Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Very Good Christmas

The one good thing about dealing with what we are, is that we know our time is limited.  Today is probably the last real Christmas we will have with APR.  We know that, and planned accordingly.  Funny, I was dreading it.  Instead, it turned out to be one of the best we've had.  Cathy drove in, with Juan and his two nephews, neither of whom spoke much in the way of English.  She brought BBQ with her from the BBQ Shop there in Memphis!  Who needs turkey when you have Memphis BBQ! APR devoured his ribs, trust me. 

The night before, Cathy picked up pizza.  He loves pizza.  What was so cute is the way he perks up when company arrives.  He chatted away with Juan's nephews, who knew the score, not that they understood a word he was saying.  He just had a great day. 

By 7PM, he was exhausted, heading to bed.  Then, like a little kid, he was up, wanting dessert.  Later, that night, while Cathy was watching a movie, he managed to get up and sneak out, into 20 degree weather, to try and close the gate.  That's the scary part. 

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Friday, November 15, 2013

The New Facts of Life

I wonder where they were?
We took APR off his Alzheimer's meds  last week.  My mother has been saying how dull he looks, how he can barely make it through breakfast without falling asleep.  It's such a problem that it is difficult to do anything with him in the mornings.  Right after breakfast, he must nap.  Then he dresses, naps again.

I don't mind admitting I had a meltdown over the cost of the medication.  Our cost, for a 30 day supply of one of is medications was nearly $375!  No way I could afford it that day.  A few weeks earlier, my mother's cardiologist had a fit when he discovered that Walgreens was giving her the most expensive generic, the one he did not order, in order to make more money.  They were charging $75 for something that should be $18!   After that, you think I'm going to trust them?

That night, I started doing a little digging.  I discovered that the pharma company was big into meds for various psych disorders and ADHD.  And - the med he was taking for Alz. was being used to treat hyperactive kids.  I started researching and discovered it was primarily used for control, drugging, and basically containing the patient.

Forget that. 

Within three days his eyes were brighter.  Sure, he's a little hyper, but he's engaged with the world, in his own little orbit.  Once in awhile his orbit is the same as ours.  But - he doesn't have that vacant look about him. 

Just what were we doing to him, anyway?

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Alzheimer's Disease and Family Finances

