Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lost in Las Cruces

Thinking back on how long the problems with APR's memory have been effecting him, we've started comparing notes.  He has had something of a problem with directions for quite some time.  Last year I noticed problems, but just rather left it alone. 

I have a friend, Sharon, who is dealing with a spouse and dementia.  She said that it took awhile to realize they had a problem.  By then there were serious problems because of the dementia.

Tummy Rub, Sydney Style!
Perhaps the mistake we've made is not acknowledging that APR has had a problem with directions for several years. Hindsight is such a remarkable tool.  It does no good. 

I knew there was a problem with directions.  His problems have been on display in Las Cruces when he would ask, repeatedly, about streets, directions, locations.  I never thought we would eventually be dealing with such a severe problem.  By the time the directional deficiencies began appearing, tests had already eliminated dementia and Alzheimer's. I just put it down as old age.  He's never been good at directions. (There was the legendary short cut to Minnesota that took us at least a day and a half longer.)  He may have been a ship's navigator during WWII, but can't read a map worth a hoot!

Current Events

A Poodle's Thanksgiving
I find so unusual the way this disease works on my father's brain.  There are some things he doesn't quite get anymore.  He still is in denial about Ruidoso.  But there are other things that are fine.  He's quite obsessed with the 2012 election and getting rid of Obama.  Just who is going to run against him.  He's doing well with current events, politics. 

When the parents' came into town today, APR assured my mother that he had locked one of the back doors.  He did not.  Now she knows to go behind him and make sure everything is locked.

Now, if she could only get him to quit feeding Sadie when she begs.  The dry-cleaner swears Sadie is his best customer.  She throws up at least twice a week on the down comforter.  There are allegations that she is getting a kickback from the cleaner!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

You Know That DVD Thingie....?

My father called around fourish this afternoon.  How did he get the DVD player to work?  He wanted to watch a movie.
Ronald Rumsfeld Reagan Reidhead's Baby Picture

"What button do I push to turn it on?"

We went over various buttons.  He never did figure it out.  I asked to speak to my mother.  She did not know how to get it to work.

This is one thing that cannot be pawned off on any sort of physical problems.  It is simply a case of the parents' not being able to "program the VCR".

It's a parent thing, I guess.

Friday, March 25, 2011

This Is Reality

On Thursday, while I was at the beauty shop, my mother comes in, terribly upset.  "Delle is on the phone, and you should hear what your father is telling him."  She told Delle to call me, which he did.  Delle was terribly upset, knowing something had happened.  He and my father have been friends since two months before Star Wars premiered on the Silver Screen.

My father, Doc Annala, and Sadie - Birthday 2010
She was terribly upset.  I asked if she would hide the truth of what was going on if my father had cancer.  She said not, that she was not trying to hide things.  She is having a rough time coming to terms with the changes in their lives.  She is absolutely exhausted. 

Perhaps an hour later, after getting some protein down my father he was fine.  He was great all evening.  He has this little problem with Ruidoso and New Mexico.  If it weren't so sad, it would be almost funny.  He is blanking it.  He just refuses to accept that this is where he lives.

The odd thing about all of this is the fact that he is doing great with certain aspects of his short-term.  His grasp on current events and politics is limited only by the fact that he is or is not wearing his hearing aid.  Perhaps that is what is really sad.

He eventually remembers what he has said.  It troubles and upsets him.  By tomorrow he will remember most of what went on today, including how he screwed some things up with his memory.

And - there is nothing that can be done about it, medically.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Tuesday, Gary Lynch, a very nice realtor came out to look at some property my parents want to sell.  My father responded quite well.  But, I must admit, all of this is making me angry and resentful.

I am furious that he is getting this way.  Sally sent the link to a wonderful article about someone several years older than he.  The gentlemen is quite vital, busy, and doing something with his life.

Now I know how Michael Reagan must have felt, watching the great man who was his father slip away a little more each day.  It was tragic watching Grandy and his lack of short-term memory.  I don't know which is worse.

