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Archive for January, 2013

imageI rarely get time to myself.  Hubby’s job never takes him out-of-town, my daughter and granddaughter live across the street so are at the house most days and my parents live only five minutes away.  Oh, don’t get my wrong, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  But…sometimes it’s nice to just spend time with me.

Tonight is my night alone.  Hubby I has gone fishing with my son and I’ve expressed to everyone else how excited I am to have a night to myself so they don’t dare come over.

So here I sit, fire going in my kitchen fireplace, glass of red wine in hand, enjoying something I’ve been dying to try, but husband would never eat – butternut squash and kale quesadillas.  And they are fabulous!

Life is good!

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Dad ended up in the hospital again last week.  I think about once a year his body says “Enough!” and begins to shut down briefly.  Last Monday dad called saying that he had three extremely dizzy spells and that his blood pressure was low.  He was also concerned because the little red heart on his blood pressure machine was not beating steadily.   He had placed a call to his cardiologist, but had not heard back. He was obviously scared and asked if my daughter could stay with mom so he could go to the emergency room.  After sitting in the waiting room of the emergency room for six hours he was finally brought back to an ER room.  Initially he was told that everything looked fine, his EKG looked good and we were ready to take him home.  But before we could get him out of the door, a nurse came in to take his blood pressure one more time.  It was taken with him laying down, sitting and standing.  Every time he stood up his blood pressure would drop.  It was determined that dad was very dehydrated, his white blood count was elevated and he was staying the night.

I spent that night and the next day with mom.  Dad generally has trouble keeping her up past 7:30 or 8:00 in the evening, but she hung with me, watching television and even asking to share a glass of wine with me around 10:00 p.m.  Although mom slept pretty well that night only getting up twice, I just didn’t sleep soundly.

In the morning, after trying for 45 minutes I was finally able to get mom up and moving by 10:45.  Her ostomy was falling off and needed to be changed.  Dad had given me a crash course a couple of times but I had never actually done it alone.  I had to call him at the hospital and he walked me through it, no problem.

Mom anxiously waited for dad to return, seeing him arrive repeatedly.  Finally, at around 3:30 p.m. dad made it home.

My brief stay with mom gave me an even greater appreciation for what dad does everyday. It truly is exhausting.  And boring.  I cleaned everything I could clean, did the laundry and coaxed mom into eating and taking her medications.  There is very little conversation, just the tv tuned to a soap opera or GAC, and NO INTERNET.

But all in all, my stay with mom was pleasant and dad got much needed rest.  I’m not sure how much longer he can continue to care for mom alone, but despite our repeated suggestion that we get a caregiver to come in just once or twice a week, he continues to refuse.  Dad is a very good man, but stubborn.

Things are now back to normal and dad is feeling much better.   For that I am thankful.

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When I arrived at my parents home today I found mom as alert and talkative as she’s been in two years.  She sat up tall in her chair and engaged in our conversation, asking questions, taking interest in what dad and I were talking about and commenting on every subject.  My heart skipped a beat – my mother of old was in the room!

Yes, she resembled the mother I remember, and yes, I could pretend for a moment that all was right with the world again – that is until she began asking me repeatedly if I’d been by there earlier today.  “No, mom, I’ve been at work.”  “Oh, your dad told me you and Peanut (her nickname for my granddaughter) had come by.  I told him I hadn’t seen you,” was her response. I guess it was her way of covering up the hallucinations she often has.  But, it’s okay, she was aware enough to know that something wasn’t quite right and that’s huge!

I’m not naive enough to think that this dementia thing is gone, but I’m going to enjoy having mom back for was long as I can.  I’ve missed you mom.

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Mom went for her regular check-up with her oncologist in December.  A CT scan was done which looked good, but the doctor did not like the results of some of her blood work.  He didn’t appear to be alarmed at the time explaining that sometimes other factors can give a bad reading, but wanted the tests to be redone in 6 weeks.

Last week mom had the blood tests done again with the same results.  The doctor was a bit more concerned this time, but since the CT scan was fine 6 weeks ago he decided to run the same blood test a third time at her next appointment in March.  If the blood work again returns abnormal the oncologist will begin looking for a cause.

I’m not sure what to think about this since I have such limited knowledge and information about cancer and the blood tests being given.  I do trust this doctor completely.  He has a very good reputation as an oncologist and besides, my husband and I know him personally and I feel like he has taken a personal interest in mom.  I assume this is standard procedure, but the waiting and not knowing is very difficult.  For now all I can do is pray that mom’s cancer has not returned.

March seems so far away…

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I have one hell of a toothache.  I saw a dentist and a periodontist today who informed me that I have a broken tooth and the nerve is basically dead.  The periodontist said he could attempt to fix it but only gives it a 5% success rate.  Hum, I don’t like the sound of that!  He advised me to have it extracted.  I asked how soon he could pull it and he informed me that he didn’t do that.  I will have to see an oral surgeon.  Really?  I’ve already paid two doctors in one day and now I have to pay a third?

What happened to the days when your dentist could pull your tooth? Now I have to see an oral surgeon who will have to put me to sleep to extract a dead back molar and probably charge me a fortune. 

It’s hard to put on a happy face when one whole side of your face hurts.  But I still made my daily visit to my parents (even though it was brief) and I’m trying not to snap at my husband.  He’s trying hard to make me comfortable and take care of things around the house that needs to be taken care of.  He’s pretty wonderful actually.  It’s just hard to appreciate anything right now, but I’m trying. 

I hate losing this tooth.  After all it’s been with me for 50 something years.  But if it will get rid of this pain I will gladly bid it farewell.

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After asking daily (repeatedly!) for dad to take her to the casinos in Biloxi, dad finally relented. “Did I tell you we were going to Biloxi?” Dad asked. “No. Mom did, but then she tells me that everyday,” I replied with a grin. Despite how much dad hates it, he was taking mom to Biloxi to satisfy her, at least temporarily.  Sadly, mom is happiest at the casino. She sits in the car on the way, happily tapping her foot to the music and singing along. It’s one of the rare times these days that she shows emotion.

The only positive thing about going to the casino is that they have to walk – a lot.  It’s the only exercise mom gets.  She refuses to do anything else.  While taking the long walk through the casino to get to one specific machine that mom loves, she needed to stop to use the restroom.  Mom went in as dad stood guard outside of the door.  When mom did not exit the restroom after several minutes, dad grew concerned.   He asked the next woman who came out to do him a huge favor.  “My wife has been in the restroom for a very long time.  Can you go in, call her name and ask if she needs help?” dad asked.  The young woman happily obliged.  She soon returned telling dad that my mother did indeed need help.  Her colostomy had fallen off and she needed a change of clothing.  “I’ll wait with your wife while you go get her clean clothes,” she offered.  Dad rushed up to the room, returning with the needed clothing.   He called the young woman’s name and she promptly met him at the door.  “Your wife said she needs another colostomy too,”  she informed dad.  Again, dad ran up to the room, returning with another colostomy.  She again met him at the door to retrieve the clean clothing and colostomy.  At that point dad asked her if she knew how to change a colostomy.

“Doesn’t your wife know how?” she asked.

Dad responded, “My wife has dementia.  She’s never done it.”

“We’ll figure it out,” was the response.

“It snaps on like a Tupperware,” dad informed her.  Armed with that little bit of instruction this wonderful young lady went back in to aid mom.

If you’ve never dealt with a colostomy, it can be a mess, especially if it has fallen off.  And it smells awful.  Mom, in a public restroom with feces on her and her clothing, smelling up the entire room, must have been terribly confused as to what to do.  This young woman with no experience in such matters, not knowing this elderly couple, went into the stall with my mother, washed her, snapped her fresh colostomy in place, helped her put on clean clothing, placed her soiled clothing in a plastic bag and walked mom out to meet dad.  Relieved and grateful, dad profusely thanked this young woman, placing $80.00 in her hand, all of the cash he had on him.

“Oh no,” she responded.  “I can’t accept that.”

“Please take it,” dad pleaded.  “You will never know how much I appreciate what you did for my wife today.  Take it, buy yourself something nice.”  She reluctantly accepted.  To this day dad’s big regret is that he did not get her name and address so he could send her a note again thanking her for her kindness.

Hearing dad tell this story brought tears to my eyes – and to his.  With all that is wrong with this world there is still much good.  There are still people willing to help others with no expectation of receiving anything in return.

Angels do walk among us.

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