Rachel & APR
On Friday, when I went to pick up my father's monthly prescription of Namenda, for the first time, ever, I was unable to pay for his medication. A three month's supply, from Walgreens is nearly $600. For a 30 day supply of the medication, it was about $120. Since the parents only had $120 in cash to spend until the 5th of November, and they do need to eat, I was unable to pay for it. Oh, I could have used a credit card, but I wasn't sure about the balance, so I went into a panic. The bottom line is that he was without his Alzheimer's medication. One of the reasons we pay so much, as consumers, is so that the big companies can make big bucks, with their politicians getting big bucks for the process of destroying us, financially. If my parents were alone in this situation, I could just say, well, that's the breaks. But, they aren't. Their situation is being repeated, a million fold, all over this country. Frankly, I don't see how anyone but the wealthy can deal with this disease. When you realize how much medication, that isn't generic yet, is costing, it is a financial disaster. What does a family do? No, It was wasn't that much of a national emergency. BUT.... after being ripped off for several years, by Walgreens, over my mother's cardiac medication, I was in no mood to argue. They were going to give him a 3 month's supply - for nearly $600! No way, not after being scammed on one med. I wanted to find out if I could get a generic version of what he was taking, and how much other chains were charging. Walgreens, like most chains, can't be trusted all that much. I was reading, somewhere that they are doing about a 400% mark-up with their medications. The cardiac medication my mother was taking was being so grossly over-charged, her physician (with whom I don't get along - I think he's a you know what, but he saved her life, so ...) agreed with me. He called the pharm and told them off. The problem with medications for Alzheimer's is that we just don't know if it does any good, or not. From what I can tell, donepezil may be better. From what I can tell, Namenda may be more of a sedative than anything else. What Namenda does do is work with the Glutamate receptor in the brain, which is responsible for muscle tone. Anyone who works with Alzheimer's patients knows that muscle tone is a very big deal. The very first sign of someone on Alzheimer's is spacial. A person in the early stages has difficulty getting up from a table. It is the earliest visible sign. Then comes movement, doing stairs, and walking up and down stairs in a strange way. Those of us watching things knows there is a connection between lack of sugar in the system and impairment. No matter how much medical research is done, they are still learning about the disease.
"...We all know about the medications available – there are the FDA approved medication treatments basically in two groups: the so-called cholinesterase inhibitors, such as Donepezil (Aricept), Galantamine (Reminyl, Razadyne), and Rivastigmine (Exelon). And then there are the “NMDA receptor antagonists,” of which there is one medication currently approved and on the market, Memantine (e.g., Namenda).
Basically all of these medications can help, but they are only treatments. Generally a patient who is helped but Aricept or Namenda can expect maybe 6 months where the progression of their dementia (as Alzheimers is a disease of progressive cognitive decline) is effectively halted. In rare cases some improvement in cognitive functioning can occur. However, these drugs all treat the symptom of the disease (e.g., the cognitive dysfunction) and they do not treat the underlying issue – the underlying brain damage that causes the cognitive deficits in the first place. Also, these drugs (like all drugs) have side effects...."
I've been online, looking for a generic for the medication. There is none, not yet (at least not in the US). Don't worry, though, Forest Labs, which makes the product is doing very, very well, their profits way ahead of their projections with a 2nd quarter way ahead of projections. Not to worry, though, Namenda is not scheduled to go generic until 2015. By that time, my family will, unless a miracle happens, have lost everything to this damn disease. But, don't feel sorry for Forest labs, their earnings (profits) on Namenda were twice what they had projected. Isn't that special? In 2010, Namenda alone earned the company a $700 million profit. It's much higher today. Want to know what really makes me mad about this? Well, Forest Laboratories is one of the worst offenders in moving their profits off-shore, so they don't need to pay taxes. They get away with ripping off the American taxpayer, so we're basically giving them corporate welfare. Oh, but they're making a profit and profit is the name of the game, screw the little person. Nothing matters but big corporates getting their fair share of our life's blood. Never mind that, over the years, my parents have paid millions of dollars in taxes. But - they're just little people, watching companies like Forest literally break them into nothing, so they can make a billion here and a billion there. What is so fascinating is that, in the grand scheme of things, Forest Labs donates primarily to Democrats, and doesn't give that much, at all. They donate primarily to NY Dems. They're also in the cross-hairs for their offshore tax dodges. Do you know what it's like to be forced to tell your mother that we can't afford my father's medication - or rather I was so pissed with Walgreens that I wasn't going to get it? Never in my life did I think I would be in this position. We're at the point in life, thinks to the deprivations of Alzheimer's on the family finances, that we're now choosing between food, medication, utilities, and property taxes. Forget the little luxuries like gas, car repairs, or the parents' getting their furnace repaired. There's no money for that and their medications - thanks to being ripped-off. Walgreens has been violating cardiologist's orders and selling my mother their most expensive generic for medication she needs to stay alive. She could get the meds for about $15 for a 30 day supply, but they've been charging her $75 to $85, violating a few laws in the process. She would still be paying the higher price if I'd not started agitating. The cardiologist told off the pharmacy. So, now they're sticking it to us, the other way. That's at least $70 a month. Multiply that by 12 and you get the picture. The questions is, how much more are they overcharging us. One of the reasons this is such a problem is because of Alzheimer's Disease. Not only does it destroy a family, emotionally, Alzheimer's ruins a family, financially. As a rule of thumb, just basically figure, if you're keeping a person at home, the out of pocket expenses are going to be about $1000 a month for medical and additional up-keep. That's $12,000 a year. When a person is getting about $1000 a month in social security, you can see the problem. The disaster has already occurred. One of the ways you learn that the person in your family, usually a parent, has already passed go and the disaster has occurred is when they refuse to allow you to help with the finances, or get nasty about it. Then, there will be a big financial spree - spending money that is completely out of character. My father blew $250,000 in a three month period - and we did not catch it. When I would ask, he would get nasty. BINGO - that's when you demand they see someone about Alzheimer's. Combine the physical symptoms of not being able to get up from a table, properly, going up and down the stairs in a strange way, and the spending, nastiness about finances, and you have a 5 year head start on the real disease setting in - if you are lucky, and know what to look for. We did not. Ergo, life now is financial hell. Predators have a way of sensing the problem before the family has been devastated, emotionally and financially. And - so, we're stuck. Thanks to this obscenely selfish disease, my parents, who are in reduced circumstances with cash flow. They are no different from millions of other senior citizens who have had financial problems due, primarily to the financial crash of 2008. I know of so many other seniors, people who were once comfortable, their lives all planned, barely making it. Some, like my parents, have problems due to Alzheimer's. Others, like numerous friends, have lost due to brokers, stock failures, and not being able to keep up with all the changes in the markets, fast enough. These are good men and women who worked hard, paid by the rules, paid their taxes, and did everything the right way. They're now wondering where they are going to come up with the money to pay for heating oil, how to stay warm, and keep food on the table. Forget that they once had steak several times a week, now, they can't even afford chicken! It's sad, watching people who had it all, living hand to mouth, bravely putting up a front, not bothering to even say what is hurting them. They've been pushed aside because they are nothing but fodder for the ultra wealthy. They have been betrayed by Republican Congressmen and Senators they elected, knowing they would stand up for them, and for their issues. Instead, they only support the ultra wealthy. That's the real problem in this country. We have become a nation that worships the false god of wealth, gained at any cost. There is nothing wrong with wealth. I aspire to it on a daily basis. There is something wrong, though, when it is the worship of those who are wealthy, to the detriment of everyone else. There is nothing wrong with a pharmaceutical company making a 100% profit. What is immoral though, is hiding that money off shore so they can benefit from our largesse and grants. If these guys paid their regular taxes, fine by me. In the meantime, good people who have always done what is right, paid their taxes on time and been upstanding members of the community are at the brink of starvation. What's wrong with this picture? Fast forward three days. My father has not had the Namenda since Friday evening. On Sunday morning, he came out for breakfast, quite chipper. My mother wasn't feeling well, so she went back to bed for awhile. He cleaned the kitchen and put things up where they belonged! Last week she had told me he was so far gone, he couldn't even do this. Every morning, after taking his medication, he would sleep all morning. There was no nap, he was wide awake, reading a cowboy novel. He had a Sunday afternoon nap, took a bath, cleaned himself up, really well, and had a good day. He hasn't been doing this for months. We've made a family decision to keep him off the Namenda for awhile and see what happens. He was happier today. His eyes looked better. His attitude was better. We're now all upset because of what we may have been doing to him, all in the name of trying to help. I'm so glad I had that meltdown at Walgreens!

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Battle of Tortillia (Chip) Flats

Sarah Catherine Garland 11/16/2012
One of the truly annoying, and eventually terribly unhappy parts of Alzheimer's, when you get into late Stage 4, is the fact that the person who has it, regresses to the stage of a 4 year old - a very spoiled, annoying, willful 4 year old.   It's a very selfish disease.  The sufferer becomes, like a toddler, completely self centered. 

Case in point:  Yesterday we were having lunch at Comel, one of the best Mexican eateries I've ever found.  My father was double dipping his salsa.  My mother caught him.  She told him not to do it, that he new better.

He threw his chip down on the table, leaned back, arms folded across his chest.  "Well, I just won't eat another one, if that's the way you're going to treat me."

She was going to relent. I told her not to. He didn't have another chip, unless he thought we weren't watching, then he double dipped!

My friend Sharon was telling me about Nick, who is much farther along than APR.  She said he would drive her crazy doing things like that.  Her children never did these things, they were too well behaved. 

FYI:  He ate his entire meal.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Table for Six

At Least Sadie Is Happy - March 2013
We made an interesting discovery today.  The parents have been married 64 years today!  I can't imagine putting up with anyone that long, trust me.  Cathy and Juan are here.  We went to the Great Wall for dinner, with Nana entertaining the parents.  Our mother had been having a rough day.  I called Nana, who is such a wonderful friends.  She was there, the whole time.  Ryan made one of my mother's favorite dishes.  Glenn stopped by to visit.  They just made a rough day so much better. 

Milestones like this getting rough, bittersweet.  We know that next year, APR is not going to be all that much with us, mentally.  It is like now, we know that every holiday will either be the last, physically or mentally.  It's rough, but we're also fortunate in that we know the score, to enjoy and treasure every single minute.

APR has always sat at the head of the table.  So, that's where we put him tonight.  He couldn't cope, was out of it.  So, now we put him in the middle of things.  He does better.  We do, though need to keep an eye on our glasses, because he has a tendency to drink out of anything near, and we keep an eye on the chips and salsa. He's double dipping now, then denying it, knowing exactly what he's doing!

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lost in Space

It Is Shocking How Quickly He Has Changed
My mother called this evening.  APR managed to get lost in the house.  And, their house is so darn small.  I just realized the problems my mother would be having if they were still living in South Carolina.  It would be a nightmare.  If they had a larger house, it would be a nightmare, just trying to keep up with him.  Then he couldn't find the bathroom, was lost looking for it.

She was so sad.  I don't blame her.  The other day I realized that those of us dealing with Alzheimer's in the family handle things so much differently than people dealing with things like cancer.  We're completely fatalistic, knowing there is no hope, so why bother with false hope?  You do what you can do, and deal with it.  I'm noticing that people I know who have elderly parents with cancer seem to hold on to so many things - just hoping against hope.  It is starting to dawn on me that while it is long, drawn out, and heart-breaking, Alzheimer's in a way, is a kinder disease - to the family.

Once we realize what we are dealing with, and face it, oh, it's painful. It is miserable and tragic, but we know what the score is.  There's no 10% or 20% or 50-50%.  It is all slap in the face, deal with it.  Sure, you watch the person you love becoming a shell of what they once were, but, in our case, my father is not in pain.  He's really not suffering.  He's like an annoying four year old.  You see his mind going a little more, every day, but we know it is going to happen.  There's no let's try this and let's try that.  It's just, that's life with Alzheimer's.  I think I prefer it to false hope.

And - so you find reasons to seek the humor of the situation.  We are trying to find my father's 'stash'.  It is a common problem, especially with men who have the disease.  It is reaching the point where friends are now getting into the spirit of what is truly a scavenger hunt.  "Have you looked under the sofa where he sits and reads?" This sort of thing.

The shampoo still has not been found.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Tear Jerker

Grandy, My Mother, Charlie, and APR  

I don't think I've ever linked to a blog post, until now.  Mike Clelland wrote a piece about his mother, who recently lost her battle with Alzheimer's.  It was quite a beautiful and moving story, very unexpected.  He detailed something we are dealing with now, with APR.  His tale is about how his mother handled the loss of his father. 
"...My father, Alexander Clelland, died of a stroke just a little over a year ago, and my mother still thought he was alive. She did beautifully at his funeral, and in that moment she seemed to understand that he was gone. But after that it just felt cruel to ever bring it up. When she would ask, Where’s your father? We would just calmly tell her that he was out getting his hair cut. ..."
I know all about this, unfortunately.  APR is well into Stage 4, probably the late stages.  We're fortunate in that he's still doing quite well, physically.  To date, there is not as much of the problem with bathroom issues - yet.  His problems are more mental than physical.  He's with it maybe 40% of the time.  That is a huge drop since early in the summer.  I think things are harder on my mother, dealing the unending questions.  I realized that I don't have the patience I should have.  I never wanted children because I just don't like dealing with little kids. This is where we are now.  The questions are like a 4 or 5 year old, constant, repeated, incessant.  

APR spends a lot of time in Minnesota.  He's fighting World War II (in the Army for some strange reason).  He talks to his father, frequently.  And then there are times where it just don't make sense.  My mother has had to cut back on what he watches on television. No news, violence, or weather.  He thinks the weather reports are local. 

The worst part - for my mother - is dealing with the incessant demands to know why his parents aren't having dinner with us.  Where are they?  Have we talked to Ma today?  Will his father be spending the night.  Have we checked on my grandparents?  Where is my sister?  

And so forth and so on. 

After one time telling him that his brother was dead, and the pain I saw in his eyes, I just lie to him.  It's easier - on him.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Bittersweet Birthday

SCAN2637My father turns 89 today. I don't even know if he realizes that he has reached an age that few men in his family achieve, other than his Uncle John and Uncle Dave. Most men in his family have a tendency to stroke out in their early 70s. We caught the strokes when they began occurring. If medical science had been what it was today, his father would not have died so young. He's heading into his 90s today. We wonder if he will ever become 90. My father has Alzheimer's Disease. All my life, he has been the Birthday Boy. His birthday was always followed by Father's Day, thus requiring a week long celebration of him. It was all in good clean fun. Every year there was a huge picnic, with no fewer than 50 guests. The menu was always the same: BBQ, corn, scalloped potatoes, baked beans, garlic bread, cole slaw, and the chocolate cake with white icing that my mother has always made. [caption id="attachment_35175" align="alignleft" width="148"]My Father & His Brother (this is my favorite photo) My Father & His Brother
(this is my favorite photo)[/caption] Always.... In May, of 2006, while my mother lay in ICU, hooked up to everything, after suffering from massive heart failure, my father sat there, wondering what we were going to do about his birthday party. I was a little annoyed at the time, but looking back, I should have realized something was wrong. That's the problem with our parents, the elderly and Alzheimer's Disease. We don't want to see the warning signs. We tell ourselves that uncharacteristic chattyness is normal. We fob off the memory lapses as old age. We ignore the lost keys or wallet by saying he always did it. Then you notice that something is terribly wrong with the family finances - and it is too late. What no one bothers to tell you about Alzheimer's Disease is that there are very specific physical markers, signs, that, when put into context with the little things, is a flashing stop light! It's all about physical coordination. The ability to stand up after sitting at a table is one of the earliest signs of the disease. The mind and body just can't put it together. My father has had difficulties standing up after sitting at a table for almost a decade. He also had a strange way of going up and down stairs, with the back of his heel rubbing the back of the step. SCAN0014 It was weird. He couldn't explain it, and he was extremely lucid, with no other real symptoms other than becoming a little confused with directions, and constantly losing his wallet (while we were traveling). If I had known then, what I know now, things would be a heck of a lot different for our family. We could have caught the lying scumbag of a broker who cheated him out of over half a million bucks, cold cash. We could have caught the man's assistant when she appropriated a quarter of a million in cash for her own personal use. But, we didn't know to watch - I didn't know to watch out for the finances. That is the worst part of Alzheimer's Disease, not catching it in time. If you do, early enough, and start B-12 injections every three weeks, there is a 46% chance you can either slow the development of the disease or even stop it in its tracks. I swear we managed to slow the development of the disease by several years with the injections. He's just now going into early Stage 5. [caption id="attachment_35177" align="alignleft" width="300"]2011 2011[/caption] It's so simple. All that is needed is a special color imaging CT scan that literally layers the brain. It can catch the development of the disease a good 10 to 15 years before symptoms began showing. This is critical in stopping and slowing the onset of the disease. Having lived with this for three years, now, I swear the worst part of Alzheimer's Disease is the fear that someone you know has it, and then avoiding the diagnosis of it, until it is too late. There's going to be hope in the future. By the time we Baby Boomers are entering that phase of our lives, there are going to be exciting new treatments. We already know enough, that, if you have a genetic pre-disposition to the disease (and only about 6% of the population does), you have hope. You can't fight it if you remain ignorant. [caption id="attachment_35178" align="alignright" width="300"]2010 2010[/caption] My father's is the only case we can find in our family. I've been doing genealogy for nearly 25 years, and have his family literally back to Adam on all but his great-grandmother Miller's side. There is no sign of it, at all. My father had the first diagnosed case of Lyme Disease in South Carolina. That was the year before my oldest niece, Rachel, was born. There are now major indicators that those who have had Lyme Disease will most likely contract Alzheimer's. The indicators are so strong, I have a friend whose 23 year old daughter is already on the B-12 injections and the anti-Alzheimer's medications. There are such stupid assumptions out there about the causes of the disease. It is not caused by:
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor diet
[caption id="attachment_35179" align="alignleft" width="300"]1952 1952[/caption] I think we're probably going to find that there is a chemical component to the disease, the same way there are now indicators that some cases of Parkinson's Disease may be caused by exposure to certain agricultural and petro chemical components. It is also caused by brain injuries. I hear people lament the fact that their loved one has the disease, how they hate it. I don't hate it. The real problem we have with Alzheimer's Disease is approaching it like it is some shameful condition to be hidden with the sufferer put away in an institution, to simply wait to fall, break a hip, and die. It's a disease, no different from cancer. People who have it should not be locked-up, unless they are violent. My father, when told that he had it, said he wanted to go out and do things until he started drooling. So, he goes out and does things. There is one specific restaurant here in town that he likes. The meal process now takes 2 hours. He would once wolf down his food. Now it is agony, sitting there, putting up with the slow pace. If a server takes our plates, he will stop eating. This has led for the most tense moments we've had with the disease. You keep your plate, and pretend to still be eating. [caption id="attachment_35180" align="alignright" width="300"]No, that's my sister, not Jan Brady! No, that's my sister, not Jan Brady![/caption] My sister, her 3 children, and the baby arrived on Monday. We will all be together this one last time. That's the best part of this. We know the end is coming. We know that this is the last year he can easily and readily participate in his birthday. We have the blessing of knowing that every moment counts. There will be lots and lots of photos. I'll be castigated for not downloading the last set of baby photos out of my camera. (I found a way to get around that one - saving them for Rachel to put in her lap-top). We're lucky. We know what is coming. You count your blessings, and know that it's not going to get any easier. My mother is the one who is having the difficult time of things. She's the one living with it, day in and day out. I think she's learning how to laugh - I hope. [caption id="attachment_35181" align="alignleft" width="232"]Heading to the South Pacific Heading to the South Pacific[/caption] It's not easy, but neither would be cancer. I swear I don't know what the difference is with this and any other debilitating disease. There is no reason for shame, or to hide my father from the world. He interacts so well with people. It stimulates his brain. He is happy. I'm not going to take that away from him. Funny, I'm writing this a few days ahead of time so I can do other things. I'm not even crying about it. The difference in his appearance is startling. The photo with him in the red shirt was taken on the parent's 60th, 2 years ago. He's now developing that look of what is going on here. It's sad. Then, he comes up with something hilarious, showing us that he's still there. We know what tomorrow brings. We know this will be his last real birthday. Very few families are blessed enough to know to treasure that last time. We are. All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Alzheimer's 101: Ignore This Disease At Your Own Peril

August 2012 @ White Sands
Like the vast majority of Americans, these past few years, The Pink Flamingo has been dealing with a major financial crises, the worst in my life.  No, I didn't cause it.  It was completely unanticipated and struck without warning - almost. Yes, there were warnings, but like so many other people in my position, I ignored those warnings. I am learning most of us do when we're dealing with Alzheimer's Disease and the ruin of and disaster it causes in a person's life. 

The ruin it causes, the disasters that the disease often causes does not come from the disease, but from ignoring the disease.  The disasters come from predators who are out there, preying on the elderly, the trusting, and those who have families who are choosing to ignore the symptoms of the disease and the societal problem of an entitled group of men and women who legally can get away with it.

Looking back on things, it is obvious that my father had symptoms of the disease nearly a decade ago - symptoms we ignored because he always lost thing.  He had a tendency to take a short-cut when traveling.  A ship's navigator in the South Pacific during WWII, he can barely read a map at times. Unfortunately, the financial predators have a profile, and go for the kill.  It has taken three years of detective work (on again and off again, of course) for his accountant to agree with me, that close to a million dollars has managed to disappear - without a trace.  No, my father did not do it.  we know who did.  I can't prove it because my trusting, honest father, who knew that a quarter of a million dollars had gone astray, sought out the very men and women who were scamming him, and asked for their help.  He left all of his financial records with them, ignoring my pleas that he let me keep them.

That's Alzheimer's Disease.

It is the reason we must be diligent about our parents, and the elderly, not to allow them to be scammed. There are things a person can do, but the problem is that parents, especially if they are staring to have some cognitive problems, don't want help.  That alone should be a flashing hot pink neon sign that things are not good.  There will be a time when you must take control.  No, it isn't fun.  It's traumatic, but if you don't, they could lose everything.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Little Dab Will Do You

I think my mother looks better today than then.
My mother called:  Guess what your father used to brush his teeth?
Me:  I have no idea.
My mother:  Desitin

She called another day:  Guess what your father was going to use to shampoo his hair?
Me:  I have no idea.
My mother:  Lysol Toilet Bowl cleaner!

He puts his deodorant on his back.
The medicine cabinet in his bath has been emptied of all but toothbrush and toothpaste.

The razor is locked up. My nephew bought him an electric one for his birthday.  He put it up.  Took nearly a month to find it.  

Shampoo is now placed in certain places in the bath.
All cabinets in his bathroom have been locked.

My mother called:  Guess where your father put my new shampoo?
Me:  I have no idea.
My mother:  That's the problem, neither do I.
The shampoo has been missing for six weeks.

He has a stash, somewhere.  In it, if we ever find it, will be her diamond wedding band.  Yes - he took that.  He's not taking the remotes like some do.  He takes little things, putting them up.  She's missing 3 pair of his gray, dress, summer slacks.

