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Tomorrow is mom’s birthday. She will be 80 years old. Mom and dad have wanted to take my daughter and granddaughter to the beignet shop for months, but since my granddaughter becomes this little sugar monster after eating too many sweets, my daughter has avoided the trip. But today in celebration of mom’s birthday she finally agreed.

All the way to the restaurant my granddaughter kept asking mom how old she was going to be. Initially mom just acted like she didn’t hear the question, but later she answered with, “Ladies don’t tell their age.”

The staff at the beignet shop know my parents well – they go there several times a week. So when the waitresses heard about mom’s birthday, they brought out a beignet with a candle in it and everyone sang. Mom happily sang along.

After the celebration a woman approached mom, wishing her a happy birthday and telling her, “My husband is deceased now, but his birthday is tomorrow too. He would have been 80.” Mom replied, “Oh, I’m not that old!”

I think mom still believes she’s 65. Hum, I think I may still be 25! ūüôā

After yet another stay in the hospital, Uncle C’s doctor informed my husband that short of a heart/lung transplant (which they would never perform on a 94 year old), Uncle C’s condition will only worsen. Uncle C has congestive heart failure and COPD. Uncle C, of course, doesn’t believe there’s a thing wrong with his heart or lungs. In fact, he continues to tell people that he has the heart of a 17 year old and only has the pacemaker for back-up.

After hubby had a heart-to-heart talk with Uncle C this week regarding his condition, Uncle C responded with, “Well, Dr. M doesn’t think I have much time left so we better hurry and get my driver’s license back!”

You gotta love him!

“Your mom’s having a really bad day.¬† I could barely wake her up, she refuses to eat or take her medicine.¬† I told her to go get dressed and she came back with two pairs of pants and no blouse.¬† I had to dress her because she didn’t remember how to do it herself.” ………. “I hate to bother you, but I think I need to go to the hospital.¬† I keep getting really dizzy and I almost fell.¬† And I think my blood pressure machine is not working cause it won’t register.” ………. “I told your mom to go get ready for bed.¬† She asked me to go with her because she didn’t know what to do.” ………. “This is Lifeline.¬† Your mother has fallen and we can’t reach your father.”¬†………. “I’ve been having chest pains since yesterday and my arm hurts.¬† I think I need to go to the hospital.” ………. 1:00 a.m. –¬†“This is Lifeline.¬† Your mother has fallen and your father cannot get her up.¬† He asked that you go over and help.” ……….¬†¬†“Where are you?¬† Your mother is having severe stomach pains and wants to go to the emergency room.”– these are¬†just¬†a few¬†of the phone calls I’ve received in the last couple of months.

I can’t say 2013 is off to a great start.¬† Dad has had two hospital stays, one for dehydration and one for chest pains.¬† The blood pressure machine wasn’t broken as he thought, his blood pressure was just too high for it to register.¬† He had an angioplasty and thankfully only one small blockage was found near the stent he already has.¬† It is being treated with medication.

Mom was hospitalized for several days with an obstruction in her colon.  During that stay she was given morphine.  She was unresponsive and completely out of it for days afterwards.  She has not been the same since.  Her good days are fewer and bad days more severe.  The middle of the night phone call from Lifeline about her fall resulted in a black eye, swollen cheek and half of her face a deep purple-black color radiating down her neck.

And I anticipate a trip to the hospital with Uncle C this evening.¬† If not tonight, soon.¬† He’s been once this year, but has already warned us that he thinks he may need to go tonight.¬† Of course, he always waits until the middle of the night.¬† I guess he wakes up struggling to breath and is frightened.¬† I would be too.¬† I’m just waiting for the middle of the night phone call that is sure to come.

Then there was the phone call from my dermatologist’s office at 5:40 one evening … “This is Dr. R’s office.¬† The spot removed from your back was a basal cell carcinoma.¬† We need to schedule an appointment to have it removed.”¬† My dermatologist had assured me that the bright red spot that seemed to have appeared overnight was nothing to worry about.¬† Not my luck!

Is it no wonder that I’ve come to dread the ringing of that damn phone?¬† I feel a sense of panic every time¬†my father’s number appears.¬† I freeze.¬† I stop everything.¬† I answer it no matter where I am or what I’m doing.¬† Sometimes it’s as innocent as, “I just wanted to see if you won your tennis match.”¬† Yet still I my heart skips a beat and I can’t help that feeling of doom.¬† I keep telling myself, “This too shall pass”, but in actuality, probably not for quite a while.¬† So for now, I live in fear of¬† that ringing phone.

A Step Back In Time

Recently, Hubby and I needed to travel to Uncle C’s hometown to take care of some business. ¬†Yes, Uncle C, our 94-year-old relative is still with us. ¬†He has good days and bad, one moment he is dying and the next he is talking about driving to Alaska, taking an Alaskan cruise and driving back. ¬†Our destination was this tiny town in Illinois. ¬†The nearest airport was 2 hours away and the closest hotel room was 40 miles.

As we left the airport and the hustle and bustle of the big city, the scenery quickly changed.   There was only farmland as far as the eye could see.  Although we were in the dead of winter, it was beautiful Рpeaceful.  There were no busy highways, no high-rise buildings, no traffic jams or cars racing to beat you to the next light.  I felt as though I had taken a step back in time.    This was the heartland they talk about and I loved it!

We witnessed things we don’t see back home – a horse-drawn carriage crossed us, small towns with a population of five hundred, maybe a thousand.¬† There were no McDonald’s or Burger Kings, no malls or superstores.¬† There were mom and pop restaurants and stores like in the days of old, where everyone knew their neighbor and no one locked their doors.

We also saw things that made us laugh, like the gas pumps in front of the old store that looked like three little aliens staring at us.

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Or how about this sign.

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We don’t see that where I live!

But as much as I loved it, there are just things I would have trouble giving up – like the warm weather of the¬†South.¬† Twenty-two degree temperatures just don’t work for me.¬† I’m a little Southern girl through and through and I just don’t handle cold well.¬† Or¬†the cell phone service – no 4G where we were, it was “E”.¬† What is that?¬† I could not even get a picture to go through. ¬†Call me spoiled but that E was just plain sloooooow.

But the people were friendly and helpful and we made it home safely.¬† I am thankful that we were given the opportunity to visit Uncle C’s hometown, but I’m ¬†happy to be home, even with the hectic life I’m living.

A Little Me Time

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!

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.

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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