We live in a modern world.  It is not suppose to be this way.  We have modern medicine and modern medical marvels.  People don't have arteries that harden.  There are medications that stop it.

I am angry.

I keep wondering if my father had more outside activities would he be this way?  Would this have happened?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lost in New Mexico

The reason my father is no longer allowed to drive is because the little TIA stroke and the arterial problems seem to be really centered on directions.  There are times when he completely blanks Ruidoso.  I don't know if it sub-conscious, and editorial comment, or that little section of the brain is scrambled.

We had dinner tonight at The Great Wall.  He did okay.  During the reception that followed the funeral of Alicia's mother, Josie brought him a couple ham sandwich triangles and she shared a bite of brownie with him.  He was begging for something sweet.  Seems like all the candy, cookies, and desserts were fed to the deer yesterday - depriving him of sugar comfort at home.  When we reached The Great Wall, he did the old, "I'm not hungry" thing.

My mother made him get a half order of schezwan steak.  He ate it all, save for his water chestnuts.  Not bad.  Then again, Nana visited with him, and that helped.  He interacted, complaining that we weren't letting him drive.  Nana told him about her father and Ryan's father.  I don't know if it helped or not.

On the way home he started the same thing he's been doing in town - where are we?  Are we on 123 (a reference to the road from Seneca to Greenville.  I explained we were in Ruidoso.  After I made a stop in Sonic for iced tea, and pulled out, he realized we were in Ruidoso Downs.

After that, he was fine. 

He had a great time visiting with friends.  That really helped today.

The driving thing is hard.  It's sad.  Finally Nana said something about insurance costs if he was told not to drive (her son Glenn, is our insurance agent).  We both told him if he were to drive and someone were to hit him, it would be a disaster.  Then Nana mentioned the fact that if he were told not to drive, and he wanted to do so, his insurance rate would go way up, terribly expensive.

Miss Scarlet, the Drag Queen
That took care of it!  It reminded me of Grandy and the way my mother would get him to take his medications.  He would refuse.  She would tell him fine, he paid for it, so she would just throw it out, it wasn't her money.  He took it quickly, so he wouldn't waist money!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Candyman Can!

I talked to my mother this morning.  She was trying to get some sleep.  My father and Princess Sadie were up early - eating candy!

He ate so much candy this morning his blood sugar was about 170!

This evening, at dinner, my father opens up a pack of sugar and dumps it on his chopped tomato garnish (it's a Minnesota thing).  You can imagine my mother's expression.

We now know what happened to all that Christmas candy!

One of the problems we are having is that my poor father has become a candy munching machine. This is something fairly new, since December.   If it continues, I fear we are looking at insulin.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Make 'Em Laugh

Today around noon my father called.  He wanted to let me know that he had given ____ a check for ____ the other day and did not think he had stubbed it.  I've been handling the checkbook for nearly six months, paying bills, keeping track of things.  He just couldn't remember when he wrote the check.  It could have been this week, could have been a month ago.

After I remembered when he had given ____ a check for ____, I began to see the humor in the situation.  I suddenly realized my problem was the fact that I'd lost my sense of humor. Let's face it, you can either laugh or cry.  Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.

His GP said that one of my father's problems as he goes into this long decline is the fact that he may be too trusting, an easy mark for someone who wants to cheat him.

The information reminded me of the story of Aunt Alice and Aunt Esther.  A con artist managed to talk them out of all of the art and antiques Tom Perkins had collected over the years while he traveled the orient.  The things were worth a fortune.  They sold those, along with a 12 piece full dinner setting of Belleek.  The criminal basically stole their treasures, giving them $100 for thousands of dollars worth of things.

Scary, isn't it?

Princess Sadie's "IT" Photo

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Food Fight

Today my parents and I met Alicia and Scott for lunch at Cattle Baron.  No, it is not anyone's favorite, but we know that my father is going to get the protein he needs.  He's a diabetic.  He is dealing with blood pressure problems.  He needs to be fed.  He is incapable of cooking for himself.  This is a dirty little secret that cannot be blamed on his age or current condition.  He's not capable of opening a can of beans and tossing a hot dog in it.  He can make coffee and toast.  That's it.