He has shampooed his hair in Desitin.
I think he also used toothpaste one time.

Yes, it is heartbreaking.  But, if you don't laugh, you lose your mind.  It's rather like Aunt Eva and the chicken bone she tried to get my sister to eat.  Aunt Eva was in her eighties, living in Middletown, KY.  My sister was maybe 7. 

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Battle of Pancake Flats!

APR and Rums
We were having an early supper at Jorges. My mother wasn't all that hungry.  She decided to let APR order his favorite meal, the Big Jorge Breakfast"
  • 2 pancakes
  • 2 eggs
  •  hashbrowns
  • 2 link sausage
  • 2 slices bacon
  • large slice ham
She was going to eat the pancakes. 

APR loves their pancakes.  When she took the plate with the pancakes he was furious to the point where he refused to eat the rest of his meal.  She gave the pancakes back to him, but she's been eating on them.  She ordered more pancakes for him.  That didn't work!

The moral of the story, don't touch his pancakes!  It has become a standard joke at the little restaurant.  One of the servers will laugh.  "Don't you dare eat his pancakes!" when he orders that specific meal.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Thursday, March 14, 2013

After the Crash

Christmas 2012 Mimosa Time!
One of the first things they tell you when dealing with Alzheimer's Disease is that the primary caregiver is the person most in danger of having a serious physical and emotional problem.  We've been trying to warn my mother about this  - for ages.  When dealing with my mother, forget it!  This has been an avoidable disaster waiting to happen, like model trains set to wreck.

She hovers over my father, who is still in early  Stage 4.  He has his moments, especially late in the afternoon.  Part of it is Alzheimer's and part of it is the fact that he is a very exhausted 89 years old.  When he gets tired, his condition gets worse.  She waits on him hand and foot.  Does everything for him, and it isn't necessary.  This morning, when I was working with her, he cleaned the entire kitchen, spotless. He was a little difficult at the hospital, but I'm learning how to handle it.  (Keep food in him).

My mother is worried.  She is grieving.  They will be married 63  years in August.  She is exhausted. She won't reach out to her friends, who would love to help.  She is so tired, she thinks if anyone comes to visit, she will be required to serve coffee, food, which isn't true.  It's impossible to get him to church on Sunday AM.

At least today, I think we finally managed to get her to say uncle about having someone come in every day, for just a few hours.  She needs the interaction.  So does he.  My father does so much better when he has people to visit with.  It makes all the difference in the world.

Her health isn't all that good.  We're going to get the results of breathing tests from her cardiologist tomorrow. (FYI, her pacemaker is doing great).  Her blood work-up was good, save for the blood sugar. That's getting ahead of myself.

She won't let anyone help her.  She is isolating herself from friends.  It's just classic.  She can do it all herself.  She can't.  So, now, she's not eating.  That's a problem anyway.  At night, now, she's too tired to cook, isn't eating, going to bed without eating, jumping out of bed in AM, and crashing.  This morning the crash was literal.  She fell, hit her hand on her nightstand.  Called me about 8:AM.  (FYI, I arrived home this PM at 7:30 - which tells you about my day).

The day after Christmas she passed out, hit the back of her head, went to the ER.  Did the same thing Wednesday morning.  We're finally piecing things together.  Her BP goes low.  She's not eating, has a blood sugar crash, has breathing problems and nearly passes out.

Today, they caught the blood sugar problem - finally!  She's to have 3 meals a day and keep track of everything, which she won't do.  I was told if she doesn't take care of herself, when it comes to eating, then she must have someone with her 24/7.

Her speech was garbled.  She had a TIA around 2002 or so.  This was a little different.  They did a CT scan, and think that she may have had one.  BUT  - it could have been the blood sugar crash.  We just don't know.

They let her out of the ER about 5PM or so, after a long day and many tests.  Everything points to a blood sugar problem, which is what I have been saying for 7 years, but does anyone listen to me?

I forced her to get a fried chicken thingie at Sonic.  She ate my father's ice cream whatever on the way home.  I left there a little after 7PM.  She called at 9PM, sounding great!

This food thingie is going to make me crazy!  I am going to force her to deal with friends and people who care about her.  It's a nasty thing to do, but it is for her own good - as well as mine!  I felt sorriest for my sister, who was in Memphis, following all of this by phone.

My next battle is getting her to allow her friends and people who care, back into her life.  We have so many good friends, people who care, that she makes me crazy isolating herself.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Someone's Talking Dirty on the Phone

I Was On the Way!
My mother called.  She discovered my father's cell phone in the washing machine, quite clean.  She's not sure how it managed to show up there, but that's not the point.  She asked APR how it came to be in the washing machine.  "I don't know.  I guess someone was talking dirty on it and it needed to be washed!"

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Who's On First?

Don't Trust The Man With The Sled!

This is a post I've been working on for about a week.  Frankly, I don't know's on third!  That's about how it is this week.  Do you go chronologically or by subject matter?  It has been interesting, that's for sure.  Late Wednesday night, my mother finally broke down and began crying. We've been waiting for that. 

Ten days ago my father lost his wallet.  I went down that Wednesday afternoon to help my mother look for it, and deliver medication.  We looked in every single drawer in the house.  I specifically looked in the hutch drawer where her cocktail stirrers and gadgets are kept - twice.  My mother and Maggie have checked that drawer, repeatedly.  My mother has looked in it every day.  On Monday morning she found the wallet in it.

This morning she called.  He'd lost his wallet - again!  At least it is in the house, and I have copies of everything that is in it. My friend, Sharon, thinks he has a stash location.  He probably does.  I wouldn't be surprised to find my mothers' missing diamond there, also!

We're dealing with blood pressure that is going up and down.  It could be the meds.  He has an appointment in a few days.

His bridge broke.  Got that fixed.

His new hearing aides aren't working!

It's just one thing after another.  It's obvious we're into the early part of Stage 4.  The poor thing is now searching, constantly, for his brother.  He calls my cell, thinking that it belongs to my cousin, Sarah. I don't know what to tell him, so I try to let it go, changing the subject.  On the way back from Las Cruces on Friday, he kept trying to locate his brother.  He kept wondering where Nana and Grandy were.  Should we have left his mother in the hospital, alone.

He did great at lunch, but he ate eggplant parm, so that we didn't have the problems we do with complex carbs.  We tanked him up on a frap at Starbucks.  He did great okay, coming home, except for trying to call his brother.

He's also traveling.

We've taking him off several of his medications.  The problem we're discovering is that quite often medications don't work right with Alzheimer's.  Most doctors don't realize this, nor do pharmacists.  So, now, we need to check everything.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

That's Life

Nana & Grandy at Goldie & Jimmy's in Middletown
We have faced the fact that we're dealing with the onset of Stage IV Alzheimer's Disease.  We do have one problem and that's trying to figure out how much comprehension that is missing is due to the disease or the fact that the third set of hearing aids may not be working as good as the first ones, or the second ones.  This time we had to cough up about $250 a  year for insurance on the blasted things.

Right, now, the best way to describe the situation is like dealing with Grandy's dementia.  The short term memory is not firing on all thrusters.  Fortunately, he's stopped asking about his brother and parents. I don't know how long that is going to ask.  What he does ask, on a daily basis:

1.  Are all the taxes paid?
2.  Is there enough money in the bank?
3.  Did you go to the post office today?
4.  Was there any mail?
5.  Is there oil and anti-freeze in everything?
6.  Are we staying here tonight?
7.  I need to get  your mother something for Christmas.
8.  What about the taxes?

Today, when my mother said he wanted to talk, I told her to tell him, the taxes were paid, there was money in the bank, I hadn't gone to the post office, and John Vega had taken care of his old trucks.  He laughed.  I told her to ask if his refrigerator was running.  He thought that was funny when she told him to go catch it, that obviously I had no 'respect' for his questions.  It was all in good fun.

Funny thing, he can go to the store, and completely calculate price per ounce of something, telling MD what is the best buy on something.  He's still reading his cowboy books.  I told her about a Bible passage I wanted her to read.  She asked him to get the Bible for her.  "Which version?"  That was a question he would always ask.  He read the chapter to her twice, discussing it.

He is getting frail and tired.  He forgets where things go. She keeps telling him what to do.  Yesterday, when they discovered they had a busted pipe down by the well, he had a fit, wanting to go fix it.  She finally had to get quite specific, telling him no.  Then, he got over it.  The neighbor came over and visited with him.  That helped.

All rights reserved, SJ Reidhead