress, but I don’t know for sure.  Whatever will I do if I end up with two parents with dementia?  I can’t even bring myself to think about it.  We did have a brief scare a couple of weeks ago when mom seemed to be sinking fast.  Dad soon realized that he had not been giving her the coconut oil, started her on it again and since then things are looking up.  Even Dr. L noticed an improvement at mom’s appointment.  So I remain hopeful.  If things can only remain as they are and not worsen I will be thankful.

So in answer to my question, “Coconut Oil and Dementia, Could All The Hype Be True?” I would have to say yes, I am a believer.  It has certainly made a difference in my mother.  And if it keeps her with us for even just a little longer, than it is certainly worth it to me.

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