I noticed that he only ate half of his French Dip.  I mentioned that.  Alicia quickly informed me that there was quite a bit of meet on it.  There was, nearly an inch thick of it.  So, we let up on him.

One of the things we began noticing with my father is that he wasn't eating.  Since December he's lost about 10 pounds.  When he was in the hospital several weeks ago, they ran a full battery of tests.  We were told if we were looking at Alzheimer's, then it was his mind, forgetting to eat.

Scary stuff, that.

While he was in the hospital he ate like a little piggy.  He ate everything put in front of him.  We knew something was going on with his eating habits.  I think the real problem is that we have been so concerned about his memory that we began to forget some of his life-long eating habits.

My father is an opportunistic grazer.

He lives by his stomach.  When traveling, he's almost a little tyrant, demanding meals, fed me, constantly.  So, when he my mother began battling him over his eating, everyone was concerned, terrified!

It was time to start observing what he was actually consuming.
  1. He was drinking lemonade with meals. No one needs 27g. of sugar!
  2. He was eating "salads" - thick with dressing, and all those mayo based goodies
  3. He was eating soups for appetizers
  4. Then there were the appetizers
  5. He was tanking up on bread
  6. Then there was the dessert
It soon became obvious that the problem was not his lack of appetite, but his excellent appetite for everything but the things that are good for him!  We also discovered that, at home, he continued his career as an opportunistic grazer of anything related to candy, cookies, lemonade, cake, ice cream...get the picture?

There is a simple solution:
  1. No lemonade
  2. No appetizers
  3. No soup when he go out
  4. Limit the bread intake when he is dining out
  5. Stick to a high protein based entree
We do this and he does just fine.  There is no prompting to get him to finish his steak.  He gets desert if he wants it.  When this happens his blood sugar is under control.

My mother did solve the problem of all those Christmas cookies she made.  He ate 'em all - and she agonized over his lack of appetite for the things he should be eating.

It's an ill wind, right.  My father doesn't really like salads.  He's not allowed to have that many now, in order to make him eat his meal.  He doesn't like a lot of veggies.  When you are trying to get someone to eat protein, the veggies go out the window.  At 87, why worry about that little food pyramid.  

The moral of the story - my father is no longer harassed about eating his broccoli. He hates broccoli, so he can life with it.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

My friend Mark sent this to me. It is quite funny, and way too true, for all of us!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Who Let the Cat Out?

The Pink Flamingo was not planning to do this blog.  This evening, about 9PM, my mother called, quite frantic.  My father had let Sam out this morning.  Sam, a 12 year old, has never been out in my life.  My mother was in tears.  All my father mentioned was there were three cats outside this morning.  One was gray.  She panicked.
left to right:  Fred, Belva, Sam (in back)
Fortunately, Sam came in.  His twin, B-2, was in a panic.  So was Belva, shown here.  Sam takes care of Belva, who is quite timid.

The entire family was in an uproar.  The truly sad thing is that my father did not remember what he did, but knew he did it.  He adores the cats.  Now he is terribly upset.  The solution that this does not happen again is to put signs on the doors, reminding everyone not to let the cats and Sadie out, even when they demand it.

Ronald Reagan called Alzheimer's 'the long goodbye'.  Tonight I realized this is exactly what we are dealing with, in a different way.  My grandmother Reidhead had something similar, so we know what to expect.  It is still quite frightening, very upsetting, and terribly sad.

The conditioning has been coming on for several years, but did not become so evident until January, when my father spent 4 days with a blood sugar count around 290 (140 is normal) because his new endocrinologist did not call a badly needed prescription into the pharmacy.  The pharmacy could not release the medication because the dosage was all screwed up.  In order to get it, I just plain old lied.   Unfortunately that, along with his BP, that went up, and one of those little TIA strokes has made the condition much worse.

And so it begins.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead